Andy is up early laying bricks for his wall, Karen is raspberry picking and I am languishing in bed writing the blog after a sleep in. It has been such a treat to go slow this week.
The weather continues to be sunny and now there is talk of water restrictions for gardens. Andy waters by hand with a watering can which is a huge job. I had thought a sprinkler would be easier but water pressure is not that good here. As it is they have a pump to boost the pressure for the washing machine and I discover to my dismay that the dribbley showers become forceful entities.
When I emerged to shower I used the upstairs bathroom next to my bedroom. I got in as usual and turned on the water expecting a weak flow which I had had the last time I used this shower. But oh no! I was blasted with a forceful stream of water that washed me and almost the whole bathroom. I frantically tried to regulate the taps but to no avail and soon the floor was awash. I quickly threw my t shirt over the shower head so I could get to the taps to turn them off!
Surveying the bathroom I was grateful it was a bathroom where it is built to be relatively safe for water. I wiped up, hung up the soaked bath mat and rug and retreated to my bedroom. It was only then as I was apologising, that Karen told me about the pump that is turned on for the washing machine but makes the showers very forceful. The downstairs shower is just the same when the washing machine is on. The message is, don’t shower while the washing machine is in action! Living in the country, in ancient houses, and English bathrooms are all very idiosyncratic.
By now I have collected my wits sufficiently to dress for a walk Andy has planned along Offra’s dyke on the border of Wales, not far from Herefordshire. We set off along the usual confusing country lanes but soon gain altitude to look over the Shropshire downs. The country is turning golden instead of green very rapidly now and there is a haze of humidity overhanging everything.
Offra’s dyke is a huge ditch and mound about 180 miles long that is along the border of Wales and England. It is not clear why it was built though speculation suggests it was a defining of the border between the two countries. It is a pleasant walk ( up hill of course) with good views and as we reach the top we come across a red dragon! It is a metal sculpture sitting beside a section of the dyke with no explanation as to why it is there. It is rather lovely and certainly whimsical. It isn’t as if no one will see it as we have been passed by several walkers, so it is a well visited path but it was a surprise. Sheep graze nearby and I wondered what they thought about it when it first appeared.
We are only doing a circuit but some walk the whole length. A couple of walkers asked Andy whether a nearby pub was open and he directed them to a shortcut. We stopped for a drink and snack then made our way back to the car. Andy pointed out a laid hedge and explained how farmers bend and twist and weave hazel wood stems to thicken the hedge planting so they are animal proof. The hedge grows the whole time around and from the woven parts. There were piles of twiggy timber nearby that would be used in this process.
After returning to the car I suggested tea at a cafe in Clun (a village within Wales) before checking out the castle. The tea pots came dressed in Tennis themed cosies because Wimbledon is on. A bit different! On the way to the castle we passed one of the oldest lawn bowling greens in the country. It was round. A true bowling green.
The castle was built as a fortification to keep the Welsh under control and was grand in its time but has been a ruin for nearly 400 years!
Returning home we hustled to get ready for dinner at Andy’s sister Susie’s home. She and her late husband Ivor used to own Dunkerton Cider but they had just sold it when Ivor passed away. Susie still lives next door to the business and grows apples for the cider. While we dined we could hear the sounds from the restaurant that was part of the cider business. Susie has a huge garden and vegetable garden so she has some help to manage it. She has a haha(? Spelling) which is a ditch that is designed to blend into the sightline so you don’t notice it but it discourages animals (rabbits) from raiding her vegetable garden. I hadn’t heard of such a thing before. The gardener was leaving as we arrived and she admitted to trimming one of the bushes into a McEnroe chicken shape with headband!
The haha in the foreground with orchards in the background. Can you see it?
It was a lovely evening and good to see Susie who is still adjusting to the loss of her husband. It is only just two years now and still painful. People seem to expect you to ‘ get over ‘ grief like it is an illness but you never ‘ get over’ losing the love of your life. All you do is learn to adjust to life without them. Life becomes about learning who you are now as an individual. Susie remarked on how she could plant want she likes now without Ivor’s input but then it is those tussles that you miss too; Having someone with whom to talk things over. Karen’s Mum Sue is also making that adjustment after losing her husband twelve months ago. It is never easy.