Two stories for the price of one today and the first really is about fish, rather pretty ones and rather a lot of them and I thought they were dead. Boo hoo.
To begin at the beginning. I’ve lived in this house and loved this garden for thirty years and the pond my son dug for me when we first moved in, has been one of the great joys of it. My grandchildren helped me to buy the fish for it and fed them diligently every time they came to visit, so they soon became rather fat fish and very contented. We had newts that swam happily among the fish and frogs that covered the surface of the pond with their spawn every spring and produced lots of tadpoles. It was a great pond and Larry nurtured it, cleaning it every other year and keeping it in good order. But for the last six sad years it has been horribly neglected, because he was too ill for gardening and died three years ago. I think of him every time I see the pond.
Unfortunately untended ponds deteriorate and this spring I had to face the fact that my one was in a bad way, full of mud, covered in a tangle of weed and slimy with algae. Now and then I caught a glimpse of an orange back struggling below the surface, but that was all. It was time to call for help.
And such good help it was. From a real pond expert. His name is Roy, like my old darling, and he originally came from Barbados, and he was so patient and thorough, it was a joy to stand out in the garden and just watch him at work. I told him I was afraid I’d killed all my livestock with neglect, but he assured me that if the fish and the newts were there he would find them and rescue them. Which he did. It took him hours and he seemed to be smiling all the time, as he removed one small shape after another from the mud and transferred it into the huge tank he’d set waiting for it. To my delight he found 30 fish, 10 newts, masses of tadpoles and 2 frogs, who scrambled out of the pond and into the garden before he could transfer them to the tank, but sneaked back in as soon as the pond was completely clean and filled with fresh water. When two of my great grandchildren arrived to visit the next day they spent most of their time transfixed by the sight of so many creatures in the water, which I have to admit to my shame, they had never seen before.
And the story doesn’t end there, because my splendid gardener rescued the pump and the waterfall too and restored them to their original glory, so now I spend far too much of my time out in the garden enjoying the sight of his restoration. It’s almost as if I’ve stepped back in time to the days when the two men I loved most in my life, were still lovingly with me.
The second story is nowhere near so pleasant, but it is certainly fishy, because it concerns poor old Blake’s Cottage. Ever since I read Mr Glynn Powell’s page in Felpham in Focus I have been trying to find out if the “donation” that the BCT were reported as having “secured” actually exists. Nobody I have contacted – local reporters, trustees of the Blake Society, the Felpham Parish Council, the local member of the triumvirate – seems to knows anything about it. And the cottage is still not being repaired.
The oddest thing about this story is that after I contacted the trustees of the Blake Society, which is chaired by Tim Heath, one of them sent an email to me to say that they’d had a committee meeting at which my request for information had come up. The trustees had been advised, presumably by their chairman, who is Tim Heath, that they were to tell me to approach the BCT and ask them for information, which is very odd indeed, because the chairman of the BCT is none other than Tim Heath, who is also the chairman of the Blake Society. How peculiar is that? Downright fishy if you ask me!