I’ve just been to fetch a ‘Rondo’ vine from Ickworth Vineyard – now a scene of muddy desolation.
Here below is an extract from a newsletter produced by the couple who created and tended the vineyard for 16 years:
‘The National Trust wants to return walled gardens to their former glories. It’s a national policy being rolled out all over the country and includes a major redevelopment of the walled garden at Ickworth. This is admirable when returning a car park to fruit trees, vegetables and greenhouses. It isn’t good news for the vines which are planted there. Apart from being unique – no other National Trust property has a vineyard, it has consistently produced award-winning wines since the National Trust’s centenary year of 1995. The vines are 16 years old and at their peak of production but they have to be dug out by the end of February 2013’
It occurred to me and no doubt many others, that the National Trust might have made an exception in the case of the Ickworth vineyard if on the grounds of its uniqueness alone. But, I understand that provenance is the motive for this move; it transpires that the Trust has discovered the Edwardian cropping records relating to the walled garden at Ickworth and the reinstatement of espallied apple trees is planned for the future. To complete the scene, a couple of straw sucking, rosy-cheeked yokels will remind us all of a time (in living memory) when virtually starving farm and estate workers would be sacked and their families made homeless for taking one of his lordship’s rabbits for the pot.
I have a friend who was a highly successful fund-raiser for the National Trust. One day, when she was travelling to London for an NT conference and on not being able to get a seat in steerage, she stole along to the 1st Class section (as you do) to discover that the legitimate occupants of the carriage were her immediate management. She resigned on the spot.
This week’s excitement is the gearbox saddle. I collected it from the laser-cutting people last night – jolly nice it is too..
….and there’s further excitement tomorrow when we go to look at another Jowett Jellymould. I shall encourage its purchase because that’ll distract Learned Counsel who seems to be getting a bit ahead of himself. The engine is in the chassis…
…and the next minute, I learn that he’s got the brake pipes and pedal box in as well. Well, at first glance it all looks terribly forward and that great progress has been made but, closer examination reveals a distinct lack of a cylinder head, so it’s all a bit of a propaganda stunt really. I’m not in the least flustered. However, I really have to knuckle down and get back into the swing of things and happily, this weekend, I’m not much engaged elsewhere. Splendid.
I remember flying over the vineyard in its infancy – I was as low as the law allowed – and roared up the southern slope and on over the top of the distinctive Ickworth House rotunda. Glancing down, I noticed an alfresco classical concert in progress. Tut, tut, shame on me.