When we came here some 22 years ago the parkland at the front of the house had a number of magnificent mature beech tree. I have read that after a couple of hundred years beech trees start to decline and drop limbs for no apparent reason. This has been happening to us for the last five years or so, indeed the last time was only a week ago. We were rebuilding the boundary wall to the north of the house on a lovely hot 25 degree afternoon when a large limb some 20 inches in diameter split lengthways and sagged to the ground. (more…)
BUSY BEE – NOT ME!
I have been a casual beekeeper for a number of years now. We started off with three hives of the local black bees which thrived for the first three years, then started to decline. Despite efforts to shore up the dwindling populations we eventually lost the last hive this winter. No sign of any disease, and despite a couple of poor summers we would not normally have expected these losses a few years ago.
An Inspector Calls
We had a brace of Hotel inspectors in to see us the other week. After all these years we know many of them, but in this case neither of them had been before. Inspectors generally come singly, book in advance, and do not declare themselves until checkout in the morning. At this stage they will sit down with whomsoever wants to discuss the visit, and go through their experience.
Wot no snow!
I may yet regret these words, but the weather here in February and early March has been outstanding. Almost every day the same, cold frosty mornings with clear blue sky’s giving way to a fairly warm day with no wind to speak of followed by another cold frosty night.
The snow plough we purchased the year before last after two of the worst winter’s in recent years languishes in the shed still waiting to see snow. Machinery has of course replaced most of the manual labour in the fields. The garden here would have had at least six permanent garden staff a hundred years ago. Now we have a part time lady and a groundsman who does a million other things (including a lot of tea drinking).
Twenty years ago we would have spent days and days raking leaves in the Autumn, now with a large leaf blower be can do the job more effectively in a matter of hours.
What cannot be replaced (fortunately) is the sheer wonderment caused by plants bursting from the earth each Spring. No matter how many times I see this annual miracle (this will be number 69 – though I confess I cannot remember the first half dozen years) it still makes me realize how privileged we are to be able to get dirt under our fingernails, and home grown produce on our table.
Now brace yourselves for snow!
Greenhouse Blues (or rather BS??? Pale Stone)
We certainly live in area of outstanding natural contradictions (beauty too of
course) Last week we had howling gales and snow, this week we have T shirt
weather (if you come from round these parts) and snow drops, winter aconites,
cyclamen and crocus miraculously sprouting all around us.
Christmas – We like the Ho Ho Ho
I was reading a rather depressing article in a magazine the other day which was quoting statistics about the increased deaths, marital break ups, crime etc which occur around Christmas (added to which we have the Mayan prophecy of Armageddon this year) – all very gloomy.
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!
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.
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.
Wendy and I were recently in London to receive an award from the Good Hotel Guide. It was a very low key affair which we enjoyed greatly, met some charming people and were able to eat at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond which is absolutely stunning in a very relaxed way.