We are celebrating Planning Permission being granted on the Castle. It came early, all of our requests approved. It was an entirely new experience dealing with Conservation officers who were amenable, helpful, friendly and supportive: perhaps one peculiar to the Island.
As there is no good news without bad, we have run into trouble with our beautiful contemporary building to replace Olivers. The speed with which they lambasted it was breath-taking. It turns out to be too contemporary, dressed up by them in different language ‘incongruous, utilitarian and modular’. Could we change the roof to something more Victorian please? No. I will build this, or nothing. Or though ironically it might be fun to apply to for a two storey building dressed in fake clapboard. They would pass that and I would have made my point. It is rather sad that Cambridge City Council will allow Niall’s team to develop Jesus College Cambridge, but the Isle of Wight can’t see their way to having a building by him that they haven’t specified to their own taste.
So the builders have come, the drive is churned up (my fault not theirs) and we are currently widening it quite dramatically by removing a large slope of soil by the Olivers entrance. This should keep trucks away from my beautiful oak tree. I have had a number of requests to crown lift one side, but should anyone try to do this they might find me lying beneath their tractor wheels, or lodged, in the style of Swampy, in the canopy above. Quite a calm place for taking tea.
Alasdair, Steph and the team have been busy clearing turf circles from under the canopies of the trees, this oak included. Many freezing days at Kew with the Plant School has indoctrinated me into surveying my trees for health and I have noticed a number of them looking very stressed, the Catalpa bignoides leafless on one side and a lovely little crab apple in particular, with sparse canopy, dead sections and an air of general demise. The tree consultant, called in to advise on the new Olivers building, suggested that it may all be due to compaction. So we are getting our ride on mower away from them, keeping heavy vehicles from driving under the canopy where we can and allowing the natural leaf fall at the this time of year to remain on the ground beneath to create its own humus. If ill health persists, in the spring they could have a sugar mulch, an energy boost akin to a Lucozade, to perk them up.
So you see at the moment I have the bit between my teeth and the war path to march along, so gardeners and builders alike are ducking when they see me. I had better climb that oak and calm down.