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China Girl blog 2nd April 2020

The days roll on, each day bringing more sadness to many, when family and friends are struck down by the Covid-19 virus. The cold north wind funnels up the valley, bringing little cheer. The clock leapt forward, and now it is summer, but you would never know it.

With everyone who works in the garden in lock-down, it is such a relief to have Mathew and Saskia, Mathew’s girlfriend, who is half Dutch, living in the cottage whilst they self-isolate. Next Sunday after fourteen days of isolation, they will move into the main house with Mother, which she is looking forward to.

Mathew has done all the mowing which Wesley normally does, and which takes nearly a day. Also, they have already had three enormous bonfires, burning all the winter garden rubbish which had at long last dried out after the endless rain of past months. Mathew, who is obsessively tidy, was horrified at the state of the garage where all the garden machinery is kept. He immediately started a huge throwing-out operation. Wesley, who is a hoarder and keeps every nut and bolt which might come in useful, will be horrified. Some years ago, Ma discovered in a corner, twenty old batteries. Mathew discovered a hibernating hedgehog; it must have squeezed under the door during the autumn.

This Sunday we were due to open the house and garden. All our groups have cancelled, which reminded Mother of a Dutch group who had booked to see the garden one summer twenty years ago. The driver of the coach got as far as Greenham and then took fright at the narrow lane leading to Cothay; he refused to go any further, for fear of scratching his new coach. Mathew, who was staying for the weekend, hitched up the farm trailer, filling it with deck chairs and went to fetch the group of intrepid Dutch. The leader said, “Go faster, faster!” to which Mathew replied, “They might fall out!” “Don’t worry, we are well insured” was her reply!

Flowering bravely in the cold wind, the yellow Corylopsis sinensis, native of China and Osmanthus velavayi, also from China. The garden is full of promise.

How fortunate are we who live at Cothay, deep within the high-banked lands on the border of Devon. Cothay is near nowhere, protected we hope from the Covid-19 virus. It must have been much like the plague of long ago. We pray each day that all will be safe at magical Cothay.