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China Girl blog 28th November 2018

Time passes as quickly as a dream leaving the dull November days, like faded water colours. The garden is smart with the newly-clipped yew hedges, shown off by the bare brown earth; it’s hard to conjure the past summer glory.

Edward Renshaw came back for two days, bringing back to life the hungry wood in the Great Hall, with his potions and polish. It’s hard to know if the wood back in the fifteenth century ever looked so wonderful; probably not, but Ma loves the way it now looks, glowing with a rich dark sheen, the colour of polished conkers, bringing to life the darkest corners. Mother pointed out to Edward the two-inch burn marks on the door jams and elsewhere. As he polished, he kept stumbling on more. These are said to keep the evil spirits from being blown in on the draught. Ma has a dissertation entitled “Ritual Protection Marks on Vernaculars Buildings, House Magic.” Here at Cothay they are all over the house, probably their belief goes back to pagan times. In the dining room carved on the stone surround of the fireplace are six pointed-stars, which were thought in the seventeenth century to stop the witches from coming down the chimneys; Mother says she is glad we live in a house protected from evil spirits!

On Friday the weather was cold and damp, we sat in the warm kitchen, whilst Chris drew out a new border for Jo, Ma’s daughter-in-law to go outside their front door. We hope this will stimulate them to get a move on with their garden, which they have done very little about since they moved eighteen years ago. The border is easy to maintain with shrubs for year-round interest. Miss Jessops upright Rosemary, Sarcococca, Daphne, Heber, Rackiensis and three shrub Iceburg roses which will bloom for six months. It is a pretty white rose on rather a scruffy shrub, so there should be planted in one hole, which gives it a good shape. In the front of the small border are three potentillas, which will flop onto the drive. The shrubs are blue and white with a touch of pink. The border should then be filled with Allium purple sensation and the beautifully shaped lily-flowered tulips.

The patina of years is ever-present, time passing like the tide ever on the move, coming in and going out.