Nights have been cold but the days have been beautifully sunny, we have sat out on the patio for a cup of tea in the afternoon and have been able to work in the garden in t shirts in the afternoon. Our day, with the changing season, moves into a pattern of house chores and admin in the morning while we wait for the mists and light frosts to disappear. As the sun rises higher in the sky the warmer air makes the outside more appealing, the outside projects get all the attention they deserve.
We have one very big outside project at the moment, one we had not even contemplated that we would be doing, but we have learnt that there is always a curve ball that takes your energies and resources in a different direction and you just have to be ready to react. The beautiful box hedge that adorned the farmhouse drive suffered so badly last year from the box hedge caterpillar that we have had to have it removed. Sadly it took chain saws and a digger to remove it and all the main roots. We are now tilling the land, removing the million little roots and sifting the soil. Thank goodness for the fair weather of the last week as we prepare the ground for the hornbeam that will be arriving in the next few days. Now is the time to get the new hedge planted so it can get the roots established before the heat of the summer.
In taking down the box, which was in fact two lines of hedge, revealed the condition of an old stone wall. This wall was crumbling and unsightly and so began another project that we had not planned to do! In order to rebuild the wall all the stone has had to be remove to the drive and sorted into small, medium, large and rubble. As you can imagine this is no easy task and the aching muscles every morning are testament to how much effort has been spent the day before!
It is a bit of a mindless activity throwing the stone to the correct pile and remembering not to linger too long on the decision as to which pile it belongs to! My mind wanders to the archaeologist and all the painstaking digging and filtering that takes place. I am that archaeologist! My treasures are not priceless but are never the less interesting. Why have I found six identical rubber soles from a shoe? I wonder if it is some ancient wall ritual that brings luck and prosperity. I remember years ago when renovating an inglenook fireplace in Wiltshire we found two small shoes and I believe these would have been put there to offer protection to the household. I remember we left them hidden for someone else to find, I think I will do the same with this recent discovery and build them back into the wall!
I smiled at the discovery of a sardine tin key, lid duly wrapped around in tight rusty fashion, it took me back to those fiddly lids and the half opened tins from which I had to extricate sardines! Next discovery was the bottom of a wine bottle, not a wholly surprising find, with a very deep dimple of perhaps 10 cm in the bottom. I had always been told that the deeper the dimple the more expensive the wine. So the discoveries continued, small pieces of china and half a plate, metal brackets and a precious key, the list goes on. The key was probably the most exciting discovery, one can only imagine the frustration when that was lost. I think of putting our own time capsule in the new wall so in years to come someone can know something about the work at the Farmhouse. Should we scribe on paper or leave our information on a memory stick? We were amused by a recent item showing how children were not sure what to do with a cassette tape, some putting it to their ear. Will this be the same for the memory stick in the future? No doubt this technology will be replaced and succeeded. While I decide about time capsules and shoes the work goes on and I look forward to posting some pictures of our new driveway in the spring.
We finally closed the pool for winter at the beginning of the month, the pool heater can only work so hard and as the days get cooler it is on 24/7 trying to maintain the 28 degrees C. The cover is on for a while now and as always we look forward to the time when it is rolled back ready for the new season. But in the meantime there is lots to do so I am not wishing the months away!