We have both reached an age when our digging and swigging activities are becoming inhibited by creaking muscles and joints. Rich can no longer haul around the cider press without fearing for the rumbling of hernia trouble, while my back has become so wonky that I recently damaged it and was rendered ‘bed-ridden’ by over-reaching to evict a piece of toast from the toaster. Now any outdoor tasks that involves bending or lifting causes us to emit noises that makes the veg patch sound like a labour ward.
What would be really helpful for our weary limbs is a gardening stool to take the strain while pulling weeds.
Something else that would come in handy is a device to keep all our hand tools in one place as we haul them around from border to bed. We’re an untidy bunch and hunting for the trowel can be a frustrating activity, further damaging our knees through angry stomping.
So we are grateful for the good folk at home and garden retailer Andrew James for inviting us to review a product from their website that offered a solution to both problems. We’ve been afforded the opportunity to review their kit for the last few years, with a dehydrator proving to be a particular hit with us and our readers.
Scrolling through their latest product list we were tempted by the electric cultivator; we briefly paused at the telescopic pruners; but then we saw our dream product – a ‘tool and stool’ set featuring something we could not only plonk our arses on but also use to carry hand tools around the garden. The set was delivered a few days later and I had the honour of testing it out.
First, the stool part of the set. It’s of the small camping stool variety: a pair of sturdy metal rectangles, joined in the middle so they swing flat when not in use, with a tough cloth seat stitched around the top bars. Its only real requirement is to hold firm while supporting the weight of a middle-aged gardener, and it does so with aplomb.
But where this differs from most camping stools I’ve known is that on the four corners of the fabric seat are metal studs, to which are attached a square bag that fits neatly within the stool’s frame, showing off an array of pockets. There are open pockets suitable for trowels and forks; there are narrower pockets that might attract pruning knives or pegs; there are shallower pockets with breathable sleeves that show the contents, perfect for seed packets or plant labels; and there are two pockets that can be sealed shut for the gardener’s special, secret items. There are so many pockets that I can even spare a few for a crafty couple of cider bottles of cider for a bit of appley refreshment while hoeing between my onions.
And, of course, the item as a whole is one big bag, with handles attached, and a stool-sized void for filling (with more internal pockets for good measure). The Andrew James website blurb suggests this might be useful for loading with weeds as you go along. I think I’ll use it for more things to tidy away – balls of string, tape measure, some sandwiches, a novel, sun cream… I won’t need to return to the house all day.
If this tool ‘n’ stool combination wasn’t enough of a gardener’s bargain, they’ve even thrown in some hand tools for good measure: a fork, dibber, three pronged hoe and two different sized trowels. With wooden handles and everything.
Rich may still struggle to lift the cider press out of the shed and I’ll always be wary of over-reaching for anything, but at least I can potter around the garden in relative comfort and say goodbye to episodes of trowel hunting.