09/08/2015: the long, wet summer

IMG_6373This diary covers a period of two weeks, controversially. So expect less diarising and more historicising. The longer the gap between What Really Happened and the reporting thereof, the less one can realistically expect anything like a true version of events.

That said, I know it’s been summer. And that it’s been thoroughly miserable, weatherwise, for the majority of the time.

Indeed, this summer is officially the worst summer since records began in Landskeria. Which was three years ago. I might have made that joke last time. If so, please feel free to sue me.

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The well.

So we’ve been out on excursions along the Line and beyond whenever it’s not been outright miserable. Sybil and Fury accompanied me to Wallis Moor, where we picnicked on a rock near the farm. We saw some furry caterpillars and a lovely heron on the pond. I did photograph that, but the loveliness-to-photo-quality ratio wasn’t quite matched by my daughters.

So there you go. We also went to Llawhaden castle, which remains in my view the best castle Pembrokeshire has to offer. Certainly the best Landskerlands castle. It’s huge and ruinous and free to look around. The latter is a particularly enticing characteristic.

IMG_5610Pembroke is probably the flagship castle. Then there’s places like Newport and Picton where the crumbling nobles (or possibly just nouveau riche poseurs?) remain defiantly lodged therein like toads, refusing to acknowledge the universal truth that castles are places we take our children to hunt for dragons, not homes.

Not that our toad does that mind you. Our toad just lurks on the front doorstep looking sulky. Lately its taken to lurking outside my Boiler House while I’m blogging by night. Maybe it wants feeding or something?

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Looking for dragons.

Wiston castle is also good, but there’s less to see than there is at Llawhaden. Wolfscastle, despite the wonderful name, is really just a mwnt with an A-road bisecting it. It’s not a castle now. See also Castleblythe and many others. Llawhaden has not one but two large grilles to peer down into and risk losing one’s iPhone 5C in the photographing of. Or one’s shoes, in Fury’s case. Although not yet; no event, just the risk.

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Toward the end of last week we deployed the tent in the top garden (Eastern Landskeria) and marvelled in all its glory.

Then we slept in it for one night and found that we were mostly kept awake by our children. Still, the campfire outside was nice. Sybil huffily told us (so huffily that it was clearly a calculated joke) that she’d rather be watching television. We left the door of the tent open for the dog to get out and wee, so my copy of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel got completely soaked. And then I had to dry it in an oven. Which is just awful really, isn’t it?

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HQ.

I deployed the broken paving stone bearing our nation’s flag (The New Leaf: blog about that long overdue) outside the Boiler House. It looks great there. I glued it back together with silicone sealant, largely just to save barefooted people cutting their feet on the cracks. It looks most welcoming.

Fortunately we have no silly rules about flag use as yet (e.g. the flag may not be blown by a southwesterly breeze; the flag may not be hung from the rear of a moving vehicle; the papillon may not habitually poo on the flag every evening like clockwork…)

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Blue moon.

After our lovely, but wearying, night in the tent, V’s sister and her romantic partner came to stay for a week, which is the main reason I didn’t blog last weekend. (Thanks a LOT folks.) We forced them to stay in the tent for a few nights because we had done it, and they were kept awake by storms and the threat of rural violence which terrorises all city folk when they visit such Ruritatian outbacks as ours.

I was tempted to sneak out to the shed and rev up the chainsaw a few times, but fortunately for all concerned I was too tired. And the chainsaw is basically impossible to start, even at the best of times.

On the one (maybe two) warmish days in the July/August summer peak we had enormous flies attacking us again.

IMG_6406The largest of these (male dark giant horse, I think) was nothing compared to the female our dog dismembered earlier last month, nevertheless I felt quite proud of having “taken” it, and toyed with the idea of mounting it somewhere in my office as a trophy (inspired by all these celebrity lions like Cecil everyone is so concerned about all of a sudden).

But then its head turned a 90-degree angle while I was out the room, and it buzz-spasmed when I touched it. So I removed it from this earthly plane and thought no more about it.

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Wasps.

In other gross insect news, our visitors spotted a large wasps’ nest being laboured over by a number of the stripey bastards conveniently hidden from our view by a strategically placed drainpipe. (They are clever aren’t they?)

This called for another trip to Homebase. (I have been making many while erecting shelves in the Boiler House.) I kitted up with some Raid and some delightful sounding wasps-nest-foam-destroyer, and made myself very hot with about eight layers of protective clothing.

IMG_5627I hung around sweating long enough for Victoria (who has rarely left the study in the past fortnight, due to having some kind of job) to photograph me for posterity. In case I died.

Then I went in for the kill, and (after about the fourth time; the layers of clothing becoming less with each visit) I managed to get close enough to run some filler up and down the crack under the eaves. I think they’re finally gone now.

This would constitute the fourth organised attempt at a hostile takeover of sovereign territory this year. The previous three were all also by wasps (spotted sooner, fortunately): first in Shed #2 and then in the girls’ playhouse; then having stored their eggs along with some paralysed caterpillars in our windowframes. That was a close one!

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The jawa of Marloes.

In the end I felt a bit bad about it all. I never got stung. They barely even tried to defend themselves. Still, there are plenty of burrowing wasps left along our battlements, so we’re not going short. And I do hate wasps. Animals I hate are exempt from the benefits of my otherwise broadly tolerant (though not quite caring) attitude.

Our visitors left on the weekend, having seen a lot of the inside of our house (due to ongoing rains) and the contents of our Lord of the Rings Risk baordgame box (due to it being awesome), and a couple of Landskerland castles on the last day. We also visited Pentre Ifan burial chamber, which was beset by Northwestern European tourists, and drove aimlessly around central north Pembrokeshire, making a visit to an eerily unlocatable farm shop in a farm apparently entirely run by dogs and rabbits.

The visitors rather rudely took my wife with them when they went; to a Secret Cinema event in London (Star Wars 2/5 or something), so yesterday I ventured with the children to Marloes Sands (an honorary Landskerian port) late in the day to catch the last rays of sunshine.

IMG_6506We also caught rather a lot of cold blasts from an aggressive southwesterly gale. We ate a lot of pizza, and I drank a beer. And then we wondered around being very cold for a bit before having to lug a pram back up the half-mile trek back to the car park (actually carrying Fury and pram as though she were some anointed infanta for part of the way).

Sybil agreed not to complain in exchange for late night TV watching, and in the end it was a very rewarding if tiring day.

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Where dreams are made. As soon as I have Windows installed on my new computer that is…

This afternoon we went out into the rain to investigate the tent (still deployed in Eastern Landskeria). It turns out a frog now lives there. Glad it’s getting some use.

A friend is threatening/promising to come and record a solo acoustic gig in my Boiler House soon, so he can share the tent with the frog for the duration of the stay if he’s feeling like glamping. Or shamping. Not sure which our tent qualifies as. It’s good, but you can’t have a fire in it.

If you’ve read this far you’ll probably want to see a picture of my office area within the Boiler House and see a gif of me jumping over a fire naked. If not, look away now.

firejumpAffairs of state remain largely in stasis, as does the publication schedule for my next poetry book. If Landskeria were in any kind of conflict, it would no doubt be deemed frozen. Or soggy. Fortunately, we are as yet at war with no one. That’s one of the perks of not being known about by anyone.

Just now: The weather is muggy. The environment is stable. The economy is stretched.

AV

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