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TONY STARK VINEYARDS INC.

In the middle of June a lorry pulled up outside Church Farm. I say lorry, it was about the size of an aircraft carrier, so large that the driver had no desire even to attempt to get into the farm yard and was taking up at least two thirds of the width of the road: good job it was in lockdown.

In it was a purchase from Kuhn in Germany: a leaf trimmer and a roller-hacke. Kuhn is a wonderful supplier run by Juergen who genuinely cannot do enough to help. The German driver spoke no English and frankly my modern language skills leave a lot to be desired (getting O Level French was one of the miracles of the C20th – my two achievements in that discipline were scoring minus 23 ½ out of 20 and a commendation for correctly writing “Not tonight Josephine” in a French essay). The German driver rolled back the side wall of the lorry to reveal the trimmer and turned to me and gestured – I paused for a minute trying to work out whether he was a fan of Churchillian gestures and then realised he was telling me I needed a forklift. I don’t have one. Once again, Tony came to the rescue and rushed off to get a tractor with forks on it while I tried to explain to the German driver what we were doing, using “Google translate into German” – it was only later when the lorry was pulling away that I realised from the “PL” sticker that the driver was actually probably Polish.

Tony came back and it soon became apparent that although we were the first drop, the trimmer had been the first thing to be put on the lorry – it wasn’t coming off without unloading a third of the lorry’s other contents. Gradually the yard filled up with other people’s kit and then we got to the trimmer. Finally it came off and ultimately down to the barn.

We left it there till Matt arrived a day or two later as it was his organisaion who said we really should get one as it would save a lot of labour and human carbon footprint. So there we were: Matt, Tony and I standing in front of what looked like something from an Iron Man movie, trying to work out how the damned thing fitted onto the tractor and where the hyrdaulics connected, let alone how it might work. It seemed scratching our heads and going “what if” didn’t help – and the fact that the manual was in German rather than English wasn’t the best. Matt concluded there were some bits missing and went off to email Juergen. We then realised the hydraulics on the tractor weren’t working either so they would have to be sorted first: not easy during lockdown. So here we are a month later with a nice shiny piece of “essential” kit, still wrapped up and not capable of being used and we’ll now probably still have to get a team of humans in to trim as the vines are getting to critical height and bushiness.

I’ve no doubt the trimmer will be wonderful when it’s working. Meantime if anyone wants a fancy dress for a Marvel Comic-Con event or would like an unusual garden ornament, let me know.