There is good news and there is bad news: where to start?
We received a letter by recorded delivery from our next door neighbour on Thursday, demanding that we remove the overhanging branches from our Sequoia, or legal action would be taken. It would seem the honeymoon period is over and the gloves are off.: there is bridge-building to be done here, I suspect! To be fair, she has been asking us to cut down the Sequoia, 150 years old at a conservative estimate, since we purchased our house five or six years ago and the only time she has talked to us in the last couple of years has been to complain about it. On Friday the tree men came and I went to Paris for the day, hopeless coward that I am. Three branches have been hacked back to the boundary and today I have been cleaning up the mess. A happy bunny I am not!
My visit to Paris was not all about my reluctance to witness the damage being done to our beautiful tree; I also had clients to see and I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with this lovely city, which I used to visit very regularly. It was one of those trips with not quite enough spare time to do anything properly but I did have a pleasant stroll through the Tuillery Gardens between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, now containing the Paris version of the London Eye. The garden is one of landscape architect André Le Nôtre’s first commissions and was constructed from 1666 to 1672, after which King Louise XIV became irritated with Parisians continually questioning his authority and he moved to Versailles. In 1667 the gardens became the first Royal Park open to the public. Around lunch time on an unseasonably mild January, the place was crowded.It would have been nice to take in an exhibition – Monet was in town and my clients were raving about it – and I remembered too late that the Jardin Botanique, right next to the station I was to use to return home, had restored and re-opened their grand plant house and was surely worth a visit. Ah well, perhaps next time.
The weather is extremely warm for the time of year, encouraging bulbs to poke their heads out of the soil to see what is going on. Even in this young garden we have yellow Winter Jasmine – Jasminium nudiflorum and Hamamelis Arnold Promise in flower behind the house, heralding the approaching spring. After months of colour from our pot of Camellia sasanqua, placed on the stone steps by the front door, Camellia grijsii, in a matching blue pot, is just beginning to open. These marvellous plants have both proved to be pretty tough species with us but we will watch the weather and if it turns cold again move it into the unheated, north facing conservatory where the flower will be protected and the scent can be better appreciated.
There was much sympathy from locals in the market square this morning for our prolonged session with influenza. People here are generally inoculated against it and those who prefer not to use homeopathic solutions. We were given a pot of a honey / thyme concoction which we are mixing with our regular green tea with mint and it is wonderful! It smells and tastes great and has eased our coughs better than the chemical goo our doctor prescribed. We were told that bees have been already seen swarming and one lady had an invasion which stripped all the flowers off her Hyacinths. These are strange times indeed.
Talking of which, we have finally fitted the clock to the outside of the log cabin classroom which we built under our famous Sequoias. It is powered by some clever electronics which chats to a satalite all day to ensure it has the correct time, but it has then to pass this information to the analogue clock sitting so proudly on the wall. I am, as we speak, talking to companies in London and Switzerland in an attempt to achieve this.