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China Girl blog 6th December 2018

The restless blood which runs in our veins looks constantly to the future. The rhythm of life, full of infinite possibility even though clearly November has passed, and at long last in December, nothing changes. You cannot conquer time.

Work has at long last begun on thinning out the trees in the Arboretum and garden by Arboricare run by Colin, who arrived on Monday, bringing his team of four tree surgeons who began thinning out the larch and pines which had been planted too close. Together they lift the tall Scotts pines, removing the lower tatty branches, letting the light into the glade. Growing on the edge of the river were too many alders which were leaning over the water and into other trees, these they also took down. The huge old ash, which sadly had Ash dieback and has had all its limbs removed, leaving the trunk to about twenty feet, so it now looks like a modern sculpture. The same treatment was given to an old holme oak at the top of the avenue, leaving the trunk to just above a hornets’ nest which is built in an old in the trunk. Poor maligned insects are always persecuted, they have to build their nest somewhere; their nests are a work of art and great engineering feat, and are very beautiful.

After two days, Storm Diana hit and work had to be abandoned, it was too dangerous to work high up in swaying trees. For an hour, Ma and I watched the team at work; Ma says even standing on a chair makes her feel dizzy. Hopefully, the rain and wind will soon pass and the team will be back.

Looking out of the kitchen windows at the bird table which the blue tits never seem the leave are many other birds. Along with the great tits, the occasional coal tit and a couple of nut hatches and the odd black and white woodpecker, all seem to thrive on the nuts, sunflower seeds and half a pound of lard a week. Whether it is a fact or not, Ma heard that garden birds’ wings are getting shorter as they don’t have to fly so far to forage as so many people have bird tables.

Every day it rains; the river has risen by a few feet and is the colour of chocolate pudding due to the mud washed down from the far-away hills. The water rushes past, carrying all before it; so far it hasn’t broken its banks, but doubtless this will happen before the winter ends as it is unusually does; but no harm is ever done after the water subsides and all is back to its usual beauty.

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