After two weeks of fervent unpacking it felt about time to take a break and get outdoors. I am much happier outside than in and thus it seems incredible that we had not yet made it even to the bottom of the garden.
The land is roughly divided into three areas: a slope down from the road, traversed by that awkward drive; a more or less levelled area where the house sits, with a small lawn, flower beds and a vegetable garden; then another steep drop down to the river, where the terrain again flattens out but takes on all the characteristics of a bog. A journey to the bottom of the garden requires a certain amount of planning and kitting up. Wellies? For sure. Machete? Quite probably. Pith helmet?
The previous owner turned 90 the day after he had moved out of this place. His life here, with his wife, must have contributed in no small part to his longevity. But it also meant that, understandably, the land had become less well maintained over the years.
Woodland left to its own devices can become impenetrable. Saplings develop unchecked and take over. The canopy closes up and little light gets through to the woodland floor. Trees tumble and either lean against others or fall to the ground and start to rot. Fallen trees here have indeed made some places impossible to get to.. along with the brambles that grow to form dense thickets. We first viewed the house in January, when the woodland floor was an attractive carpet of crisp dry leaves. Now it is a carpet of rampant ground elder.
Yet, it could be a very magical place indeed. The wildest areas feel almost primeval. Moss and lichen hang everywhere and ferns actually grow out of branches high up in the air. That rain again!
The bird life is incredible. The pheasant of earlier acquaintance is by no means alone. Six males and five females make up the current highest tally. The dawn chorus has the power to wake you up.. at about 4.00 in the morning. We have birds that I have to look up in a book, plus woodpeckers, owls, bats and one bird (as yet unidentified) that has acquired an irritatingly accurate rendition of the phone – now that the phone actually works.
But oh, what a hard slog it is going to be. I had flippantly told friends that we had embarked on a ten year project. Wildly optimistic.
I’ve spotted the perfect place for the hammock. It’s just that little bit out of reach..