I took a tree for a bike ride today. Really. I bought a 6 feet high apple tree from a well-known garden centre here in Chester. I won’t name it, but it begins with G and is owned by the richest Englishman. He owns Mayfair, Belgravia in London and huge estates here in Cheshire such as the Grosvenor. I was comforted in spending nearly £30 on an apple tree because it came with the G Garden Centre’s 5-year guarantee. Well, the poor thing must have a victim of our hard winter and didn’t sprout a single leaf or flower bud. I went to the garden centre yesterday with my wife and we spotted many fruit trees in full leaf. Wife took the car to work today so I emptied a pannier and stuck in the dug-up demised apple tree – wrapped in a bin bag. I had some hilarious difficulty in getting my leg over in order to start peddling but off I went. It’s about 6 miles of meandering country lanes away and all the ride I was thinking about how I was to dismount without kicking hell out of the tree. I know it’s passed on but I didn’t want to take it into the centre with kicked broken branches. Luckily, although like many such establishments, there is no cycle rack, I slowed enough to lean against a wall when I halted.
Inside the shop I was told I had to receive a voucher instead of my money back. This got my back up. Yes, I could easily find plants, books, cakes and gnomes to that value but the guarantee posters all over the shop say nothing about not having your money back. They had no replacement tree, unless I wanted one twice as big and paid extra. I lowered my cycle helmet down to look more menacing and demanded my rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. The manager was called. He was taller than me but could see my feet-apart determination and so relented.
As I cycled away I thought, damn, I need some more lavender and / or periwinkle for father-in-law’s garden. But I could hardly go back there so soon, could I?