Now we’ve - nearly - resolved the usual moving in nonsenses with idiosyncratic plumbing and the idiotic BT Broadband we can almost peer through the mountain of empty packing cases and paper and see our new HQ in the light of day.
There’s so much to take in with a new plot it’s difficult to know where to start. We have just under an acre and a half of land sloping west to east, where a lane borders the hedge. We’re surrounded by fields in the other directions, with a hedge to the south close to the existing cottage, which sits in the south east corner of the plot. I am looking out west from my office towards some stables, an unlovely powerline and a lovely oak in the hedgeline. The views are generally stunning though (see below), and it's part of the challenge for the architects in designing the new build to take advantage of them while folding the house into the existing landscape.
The land itself is a blank canvas. There’s not much of a formal garden and the rest of the land is either thistle and bindweed – already strimmed – in the southwest corner and some potentially nice grassland in the northern two thirds of the plot. I say “potentially” because the grasses are nice and the sward is open, but there are very few flowers out there. Apart from the odd milk thistle there is a good area of meadow vetchling, some buttercup and red clover, and a little agrimony and bedstraw. The local farmer has just very kindly topped it for us and will bale and remove the hay, when we’ll sow some Rattle to start to get it under control. Landscaper Phil Brown
has lots of ideas for this section, which will be divided up into smaller, quite distinct areas.
As to the local wildlife, the folk who sold us the house were mad keen birders and did a great job attracting an amazing variety into the garden. Unfortunately, 15 bird feeders led to another, less welcome, visiting fraternity. We’re now temporarily in a feeder free zone and waging mechanical and chemical warfare on the impressive local rat population. As to my own great enthusiasms further down the food chain there are a few butterflies about; I’ve seen meadow browns, woods, small tortoiseshells and skippers. I’ve come across no bats and remarkably few bees and hoverflies; I’ve seen Bombus lapidarius and B. hortorum, but hardly any solitary bees. I yearn for all the fauna and flora around our old pond too; the site desperately misses water. It will be fascinating to see how quickly we can bring up insect numbers over the next few years.
There are honey bees about, and, happy day, I’ve managed to collect a late swarm. It will need a lot of TLC to get it through the winter, but fingers crossed. I’ll collect my own colonies after their holiday with my beekeeping friend John.
As far as the house is concerned we’ve had some exciting meetings with the architects - about which, gentle reader, more anon. For the time being here’s a quick video of the views from the back garden.