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A Week on the Estate: Frosty Mornings, Italian Cocktails & Gothic Details

Weather in the Lincolnshire Wolds should never be too predictable, and this week we saw a minor cold spell and a rare May frost. Overall, however, fine weather persisted and the hard work continued.

 

The unseasonable touch of frost may have prompted Tristan’s apple tree to shed its blossom, but the potatoes in the Walled Garden were well insulated by a layer of yew clippings. On Lime Tree Walk, a variety of fungi are flourishing on rotting wood, giving us some fascinating colours and textures.

In the fields, our autumn-sown cover crop of phacelia, mustard and natural plants came into flower regardless of the cooler weather, with a healthy population of bumble bees particularly appreciating the phacelia. We’ve also been busy incorporating farmyard manure ahead of drilling maize plots.

 

Work to improve our tenants’ cottages continued apace. At 2 Keal Cottages, preparation is underway for a ground-source heat pump while indoors a new kitchen is being fitted. At 2 Brinkhill Bridge Cottage, local firm Abbey Joinery have installed fine, new wooden doors and windows. We’re also finding good uses for estate timber. New gates were installed courtesy of Ketsby Sawmill, while three fallen trees became bridges in Brook Walk woodland.

For readers seeking refreshment, one of our distillery’s satisfied customers, Suzie, shared her own variation on a Negroni cocktail using Burrell’s Dry gin. She mixed one part Burrell’s, one part vermouth and one part Campari. She then garnished the Negroni with blood orange and – to honour its Italian roots – a sprig of basil she grew herself. Suzie also used a wide glass, the better to accommodate a giant ball of ice.

 

At the Hall, a local craftsman has made an exemplary job of replacing the Walled Garden’s west door with a near copy of the south door, which he created several years ago. Scandinavian pine was used, the preferred option for long-lasting, exterior joinery. The upper portion of the west door has a flatter profile than the south door to match the brickwork, but still involved much painstaking and intricate work to create Gothic styling with intersecting curves and unglazed panes. The lower portion’s panel-work exactly duplicates the south door.

While pins and crooks were re-used, the original hinges weren’t suitable. The craftsman adapted old ironwork stored in the Hall, cleaned it, shortened it, etch-primed it and used it to hang the door beautifully.

 

Well maintained masonry can last indefinitely but exterior woodwork can’t. It is organic matter and tends to decompose over time. If water finds a way in, it can’t get out and will cause rot. Except for a heavy, medieval oak door in a sheltered position at the Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln, this craftsman hasn’t worked on an intact piece of outside woodwork that pre-dates the 18th century. We’re fortunate indeed that the skills needed to rejuvenate beautiful woodwork have been passed down through the generations.