Flood and well

April was a drought; May was a series of rainy days! The apples, pears, damsons and plum have all flowered. The pears seem to have lost almost all their fruit, perhaps due to the frost, but the apples run a bit later and are still in fairly full flower, and the frosts *seem* to be over, fingers crossed. At present there are damsons and plums growing – better than last year when I harvested exactly one damson! The quince and medlar have yet to flower. The orchard is super full of cow parsley and looks very pretty.

The orchard in the (finally) merry month of May
Next door’s field

The cloister garden is a bit of a jungle, but I’ve started to weed out the central area and moved some things around. I originally planted three sorrels, trying to fill the space, but they are monsters and not pretty. So I’ve moved two great clumps into my regular garden and have put in their place some of the self-seeded cornflowers and viola tricolor that I weeded out. The madonna lilies are looking good, and I have hopes that the elecampane will flower this year (didn’t last year).

Yeah, the borage is not shown to be authentic, there’s no Anglo-Saxon word known for it. But it self seeded, the bees love it and it’s gorgeous!

I have planted some things in the “old Roman well”. Sadly only one of them (the veronica) is native but the blue flag iris is a generally European-looking thing, and the Saururus cernuus “Lizard’s tail” is one of the few plants in the shop that looked like it might cope with the situation and poke its head above the parapet in due course. Al put some scraps of pond liner on the base of the pond bucket, then concrete blocks on top, to allow the plant pots to be put in at a sensible (not too deep) level.

First planting in the well

And we had flooding! In May! It looks different to the winter because the dock in in full growth, but there was plenty of depth for my trusty and beloved coracle. This time, I took my phone out with me, wrapped in a double layer of ziplock bags, and took some snaps from out on the water. Amazingly, I didn’t even get bitten by flies…

Simply messing about in boats
One day I will try to carry the Bootle-bumtrinket over the bridge and explore the far meadow…but not today.
Al waiting to steady the boat as I get out

November flood

Early November and it’s the second flood of the year, and still weirdly warm in the sun. The trick with coracling is to find a day when the water is high enough, the sun is out and the wind is light; any kind of breeze and the Bootle-Bumtrinket just skitters away over the water…

Just messing about in boats
One day, I’ll carry the coracle over the footbridge to the larger meadow. Today is not that day.
Off to Greenland instead, with bonus train

After I’d gone, the swans returned
And decided to also visit Greenland

Last paddle of the flood

A good week after the rains, Lake Meadow is returning from Lake to Meadow, but there was just enough water still for one last paddle on a very pleasant sunny afternoon.

Greenland is still accessible…
with bonus train!
The wrong kind of dock
but it is very peaceful out on the water
Al taking a turn

My paddling has improved, and I think I’m getting more propulsion, more reliably, for less effort. However, as soon as the breeze picks up, the coracle goes with the wind, and the gentle brushing of the grass and docks against the hull was enough to overcome my paddling – I had to use the paddle as a pole instead, to propel the Bootle-Bumtrinket along in the shallower parts. Even the footpaths, which are worn lower, were too shallow in places – deep enough for me to float, but too much resistance from the grass.

Alas! No more paddling until the floods return! At least it means I can put a positive spin on the flooding as well as worrying about the house…

Voyaging to Vinland

Hjalmar the Brave came up to try their hand at coracle paddling. The water has gone down enough that we could wade out to the bridge, with care, and launch Bootle-Bumtrinket onto the main area, Lake Meadow. Having watched a video on how to paddle a coracle, we varied our technique and also eventually established that we’d all been sitting the wrong way round. The previous owner suggested that the front should be the pointy end, which wasn’t in fact very helpful…

Hjalmar practising in the small paddock
Crossing the ocean!
…took on some water at the last stretch…
but safely ashore!
Better out than in…
give it a good shake
And yes, sitting this way round is much more stable!

I had a go and alternated between feeling I’d got the hang of paddling, and completely losing it again! Then the wind blew me into a tree..so I didn’t get as far out but I will persevere. More rain is forecast tonight, but I won’t go out until we have a happy confluence of flood water, dry weather and light winds.

Carrots and coracle

Not excited by root vegetables? Read on…

The three Braeburn apple seedlings are doing well in what has begun as a mild, wet October. I planted white beetroot and small carrots in a raised bed in July, and we are getting some harvest! They were very little trouble and taste good.

Today’s great excitement is I HAVE A CORACLE!!! After 4 years of watching the flood waters rise on Lake Meadow, with just one trip around it rowing an inflatable dinghy, I lucked out this weekend. The rain fell steadily for three days and my mind turned coraclewards – and on Ebay, I found a coracle that ticked all my boxes. It was made in a workshop and used in an Ironbridge Regatta, I think in 2018, but the owner is downsizing and wanted to find a home for it. He was even willing to transport it here on the roof of his car in exchange for fuel money, which was defiantly A and B the C of D. Everything came together and my coracle arrived on a mild day with the flood waters about as high as I’ve seen them.

The proud builder of the coracle
It is floating, honest!

The first challenge was getting in with no jetty. Fortunately my first idea, to sit on the bench and then lift my feet in, worked really well.

Paddling is hard work, you have to pull yourself forward while also directing the water to one side of the boat or the other. And she was very good at going round and round, but not so keen on going forwards. As soon as I stopped paddling, back I’d blow to the shallow bit…The wind was blowing westerly which was a good thing really, as it pushed me back to land instead of out into the wild open sea (meadow).

The gate is closed!

Al gave my boat a good push out each time, and eventually I made it to the gate. Don’t heed the scowl, that’s just my concentrating face. I was having a lot of fun!

A boat needs a name, and Bootle-Bumtrinket seems appropriate.

Eventually, I couldn’t resist opening the gate. B-BT is surprisingly stable, and it wasn’t too hard to get the gate open and turn my face to the open sea – with attendant sea monster.

Dared I venture out past the sea monster?

Well, actually it’s the parapet of the bridge, the surface of which was just too deep to want to walk on but too shallow for the boat to go over. And with the wind, and a work meeting coming up, I decided I’d done enough for one day and let the wind blow me back to shore. Then I had to paddle out again to close the gate, which is tricky from a coracle.

It’s a wide ocean ahead
Another day!
Got to close gates in the countryside
preferably without dropping the paddle
Al got the hang of it quicker than me

The paddle looks like it’s cracked and been bodged up with gaffer tape, so we should make a new one – probably using a spare spear shaft. The paddle is invaluable for pushing along where the water is too deep to paddle effectively, and also with a second paddle we could try having two (smallish) people in the boat. A pole would be a useful thing to carry, for pushing hard / punting without risking the fragile paddle.

I should probably also give her a new coat of bitumen paint. Otherwise B-BT seems sound and is a lot of fun.

So there you go! The nuns of Rumwoldstow can now go fishing. Perhaps I need a new character, some male servant or young monk who does the fishing, as I’m not keen to wear my long wool dress in the coracle.