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The Garter King of Arms

This week: Getting stoned again; Garter King of Arms; Spring is sprung; First Person View; Next week’s task;

Let sleeping cats lie
Let sleeping cats lie

We have had a cold week this week.

For the past 10 days there has been a constant flow of cold air from the north. A couple of times it has been a true Bura, the cold wind from the central European plains, other days – and for the next 10 days – we will continue to have a slight northerly flow.

It’s being caused by the position of the jetstream.

Saturday's Jetstream
Saturday’s Jetstream – Netweather.TV

The sky has been generally clear, which means warm sunshine during the day, but without a cloud blanket at night, any residual daytime heat soon dissipates.

There have been a couple of slight convection frosts, but with a temperature just above zero, nothing too serious.

Morning frost
Morning frost on the rain water cisterns

Apart that is, from Friday night, the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse and full moon, where there was very high level cloud!

All the plants, even the tender ones, like my fragrant Jasmin have not been touched. Just the Canna Indica has a few burnt and blackened leaves.

Canna indica
Canna indica

It is in an exposed corner outside the kitchen window, but will grow again.

This constant northerly air flow is unusual for such a lengthy time. Generally the flow is for three or four days, maximum. But rather like the warm air flow from the south just before Christmas, it is just not normal for this time of year.

Getting stoned again

Whether the building work happens on time this spring or not, I’m getting ready. There have been so many false starts, so many promises and so many disappointments, that I have completely lost faith in the local building companies to ever actually do what they say.

I need to make sure that if and when the contractor turns up, he has a clear working area, so this week I have started to move the old recovered stones.

Salvaged building stones
Salvaged building stones

These boulder size stones were all reclaimed from the outhouses I dismantled. I was hoping to use some in the new build, and still will given the opportunity, but they need moving out of the way.

The baby JCB made short work of lifting and piling them up. Now having to manhandle them, it is not as easy.

By the end of the week, I have reduced the pile to a single layer and have moved most of the smaller stones.

Single layer of stones
Single layer of stones

I hadn’t realised how many flat stones were in the heap. It has meant that I can extend the landing at the start of the flight of stone steps down into the orchard.

Large flat stones
Large flat stones

There is still a lot to do, but it is nice to see progress.

Garter King of Arms

There was the stump of a dead Myrobalan Plum and a growing plum sapling in the way of moving the stones.

No one else in the village seems to have a Myrobalan plum tree, so quite why I have one, I am unsure. But I didn’t just want to uproot such a useful and apparently rare tree.

I have another which is growing in the wilderness towards the rear of my land. I wanted to pot them both up and then give them to friends who want a nice plum tree.

Uprooting the stump was not difficult. It was well dead and a little bit of leverage with a pickax and the whole stump came out, roots and all.

It was actually growing along a length of sub-surface root from the main tree. But before it died, and also the living specimen, both had blossom and fruit, so I know that although it is technically a “sucker”, it is true to the parent tree.

This area was the fold yard, so the soil is good quality having had the benefit of all the animals which were once on the smallholding.

At some point, a previous resident has concreted over part of the ground, presumably to make an all-weather path at the entrance. I have been removing the 5 cm thick chunks as I go along.

The living sapling was coming through a crack in the concrete. I carefully removed the chunks around the tree’s stem with the pickax, then uncovered the root that it was growing from.

As I tried to lift the root it snapped completely in two. There was evidence of fungus growing on the root, so whether that is a sign of disease, root rot or a symbiotic fungus, I don’t know.

I cut the other root and lifted the tree out of the soil. I used the soil it had been in, to pot the sapling up. With the root with the fungus on it removed and the ends dusted in hormone rooting powder, I’ll keep it in a pot until I know it has survived the transplanting.

I had the garden spade out and had lent it up against one of the boulders while I potted the sapling up in a big plant pot. When I came back to where I had been working, what struck me was the accidental confluence of the two tools.

Crossed tools
Crossed tools

Our family doesn’t have a Coat of Arms. The closest is the coat of Arms of Walloonia, as shown on this badge of office.

Wallonia badge of office
Wallonia badge of office

A lot of years ago I attended a night-school course on Heraldry, so I have a little bit of knowledge about how heraldic devices are made up. Perhaps now is the time to apply to the Garter King of Arms for my own coast of arms, using the crossed spade and pickax with a rock inferior, supported by felines rampant….. and not forgetting weeds and plants!

Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms

Well what would you put on your Coat of Arms?

The Kings of Arms and the College of Heralds are the second oldest Royal appointments in the UK. First established in the 15th Century, they are just 100 years younger than than the office of HM Coroner. You may have seen them on TV as they take part in all ceremonial occasions.

The Kings of Arms
The Kings of Arms – College of Heralds

The Spring is sprung

There is some very old English nonsense doggerel that I learned, I know not when:


The spring is sprung, the grass is riz

I wonder where the birdie is

The bird is on the wing

But that’s absurd. The wing is on the bird


However, whenever I see the signs of Spring’s arrival, it comes to mind.

This week there have been lots of signs. The Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa violacea, have emerged from hibernation One especially groggy example flew into a window.

I heard the thud as it hit the glass – these are large bees – and I picked it up as it was on it’s back and was unable to turn over. Each time I tried to help, it thudded to the ground again, so I brought it into the warm house.

I have indoor Hyacinth in flower at the moment so put it on the flowers, where there is pollen. A couple of days later I found it in the wood for the fire, so put it back on the flowers. Once I can see it can fly again, I’ll take it out into a sunny spot and release it.

Then later in the week, I saw two of them flying and watched as they landed and mated. The male flew off while I was trying to focus the camera.

Carpenter Bee
Carpenter Bee

It is a bit early, but something has triggered them to appear.

There are a few blossom on the big Myrobalan Plum.

Plum blossom
Plum blossom

These buds face south, so get the morning sun every day and are warmed more than others, so think it is time to open. Normally it is February before the whole tree is in blossom.

Weeds are growing everywhere I look. I’m not sure which job to attack next!

First Person View

I have just done the monthly checks on the local Fire Brigade drone that I fly. Good practice and record keeping is important because being ready for when called is a must.

When I was checking on-line for the updates, I came across this video, filmed from a drone flying around the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

This drone is not one of you average common-or-garden drones though. It is a sophisticated commercial UAV, piloted by Johnny Schaer. His YouTube channel has a lot of incredible action videos.

If you have a drone, don’t try this at home!

Next week’s task

Looking at the pile of stones at the back of the fold yard on Saturday morning, I realised that I have my work cut out next week.

Next week's task
Next week’s task

I need to get the flat stones in place at the head of the steps down into the orchard. I also need to carefully lift and transplant the second plum, but to do that, I also need to move this pile of rubble and stones.

Last year when describing the purchase of my rotating riddle, (Blog: Just a bit deeper) I mentioned that I estimate a third or more of the soil on my land, by volume, is stone.

Over the aeons, local people have picked the stones by hand as they came to the surface of the soil. Rocks and boulders were removed from the land and used in walls and buildings. The small stones and flints were piled up, anywhere they could.

This is what you see here. Somewhere beyond the rubble in the foreground is my boundary, but where I am not sure. Some previous occupants of my home have built a wall using stone. An awful lot of the soft sandstone pieces known as Touf which cannot be used in buildings have been included. Then all the small stones, tin cans and assorted waste was just thrown behind the wall. No municipal refuse collection in those days!

Ivy has taken over. However I need to get in and clear it for two reasons. Firstly I want to use the full area of my land but it is a waste having it as a jungle. Secondly, I want to continue the dry stone wall up to my boundary, but to do that I need a clear working area.

Once I have it clear, I will use it for something. At the moment I am just unsure what it will be.

I know that the job will not be be finished in a week, but I can at least made a start! NRC

One Response

  1. Lynn

    Still loving your posts! It’s always a welcome break. You’re about as busy as a carpenter bee that hasn’t flown into your window!