Hints & Tips
Now you know me. I am capable of misusing any equipment. For example, as a wee lass I was once told off by my Mother for trying to use the potato peeler and an expensive chef’s knife to carry out rudimentary plastic surgery on a barbie doll who had ventured too close to the wood burner one dull Sunday evening. Ah. Happy Days!
However, incorrect use of garden equipment is another thing. I mean using various inappropriate items to prepare a frozen turkey for Christmas, like cutting it with a chainsaw, is undoubtedly the fodder of seventies sitcoms but there are times when garden equipment gets to escape from its life of chores, leave the confines of the suburban shed and go adventuring in the world, bringing joy and entertainment to onlookers far and wide. I am aware that at this time of year we should all be out there using our gear properly, striping our lawns and planting our future salads, but you know I’m always up for some fun and you’d be amazed how far some people will go to get value out of their garden equipment…
Anyway, here are a few real examples of what you can do if you use your imagination. Oh, and for health and safety reasons, I should say don’t do this at home kids or anyone else for that matter.
1. The Straight Story (and Others)- Ride-On Mowers
The Straight Story is the everyday tale of an unwell old man who rides from Iowa to Wisconsin on a ride-on lawn mower to see his sick brother. Arguably one of the oddest, not to mention most gentle, road movies ever made, this extraordinary film was directed by David Lynch, a man whose oddness is, frankly, usually way more off kilter than this touching and amusing story. (Eraserhead anyone? That’s one night’s sleep I’ll never get back!) Rumours of a sequel where the old man’s daughter pays her father tribute by pogoing from New York to LA on a strimmer were, sadly, unfounded. I’m pitching a British version with Nigel Farage floating from Lands End to John O’ Groats on a hover mower, doing good deeds for everyone he meets culminating in him floating across the sea to be an immigrant in Albania. This stunt of driving overland on a ride-on has actually been done for real on a number of occasions, here and in the States, and has raised a lot of money for charity. Have a look at the film’s trailer here
2. The Red Barrows – Wheelbarrows
I saw the originals, the Red Arrows, when I was but a child and my Father was still trying to pretend he had sired a little boy and ignored my mother’s desperate requests to take me to the the Ideal Home Exhibition. Casual sexism aside, Daddy and I got the last laugh as I was gobsmacked by the precision, speed and bravery of those magnificent men in their flying machines. However, I have also seen the Red Barrows. This is not quite so gobsmacking but very entertaining and, again, raises lots of money for charity. There is nothing quite so breathtaking as watching six chaps in red jumpsuits, white silk scarves billowing in the Devon breeze, leather flying helmets at jaunty angles, pushing red wheelbarrows in perfect formation. Eccentric? Very. British? Absolutely. The highlight of the particular show I experienced was the Barrows running up ramps and jumping over each other, with red and white smoke trailing from the handles. Awesome! There are a number of Red Barrows troupes and a selection of different videos on You Tube. These guys claim to be the first. www.redbarrows.com
3. Homecoming Parade– Push Lawn Mowers
Back in the 90s, a group of students from the Kappa, Sigma, Delta, Delta, Delta Fraternity of the College of William & Mary in Virginia, a university which educated none other than Thomas Jefferson, decided to run a homecoming rally with a difference. They devised a formation lawn mower pushing parade. The university is the second oldest in the States (the first being Harvard) and has many long standing traditions, but the sight of orange sweatshirt clad students pushing rotary lawn mowers in precise patterns down the street, accompanied by other students wielding hoes as batons, fronted by an MC waving a brushcutter around must have caused a stir in downtown Williamsburg. Not only that, the stunt was resurrected in 2010 to much cheering from the sidewalks. Hmm. They don’t get out much! See it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvtq907XE3E
4. British Lawn Mower Racing Association – Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers
Who would have guessed that the British would take lawn mowing so seriously that they started to hanker after a lawn mower Grand Prix? The BLMRA (it sounds more weighty in acronym form) do just that, running events all year long including the aforementioned Grand Prix in the glamorous, continental setting of Coventry, in association with the NWLMRA (North West LMRA). If you visit their site, your quaint mental pictures of sedate blokes running around with cylinder mowers at a village fête vanishes at the speed of a resigning party leader. These cats mean business and they have a fab gallery of great photos and obviously a number of categories including ‘mowers with grass collectors fitted to the front’, which is cool by anyone’s standards. However, I do find their motto a little er… overblown? ‘Per Herbam Ad Astra’ – From Grass To The Stars. Watch out for the forthcoming National Lawn Mower Space Association. Fab! Pay them a visit at http://www.blmra.co.uk As it happens we have a lawnmower racing enthusiast on our doorstep here at MowDirect. But more of that another time!
5. Chainsaw Carving– er…Chainsaws
Fed up with the standard fare of lopping off branches, felling trees and chasing morally ambivelent teenagers through the backwoods of America, some chainsaw users have, for years now, been possessed by the muse of sculpture and begun to carve things out of wood with their Husqvarnas and Stihls. Interestingly, though not surprisingly I supposes for outdoor types, animals are a popular subject and I myself have seen a number of chainsaw carved owls, with artistic standards varying wildly from the childish and rough to the blatantly Rodinesque. There are competitions, galleries and festivals, not to mention the really arty offshoot of carving ice with chainsaws. Check this site out, it is truly amazing! http://www.antalik.com/amazing-chainsaw-art/
So. I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of garden equipment related alternative activities. If you know anymore, perhaps a friend juggles chainsaws or you’ve seen someone using hedge trimmers and napkins to do paper cutting at a school fair, do share it with us and our friends at www.facebook.com/mowdirect See ya! Holly.