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Could it be a swan dive or a swan song?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

© The Kilmahew Education Trust.

About six weeks ago we were entrusted with the future of the Kilmahew Estate and although we have been questioned on our plans for Kilmahew and St. Peter's Seminary, I'm afraid to admit at this moment we have a more pressing issue we need to attend to. What could be more important than the Monolithic Brutalist buildings or the Castle that form the backbone of the Estate, I hear you cry. Well we've apparently sprung a leak!

On one of our visits up to Kilmahew we thought it would be courteous to call on our neighbours at the Cardross Golf Club and introduce ourselves. They were as welcoming as everyone we had already encountered in and around Cardross, despite our misgivings that they may be fed up with people from the Estate bothering them, they were delighted to meet us and immediately pulled out a long list of jobs for us to be getting on with. I am taking literary liberties here, there was one pressing problem... a leak, slowly dribbling down the hill causing a quagmire or slip and slide depending on the amount of rain from the previous night. The news was received with some bemusement on our side. How do you go about fixing a Victorian pond with more pipes than the Edinburgh Tattoo, without the aid of waders, hazmat suit or recent tetanus injections?

When the pond was first constructed by the Burns family, the highly successful industrialists and shipping magnates, as part of their pleasure gardens, it was built with a small island overlooking a slight embankment. Presumably the one where the 'Cardross Falls' as we are calling it has developed. Unfortunately for us the fashion in Victorian times was for plant hunters to search near and far and provide the wealthy with exotic plants and seeds. One such import was a white flowered, red stemmed, rather pretty and very prolific 'Reynoutria japonica', or japanese knotweed, which seems to have decided to march across the landscape around the pond at an impressive rate of knots - pun intended. This is where our pressing issue lies.

In order to prevent the leak from getting larger, we probably need to drain it. In order to drain it we need access. In order to get access we need to clear a path through the knotweed, but ideally we need to suppress and remove it all to stop the spread and ecological damage it is doing. So having prioritised this little leak and promised the golf club that we will deal with it, the problem has mushroomed somewhat and does not seem as easy as it would be to fix your own garden pond with a replacement butyl liner from the local garden centre. This problem leak may take months to deal with so my question is this: Do we explain the magnitude of the problem to our neighbours at the Golf Club and merely apologise for the delay or do we offer to remedy the issue temporarily by providing flippers, snorkels and inflatable swan swimming rings? I think I know which one I favour, I wonder how many golf clubs you can balance on an inflatable swan?

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