Jonathan: Parked at Morrison’s supermarket car park in Welwyn Garden City. There’s something calming and reassuring about being settled amongst the comings and goings of so many people. After a walk around the pleasant leafy suburbs of Panhanger, I settled down to read some short stories (Katherine Mansfield – The Dolls House; Susan Glaspell – A Jury of Her Peers), drank a glass, of wine with some cheese and biscuits, and a little nap. It’s turned decidedly cold and blustry. To save money I’m ‘camping wild’ for a couple of nights – hereabouts that means car parks of 24/7 supermarkets or nearby where the delivery trucks park up.
Jonathan: Last visit home – back in mid August, I divided the bee colony that survived last winter, in the hope of spreading my risk this coming winter. It was already late in the year to do this, but I had so little opportunity earlier. I divided by moving the queen and a good supply of grubs and house bees, and some workers, to the new hive, and ensuring a good supply of day old eggs in the old hive, which the workers could convert to queens. To be successful this would also require the new queen to be mated, which means enough drones being raised as well. With just these hives, and none others anywhere for possibly 60 miles across the sea, I can’t go on interbreeding like this, but I am planning to get new queens and brood stock next year, and can then resume a proper breeding programme and gain critical mass. I’ve not been home since I made this division, but Denise has been reporting consistently much less activity from the new hive compared with the old, and I’m wondering what this signifies. Have too many bees drifted back to the old hive? Perhaps the queen has drifted back too – maybe I should have clipped her wings? There’s nothing I can do until I get home a week from now, and then it will be October and if there aren’t two fertile queens at work, ie one in each hive by now, then I’ve no choice but to re-unite them again. A pity, but at least I should be no worse off than I would have been had I done nothing at all. I shall be glad to be soon – just five weeks now! – at home full time and this sort of problem should not arise again.
Denise: I don’t know that it actually takes (as in needs), but in any event there certainly are all sorts! Working in the garden today, a dog suddenly came woffling up to me – but it wasn’t Tilly. A couple had come into the garden – my garden! our garden! – not only with their dog, and without asking, but without having it under any control. They didn’t seem at all concerned when I pointed out that my own labrador was about in the garden, and was on heat. I’d have felt less annoyed if they had apologized and got their dog under control, but not a bit of it – I had to take Tilly indoors. How presumptious and inconsiderate can folk be! It’s lovely having people to come into the garden to buy vegetables and so on, certainly when they seem to appreciate what we do, and I don’t mind spending some time talking, but some folk just make me want to replace the gates in the wall with a drawbridge and watch tower, and put out a sign saying – bugger off! But then you just need one nice person to come along and it all seems worthwhile again.
Jonathan: Today I announced at work that I will end working full time with Mouchel. There’s no stepping back from that now. I will officially remain an employee, but only working the hours I’m actually needed and working at home in Uist. The talk with my boss about my future plans took place along with my 6-monthly review. I’d put as my career development objectives that I want to change to a part-time casual status. That’s the first time that any objective I’ve ever put to management has ever been agreed to and has come about – and immediately too!Just one week to go until I’ve a week at home in Uist: then 3 weeks of full-time work left. I just can’t wait!
Denise: The couple staying at Carrick called round this evening, complaining of an unpleasant ‘drains’ smell in the house. Was it coming from the utility? No. So not the trap of the floor drain dried out again (simple remedy – pour in some water). Smell generally everywhere – seems to be coming from the ventilation. Oh dear! This was reported by another guest back in spring, but only briefly. This couple seem a bit more put out by it. The problem seems to occur only when the weather is very still, and the when the temperature is falling, so that warm air from the soil vent doesn’t rise, but falls back and drifts around the roof. – the intake of the ventilation system sucks it back in. Jonathan has been investigating it and has a remedy in hand (somethiing to do with air-admittance valves), but not complete. Now needs to be completed when he’s home in a couple of weeks. Meantime, the only remedy I could give was to turn up the ventilation system and open the windows (with care). I went round later and the smell had certainly cleared. But that’s risky if the weather turns wet and especially if its windy. That said, if its windy the odour problem should not occur. Oh the joys of letting property! How on earth do owners manage when they don’t live anywhere nearby – they are totally dependent on their local help!