Quite why the original builder or builders of the cottages that go to make up the house needed quite such an overbuilt pig sty for each cottage we’ll never know. Colossal slabs of stone nearly four feet long and a foot square, nicely dressed, made foundations, and must have been thought too heavy to move when pig houses were no longer needed and so were cleared away.
They’ve been very useful. One now makes a handsome lintel for the new outdoor fireplace (we didn’t see how Colin the mason managed to lift it up), a second remains in situ as a low retaining wall. another, upended, makes a plinth for a pot up by the top pool, and the fourth…. Well, this morning we decided to move it. We thought we might try to roll it along on logs like those pictures of Egyptians building pyramids. The logs got stuck on uneven flagstones. Eventually, it got rolled sideways, with much heaving and panting. It got levered around corners with a wrecking bar, itself a mighty weight. It was to be a retainer to cope with a slight change in soil level down to the minute yard that has fireplace and shed. Soil was shifted, hellebores moved, martagon lilies a bit squashed. Soil was levelled, measured, all very professional and not our usual way. Then, one last heave, a roll and, thump, the stone settled into place. With childish pleasure we viewed our handiwork – fortunately no-one more adult was watching! Ach, the pleasures of garden building. Nothing like it.