Fishing for newts

On the Oliver’s site, Trevor continues to rumble round in his digger, this must be his fifth or sixth week of doing so, whilst Alasdair hacks and saws in front of him, braving a strained shoulder. As we have reduced a village resident to tears over changes to the site and aggravated another with our bonfire, we must brace ourselves for a disgruntled back lash, as this week we fill in the pond.

Having run through its merits for six months, I have concluded the following: we already have a lot of water on the site;  I can only love it if it is a ‘mirror’ pond (an expensive and complicated project); we won’t be tempted by a cold and slimy ‘natural’ swimming pool and most importantly, as we are beginning to lay out the kitchen garden this week, the turf is more cheaply disposed of here than in dozens of skips.

The pond is about 30 x 15 metres and is complete with central island, duck house and waterfall. However, the butyl liner has disintegrated with age, or simply torn, so that at this time of year, despite clay sub soil,  it holds just two feet of water, a foot above, which is very brackish and stagnant and a foot trapped between the liner and the clay below, which has never seen light or air. When you stand in the pond to clear the choking weeds, it inflates like a jelly.

Can newts live in this? I am in a panic in case they can and having peered over the edge since August to look for signs of life and seeing none,  yesterday we went in. Or Alasdair went in, while I hovered on the edge fearing that he may plunge into a watery void. Hours of looking revealed nothing alive. The odd frog, one actually, is in the undergrowth at the top of the garden around the fernery pond. So happily my new fishing net is redundant and the only thing worth rescuing, I believe, is the vast gunnera and I am off to ring round and find a home for it.

Alasdair with mud
Fishing for newts


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