December 2018

Dumfries and Galloway does put me in mind of lines from Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water every where //Nor any drop to drink.”

Not that drinking water has been our problem, at least since we bought a Brita water filter to make the tea scum-free and palatable. Our first problem was with waste water when we discovered that wherever our drains were running to, they were not reaching the septic tank. No wonder the surrounding trees looked so healthy. There was nothing for it but new connecting pipes, septic tank and soak away.

The autumn storms and rain highlighted four other water issues. First, water started to seep (well more like flow) in above one of the lower ground floor windows. This we traced back to the guttering within the parapet around the roof of the East Wing. Here water was pooling behind the parapet where the gap through to the down pipe had become blocked. The blockage was cleared and a tiny fissure in the copper guttering revealed which allowed the pooled water to flow down through the rubble core of the three foot deep walls to the window lintel two floors below. Specialist builders promised to come back and seal the copper fissure, but we have not seen them since. However, Wayne is happy to clamber over the roof to keep the gap to the down pipe clear, which continues to deal with the problem.

The autumn rains also revealed that the old iron guttering around the stable yard put on a show worthy of the Fountains of Rome. That has still to be corrected, though the father-and-son team that came out to inspect it also discovered that one of the turret roofs on the corner of the yard was collapsing which will have to take priority.

The third water revelation was the river that developed with the rains down the roadway running to the back of the stable yard and rendering that whole side of the courtyard damp. This has required major labour to create new water channels, clear drains running under the roadway and fill in the potholes. Even this did not deal with the sheer weight of water draining off our neighbour, Jamie’s, fields. To stop this flowing down the road, Wayne built a sleeping policeman across the road. This has led to grumbles from Jamie about the size of the rather corpulent policeman catching the underside of his shooting friends’ sports cars. I do query what the friends are doing
with sports cars in what is clearly 4×4 territory. Still, in the spirit of goo neighbourliness, I the policeman has been put on a diet.

Sleeping policeman pre-diet

The final revelation of the storms is the damage they have done, no doubt over many years, to the seawall at the end of the Broadwalk that runs through our garden, down to the beach. This beach recently received some international recognition as it and Jamie’s house beside it passed as the East coast of the US in the recent film “The Wife” starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Still back to sea wall.

The sea wall immediately at the end of the Broadwalk was in a reasonable condition, but to left and right, the waves had scattered the large boulders, broken the steps down to the beach and were now undermining the trees. Wayne’s initial effort has been to secure the remaining wall by creating steps down to the beach on either side, forming a sort of bastion. Over time, he intends to extend the sea walls out sideways from those steps. To the south, that will require shifting the scattered remnants of the old wall (the large boulders) back up the beach, but curiously, to the north there are few such boulders on the beach. That is probably the effect of the way the storm tides strike the coast, and boulders are found further along the beach towards Jamie’s house. Of course, we have rejected any thought of stealing out each night and bringing them back one by one.

Repairing the sea wall

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