Chalk, Chalk and more Chalk


‘What shall we do today?’ asked Glenn as we claimed our first tea hit of the day.

‘I’ve got a great idea,’ I replied with cynical charm ‘Let’s spend the next eight hours digging out a cliff face and shifting rubble in buckets whilst trying not to break our necks!’

‘Wow! Do you really think we could?’

‘Of course we can darling, anything for you’

It was getting to be a habit. Every spare moment we were digging. We would get home from work and dig, Glenn took time off work to dig, entire weekends we dug. Once the first terrace was in place, the steepest part of the garden had to be removed. There was about a foot of soil before we hit a thick seam of chalk which we had to break through and remove.

The soil itself was reasonable and so we sieved it and kept it whilst we got rid of as much chalk as we could in our neighbour’s garden. They knew about this of course. They didn’t wake up one morning to find a glowing white version of Silbury Hill outside. They have a similar slope and luckily for us they actually asked if they could have our rubbish. Fence panel quickly removed and more shovelling took place.IMG_3852

It seemed as though all we were doing was digging which is exactly right, we were. The planting plans were waiting in the wings, we were holding back from buying too much because we had nowhere to put it. Our nursery on the patio was needing a lot of attention. Things were growing and needed repotting and then there was the self inflicted pressure of growing flowers for our wedding. We had some annuals on the go but it didn’t look enough.

The film crew were in constant contact asking for updates and planning more filming dates. Would we like to go plant shopping with Monty? Would we give them a list of exactly what we were doing in the garden and when? Had we thought about having a hen party they could film? Could they film our wedding? Would we like to go on a day trip to a mystery location to get some inspiration? We were grateful for all the chats and emails, it felt like a support team though at times I am not sure they actually comprehended the work we were doing. However, this would be quickly dispelled when they came to film and saw for themselves the change. We felt proud and smug and it made all the aching backs and blisters fade away.

And then there was the treasure. We live in an archaeologically rich part of the world. Our house is at the same height as Old Sarum which is five minutes from us. We started finding artefacts which added a sense of mystery about the land we were digging. Lots of pieces of clay pipe, lots of pottery, some animal teeth, bone, nails and a human tooth. At least I convinced myself it was human. We were told that our land was once a burial site for WW2 casualties from the nearby Old Sarum airfield. What? Dead bodies in our garden? Having watched many episodes of Time Team we quickly built over everything before anyone declared our garden an SSSI and got the geophys guys in. After all, we had a deadline to meet and Monty would not be pleased.

Glenn finds a (human) tooth.

Just at the right time, after we had reduced the garden to a white powdery bombsite we got a call asking us to please drive to Sussex for the day. We had a postcode. Luckily we also had the internet so we looked up our destination and got seriously excited.

Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea;  A Floral Fantasy


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