I said hello to Derek, and he stopped pruning his hedge to chat.
-Have you lived here long, me duck? I’ve seen you goo past.
18 months. -Not long then. We introduce ourselves. You’re not from round here, then- he likes my name, he does not know another like it. Reound back, his hedge is 8′ tall, and he is scared of heights, so he gets two young women to trim it for him.
When he came here, there was a fence at the front, and he took it out and put a hedge along there. He lost his wedding ring. Thirty years later, he took the hedge out and built a wall, and his ring was round the first branch in the hedge. He shows it to me. It’s a miracle, Audrey said. He’s been alone three year. One daughter lives just along from you, round the corner, the other in D—. Lovely house it is, four bedroom, from her bedroom you’ve got a view across the paddocks. How is it where you are? Three year ago, it was awful. Kids running wild, they threw mud balls at his windows. He knows the fathers, and the father of one lad told him to go and apologise to Derek. I’ll ask him if you have, he said, and if you haven’t I’ll take you round myself to say sorry and give you a good hiding. So it was alright after that.
Across the fields. I thought these cracks in the surface were a sign of long dry soil, but here there are puddles from the heavy rains we’ve been having- the river is higher than I have seen it, I could not walk across the ford, water was flooding over the lock gate- and just next to them, the surface is cracked. It’s the type of soil.
The volunteers are out round the lakes, and I chat to the man from the Trust who is working with them. They have to keep the willow back. It just grows anywhere, cut it and it grows more. Here, it will be a maze for children. They cut branches, and planted them deep in gravel, they can water it if it gets too dry, and the branches are regenerating. There are walks down the valley, S. will tell about the gravel from the glacier in the Ice Age, and that longbarrow there, the burial site, which has never been excavated. They had to excavate the other side, where they found the Saxon village, when they built the bypass. Round Cygchester there are Roman remains. Have you been down there?
-“Chester”. Of course. I had not made the connection. No, I haven’t. Somewhere to cycle to.