East Wing reopened

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

And so the rain goes on. It’s a challenge to get decent photos in these dark days, but these will have to do until I get another chance next time the sun 🌞 deigns to show its face. The new windows were such a good fit that there was very little touching up of paintwork to do. Now, at last, the new bed is assembled, and its drapery sewn after many long treadling sessions on my vintage Singer 201. The East Wing is now bookable.

Completion of Works

Monday, November 6th, 2023

After eight months on site, the builders left on Friday after a massive clearing up job. The new tenants moved into the Annexe on the same day and the scaffolders came early this morning to collect their poles and boards. We now have a new Annexe with new residents and new windows in the East Wing. These photos of the 1980s East Wing extension show the new windows, which are much more in keeping with the style of the rest of the Arts and Crafts style property. All that’s left to do in the East Wing suite now is to touch up the paintwork (today) and assemble the new bed (tomorrow). Photos to follow soon.

Closed until 6th November (with exceptions)

Tuesday, 19th September, 2023
Image by vector4stock on Freepik

(Image by vector4stock on Freepik)

The recent door installation activity during the rebuilding of the annexed cottage has now spread to the main house and is causing us to close the house to guests until 6th November, except for Benenden Hospital patients wanting an overnight stay without breakfast. To explain why these things are happening would take far too long. Suffice to say that this remodelling and reorganisation of various doors in the somewhat complicated area that lies between the main house and the annexe involves clearing out a whole wall full of period kitchen cupboards and knocking out bits of wall to create a new opening for a new door in place of the cupboards. With luck it should be possible to dismantle the cupboards and rebuild them in what was formerly the annexe’s kitchen. But for the moment, their contents are occupying the whole of the breakfast table. Knocking out walls invariably creates a lot of dust and mess. As if this were not enough, the East Wing is to have its windows replaced at the end of October. And a new bed! Normal service will be resumed, I hope, by 6th November, by which date we will also have welcomed the new occupants in the soon to be finished annexe.

Ladies’ Tresses

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

Following my post earlier this summer about orchids in the woods, this clump of a very different type of orchid was growing in the lawn near the house. Fortunately, we had left the grass uncut for longer than we intended, and the mower had to be taken away for repairs. Otherwise, these Autumn Ladies’ Tresses would have grown no more than an inch or two, gone unnoticed and been mown down. We would never have known they were there. Their scientific name is Spiranthes spiralis, due to their spiral shape. They rely on bumble bees for pollination and they can survive below ground until such time as people’s mowers break down and allow these beauties to rise up! They are a protected species in some countries but are not particularly rare at the moment in the UK, where they are confined to southern parts. There were once Summer Ladies’ Tresses in this country too, but they became extinct due to loss of habitat in the 1950s. We will transplant them to a safer place where they can thrive out of reach of the cutter blades.

Building Progress

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

As our summer progresses, so too does work on the cottage. Guests in the East Wing will have a nicer view now that the scaffolding has gone. The red paint on the brickwork is temporary. A white render will be applied on top. The porch roof on the left of the picture was found to have rotten beams and woodworm-infested rafters, so that is currently being renewed too, using leftover tiles from the cottage roofing work. At the end of September, the East Wing will be closed for a time while new windows are fitted. They will match those in the cottage and are being made by the same carpenter.

The weather may have been disappointing this summer, but some of the vegetables are doing very well. No need to think about vegetables for dinner as there are courgettes and French beans to be picked every day. But the tomatoes are green.

A Jigsaw Puzzle

Monday, 10th July, 2023

The sundial path down to the pond is being relaid, something that I’ve been meaning to have done for years. Once this jigsaw puzzle is put back together again, it will look so much better. Colin will have such a surprise next time time he comes in to mow the magic circles.

Roofs and Vegetables

Wednesday, 5th July, 2023

The scaffolding has been removed from the top part of the cottage and from the laundry block. The laundry room now has a beautifully rebuilt roof over it, removing all fear not just of imminent collapse of that whole section of the house but also of ingress by both bees and rain. This unscheduled exercise took attention away from the rebuilding of the cottage for a while, but now work can resume on the lean-to sections at either end. Most of the interior plastering has been done, so the next big milestone of the project will be the fitting of the windows, which have needed five coats of brown paint to fully cover the white primer that had been applied to their wooden frames at the manufacturing stage. I wanted the windows to blend into their surrounding woodland environment, hence the tree-trunk colour.

Rain has fallen at last in recent days after a long dry spell, and the veg patch has been thankful for it. I wasn’t going to bother with trying to grow vegetables this year, partly because the patch is on a building site and partly because it is destined to be ripped out and completely redesigned and deer-proofed, but in the end I couldn’t resist putting in a few plants. Keeping things simple, I am limiting them to a few tomatoes, peppers, beans, courgettes and potatoes. In the empty square between the courgettes I sprinkled some seeds from a few packets that were past their use-by dates. I am amused that tiny plants are coming up in two neat rows, but I have no idea what they are. The building-site barriers are proving to be a wonderful substitute for deer fencing.

Orchids in the Wild

Tuesday, 20th June, 2023

This year, the wild flowers in the lanes around here are bigger and taller than in previous years. Perhaps our late spring is the reason. Behind the house are woodlands big enough to get lost in. Few guests, or even humans for that matter, ever venture there, so rare plants have a chance to grow undisturbed. This beautiful orchid was in full bloom right in the middle of one of the paths. It literally stood out from other smaller specimens dotted around. Behind it is the blurry outline of thistle, which was shoulder high. The lower photo shows the path into the woodland from the garden.


Yet More Battens

Saturday, 10th June 2023

The rebuilding of the gardener’s cottage is making good progress and is well ahead of schedule. That’s a good thing, because it was discovered that the pitched roof above the laundry room (on the left in this photo) was in danger of collapsing as a result of a construction error when it was built in the 1970s. Built on top of what was a flat roof (still there, complete with ancient satellite dish), it did not have enough cross-bracing timbers to support the weight of the tiles, and over time some of the timbers detached themselves from the overall framework. The whole structure needs to be rebuilt urgently. So the tiles have been removed and the timbers taken down. A growing pile of battens is waiting to be recycled as kindling for Colin’s woodburner. Colin is our temporary gardener until the cottage is occupied again. He is the creator of the magic circles on the front lawn, which are visible from Google maps. He is delighted to fill his van with these awful battens full of nails!

Direct Hit

Thursday, 8th June 2023

Apart from rebuilding the gardener’s cottage which adjoins the house, we are also having to take down the roof above the laundry room and rebuild it. This involved finding a new home for large colony of bees that lived in the roof space. Two huge boxes full of bees were taken away after many decades of residency by successive colonies.

This week, one of the men inadvertently went through the ceiling, scoring a direct hit onto my basket of freshly laundered towels which were waiting to be sorted, folded and put away.