Last time I wrote, I detailed a partial audit of the as-yet-undeclared state of New Landskeria, which (due to said undeclaredness) we probably ought to refer to ambiguously as a “territory” for now. That this is the same term I’m provisionally using to refer to the smaller administrative regions within New Landskeria (and the adjoining disputed areas) is, I admit, unfortunate.
What’s happened since that update? Well, we weathered the afterstorms of Hurricane Ophelia, during which all schools in Pembrokeshire were closed. I found out that a previous resident of our house once escaped from Colditz. I’ve tinkered with the flow of the Leat (almost causing a flood at one point). We’ve continued with minor refurbishment at New Landskeria (flat-pack furniture, paint, new linoleum, etc.) and Old Landskeria (new carpet, stripping old carpet, painting floorboards, etc.) The boiler has bust in New Landskeria, so Autumn seems a lot colder than it ought to; or, alternatively, about as cold as it ought to, depending on your POV. We’re saving up to fix it, and it ought to be dealt with by next time I write an update (and, crucially, by the time we next have guests!)
The dishwasher is also still bust, but we have hot water and a working oven, so we’re basically halfway to achieving “developed nation” status. We hope to be there by Christmas. Minor concerns like knotweed, guttering, sulphur damage in the chimneys, mice in the Shop, etc. will have to wait. All my current time and efforts are being taken up with the very serious issue of drainage (relating to the less serious, but still rather annoying issue of mud). Drainage occupies most of my waking thoughts these days. Usually when I talk to other people in real life (and even sometimes on the internet) I am unable to talk about anything but drainage. My last three poems have related at least partly to drainage. The next (which I’m working on in my head at the moment) is explicitly drainage-themed.
You’d probably love to know more detail about my drainage issues, but this blog-post is for auditing land, so now we’re back from a brief half-term holiday near Betws-y-Coed, and the kids are relatively placated after being taken to see the My Little Pony movie, I will continue with that task.
I didn’t mention the House last time, did I? There is a house in New Landskeria. One of the things which attracted us to the territory; though by no means its finest asset. The house is a standard Pembrokeshire cottage with a double-reception and a later kitchen extension to the rear. Three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and a weird utility area with an oversized Belfast sink in the back corner under the bathroom. The guttering is buggered and the loft space is batty. Obviously it’s damp, but other than that it’s basically okay. More relevantly to this audit, the House also comprises the adjoining concreted areas for run-off, surface-drainage and waste pipe running, the overgrown gravel area of the Drive, from the Bridge down to (but not including) the septic tank (which is under the jurisdiction of the Lawn territory), the bit of rear garden behind the kitchen and along the back toward the Bog, and the bit of raised garden to the left of the Leat if you’re facing the Mill from the House, which bit of garden contains some rusty hay-grabbing apparatus of yesteryear. It also includes the Shop (which is really a kind of semi-glorified shed, whose name might or might not be a contraction of “workshop”) and the Greenhouse, which greenhouse is meagre and dilapidated and haunted by the ghosts of Tibetan prayer flags. There is also the ghost of a porch.
In the last blog-post I forgot the Brambles existed, and kept referring to it as the Chase. The Chase is north of the Brambles, but both could form a contiguous territory in the semi-flooding rocky and wooded area that acts as a buffer between the Sheds, the Drive, the Leat, and the River (which territory is mostly not considered part of New Landskeria, being part of the Western Cleddau SSSI). The Brambles comprises rocky riverside, some large alder, ash, sycamore and hazel, a pond (of sorts), lots of invasive laurel, some invasive knotweed and balsam, the ghost of a pig-pen, and some (but not many) land-locked boulders. And lots of brambles, obviously. It is suspected that some of the semi-active river-courses in this area used to be used as pools to trap migratory salmon, which practice was mentioned in a Welsh-language snippet of childhood memoir by a former reverend from Bethel Chapel in the local history book O’r Witwg i’r Wern. I have seen no salmon since we moved in, but then there are generally fewer things in the world now than there used to be. (And yet more record of fewer things.)
Despite its name, the Chase does not provide habitat for megafauna as far as we know. The sometimes-seen grey squirrels are likelier to be resident among the conifers on the South Island. The salmon and sewin are yet to make an appearance. Nevertheless, the Chase is called the Chase for now, and not the Boulders, which was another possible name, perhaps because of the promise of otters (seven breeding females are said to be present along the basin of the Western Cleddau, so I could imagine at least one choosing the Wern as her home); or perhaps because it’s the likeliest place to find human megafauna, in the shape of me, laboriously chopping down sycamores with a medium-sized fibreglass axe from Aldi to free up airspace for New Landskeria’s only known oak tree. A large, impressive specimen, whose roots embrace the riverside rocks just south of the biggest boulder on our land, situated opposite where the tip of the South Island oversees the confluence of the two main branches of the Wern after they pass beneath Pont Mynachlogddu. I’m calling it Benny the Big Boulder until I think of a more poetic name. The Chase also currently comprises the overgrown and boggy areas to the north of the main territory, alongside the Leat and the Drive, to the north of the car-park area of the Sheds, and to the south of Pont Mynachlogddu, also known as the C-road, also known as the Road. But all of these things may change in time, because nothing lasts forever.
The South Island
The South Island is the southern half of the lemon-shaped, or almond-shaped, or island-shaped, island that supports the central base of Pont Mynachlogddu, sometimes, or possibly formerly, known as Pont Cwmisaf. Certainly it’s nearer the latter than the former, but I’ve no immediate wish to be more closely associated with it unless I can charge people to cross it. And charging people to cross a bridge into (or indeed out of) Mynachlogddu seems an unwise plan if one knows anything about local history; for it’s only a mile or two upriver that you get to the former home of Twm Carnabwth, father (or mother?) of the Rebecca Rioters. I can’t see a tollgate lasting long up there, so we’ll call it Pont Mynachlogddu for as long as Pembrokeshire County Council maintain it. Back to the island: about ten large conifers (Scots pines, I think), some smaller deciduous business, and not too much else. The barbed-wire border from the West Bank crisscrosses the river here to prevent cattle from getting south. There is an abundance of Japanese knotweed on the South Island.
The North Island
The North Island on the other side of the bridge is technically access land (and can be accessed by a sort of slate style, which I feel is a subtle hint toward this) but it’s not hugely accessible once you’re on it. Mostly hazel, battered ash, and thick bramble. A barbed-wire border makes it unpleasantly militaristic, and numerous ancient alcohol bottled are littered among the undergrowth. It remains unclear why either the North or the South Island were kept by Cwmisaf’s previous owners when the rest of the farm-land was sold off; presumably because somebody has to own everything, and nobody would want to own these. The one section of the Wern-proper bordered on both sides by New Landkeria owes its sovereignty to this split island, though the legal status of this short stretch of water is much murkier than the river itself, which is crystal-clear for this short bend, and can often be seen to contain small dark fish.
The Common comprises three pieces of irregularly-shaped land whose main purpose (like the purpose of the short, sharp waterways that divide them) is to accommodate the passage of river water into the Leat that comprises the mill-race for the former woollen factory which we refer to as the Mill, and (presumably) its older brother (or cousin?) whose north wall is the only remaining part. The Common is overgrown with brambles, hazel, knackered ash, and an unfortunate abundance of laurel. The land across the Leat to the north, containing a feeding stream from Gors Fawr and a feeding drainage inlet from beneath the C-road, is not part of New Landskeria; and yet it is part of the thin bottleneck of access land leading to (and indeed forming part of) common land unit CL040, commonly known as Gors Fawr, over which New Landskeria enjoys (disputed) rights of pasturage.
The Far Island
The Far Island is an as-yet unexplored territory between the North Island and the northernmost tip of the Common, where the Leat begins. We suspect it of being a disputed territory and are currently building a portfolio of evidence to that effect. Much of the case will probably rest on “manifest ecology” and the likelihood of the merging of the Far Island with the Common following the formation of an oxbow lake, perhaps as soon as before the next ice age.
The Woodland is an ample square of woodland, largely hazel and willow, with ash borders, that acts as a buffer zone between New Landskeria, St Dogmael’s Church of Mynachlogddu But Not Actually In Mynachlogddu of England in Wales (Or Whatever It’s Called), and the neighbouring house to the north. It remains largely unexplored due to its density and political sensitivity.
The Quarry is situated in a raised position to the rear of the House (almost worryingly close, in fact) and bordered to the north by a boggy stretch of the Woodland which is in the process of being turned into a drainage channel. During heavy rainfall it acts as an overflow for the neghbours’ lane/pond/spring/ditch (details remain unclear). The Quarry is rumoured to have been the main source of stone for the Mill, and perhaps even for the House itself, which is thought to pre-date the Mill (but not to predate it, because that would be terrifying) by at least one hundred years. If this is indeed the case, the Quarry might be the oldest functioning territory in New Landskeria. It’s not doing much functioning now though, and hasn’t for many years by the look of it. It is overgrown with brambles and fully grown ash and sycamore trees. It has hardly been explored so far, due to a very real sense of geological dysmorphia.
That will do for now. Other non-territorial entities improper, such as the Leat, the Drive, the Bridge (not to be confused with Pont Mynachlogddu), and the disputed areas of the Gate and the Forbidden/Golden/Stolen Triangle, remain too contentious to be audited even partially at this time. As you can see, the political task ahead of us is at least as complex as the physical and psychological aspects of nation-building, if we are to ready a new Republic on this land. The (defunct) Most Serene Republic of Landkseria now seems like a distant dream from a simpler time. (When in fact it’s actually mostly just a house.) But we have marched on to this brave new future (or current present, to be more chronologically accurate) with the belief that Landskerian destiny requires, perhaps even demands it. Here we are then.
The audit ends. What follows now will be a time of serious political contemplation. And drainage. Lots of drainage.
The weather is foreboding. The environment is encouraging. The economy is tense.
Your beleaguered diarist,
PS: there will follow a map which attempts, and largely fails, to indicate the geographical features and the borders of New Landskeria. It is compromised by a combination of the failures of technology and the failures of the author to master said technology. We are still working on a more detailed map indicating administrative divisions. Any questions, complaints, or declarations of war, should be addressed to the embassy as usual.