Went to the rescue of a few newts and a toad down in the outside cellar of the Hall. It was nice and damp down there compared to the parched ground I saw when I arrived back in England. How things were going to change!!!!!!!
While I was away the forestry team pulled ragwort down in the South Avenue and so did the farm team. Then there was the ragwort up by the Folly to deal with… there is loads of it around this year and the tools we have for the job are somewhat wanting. Time to invest in some proper English-made tools from Lazy Dog Tools- ordered five sets which contain a chisel hoe for creeping thistle (got zillions of them) and a dock, spear thistle and ragwort puller, more on this when we get them…
Also while I was away the Tuesday mowing (not scything) mob turned up to mow at the Folly. In fact they were mowing an area that was full of cowslips (maybe a tad late as some of the seed would have fallen out) but, when spread to the further reaches of the same field the next day, even what’s left of the seed will be enough to get the cowslips to spread and cover Folly Field. What a sight that’ll be in about five to ten years.
The next urgent job was to replace the stiles along the notorious footpath number four. I hate this footpath, it’s vexed me enormously over the last twenty years. Perceptions change, rules become stricter and attitudes harder; gone are the days of the ‘Countryside Code’ and an understanding of rural life. I was wondering why I like Romania so much- you can walk almost anywhere as long as you respect the land you walk upon and the people who survive on it; but then it is a big land with so few people and a hard life made easier by being friendly, where everyone accepts that paths can be a bit (well extremely) rough.
Anyway, enough of that, the stiles had to be replaced with gates… easy enough until you find that this little tiny bit is connected to this enormous bit of falling down fence. A little just-a-job turns into an epic one (not made any easier when the last person walloped the staples into the wooden stakes right up to the hilt). We were going to reuse the stock fence (saving money and fossil fuel by recycling it) but alas, it had to be cut off the posts (darn). Three days to do two stiles ! Another two to go… but not before we repair the Bryce Suma post knocker as the pulley wheel broke ( darn again!).
Another job of the week was tidying the front lawn- with so much attention being paid to the Folly project everyone seems to have neglected the area in front of the Hall.
Spent some of Tuesday mowing around the tree guards and trees (well most of Tuesday actually) and carted away the cut grass to feed the cattle at Home Farm.
The next day we carted some more hay and it was whilst I raked the grass that I noticed a bit of paper that looked like a fiver. Whooppee – a fiver! Mine all mine to go along with the silver ten pence bit I had found earlier. Wonder if this could be construed as a perk and I wonder if I have to pay tax? Not going to!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Blast, after crowing to John about my bit of good fortune I unravelled the fiver to find that in fact I was the owner of only half a fiver- absolutely no good to man nor beast.
Well, blow me if I didn’t rake a little bit more and found the other half of the fiver! It then occurred to me that I must have mown the five pound note in half with a scythe the day before- cut clean as a whistle and, with the judicious use of a bit of sellotape, I could now pop down the pub for a well deserved pint of bitter…
At Wimpole the red bartsia plant has been slowly increasing; it is an annual root-hemiparasite of short grasslands on low-fertility soils and is particularly associated with trampled areas like the edge of tracks and footpaths. Its main pollinators are carder bees and other solitary bee species including one (Melitta tricincta), found in the far south-east of the country, which is wholly dependent on red bartsia. At the time of year when many bee populations are declining, M. tricincta appears to be increasing, although it is generally only to be encountered around the inconspicuous flowers of red bartsia (Odontites vernus) which flower from mid July onwards. In such situations it can be locally abundant and, as with other Melitta species, the males are usually more in evidence than the females.
The botanical name derives from ‘odons’ the Greek for tooth and relates to its past use as a cure for toothache.
Other jobs for the week were to finish off the stock fence in the new Woodyard and put up the marquees at the Folly for the upcoming Gamekeepers Weekend. We were planning to engage with the public about the past use of the Folly especially when it was used to house the Gamekeeper. Vintage traps, a catapult and air rifle range, ferreting and horse logging were all on the list of things to do … plus an awful lot more. Took the whole of Friday to sort things out plus erect the star tent in the Rectory Garden in readiness for the staff party.
When the marquees were erected we noticed that there weren’t enough metal stakes and, with no time to go and purchase any, it was a quick excursion to the Smithy and, within half an hour, the metal stakes were made!
Jamie Sugg was working at Wimpole before ill health forced him to make a career change and what a change! We went to see his work the other day ( he was showing as part of Cambridge Open Studios), very impressed with his art work.
Here are a few paintings and drawings showing which one each of us preferred; I love black and white so this lovely sketch in white on black of a young girl was my choice. Well done Jamie!