Friday, 18 December 2015

That was 2015!!

Drive makers
As I write, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches and redpolls vie for position on the feeders, move in groups around the seeding plants in our prairie beds or gorge on the hips of rosa rugosa in the foraging  border.
It has been a great year for developing the Cordwood gardens. With a huge team effort (led by Captn Dave) we completed the drive & entrance. Under the Head Gardener’s (HG) direction we planted almost half of the prairie beds and await a dry spell to complete ground prep & mulching of the remainder before spring planting. The Woodland Garden is developing and all beds & mounding at the front of Waxwings are now planted. The early spring snowdrops in the Woodland Garden are worth the entrance money alone folks! We also completed the Fragrant Garden and maintained our lovely Cedar Walk & boundary. Judith & Roger did sterling work in The Stumpery. Phew!
Soup making with Joe
As well as an increasing bird population, we identified over 130 Cordwood moths during the year and as we hear ever-depressing news about biodiversity, we were pleased to record our first Holly Blue butterfly during the summer. Hopefully the ivy sea in the Cedar Walk will attract this pretty butterfly to breed. When Tree Sparrows bred in the apex nest box Roger had sited on our west facing gable, I thought I’d pop! 

We all seem pretty healthy - dad (87) gets a special mention for work here in the garden each week. Mum still keeps him on his toes!

Matt & Zoe’s wedding reception here at Cordwood was a highlight. Best news of the year was getting a message from his sister that pal Kris had had a successful lung transplant up in Newcastle. We wear caps y’know: the chaps in caps. On a sad note, the loss of old Min of Ag friend Len was an awful blow - as was the sudden loss of Liz's husband Keith.

Ahead? 
Next up is slabbing and erection of the HG’s greenhouse and landscaping around. And the pond!! Our local farmer  Bill Hammond will contour the 300m2 beast (filled with rainwater collected from our roofs) in the New Year and then Jill will use her skills making beds to roll out the whopping liner. All help appreciated!! Just can’t wait to get the wildflower meadow boiling.

Meeting of Clan Carlyle at Cordwood July 2015
I’ve become the joint secretary of the Friends of Bestwood Country Park (Nicky-Jane suggests we wear woodland animal costumes for meetings). The County Council are keen to divest themselves of responsibility and so the ‘Friends’ group are tip-toeing towards this huge challenge - or opportunity.

We now do the Farmland Bird Survey on Hammond Farms land - filling seed hoppers, checking tree sparrow nesting boxes and doing monthly bird counts. Having made a couple of peregrine nesting boxes for pals Andy and Ann, we have 30 redstart nesting  boxes to make for siting in Sherwood Forest.

In the Assynt
Book of the year? ‘Meadowlands’ by John Lewis-Stempel. Gig of the year had to be The Libertines at Rock City: madness!! Lucinda Williams has, once again, provided the soundtrack of the year. My gigs with Baz on bass (Rob and the Outlaw!) in our front room have been pretty hot too though. After the only appearance of my electric guitar Jennie has said it would be quite nice if we returned to playing acoustically.

Holidays in the Assynt in Scotland’s NW corner (with Trev & Linda); Rutland; Borrowdale (with Chris & Peter) and time spent down in the Smoke with Sarah & Ben were highlights. Travelling across the Baltic from Copenhagen to Germany on a train that rides on a ferry (to see Chris & Astrid) was a Michael Portillo-esque moment.

I won’t go on. Me? 

We’ve loved having so many family and friends with us this year. Have a great Christmas and productive and healthy New Year. Look forward to seeing you 2016!

Hugs and everything.

R&JXX

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