Sunday, 19 June 2016

T`was the night before Christmas

Oops, no, six months out! T`was the night before Summer Solstice:

and it's chucking it down outside so Daisy and I are curled up in front of the fire :(

Monday, 13 June 2016

Sorting out the "dumping grounds" (or - ANOTHER job started but not finished)

Every garden has (at least) one - an area which, despite the very best of intentions, is a dumping ground and always a mess.  In a garden the size of Bag End those dumping grounds go feral pretty quickly!  I have never managed to keep the area around the back of the big shed and log store from getting totally out of control.  In the twelve months since stumps were ground out we've added another shed and loads of mess too!

Now it is time to tidy things up for good (who am I kidding?)

At the weekend M. and I had a bit of a blitz and tried to move as much 'stuff' out of the way as possible in order that LP had a clear run at doing all the hard work for us.  On Tuesday morning we started between the new shed and the greenhouse.

A few very hot hours later we had (nearly) flat level ground and a new bed.  The bed came about because levelling off the soil would have badly exposed the roots of the little holly tree that, for no reason other than I can, I want to keep.  Conveniently we've also created a nice place to plant another Clematis montana which will be trained up the fence onto the metal trellis.  I suspect there will be other pretty things planted in this bed, even unfinished it makes me smile every time I look at it.  Just because this is a 'utility area' why shouldn't it have nice flowers?

Despite having had a huge stump ground out there were still roots in the way . . .

The following day we had a repeat performance at the front of the new shed.

The initial reason for a bed here was to support/strengthen one of the fence posts.  It's pretty solid now because this bed is tied into the shed base and other fence posts and eventually will brace across to the log store.  We're building for the long term!

The other lovely thing to happen was the completion of the bed behind the house (a necessity so that LP had somewhere to put the soil he excavated.  It has taken YEARS to get to this point but it makes such a difference - delighted with how everything is coming together.

Even the way LP works this was far too much work for two days so we tried again this morning (Monday).  The weather had other ideas and we were rained off after an hour . . .

I'm so fortunate to be doing this, but will be so very glad when it is all done :)

Monday, 6 June 2016

Pretty much a perfect weekend :)

It was a perfect weekend for getting caught up with some jobs which have been waiting for faaaaaaar too long. Management had Friday off and the continued amazing weather made it feel like another Bank Holiday.
Doing some more painting in the day room (bless Management).  We seem to be painting this room one wall at a time which is less than conventional, but it's working for us :)

Moving furniture back to where it lives and finding that now we have had the beech dresser painted we're in love with it again.  For the first time in what seems like months we can sit without looking at piles of 'stuff' that really belongs elsewhere.

Cleaning most of the sitting room carpet (bless Management again!)

Being VERY unimpressed that nothing is where it should be . . .

Wanting to play but being far too hot . . .

More painting, but of the outdoor kind.  When I came across Farrow & Ball's "New White" I realised I had finally found "the" paint colour that had been in my mind for years and years.  Happily I've managed the same in the garden; this is Cuprinol "Willow" and it has completely transformed what was fairly cheap and bog standard furniture into something rather lovely.  This is two very thin coats, almost dry brushed.  Definitely needs at least one more, maybe even a fourth.

Even though it is not the right time of year to do it, there was much removing of invasive weed from all the ponds, and a lot of rinsing and shaking to make sure no tadpoles or baby newts were collateral damage. 

Washing lots of quilts

Pretty much a perfect weekend :)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

New toy

After a hard few hours slaving over a keyboard (him) and some time in the garden (me) we finished off the day enjoying the last of the sun, sitting in the arbor with a bottle of something cold, and trying out a new toy.

Just a cheapie to see if we like it but I can safely say there's no way this is going in the back of a shed to be forgotten!  Tra la la - I have found a way to enjoy the wood burning stove 12 months of the year!  Well, not exactly the wood burner, but I now have an excuse/opportunity to light a fire any time I want :-}

Daisy was not so sure . . .

Monday, 30 May 2016

Three days, three sheds

With Kate having finished painting our furniture and us having the task of remaining walls and skirting board to do, logical sensible people would have spent the Bank Holiday decorating . . .  we are not logical and sensible.

The weather and mood came together to enable the horrible but much needed job of sorting out the sheds.  Thankfully I only have to do this about every couple of years and I have a (daft?) fantasy that when LP is no longer here and there's only M & I going into the big shed, I might be able to keep things tidy.  Nothing wrong with a healthy dose of optimism! I am far from finished and in the big shed there is still a load to do, but the two little sheds are under control, and I'll take that for now:-}

In a stupendously Ground Force moment I built decking in front of the new shed and M. fitted electrics inside, clever chap :-}

Whilst he would much rather have been in his workshop, Management did an AMAZING job and, with the aid of Red Betty, restored a large rug which had been dumped in the shed (because we didn't have a room for it) and it can now go in the Day Room - if we ever finish that painting!

There were other interludes such putting on chest waders and clearing more oxygenating weed from the ponds.  Not an ideal time to do it and I spent ages shaking all the weed to try and ensure no tadpoles got pulled out accidentally, but the best way to keep down the numbers of Great Diving Beetle is to keep down the quantity of pond weed.

Along with the daily Daisy-walk there was much relaxing with the Kindle (and much sunbathing by Little Miss Perfect), and lots of meals which looked something like this:

Whilst it is more than a little disappointing that nearly half of our asparagus plants seem to have died those remaining are cropping at a nice steady rate.

There are certainly more relaxing ways to spend a hot and sunny Bank Holiday weekend*. 

* Hot/Sunny/Bank Holiday - an oxymoron, surely?

Friday, 27 May 2016

Inside and outside

I am so very fortunate that right now my biggest 'problem' is that too much life is happening all at once.  The last week has been non-stop and everso slightly mental but no complaints because we've achieved a huge amount with relatively little, if any, stress.

Monday:  Kate arrived for a week of painting furniture, skirting boards, kitchen kickboards and a wall and the morning was a whirl of bookcases being emptied and furniture being moved once we'd agreed with her which pieces she would work on.

We have had all of this furniture 15+ years, it's tired and we want a change.  But there is nothing structurally wrong with any of it and we like the basic shapes.

Apparently I am the only client of Kate's who thinks the first undercoat is exciting . . .

Alan was here to fit the aforementioned skirting boards and kitchen kickboards.  No photos of newly fitted, unpainted kickboards and skirting board but he did a great job and we look forward to having him come back to do other woodwork.

Tuesday and Wednesday:  LP was here to finish up the path edging in the Cottage Garden, which looks great and once I've put black membrane down we just have to wait for Walter to bring more slate chippings.

We had a major clear-out of the hidden path behind the laurel hedge taking out the (now rotted) bark chip which has gone into the bottom of the big compost bin.  Bit by bit as materials are available we'll replace this with a hard surface that won't act as such a welcoming seedbed for the weeds.

He then worked on the raised beds behind the house which have only been planned for about three years . . . and one of them is finally finished!  Guess it is time I stopped using this space as a dumping ground for flowerpots . . .

Paintwork, day two:

Thursday and Friday:  Kate is a delight to have in the house and (apart from dustsheets and furniture out of place) there is remarkably little disruption. Every day the depth of colour builds but it is not until the very end that you get the full effect of six carefully applied coats of Farrow and Ball.

Although the painting is complete we'll leave the furniture for a few days whilst the paint hardens.  Gives us a chance to paint the rest of the walls, oh goody, looking forward to that so much, not!

I still managed to be on the go non-stop with house stuff, Daisy stuff and garden stuff, so at the end of each day I was barely been able to keep my eyes open for an hour of Chelsea Flower Show on the TV. 

Not that I really care, Chelsea is not my idea of the pinnacle of horticulture even if the RHS would like us to think it is. Perhaps I am mean but this year I was delighted to see and hear criticism - for the crowds, the rubbish that is on sale and the stupidity & waste of resources which goes into show gardens which exist for only a week. I also continue to be distinctly unimpressed with the forcing and artificial growing conditions in the build-up to the show which mean that the public see plants in flower at the wrong time of year and this creates combinations that they could never ever repeat. Even though the display of Heppatica by John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries was probably the most outstanding of the entire show (and who didn't have a lump in their throat seeing his emotion on winning Gold and the Diamond Jubilee Award), they are plants for early Spring and should not be in flower at the end of May.

rubbish piccies today, I'm in a hurry and doing a half-decent 'tweaking' job in Lightroom will take more time than I want to spend

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Slogging on

Day three with LP was a mixed bag.  The morning went very well with the rest of the turf being stripped off and relocated to take away more of the slope behind the Big Pond.  That area still needs sifted soil to feather in all the edges but it already looks better (and will be easier to mow).

The afternoon did not go so well.  Management often tells me "you don't need to be out in the garden all the time LP's here, supervising him" and I point out that when I am not there, all the time, our enthusiastic helper has a tendency to go "off piste" and not do what I want him to do.  Thursday afternoon was a perfect case in point.  Glossing over the details, I went inside and left LP to join timber edging which will make the border for our new path.  He got completely carried away with making up steel plates and created something which will withstand a bomb going off, not just me hitting it with the lawnmower.  I told him to stop.  There was a disagreement . . .  Fortunately at this point Management came home from an appointment and told him to stop.  Which he did.  M. bless him, now remembers why I have to be outside with LP when he's here.  And LP (bless him?) apologised when he left telling me "I know I got rather carried away but I'd started and didn't know how to get out of what I'd begun".   Grrrrrr.

Friday - painting.  I had to call Management in to do the ceiling sections, but not only are the newly plastered bedroom walls now lovely and white, but I've also freshened up the two accessible walls in the back bedroom which is part of the general reorganisation and huge upheaval we're going through in the house.  Actually, by M's and my "normal standards" we are doing extremely well seeing as we've been here over 8 years and this is the first significant "move everything around and use rooms differently" we've gone through. We have a history of doing mad things like this everywhere we've lived.

Saturday - dog walking and errands have to come first, but then the frightening (for me) task of dismantling the longarm machine and moving it to the other end of the house. In reality it was remarkably easy and stress-free.  Management read the 'how to assemble it' instructions and worked backwards - guess if he can build motorbikes from scratch then a large sewing machine frame is a doddle :-}

Still a bit to do before I actually get to sew, but Molly the Millie fits very nicely into the back room and it feels like a space which will be really nice to work in.

On Monday, Kate (the brilliant painter) will be here for the week and also a new carpenter she recommended who will be fixing missing skirting boards. Weather permitting LP will also be here. Last week was hard with LP here for three days but I have decided the coming week will be much better!

I feel a bit like a moaning kid on a car journey:  "are we nearly there yet?"  just wanting this all to be over.  When we planned our big move from one end of the country to another we didn't include eight years of renovations and upheaval.  I know it is all worth it and we've now got a fabulous but I never realised what a slog it would be to get here.  I am more than ready for this part of our journey to be over :-{