Bricks In The Hopper

Hellebore, snowdrops, ferns, heuchera

As our garden awakens, hellebores, snowdrops, ferns, and heucheras stretch their limbs and jostle for position.


Some hellebores, petals perhaps frost-bitten, raise their heads,


possibly having been alarmed by our jackdaws jousting over the rooftop chimneys,

Fungus on maple

What was once a maple on the grass had been cut back by our predecessors. Although we have some new shoots the stump now bears some fascinating fungus. We hope that is not a sign of the tree’s imminent demise.

HopperDuring the recent heavy rain, a hopper at the front of the house overflowed. Today I decided to investigate the blockage. The device contained a couple of pieces of brick that seemed to serve no purpose except partially to block the down pipe. I removed these items and Jackie filled a bath upstairs and let it flow into the pipe. All seemed to be running smoothly. Unfortunately Jackie had lifted the manhole cover to the septic tank.

This system, for homes not on national mains drainage, operates via sections of piping across the garden. There are three such covers. When we had our houseful at Christmas, we had experienced some overload in the waste pipes, creating an unsavoury heap in this first access point. Buckets of water, we thought, had solved the problem.


The residue in that pit, now solidified, resembled sand formations in the Arizona Desert,

which is why, having broken it up with a metal post, kicked up a stink, and begun to apply further buckets of water filled by Jackie,

Drainage access

I decided it was more sensitive to refrain from photographing the site until it was cleared. It had been necessary to pour the water down at speed, which incurred a certain amount of splash-back, best nimbly avoided.

The bucket drill was applied to each of the other access points, in order to ensure that the coagulated substance had been coaxed along the pipes. If that hasn’t cured the problem we will call in the experts.

This evening we dined once more on Jackie’s superb, well-matured, liver and bacon dish, served with mashed potato and swede, carrots and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Louis Virion Costieres de Nimes 2014.

After dinner, I watched the highlights of England’s earlier rugby match against Italy.


  1. The residue creating the image of the Arizona desert was an awesome “find” as was the cool fungi at foot of maple tree regrowth. Hope, like you, that the fungi aren’t choking out the life of the maples! I enjoyed the way you take the minutai of everyday happenings around the house and garden making it fascinating. This demonstrates true “artistry” in words and photos! I imagine second day of the liver, onion, mushroom meal would have marinated it’s deliciousness into an even better meal than yesterday’s.

    1. I had been putting it off, as I had investigated the contents of the drains some days earlier! I was nice to have help.

  2. I could be wrong, but I think your fungi may be symbiotic, their underground network delivering nutrients and water to a young tree. Conservationists in these parts have been upset by foragers who are depleting coveted mushrooms from the forest’s saplings. Fungi of many sorts, used to suddenly appear in various places near my trees, especially when the weather had been exceptionally wet, and they would disappear just as suddenly. I always wished they would be truffles….the expensive, culinary kind.

  3. Those bricks may have been placed to encourage an overflow before a heavy buildup of debris. That’s my first guess. I like mysteries of this kind 🙂 I too like the fungi.

      1. Oh, my goodness! I can see where a family tree is required. What a life you’ve led, Derrick! — full of sorrow and happiness, as well. I knew you were fascinating; I just had no idea how much. 🙂 Thank you very much for indulging my curiosity, and all my best wishes! xo, Rose

  4. At least the ground isn’t covered with snow and frozen solid. As we Mainers frequently say when asked how things are, “Could be worse.” 😉

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