Friday, 26 October 2012

Secret Service: EPISODE 80

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
My Dear Ralph
I'm sorry for the long hiatus pet, but I have been somewhat out of sorts with a back injury and an analgesic-related bowel stoppage.  I am not back to my usual cheery self even now, as the above set of conditions would cause just about anybody to turn into an old Grump.
Meanwhile, I was called over to old Miss Nunne's large property on the edge of Outer Hamlet.  This elderly lady is only rarely seen about town but, some years ago, we became acquainted during a period of fitting tree guards to a newly-planted row of Holly trees.  I must say that the quality of cake supplied at this demesne was very high - and transported to a sitting room by a maid wearing an outfit wearing a most fetching lilac uniform topped by an actual hat - but Miss Nunne herself was not of the easiest temperament to bear.  We did rather fall out over my speed of work which Dolores (the maid) was sent over to communicate as being 'too slow' and, since then, I have not been back!  However, she was on the blower the other day in somewhat of a state over the condition of her ramparts - these being the high, 17th century, retaining wall enclosing a terraced lawn to the south of her house.  Apparently, these are now rather voluminously covered in ivy and she would like it removed!
It is an interesting wall pet and I have nothing but admiration for the building engineers who constructed it.  It took me some while (when I was last there) to work out how this edifice must have come about and these are my conclusions.  I think that, in the time before the wall existed, the house must have stood on some kind of grassy knoll.  And that the owner of the day decided to build a wall and have a terraced lawn running down south from the house.  So the stone must have been carted (literally) over and the wall built.  I do not know what kind of footings it stands on, but I believe they gave quite some thought to how to drain away ground water from the raised level of earth behind it.  As you may know dear, the principal cause of failure of a retaining wall is the build up of water - and its hydrostatic pressure - in the retained soil behind the wall.  And in this particular instance, I think water from the soil drains into a deep soakaway (which looks like a water well) the circular wall of which rises up out of the lawn.  At the bottom of the 'well,' of course, will be the pipes that conduct water from the soil, under the wall, and into a container which, in this case, is the 'pond.'  I think, dear, that, originally, they excavated a large hole (the pond) and that the top soil/clay from this was used to backfill the wall and create a flat surface on which to lay a lawn.  And that the water draining from the soil then entered the soakaway, ran along  the drainage pipes, and entered the cavity which became the pond!  This is so ingenious don't you think?  I am quite beside myself with admiration.
Anyway, I have agreed to go over there tomorrow and cast one or two eyeballs over the ivy, as I gather that one or two stems have reached substantial proportions and need to be severed.  I do hope my junior hacksaw will be up to the task!
Aunt Agatha 

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