After a short break away over the Easter school holidays, Ian and I are getting back in the saddle dealing with the many issues facing us at Court Lodge, from the very small to the very large and significant. This week we had a meeting with some people from a company that specialises in renewable energy systems, and we have a meeting with another similar company on Friday. Addressing the heating issues at Court Lodge is one of our top priorities, as the boiler that heats most of the flats is nearing the end of its useful life, and the fuel bills are astronomical.
This week Ian also found himself in the happy position of having to empty the detritus from an old bonfire site from a wheelie bin into a skip (see photos below). This is an issue that has been going on for ages now. The council wanted to take away our old wheelie bin, having replaced it with two new ones. But before they came to remove it, the gardeners had filled it up after clearing out the old bonfire site. The council then refused to take it away! So we had to hire a skip, empty it out, and then call the council back, who finally came to take it away today.
Another project that has been gathering pace this week is the plan to open the garden to the public on the 18th May (put the date in your diaries!). There is a group of wonderful people in the village who are raising funds for a new Lamberhurst Village playground. They have already raised an amazing amount of money, and their target is now firmly in sight. I was really pleased to be able to get involved and offer the garden as a resource to help them reach their target. There is going to be a small entrance charge, a treasure hunt for the children to do, stalls selling teas, coffees, local apple juice, and cake, and other stalls run by local artists and craftspeople, a bouncy castle, and more.
So today I had a meeting with a very kind person who is going to plan the treasure hunt for us, I spoke to the insurance company about organising public liability insurance, and then I found myself ringing round for the best price I could find for portaloos! There is still plenty to do to make this a success, but the village is rallying round.
The gardeners have been making great headway clearing out the sunken garden for the Open Garden Day, as children always love exploring down there. There is still plenty to do around the garden to get it looking its best, but hopefully it will be looking glorious by the time May 18th rolls around. Ian has also been trying to find time to plant out our own vegetable garden, to keep us in veg this summer.
We’re trying to decide what to do with the walled garden. One idea is to turn it into a meadow, with lots of lovely wild flowers. Another is to lease it out to a commercial gardener, and make it productive once again. We saw an old aerial photograph of Court Lodge in my Dad’s office, taken in the early 70s, and the walled garden was all neatly planted out with rows of vegetables. Ian’s idea is to turn it into an island sanctuary for an endangered species (ideas on a postcard please!).
I’ve also been grappling with many things up in our little office above the workshop. I’ve been setting up the PAYE system, setting up an online bookkeeping system, trying to balance the books, pay the invoices and much more besides!
Ian commented the other day that running Court Lodge is a bit like having a new born baby – you never get to finish your cup of tea (or remember where you put it) with the constant demands on your time, and by the time you sit down in the evening, you just want to go to bed!