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China Girl blog 30th August 2018

After weeks with no rain and just the odd splash, on Sunday the heavens opened and it rained all day, wind and rain rattling relentlessly against the casements in the old house. Autumn has arrived  a month early.

Whilst Ma was weeding the terrace, a somewhat lengthy job, it reminded her of the first part of the reconstruction of the garden, undertaken some thirty years ago with the aid of two Australians on their gap year.  Their first and really only task was the laying of the terrace with york stone, tons of which was collected from around the garden. The guideline was to lay the heavy slabs in sand, leaving half-inch gaps between each slab for plants to grow in and seed about. Jarrard, whose father was an itinerant sheep shearer, could not understand our quaint English ways. He felt we should concrete the terrace and be done with laying heavy slabs. In his opinion, we should knock down a wall to make a cricket pitch, sell all of the lead guttering, replacing it with plastic ones, and build a bungalow on the lawn. When I explained that none of this would be possible as the house was grade one listed, he replied “what, this old place!” Edward, the other seventeen year-old came from the other side of Australia, a chain smoker who was deeply in love, and spent most of his time playing mournful tunes on our out-of-tune piano.

This morning our new ducks arrived. Colin, who breeds thirty thousand, arrived in his smelly Land Rover. “Jump in” he said to Ma, and I’ll drive ee down to the pond –  don’t mind the smell, I’ve just had pigs in here!”

Looking amazing is the arboretum, which we have been clearing for the last month, bowing up trees and removing alders which have seeded by the river. It really adds a new dimension to the garden.

How quickly the year passes. As the days shorten there is still much to do before the end of the season.

Time as usual has passed this summer in a flash, a timely reminder that the changing seasons mark the passing years.