The Several Annies wanted an outside work project for this early Winter so I’ve had them cleaning up the Maze, which has fallen into disrepair over the past few centuries. I blame that on it being in a remote part of the Estate, so remote that we had to pack lunches with us as it’s several hours walk each way to it. It almost made me consider the idea of having horses here once again as they would be ever so useful, but we really aren’t set up to house them without ramping up for hay and grain production and their upkeep is a pain in the royal arse. Small stock, the mastiffs, and the house felines are easy — the local vet comes in and does what needs doing with them at her convenience. Horses can need a vet at the spur of a bad moment and that doesn’t work when the vet in the Winter might be three hours getting here!
(I’ve suggested to the Steward that we need to hire a vet to be here but he balked at the cost of setting up a surgery for her. What I suggested is if we might serve as a sort of apprentice programme for the local practice instead. She said she’d mull it over.)
You’ll remember the Maze because we visited it several years back. Fortunately it’s made of stones set in the ground as opposed to the living mazes that the Victorians were ever so fond of. (Alexandra failed in her attempt to get the Steward to allow one of those to be constructed on the greensward. She pouted for months afterward according to her Journal.) So mostly the stones needed to pulled out of the ground where they had been mostly buried after falling over, vegetation cut back, and the stones scoured of dirt and uprighted.
It’s a big maze — well over thirty yards in breadth and shaped like a spiral. No idea who made it or when as, like the standing stones elsewhere on the Estate, the ancient builders didn’t leave records. The stones are obviously scavenged, showing no sign of being carved — just placed in a design. I’m very proud of the girls as they did all of the heavy lifting, sometimes using pulleys, to right the downed ones and generally being able to do what frustrates too many lads — thinking as they go along!
I think I’ll have Iain doing a Blessing of The Stones on Winter Solstice — If he’s truly ordained in the Church of Oak, Ash, and Thorn as he says he was when he did the handfasting this month, that should tickle his fancy. We’ll build a bonfire and have a feast here as well.
With love and affection, Gus