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 :-{













Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Compost bin completion, and progress in the Cottage Garden

At the weekend I sat outside the caravan in shorts but Tuesday morning I needed warm Rab trousers and gloves just to take Daisy into the garden.  This did not deter LP and fortunately it warmed up as the day progressed.

The plan was to rebuild the back of the compost bins (something which has been on The List for ages) so that I could then plant four more laurels to extend our front hedge.  LP saw that he could also repair one of the divider walls which has been damaged by the weight of the poultry poo.

Never dissuade someone who wants to get on with a job which needs completing!  Not many pictures because, in truth, compost bins aren't the most photogenic of things.









He seems to have the bit between his teeth this week and we've made a start on creating a path which will link the house with the nursery area but going through the Cottage Garden.  I've never been a great advocate of hard surface paths in previous gardens but here, where it can cheerfully rain incessantly for eight months out of 12, it really is necessary to be able to get around without trekking through mud and wet grass.



Once it is done I'll also be able to sort out the edging around our small pond which I've never really been happy with.









My contribution over the last two days has been minimal almost to the point of being non-existent.  Yesterday I held bits of wood whilst they were being drilled and screwed, and today my efforts were confined to driving the tractor up and down the garden.  I've been overcome with an even deeper lassitude and tiredness than usual and just not in the mood to fight it.  But when LP asked "can I come back tomorrow and carry on with the lawn/path" I could hardly say no.  Never get in the way of an enthusiastic helper! 















An award from Hawthorn

Oo-err, an award no less!  Thank you to the very lovely Hawthorn Spellweaver who put me in the frame for one of these:

 

So the deal is: I answer Hawthorn's questions, choose some favourite bloggers to pass the baton on to and give them a list of questions to answer, so here goes :)

What's your favourite season?
Can I say all of them?  My least favourite season is "the rainy one" but how can you choose between a crisp, cold winter's day with high pressure and blue sky, over a fresh Spring day with a hint of a breezae and promise of what's to come?  Or the delicious heavy warmth of a slow lazy Summer day?  Hmm, I seem to be ignoring Autumn . . . 

Knitting or crochet?
Neither.  I'm a fabric junkie and can't see that changing any time soon.

Holidays by the sea or a city break?
Oops - neither again!  Hills and mountains for me every time.

Fairy lights or candles?
Candles every time.

Do you dance to the radio?
No, sorry, I dance as often as I knit . . .
 
What is your favourite meal?
Don't think I have one, depends upon the time, the season, the mood.

Do you have any tattoos?
No, and I never will.  

Night owl or up with the larks?
Definitely a lark, but have definitely ben struggling with early starts over the last few months.



So there you have it, random bits of information that wouldn't normally find their way onto the blog.


What comes next is my choice of blogs I enjoy very much:

Jessica at Rusty Duck
If you think I'm mad with all the Bag End restoration and renovation - Jessica and Mike make our efforts seem like a mere trifle!

Keryn Emmerson at A Quilting Twin
From Australia, Keryn and I actually met briefly in America at a longarm quilt show in about 1999 or 2000.  We only recently 'met up' again through our blogs and at risk of embarrassing her greatly she is the designer of some of my favourite quilt patterns of all time.  And she has a fabulous dog!

And she also has an equally talented sister - Mereth, who blogs at Pages From Me.  Her piecing leaves me in awe, I would love to get to a point where I have organised my life enough to achieve just half of what she does!

Sue and Martyn at Green Lane Allotments
Now ~this~ is how to grow vegetables!

Tigermouse (Eunice) at A Tent, A Caravan, 4 Wheels And Me
A lady after my own heart, me thinks :-}

Jules at A Hidden Jem
A new blogger, based in the south of our beautiful county.




And here are my strange questions for them:-}

1.  Have you ever missed a Sliding Doors moment which could have changed the direction of your life?

2.  Favourite flower/plant

3.  Which film makes you cry every single time?

4.  Dogs or cats?

5.  If you could live in a different country, and not have to worry about language difficulties, where would you move to?

6.  Breakfast, lunch or supper?  Which is the best?

7.  Chocolate - milk or dark?

8.  Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

9.   If the TARDIS materialised with Dr Who, would you go with him?


And now I have to let those ladies know it's their turn, and I think I'm done :-}


Monday, 16 May 2016

Another long weekend

The glorious weather continues (please don't let this be our entire summer, as has happened in the past) and finally we had an opportunity to get away in the caravan.  I've been trying not to get stressed about having bought the van last August and barely used it . . . but it is difficult not to be bothered about having such a gorgeous 'toy' sitting on the drive and not taking it anywhere.  The original intention had been to go to a site near Sedburgh and start to explore the Howgills but I really didn't fancy towing that far. Instead we booked into a gorgeous "CL" site near Bassenthwaite which I had visited a couple of years ago when collecting my friend Jill who was staying there.  Yes, I know it was only 20 miles but seeing as all I intended to do was sit and read then I decided there was no need to go any further.

I spent a very happy birthday on Thursday puttering around loading the van and playing with Daisy, and whilst it was slightly nerve-wracking to hitch up on Friday and inch off the drive on my own I managed it!!  Yeay, very empowering and much relief all round. Also much relief and HUGE thanks to Hawthorn who suggested I try Pet Remedy to help Daisy's in-car stress.  It works!!  Early days and I have only used it on two journeys but Madam seems more calm and there's certainly a lot less dribbling and restless moving around.  Might have worked on me too because I did not find the drive too bad.

For the rest of the weekend there was much sitting around trying to do very little :-}  On Friday afternoon I had the mad idea of trying to put a new awning up - single handed.   Not such a mad idea because I succeeded although it wasn't pegged out properly and when M. joined us on Saturday we re-did the pegs and everything looked very smart thereafter.

We had a gentle bimble towards Whitewater Falls on Saturday afternoon but it was extremely hot and neither Daisy or I were feeling like going past the turning off the farm track.



The only slight cloud in our weekend was the decision to pack up on Sunday afternoon and come home together, rather than M. go to work on Monday morning and leave me to break camp.  I'd not been sleeping well and was ready to come home.  Given we'd never taken the awning down before it only took us 75 minutes from making the decision to leave to being ready to drive away, as novices I reckon that's  not bad, and even though we left early we felt the weekend was a success.  Nothing went wrong, nothing significant had been forgotten, and being in the caravan itself is just lovely.  Maybe a little further afield next time?

Daisy generally seemed very relaxed at the site, completely ignoring the chickens and feeling secure enough not only to wander a little way from the van but to run around after her toys.  Normally there is no point taking a ball anywhere outside the garden because her need to stay close to me overcomes her desire to chase after a toy.



Management perfected the art of outdoor BLT assembly and pronounced it quite delicious!





Very few photos because I spent most of my time just sitting with the Kindle.




Looking down the valley from our pitch



Looking back up to the site shared with one motorhome occupied by a very quiet couple.



A little nippy early in the morning, but Someone seemed happy enough



So lovely to see Daisy this relaxed









Monday, 9 May 2016

Long weekend

Weekends don't get much better than the one we've just had; three long days with gorgeous weather.  It felt like a 'proper' Bank Holiday even though it wasn't.

Management had a day off so our weekend got off to a gentle start on Friday and for once it was dry and warm (that's warm by west Cumbrian standards!)  Over the course of Friday I got a base coat of white emulsion on the newly plastered bedroom walls which makes a huge difference to the room.  Needs a couple more coats so I will pass on the "watching paint dry" photos until more progress has been made :-}

We had a delivery which nearly went wrong but eventually turned out rather well (for us)!  Last week we idly wandered into B&Q on the lookout for a garden table - our last one rotted away and we had nothing at which to sit and eat outside. Taking advantage of Bank Holiday offers we bought a small circular table which came with four chairs, and then ordered another table so we could have two tables, each with two chairs, in different parts of the garden.  But what was delivered turned out not to be two round tables, but one round and one HUGE rectangular item.  There was an extended and convoluted conversation with the store staff whilst the delivery staff hung around muttering "they're always doing something like this to us" and, long-story-shortened, we ended up keeping the large table for no extra cost.  What a result - on reflection the round table was far too small to sit on the black deck but now for the first time we have an arrangement next to the Big Pond which looks right.  We also have the ability to seat 10 people should the need arise, which it won't!



The part of the delivery which did go according to plan is now on the patio area in the Cottage Garden, and it's lovely :-}



Saturday and Sunday blurred into endless sunshine, dog walks when it was cooler, a fair bit of gardening and much sitting on the new furniture, just testing it out and admiring thew view:-}



Tidying up never seems to end in this garden, but sticks and bits of wood left over from clearing a bit more of the area near the Top Pond all get added to various log piles.



When the new laurels arrived we put them behind the house to protect them until planting, and the idea was born that when we eventually get a bed built along this wall it would look great full of evergreen plants . . .



And talking of planting, I replaced the two very sick-looking laurels next to the big compost bins.



And put four in opposite the back of the house.



The fifth will have to wait - despite it not having rained for two weeks this hole is still half full of water and driving a metal bar into the bottom of it made no difference.  Lack of drainage will have to be investigated - perhaps this is why a nearby rowan died a couple of years ago?



The netting came down from the fence in the New Garden - ugh, feel horribly exposed now but that will improve over time as the yew hedge grows.



Three laurels into the narrow bed at the side of the Coppice

(ooops - missing photos . . . )

Half of the new strawberry plants transplanted into the fruit cage.



And the biggest change was next to the fruit cage - 4 new laurels to help create our "anti streetlight astronomy screen" followed by an awful of lot weeding and a considerable amount of bark mulch.  Management did the hard bit - filled loads of tubs and the Little Red Tractor moved them all.







And at the end - tired but very happy.  It has taken eight years and a lot of bumps in the road (and bumps in my body) but we are finally at the point where I can sit down and say "nearly there" . . . You know that things are right when, during a little weeding in the Coppice, I found that one of my beloved hellebore plants has seedlings underneath it . . .  loving it!!!!