We have, again, a house full of family. Ishbel drove up and arrived on Wednesday night, we visited dad and collected mum yesterday and this afternoon the bold boy himself arrived. Lyra is cock a hoop at having all her pets conveniently in one place and, in the case of Auntie Granny, bristling with tripe sticks.
With the garden open day proper in a couple of weeks we have co-opted mum and Ishbel into the gardening detail. Mum, as ever, is weeding up a storm and Ishbel has been given the clippers and set to trimming edges. Lachlan is allergic to gardening but has indicated general willingness to go to the Cornhill post office to procure sandwiches for the labourers from time to time and a nod must also be given to his excellent tech support (i.e. sorting mum’s phone which has become infested by unwelcome apps). Keith, in his PR role (which, suspiciously has involved a number of visits to licensed premises) has erected a sign at the start of the riverside walk to encourage the canine elite and their pets, and, as lawn care operative, has been scuttling about on the lawnmower all afternoon.
And me? Well, I decided that the least appealing job of the season could be delayed no longer and donned my swimming costume this morning. No, I patiently explained to the assembled breakfast munchers, this is not because I have run out of clean laundry…..I am volunteering for pond detail. The conversation moved swiftly on, with no-one indicating any desire to be Spartacus.
By way of essential warm up, Mum Ishbel and I took Lyra for a windy walk around the riverside. The long grass has been mown and Lyra’s little tunnels down to the beats have all disappeared but the appearance of many heaps of drying grass for rolling in proved a satisfactory compensation. Rain for the last couple of days and a brisk wind today meant the river was deep and fast. The swans were positively scudding along towards Cornhill, their direction firmly dictated by atmospheric pressure.
Once back at the ranch I eschewed a pit stop for tea and buns, stripped to the cozzie and donned the pond clearing plimsolls from the greenhouse. It’s an odd sensation wading in the ponds, surprisingly soft underfoot and not as cold as you’d expect. At the edges, where the blanketweed is thick and bubbly, it’s almost hot. I waded in up to the armpits and, accompanied by a floating rubber trug, began combing through the plants as gently as I could to untangle the annoying blanketweed from the jaunty horsetails and wafty underwater “green lungs’ I am trying to encourage, returning any captured newts and dragonfly nymphs to the soup. The big pink lilies in the top pond have started flowering and in the bottom pond I was very happy to see lots of buds on the white lilies and a yellow flower on the baby lily grown from a cutting a couple of years ago. As well as weed, I extracted a large branch of pine and two enormous beech branches covered in blanketweed looking, for all the world, like green antlers. Herne the Hunter tossed in the pond by the winter storms perhaps.
I emerged at the end of the job more like the creature from the blue lagoon than the Lady of the Lake. Coated in fronds of weed and smears of slime and now rather numb about the finger ends I slurped along to the kitchen to find team Fountain cozily ensconced around the kitchen table with tea and an admirable array of snacks. “We would have called you but you were in the pond…….” I loaded up with a cup of tea, a plate of cheese sarnies and a chunk of pork pie and left with the dignity of a wronged Nyad and had my lunch in the bath.