Bungalow Blues

In a rash moment, in order to secure the plumbing team that everybody wants, (that is builder, architect and M&E Consultant) but I am yet to meet, I have offered the bungalow ‘Olivers’ as accommodation for the duration of the Castle project. This I gather will be a long project for the plumbers, the exposed heating system necessitating perfection at every joint.

It is fortunate the bungalow remains, spreading too widely across the bottom of the garden, its white paint unrelentingly unsympathetic to the natural environment. If I’d had my way and we had consent for ‘Niall’s Perfect Pavilion’ (see the earlier blog), the bulldozers would have rolled in by now. My lack for love for it is reflected in the fact that I have allowed the gardeners to trash the  building, using it as a mess hut, dog pen and sometime material store. A whole year of this has left the house grey, with an odour of unemptied bins. A few carpets remain, the rest relocated to the gardener’s cottage, Alasdair’s new home. Bedrooms have the odd pile of a friend’s woodworking tools, yachting magazines and my bric-a-brac, all stored while local workshops are being repaired. Manically flowered curtains swing from poles no longer attached to walls. I have 3 weeks to get it habitable and the grey of January is not inspiring me to activity.

Meanwhile, emails fly trying to resolve a plan for Niall’s pavilion, shown in the images below. From my perspective, I have found the design I want, have a firm conviction in it as a positive addition to this landscape and so now remain superior, inflexible. Unhelpful. It is up to my super-busy husband to be practical and email planning consultant, planning barrister and architect to arrange meetings and redraw battle lines. It is such an improvement to the landscape, how could it be refused? Yet it would have been, had we not withdrawn our first application hastily, before inevitable defeat. We will take more advice and try again.

This week, while I stroll morosely around this bottom end of the garden, it is water, water, everywhere. Springs bubble up randomly and inside the many manholes that cover the Victorian drainage system, water cascades down to the Duver. Here are the longed-for newts that we knew must be here. They are tucked into crevices in the walls of the drains, or sit greedily in the gushing waterways of the clay pipes. Not crested, thankfully, so that is a complication dodged. On the surface, water sits in pools on the blue clay, sky to match. January blues. Come on snowdrops, where are you?


A rather grubby welcome awaits you at ‘Olivers’



View 02_Final
Two views of the proposed pavilion. The old fruit store in the centre ground looks slightly incongruous, to be helped by new planting.




Ruts in the clay soil fill with water


A new drainage channel on the Camellia lawn, newly dug but already serving its purpose.


Steph analyses a lovely common newt.




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