“I built a Vine Tunnel – and a Troll moved in”


Growing up in a large, delapidated Private Estate in Scotland (Sprinkell) was somewhat isolated but definately a magical experience. The Forests had ‘dark’ areas in them – we all new them as kids – we even coined them names and skirted around them if it was starting to get dusk on the walk home. Perhaps these areas had negative energy – or maybe it was a purely aesthetic fear – I am not sure. The Estate was at one time, imaculately tended, as well as imense, you could tell this from the nature of the mass plantings and long since covered hardscaping and old rope bridges that traversed the river. The now defunct waterfalls, bamboo groves, and  vine smothered Summer House was adopted as our playscape, in the heart of the forest. My parents rented a cottage on the land while we renovated our future home (a 16th century cottage – 6 miles away called Debate). We lived in the forest for 5 years in a house called “Outerlands”- (I could write an entire book on the strange happenings my family all witnessed in that house!) let me know if you want me to publish some.

I got to know the forest intimately, it’s inhabitants like the back of my hand – which I hadn’t really studied at all. The melancholic nature of the estate has stayed with me – the silent presence of such areas are something you really have to ‘acclimatize’ to psycologically – or else panic and blind running kicks in! which of course as kids, we took great delight in. 

The Mansion was built in 1734 and enlarged in 1818 by the Maxwell family, proprietors of the Barony of Kirkconnel and Springkell since 1609. In the ruined churchyard of Kirkconnel on the banks of the Kirtle in Springkell estate is the grave of Fair Helen Irving of Kirkconnel Lea of Robert Burns’ poem. (G.R. 250754).

O, that I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
O, that I were where Helen lies
In fair Kirkconnel lees.

O Helen fair! beyond compare,
A ringlet of thy flowing hair,
I’ll wear it still for evermair
Until the day I die.

Curs’d be the hand that shot the shot,
And curs’d the gun that gave the crack,
Into my arms bird Helen lap,
And died for sake o’ me.

O think na ye but my heart was sair,
My love fell down and spake nae mair,
There did she swoon wi’ meikle care
On fair Kirkconnel lee.

I lighted down, my sword did draw,
I cutted him in pieces sma’;
I cutted him in pieces sma;
On fair Kirkconnel lee.

O Helen chaste, thou wert modest
If I were with thee I were blest,
Where thou lies low, and takes they rest
On fair Kirkconnel lee.

I wish my grave was growing green,
A winding sheet put o’er my een,
And I in Helen’s arms lying
In fair Kirkconnel lee!

I wish I were where Helen lies!
Night and day on me she cries;
O, that I were where Helen lies
On fair Kirkconnel lee.

I spent many hours around here, the picture dosn’t do it justice!

The Graveyard on the Estate.

Sprinkell Mansion.

I relay this story to you because I wanted to re-create this sense of the unknown, and natural unease in my now much smaller Texas urban landscape. But how to achieve it?. . . mmm . . . . well, you cannot beat a dark spooky tunnel, can you?  I built it and who moved in?

yes…… him!                                                   The entrance to the tunnel is well guarded!
                                                                                                      Thou Shalt Not Pass!

Here is a view of the back entrance, away from the house – the structure is about 12 feet tall – the vines include Wisteria, Trumpet Vine and Confederate Jasmine.

View from the front (tunnel entrance on left)

Tearing the tunnel down was a difficult decision I made at the end of last year – it dawned on me what I had done. I had moved the shed because it blocked a more long distance view of the yard and replaced it with a living structure – Duh! 

The tunnel was visually shrinking the yard – oh, and I forgot to add, – it was nasty to walk down it, cobwebs, un-earthly things falling down your neck etc, my cat at the time used it as her personel Bidet!  Nope – you don’t wanna walk down there! The structure was also creating too much shade – time to go, I also dug out the two ferns climbing the Bamboo poles. I did feel quite pleased that I had attained the ‘spooky’ nature I was looking for,  I looked around for my Sledge Hammer……here we go again.

All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Stay tuned for:

“There is a Monkey in my Giant Timber”


~ by eastsidepatch on May 5, 2008.

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