Little has changed in a thousand years surrounding Cothay. Amidst the high-banked byways, the lanes remain much the same as they have always done. They follow the drovers’ tracks of long ago, forerunners of our lanes. In times past, drovers would know where there was safety for their cattle, denoted by standing stones and tall Scots pines; like a map, there were markers denoting resting places of shelter. Rounding a bend, it is still not unknown to see an escaped piglet trotting up the lane. Mother read that in medieval times, there were constant complaints about the state of the roads and the escaping pigs. Little has changed! In spring and early summer, the narrow lane leading to Cothay is full of bluebells and other wild flowers, like a magic carpet winding to the old house. A constant complaint by visitors is why don’t you have more signage? We have been trying to find Cothay for hours! The answer, and the reason, is that the council will only permit five signs, and these you have to pay for. It is hard to understand why they wish to encourage tourism and with the other hand, disallow signage. Ma, who has lived here for thirty years, says the lanes are a maze; she can go one mile away and still have no idea where she is!
Ma went with friends to visit an amazing house near Bridgwater called Halswell House, which had fallen into decay; bought for a million pounds some years ago, it will take the present owner ten years to restore the house and park. Pevsner said it is the most important house of the 17th century in England. Mother says she prefers quirky old Cothay.
Looking spectacular and just coming into flower, is Clerodendron bungei from China; a shrub with green and purple leaves and lovely large pink flowers. In warm areas, it is quite hardy, spreading rapidly by its suckers; the attractive leaves Ma thinks, smell like tom cats, the flowers like heaven.
David and Wesley have been hard at work transforming the small arboretum, bowing up the trees and removing those planted too close together. Now looking across the river, the transformation is a great success.
As August ends, the golden days of summer are but a magical memory. Nostalgia hangs in the air, we must try to love and cherish the dreamy days of fading glory. Even in these fading days, the garden holds its magic.