At dinner round Paul's, and he's showing me what they've done to the back garden. The foliage is lush and I can hear the soft trickle of running water. "We've put a watering system in," Caroline tells me. Saves her at least half an hour a day.
An extra half an hour a day, what a luxury. This is precisely what I need in my life.
Next day I'm in B&Q looking at the watering systems. Bag an in-lawn sprinkler for a total bargain £5, reduced from £45. A couple of £29 'Aquapods' too, also for a fiver. This has to be a record in cut price bargains.
"Don't you need a license for that?" says mum, who's talent in finding a negative aspect to absolutely anything I care to tell her about is the stuff of legend. Not according to Google you don't. Might be different in times of hosepipe bans.
A week later and the garden is fully covered by automatic irrigation. The lawn has its sprinklers and there's a hose running through the beds and into all the pots, delivering precision watering in a fraction of the time and effort required by a hose. Better still, by installing my pipework I have fully explored every nook and cranny of the garden. Even found a toad. Almost flatened him, accidentally.
My sister and brother-in-law come to visit and I waste no time in demonstrating the pop-up sprinkler system for the lawn. I can tell my brother-in-law is impressed.
I'm on the phone to Mum. Dad's been to B&Q, got himself a £5 sprinkler system, and one for my sister. Apparently my brother-in-law is champing at the bit to get it installed. Dad is going to wait until spring.
"Sure you don't need a license for that?" I ask Mum.