Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - January 2010

Sunday 31st January - Regressing

I'm regressing on here and on facebook. The photos above of the last snowy episode on 13th Jan are here specially for gg who was out of the country and missed it. The profile picture of me aged 19 on facebook is because I was fed up of seeing my faded face peering back at me.
So far I'm sticking to my principles and keeping the colour of my face and hair as they are. Much easier to dig out the old photos and reminisce. Here's a thought: Could I stick an enlarged old photo over the mirror? And for those folks who have known me for years, here's a conundrum: What happened to that big gap I used to have between my front teeth? D and I have looked through photos of me taken since and I still had it when we married, and partially 25 years later, but now it's completely closed up!

Sunday 24th January - Disasters Cob and Badger

This is what happens to a cement-rendered cob wall when water gets inside, freezes and later thaws out. You aren't aware of what's happening under the render until it falls off, splat, and flattens your flower bed, foot or whatever. Underneath the render the action of the water has turned the cob back into the original slushy mixture it was when the wall was built. Cob walls must be kept dry, top and bottom, otherwise disaster ensues.

This wall once enclosed the old farmyard that belonged to the church, and has stood for at least 90 years according to the particulars of the sale of Glebe land dated 1919. In those days it probably didn't have a coating of hard cement render, just the usual lime-based finish, and it was probably topped with thatch. Later it was topped with tiles, and that maybe where the water got in because it's difficult to make tiles successfully cover a curved wall.

Do you remember super mole? (See 20 Jan 2009 and he's back in our lawn again, incidentally). Well, I think super badger is also operating in Chitterne, though thankfully not in our garden. This earthwork has been growing gradually for about two years and threatens to block the old Elm Farm track which is part of the Imber Range Perimeter Path. It's not only soil this creature is moving it's lumps of chalk too. Sadly my pictures don't give you an idea of the scale, but the hole at the top of the pile is about 18 inches across.

Monday 18th January - Water Levels

I thought the water level in the Cut would be higher than this with all the snow melting and draining down into it from the fields. These two photos show levels at Tilshead Road and Heytesbury Road yesterday. Perhaps it takes longer than I thnk.

Friday 15th January - Impressive Whirlybird

I had a chance to see the Wiltshire Air Ambulance/Police helicopter up close recently. D's bike club donated £1000 towards the ambulance part of the operation, which is maintained solely by donations. The whole cost is split 35% ambulance, 65% police. The latter comes out of the police precept.

One of the few helicopters in the UK kitted out to fly at night, this one has been in dry dock these last 3 months having a £million camera fitted that will allow car number plates to be read from 2 miles away. So bear that in mind!

Wednesday 13th January - Addressing Addresses

Not a lot to say. I've spent several days house-keeping this site and the village website. I've archived this blog. It was getting a bit long, so at the bottom of the page you'll now find a list of the previous months to click on rather than a long string of blogs. On the village website I worked mainly on the Amenities page, checking the links to web addresses and adding new addresses where I could find them. Boring stuff that has to be done.

Some of our post has been delayed this Christmas mostly due to bad addressing. The Royal Mail seem to be getting stricter about postcodes. One of the delayed letters threw me a wobbly for a few days. It was from the mother of MP an old schoolfriend of Mandy's, (our youngest daughter who died), and had found us despite being addressed to The Captain's House, Chitterne, Salisbury, Wiltshire. Inside was a handwritten letter, a rare, precious occurrence these days, and a pack of bluebell bulbs. I somehow knew it was going to be sad news. It was. MP had wanted to send the bulbs to plant on Mandy's grave but she had been too ill to write and now she had died.

Mandy and MP had been good friends in and out of primary school, until MP's family moved away to Hampshire. Here they are in 1987, aged about 7 years, with MP on the left. They kept in contact for a while and then lost touch. When Mandy moved to Salisbury in 2001 she met MP again. MP was in a wheelchair like Mandy by then and suffering from myelitis, a spinal disease. They emailed, kindred spirits still, both disabled and trying to live independently. MP had been very sad when Mandy died in 2005. Now MP had died too having contracted Hodgkin's Lymphoma, her body too weak to take the chemotherapy. Tragic.

Wednesday 6th January - Twelfth-Night

Twelfth-night and the decorations somehow transferred from inside to outside. This morning the garden looked like the top of a Christmas cake. Beautiful. Overnight the snow arrived from up north, where they are probably fed up with it. The road is quiet so I guess many people are staying home today but I hope the milkman makes it as we are almost out of milk. The robin looks proprietorially from the bird table; all the Christmas cake crumbs are gone he probably ate them by the look of his round shape. He won't touch the peanut holders that D regularly fills but he loves the seeds in the holder across the path. If the water dish is frozen he sits on the edge waiting for D to replace the ice with hot water, then has a drink and walks about in it! Today he just pecked the snow that buried the dish. Years ago my mother used to feed the robins every morning with the crusts from her breakfast. When she became too frail to do this we put the holders up for "her birds", so she could see them feeding from her window, until her eyesight failed. Now she's gone D carries on looking after them all year. In summer when I'm gardening the robin follows me around closely watching for some juicy morsel to be unearthed for his dinner.

Saturday 2nd January 2010 - Beautiful New Year

Happy New Year! It's very cold here but beautiful and I was inspired to go out with a charged camera this morning, (yesterday the battery was flat), to capture the frosty village bathed in early sun. First up was the view across the old bridge and sportsfield towards the church, then the Rev. Tovey's yew tree in St Mary's graveyard.

I met the pig keepers who had just smashed the ice on the water troughs at pig city in Garston field, so the pigs were just venturing out when I got there. Picking their way over frosty ground on the tips of their trotters.

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