Last weekend the sun came out. Sunday was a day of rare dryness and brilliance. For seemingly the first time this year we were able to get the wellies and dogs in the back of the car and take them for a good walk before I then went down the garden and did some constructive work. We decided to go up Cadbury Castle which is a better dog walk than it is a castle, if the image that such a name conjures is one of high ramparts, arrow slits, moats and portcullises.
When we first moved back to Somerset we were lucky enough to rent a cottage at the base of the path up, and it was not unusual to overhear a transatlantic accent pondering the inaccuracy of the term “castle” for what is essentially a large hill with a series of deep ditches running around it. Of course, this being an iron age castle, one should expect nothing more, though the popular myth that this was King Arthur’s Camelot helps add to its drawing power. Geographically it is actually in South Cadbury, so at least part of the name is factually correct.
Another disappointingly named fortification is Castle Cary, where I took the dogs for a walk on Friday. This is even less of a sight, amounting to basically no more than a couple of humps and hollows that represent what is left of the motte and bailey. So the title to this post (another Iain Banks book title for those who might care) is, obviously, ironic.
Even without crenellations and ramparts, the views from Cadbury and Lodge Hill are brilliant, though the elevation does enable one to see all too clearly the massive grey shoe box of the pet food factory and, from Cadbury Castle these days, the Haynes Motor Museum is an increasingly garish scarlet sore thumb on the green Somerset countryside.
Rejuvenated after a dry, sunny walk, I set to in the garden. We decided over the summer to move the snake bark maple which the OM had planted next to the oil tank, into the main part of the garden. In its current position it impedes parking space on the drive, so we decided to put it in the end of the boomerang bed. And to do this I elected to remove the heather bed. Taking the heather out is a doubly tough job. On the one hand it is physically harder than the OM suggested “Shallow roots” he said. Yeah, maybe, but tangled together after thirty years of weaving in with trees and shrubs too, it takes a good few hours of hard labour.
Emotionally this was a tough ask too. This is the heather which the kids found brilliant fun to run, rock and roll in. And also get a good rollicking into the bargain. Charlie and Josh still smile at the memory of the stern lecture they had from Grandpa after being caught flattening it. And more recently Ella has burnt off a fair amount of puppy steam in the whiskery bed. Heather always conjures memories for me of scottish holidays from my youth and also of visiting the wealthier cousins who had a massive heather bed in their large suburban garden.
But it’s gone now (leaving only memories?), along with a fair amount of bind weed roots, so that was a good thing. Next up, digging the snake bark maple from next to the drive. It is surrounded by gravel, chippings and tarmac.
So that WILL be a Song of Stone.