November (or Movember if you are growing a moustache for charity) is the month when we start our maintenance on the outside of the house. The roof, windows, drain pipes, parapets and drains all inspected and repaired where necessary. It is always necessary!
We are surrounded by beautiful mature deciduous trees which shed a gazillion leaves over a four to five week period, November winds pick them up and deposit them in drifts everywhere, but mainly in the roof gullies and the drainage system, thus rendering them useless unless they are cleaned out every other day. Gullies are the worst as reaching into an eighteen inch deep round hole only slightly bigger than ones arm which is full of icy water, mud and leaves is bad enough – the discovery of a very large toad (we have lots breeding in the lake) who is quietly hibernating and starts squirming madly in ones hand just adds to the general disenchantment.
Our Groundsman, General Handyman and all round good egg Ian blows the leaves into vast piles on the lawns (gone are the awful days of raking endlessly). We then spend several days pushing them onto a tarpaulin and dragging them into piles in a corner somewhere . They are then ignored for a few years – this is apparently known as mulching, but Ian and I have another name for it.
Leaf mulch is much prized by our gardeners, and I really do love our trees, but just occasionally I do wish for just the odd Spruce!!
Performing Rights…. what about my rights?
It would seem that we have become a nation of involuntary renters. By this I mean that it would appear that on an increasing number of occasions when we think we have bought an article or service it turns out we have in fact only rented it.
Bruce Willis recently made headlines attempting to affirm his family to retain the rights after his death, to the thousands of iTunes music tracks he has purchased – Read the small print!
Artists are entitled to part of any profit you make from selling on one of their paintings (does it work the other way round if you sell at a loss?)
Many photographers now routinely keep the rights to photographs (particularly wedding pictures) for which they have already charged fairly large amounts of money.
My least favourite are the Performing Rights Society. I have no gripe against artists being paid for performance of their music (being a complete luddite I still buy CD’s and DVD’s and do not do free downloads) but these people are in a different league.
Anyone who purchases a TV and puts it in a room where a non resident of that property watches it appears to require a licence from PRS. Despite the fact that makers of TV programmes pay vast amounts of money to use composers tunes, and the fact that we all pay an annual licence fee the act of listening to programme theme music on the TV apparently entitles them to monies.
Do you have a phone which plays music whilst it is on hold – beware the PRS. Do you play your radio at work -beware the PRS. Does your car horn play the first four notes of “ Money, Money, Money” by Abba? Well you know the rest!
We had to cut down a very large Beech tree at the front of the house last week, it was rotten in the middle and was in danger of bringing down a fairly healthy specimen next to it. We think it was planted around the time the house was built in 1820. Apparently Beech trees are only viable for this sort of period and then start to drop large limbs and eventually die off.
It is always heartbreaking to cut down an old tree (or any tree) and this one was too far gone to use for anything but firewood. A slightly smaller one came down in the gales two years ago, it was perfectly healthy so we brought in a mobile sawmill and had it cut into planks which we hope to use in the grounds. An old gent from the village rescued some of the larger lumps and turned them into salad bowls. Most of the rest was chipped and put on the beds to stop weeds – a fairly successful recycling exercise (apart from the fact that it all cost a fortune!)
We now have some large spaces where we will plant more trees. We will not see them grow to maturity, but there again those who planted our existing trees did so as an act of faith that future generations would enjoy and cherish them.
We too have faith!!