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Click the Earlier Post link above to start the tour at the beginning.
This first picture, taken from the "boat stand" just beyond the bridge, helps to locate the last image of Part One of the 2015 tour and the first of Part Two.
The first of those, showing a glimpse of the lake from between reeds was taken from just beyond the pallet. The willow sprouting from the bank indicates where the old fishing stand once stood and it was the gap in the reed left by that through which the picture was taken.
The next image, the first of Part Two, was taken from half way between the two oars propped up in the trees on the left and the pile of logs that catch the sunlight a few yards further on.
Today, the end of the boat stand marks the the start of new path edging that was installed earlier this year. The edging is part of the plan is to raise the level of the path slightly in the hope that is stays a little drier in future winters.
The ground on the right of the path beyond the pallet is largely bare of vegetation with just a covering of leaf litter. That's because, over the last few years the ground under the Crack Willow has been used as a temporary store for timber gathered from around the site before it is graded into one of three categories, first; fine twigs, second; available for chipping, and finally, suitable for path edging, but more of that later in the tour.
We are now alongside the large pile of twigs that you could see in the previous image and we'll take a right turn towards "The Ruston Bench".
This time the photo is taken from a little further back than the comparable 2015 image. The area has been much developed in the last five years. Then the bench had only just been moved to this position.
The following spring showed it was necessary to protect the bench from the secretions of the birch or perhaps the creatures that inhabit the trees above. Whatever the cause, we found a sticky substance appeared in the spring and, turning black, probably from the dust that blew onto it, accumulated rapidly. You spent more time cleaning the bench than sitting on it. As a result, we commissioned a shelter from the Green Team and this has proved most effective at keeping the bench usable throughout the year.
As was done in 2015, just before reaching the Ruston Bench, I turned to take a photograph of the house. Apart from the difference in vegetation, three things stand out.
On the bridge there is a new balustrade. We lived without one from the time the bridge deck was replaced, just before our wedding till May 2017. Roger, our wonderful decking and quay heading man, made a slight miscalculation on the size of the panels. That turned to our advantage when we realised that we could then place the solar powered lamps on perfectly positioned posts.
On the house, you see that the pergola has gone missing, replaced with a "grill gazebo" under which we store the barbecue, and more importantly, the long promised re-constructed dormer window and balcony on Bedroom Three.
Once at the bench you notice another change. It now stands on a deck. Soon after the shelter was acquired it became clear that bench and shelter were slowly sinking into the ground so, in May 2017, the deck was built on which it could stand. The need for it was confirmed after some particularly heavy rain in June 2016 when the lake and dykes rose to their highest level to date.
As in 2015 the view is of "The Pool" as we call this area of the lake - still wonderfully clear of lilies at this time of year!
Things haven't changed since my complaint, in 2015, about the impact of removing the buddleia from the island and thus making the cottages more visible from the Ruston Bench.
The deck turned out a little larger than we had foreseen and while we briefly considered moving our gas powered barbecue from the patio by the house onto the deck. In the end we bought a twin chair and table from a local garden centre that has proved exceptionally comfortable, and we regularly take a break from working in the grounds on those chairs.
Before we leave the deck it's worth noting the first bit of decoration that we have bought for the grounds. I think of it as a heron - but it's not, of course!
We return to the junction with the main path. Somehow I left out this and the previous view from the tour in 2015.
What we see in front of us is the fine twig pile, the last of the three previously mentioned. For the last few years all the twigs that fell from birch and other trees over the winter were stacked here.
Later, as lily leaves and duckweed began to be collected from the lake, the twigs would be spread over the ground on the path opposite, which now appears edged with grass, and then topped with the material from the lake. It seems to have been an effective technique for raising the ground slightly and, at the same time, provides a path with a reasonable surface on which to walk.
We'll now turn to the right to continue along the main path and immediately there is a slight rise as the path finally reaches a track leading us almost due north. What we see is utterly different from the view on the 2015 tour. The changes started in 2016 when a number of tree roots were pruned and the edging added on the outside of the curve. Since then several loads of chippings have been applied. Over the summer of 2018 the inside of the curve had had a plank edging added. The rest of the work was completed by the Green Team in the early part of this year. An enormous operation was carried out that, with the permission of the Poors Allotment trustees, saw the far bank cleared of trees overhanging the dyke and a strip a couple of metres wide created that would allow easy maintenance of the dyke in the future. A similar operation was carried out on our side immediately afterwards. Part of the idea behind the operation was to encourage a little more light at ground level, which it is hoped might allow the paths to grass over and make their maintenance somewhat easier in the long term.
During last autumn much of the duckweed cleared from the lake was spread on the ground behind of the Ruston Bench seen here on the right. The idea was to provide a little more nutrients to the soil. It seems it may be working as the grass cover is improving here.
We come to "The Dip"! It seems there was a deliberate decision to have a break in the spoil heaps on this western side of the lake. There's no telling what the reason was for that decision, but the attraction now is that the gradients give variety to the path. The path here looks much as it did in 2015, except for the addition of the plank edging.
However, the history is more complex than suggested by the then and now photos. For a couple of years rather than sweep gently to the right and under the conifer the path proceeded straight ahead and then swept to the left along the "New Path". What now appears as the direct route then became a distinct right turn.
The trouble with making the change was that it made a much longer straight run of path. That was a problem because it was always the intension, where possible, to have all the paths designed so that, in high summer at least, you can never see more than about ten yards ahead. It principle was that you should give the route an air of mystery, with always some to discover ahead.
It was part of that thinking that led us to buy, at the beginning of this year the life sized welded metal Red Deer sculpture. And new this very week is the short bench that stands beside it.
You will have noticed the two short posts, which when we bought the house, always indicated a nearby fishing stand. The last of those were cleared in the winter of 2015/16. Apart from the lack of fishing stand and summer vegetation, nothing has changed on the spur.
In the last photo of this part of the tour, a subtle change of angle compared with the last view of the sculpture and, perhaps, the most important change on the site is revealed - the bridge that now branches off the "New Path" and crosses the dyke that forms the boundary of the grounds of Ruston House.
The "Later Post" link below will take you forward. You can return to the start of the Tour using the "Earlier Post" link.
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