Wednesday, 20 April 2016

All over the place

My blogging is a bit like my brain at present - all over the place.  Towards the end of last year I was getting a bit fed up with my own blog posts {?!}, the ones which seemed like an endless litany of "did this, did that, did some more".  I thought it might be nicer to wait until projects were completed and then publish a complete 'start to finish' instead.

That's really not working . . .

I'm now in a place where the "New Pictures" folder has far more images in it than I like and the catching up task feels like one of those huge, too big jobs again.  So we're going back to the "litany of lists".  My blog, my rules, bla bla bla.  What the heck, this was and still is MY journal and being a sad git I get a huge amount of pleasure on tired, cold, dark evenings when I look back and see what we've done in previous months/years.  According to Google, over 1.3 million blog posts are published every day so if mine get boring there are plenty more out there!


I am continuing with the "30 minute rule" and that, combined with being surprisingly disciplined and doing the exercises my physiotherapist prescribed means that for the first time in four or five years I have periods where my shoulders are not painful.  Baby steps and we're not healed yet but it is very encouraging.

Yesterday was quite beautiful and as Daisy had enjoyed a longer walk at Crummock on Monday, she got four small trips around the block and plenty of games in the garden.  It felt like I spent the entire day outside, something that really hasn't happened enough the last few months. I concentrated on the New Garden, an area which became sadly out of control over the winter.  Any organic credentials I might have aspired to are now completed trashed - I have fenced off the worst areas to keep Daisy away and applied a liberal dose of glyphosate to the grass which has sprung up.  Along with wild strawberry, grass is a weed in it's own right at Bag End :-{





In a less feral part of the garden I continued to work in the fruit cage clearing out the old Marshmello plants.  This stock originally came from my friend Kath and should have been replaced last year but that never happened.  I bought new stock from Ken Muir and have overwintered them in a vegetable bed, the new plants are looking great and hopefully it will not be long before I move them.







The remaining Lonicera nitida was planted around the New Garden beds but I'm going to need a great deal more to complete the whole area . . .



In a high-falutin' attempt at succession planting, I have stocked up this little triangular bed next to the path.  For an early show there are lots of Snakeshead Fritillary, to follow on I've added Thalictrum aquilegiifolium 'Thundercloud', and a Verbena bonariensis in the middle should add some late height and flowers.  Thalictrum are part of the Ranunculaceae family so it amuses me to have put Ranunculus 'Aviv Rose' around the edge of the raised bed which, eventually, will house a climber to cover the chimney. If the not-box Lonicera grows into a neat hedge it might look rather smart . . . Of course, if Daisy continues to tramp all over it then nothing will look smart at all, so more temporary netting until the plants are established.





In the 'I'll blog it when it's finished' pile has been a lot of progress at the back of the vegetable patch including this lovely trellis (a.k.a. builders' weld-mesh).  Clematis montana rubens should be happy here and the early flowers will bring pollinators.



The final task just before dusk was to take more glyphosate to the area the other side of our Side Garden fence.  The wide tarmac area is used by the adjacent church for parking but we have finally realised that we actually own the bank underneath our fence . . . that would be the bank that is covered in weeds which I have had LP strim on a couple of occasions.  I've made the decision that I am going to actively 'garden' this bit and over time want to plant it up with robust perennials that will look a whole lot better than the couch grass, nettles and Good King Henry which currently abound.  Last year I planted some Ox Eye Daisy which did really well, it is likely to become a resting place for all the surplus geranium, euphorbia and dog rose that are growing out of control in the garden!!










Monday, 18 April 2016

Green and peaceful

For many reasons, in the last few weeks Daisy's walks have been home-based:  she really does not enjoy being in the car, the weather has continued to be cold and damp, and as I might have mentioned before she seems to have aged quite a lot over the winter and has not wanted to go very far on her daily walk.

But this morning I decided we were going out whether she liked it or not and despite it threatening to rain we had a trip to Crummock Water.

Perhaps a break from the car has done some good because she was far less worried than usual and curled up in her fabric crate without too much of the usual stressed dribbling.  We got rained on whilst we were walking over Brackenthwaite Hows but not enough to cause misery.  Apart from an out of control pair of GSD's at the beach which Daisy did not like at all (why the **** can't people keep their dogs on leads if they know they will not behave around other animals?) we had a lovely walk, very peaceful and gentle.

And green, beautifully verdantly green :-}











I'm not a great lover of cattle, but these Belted Galloway calves were so pretty and all around lambs are growing really fast.







And finally, back at the car, Daisy even managed to lay down whilst I sorted out damp coats and shoes.  Recently she has been bolting straight into her crate where she starts shivering in her "I've decided I hate the car, stop torturing me" mode.










Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Ooops

Daisy got really muddy on our walk this morning and I decided a bath was in order.  Bear in mind she HATES having a bath, considers such activity is the height of torture and animal abuse, and feels that escape is her prime directive.

As on previous occasions, she survived and was so hysterically thrilled to be released from the bathroom (but not the bedroom - I’d shut the door) that in celebration she jumped ON TOP of her bed . . .



Whereupon all 23kg of her cracked the internal supports and there are now jagged bits of metal on the inside.  In defence of her stupidity the crate was not in its usual position because we are in the  middle of more house renovations (I'll write about them when the next phase is done).

Guess I’ll be buying her that new bed Management and I talked about a few weeks ago . . .

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

30 minutes

Over the months/years I have made reference to ongoing shoulder problems and left it at that, blogs where the author constantly bangs on about their ills, aches and pains can be a bit of a turn off . . . However, just because I don't mention something does not mean it isn't ever-present, and in the case of whatever damage I have inflicted upon myself over the last few years, there is ever-present pain and restricted mobility which impacts on every aspect of my life.  Last year a GP took a whole 5 minutes to jump to the conclusion that I had an inflammatory condition called Polymyalgia Rheumatica, despite my symptoms and bloodwork which did not support that.  However, at the time I was desperate for something, anything which sounded like a diagnosis and I accepted a prescription for steroids to combat the inflammation.

Now, if you give enough steroids to anyone they will most likely feel fantastic - I had no pain so I was sleeping well and that meant I felt much, much better.  And that was enough to convince my GP the diagnosis was correct and she refused to look any further.  Which might have been fine except that steroids are foul things in any instance, and for someone on the edge of Pre-Diabetic they Are A Very Foul thing.  I lasted a few months and whilst the lack of pain has been great, the daily grind of a Ketogenic Diet to maintain a healthy Blood Glucose level was taking its toll so I chucked the steroids in the bin last month*.  And then I did something I really, really should have done years ago - I went to see Liz Hunter who is a very well respected physiotherapist in Cockermouth.  Liz identified the shoulder problems I have, quite probably caused by working too hard for too long (shakes head in disbelief, me? really?).  Her prescribed exercise regime is not easy and it is going to take months to recover, but from Day One I felt better and truly believe, this time we might be getting somewhere.

Management accompanied me to my appointment yesterday so he could see exactly what my exercises were supposed to look like and when he's at home he will act at 'spotter' for me which is going to be a great help.  The three of us had a long chat about things I do and how I do them and I have agreed to a new way of working.  Basically, I am "allowed" to do (nearly) anything I want providing I don't do it for more than thirty minutes at a time.

Which sounded crazy - but yesterday lunchtime Daisy and I got outside during a gap in the weather, and in half an hour I cleared another section of the Top Pond Bed.
(OK, it still looks a mess but I can see the difference!



And before supper I had 20 minutes in the New Garden.
(which also still looks a mess, but at least I've made a start . . .)



It is human nature that if you can see tangible results from something then there is a good chance you will continue to do it!  So today, after a rather late start and the obligatory dog walks and houseworky stuff, the kitchen timer and I went back outside.  Trimming the honeysuckle was 15 minutes.



Fitting trellis panels into place only took 20 minutes; smug face - very pleased with myself!



Equally smug was the subsequent decision to go inside for an hour and doss around.  Working above head height to secure those panels was not terribly comfortable!

Half an hour to finish weeding the little bed to the left of the path and plant our first "Not-A-Box" hedging with the Lonicera nitida I bought last week.   It has staggered me just how much I've donen today whilst not really feeling like I've "been at it" for long . . . yes, there is a lesson here, maybe I am finally learning it?





* and the blood glucose levels, whilst not perfect, are much, much, much better now I don't have to deal with steroids mucking things up ! 




Sunday, 3 April 2016

Another busy weekend

More of those First World problems; getting so much done at present that I cannot seem to keep up.  I would prefer to post things chronologically but in The Great Scheme of Things it doesn't really matter so I'm going to jump right in with today's work; eventually I will catch up with what we've been doing in the last few weeks and in future years when I look back over the blog the fact that I published things out of order will be of no consequence.

So, it's Sunday, LP has a free day and suggested that he came over to help Management with more welding.  Oh goody - you can imagine how thrilled M. was to find that he would be spending the best part of his day bent over an arc welder.  We've had the materials to make a decent deck/step outside the kitchen door since May 2013, but other things kept getting in the way.  By the end of the day, however, they had the frame completed, hauled into position (it was extremely heavy and I kept out of the way), levelled and concreted into place.  I managed to contribute a little by driving the tractor so that concrete did not have to be carried/barrowed up from the drive :-}













And whilst the concrete mixer was onsite we took the opportunity to do a little work on our "obsy".  Trellis will go between the posts and eventually we will be shielded from an extremely irritating and bright streetlight.





 
 


I achieved a little more than photographs - aside from walking Daisy, playing with Daisy, and making zillions of mugs of tea I made a start on the area behind the Top Pond.  What used to be a path is completely overgrown and unsafe but digging out what has grown there is going to be a much tougher job than I expected.  There is a very fine line between plants which "do well in this part of the world and grow strongly" and those which are "bloody invasive and need removing completely", that line has been crossed by flag iris, wild strawberries and goodness knows what else!









Thursday, 31 March 2016

A sunny day in the garden

My desire was to spend the next few days taking Daisy for a walk in the morning and spending each afternoon in the garden.  Unfortunately the weather has other ideas; we've got loads of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday and I've got loads to do outside.  The logical option was to spend all day outside, play with Daisy (nearly) every time I stopped to look up from what I was doing, and by the end of the day both of us were completely exhausted.





It doesn't look like much, but this lot kept me occupied for a good few hours:

Some rubbish became another "wee beastie pile" rather than filling the council bin.





The compost I have isn't as well rotted as I would like but I've run out of really good stuff and mulching the Bulb Bed needed finishing. The fritillaria are doing well this year with loads of new shoots visible so the plants are definitely bulking up.  There are a couple of shoots which might be the Common Spotted Orchids and nearer the house there is lots of growth which I hope are the Camassia.  They did not do well last year having to compete with the weeds which had taken over.

And yes, that really is a large dog bed next to the bench.  Daisy wouldn't sit in it today but perhaps if she gets used to it . . . earlier in the month when we had some good weather and she was outside with me her tummy immediately got red and inflamed.  Too early for grass pollen or mites so goodness knows what she is allergic to, poor little girl.





Half a dozen pots of Grape Hyacinth from B&Q have filled the little area underneath what used to be a magnolia (before Management chopped it down).





Storm Katie didn't bring as much chaos to the north of the country as expected, but we woke up to find four troughs of daffodils blown off the new wall and strewn across the drive.  Thankfully they missed M's car and the caravan (a couple had traveled a surprising distance) and there was very little damage.  Buried in blog lag is the fact that LP has nearly finished the back of the vegetable patch so there are new beds along the fence.  I'm planning Globe Artichokes in a couple of the bays, and annual flowers in a couple, so the current idea is to have a row of daffs all along the back.  The decaying foliage will be hidden by whatever grows in the summer and they should look lovely at a time of year when there's not much growing in this area.



Some carpentry in the Cottage Garden . . . all will be revealed when LP or M cuts a sheet of weld mesh for me!   (I'll tackle most things but I draw the line at metalwork and angle grinders).



The laurel hedge got an annual haircut, and there was much standing around looking at the view and marveling at the clarity and quality of light today.



The frogspawn is no more - we now have hundreds of tiny tadpoles in all the ponds.  I am still on Beetle Watch . . .