….. while ye may, old time is still a-flying: and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.

I reflect on this verse as I soak in a hot bath in St Vaast.  Nick and I have crossed the Channel to spend a day at the house.  Parts of the house are rather bleak, it being cold, dark, unwelcoming.  We are still waiting for remedial works to protect against further infestation of the dreaded champignons to start.  Although they won’t start until early spring is our guess.  That’s if the parties involved in getting the project off the ground can come to a consensus.  We live in hope that the process can start when we have a site meeting on January 25th.

So we have spent a day outside, in very inclement weather, tidying the garden.  In addition to clearing dead growth and big weeds (which task reveals a previously unremarked Christmas Rose in flower) I take up several foxglove plants which should flower in 2011, to transplant to the hedge at the bottom of the garden at Winterborne K.  A dozen small terracotta pots of Tete-a-Tete daffs also make the return crossing with us because I know just where they will go.

But I’m thinking about rosebuds in the bath because I have just picked some optimistic buds from the roses which climb along the east wall of the house.  A brother-in-law is very ill and will not live long into the New Year.  And I’m remembering words posted by a nephew on Facebook just before he went abroad for a short working trip:

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.

Come the weekend we are visited by the Ryans and Billy and Charlie refind familiar toys in the children’s room.  Billy is a delightful child with a sweet voice and his younger brother is a cheeky pickle – and delightful 😉

There’s more gardening of sorts when Nick and I drive up to 88 on Sunday.  We have a job to get done in the flats and Nick takes his big chainsaw to help Ryan retrieve and cut up oak logs from the woodland.  These are oaks from The Great Storm of 1987 and there is still plenty of timber to be had.  My task is to sweep and bag up leaves, leaves and more leaves from the front terrace, side passage.  A satisfying activity.

During the week that follows (in which I hear that a very dear friend in Cornwall is not at all well) it rains heavily and often.  Because I have been stowing boxes into the eaves cupboards I notice a small leak through the interior roof cladding.  Nick deduces that the conduit for the trickle must be the TV aerial wiring that runs down next to the chimney stack.  We will keep an eye on this chink in our armour – it seems to be prompted by a deluge rather than what one might term normal rainfall.  So I have been busy indoors, setting up my sewing machine – or to be more precise my grandmother’s Singer which must be 60 years old and probably more – to run up cushions, bathmats, tablecloths.  At the end of this session my remnant stack is satisfactorily depleted.

The very wet conditions put garden tasks at WK on hold.  But come the weekend I am able to get outside on Saturday afternoon, plant the daffodil bulbs which are shooting well, plant the foxgloves and lift the cyclamen corms.  The plants were knocked out by the severe frosts and it is doubtful they will come through the experience.  They certainly don’t want to stay wet so I’m going to try and dry them out and see what happens later in the year.  I’m equally doubtful about the Mimosa which was planted by our predecessors and it now looks decidedly dead.  I’ll be watching it closely.


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