Friday, 21 July 2017

A little local dog walk

It's been a (generally) cold and unsettled summer so far, but perhaps that means I appreciate the warm and sunny days even more.  Monday was one of the lovely ones, and we took a slow walk through the woods at Crummock Water, had a paddle at the boat house, and an equally slow stroll back to the car.

Daisy seemed to enjoy herself; by staying in the woods and out of the sun as much as possible she didn't overheat.  I'd thought about taking swimming gear but decided I couldn't be bothered which was a mistake, I had to settle for a paddle instead.

I can only get Daisy in the water more than an inch or two by holding a biscuit right in front of her nose, and even then she's not daft and won't go very deep.

Walks on water?

Unfortunately not, just another mean trick to cool off Daisy's feet.

"Save me, Daddy!  She's trickling water over my back and I don't like it!!"

Thursday, 6 July 2017


Oops.   Absolutely no way did I mean to abandon my blog for a month, particularly at a time when there has been so much going on that I am hardly short of anything to write about.  But that is the way of things; so I'll move on from this point and if the mood and moment takes me, do a bit of retrospective catching up when the time feels right.

Whilst Management's retirement is a good great thing, it came about rapidly without taking much time to plan for how we'd "do it".  But that's normal for us - we can take YEARS to decide where to hang pictures, or what colour to paint the sitting room but Big Decisions, nah, they take hours or sometimes days, but never much longer! 

It comes as no shock to anyone who knows me that I like, need, crave routine and order.  It is my anchor and my safe place from which everything else comes into being and the one thing which has completely disappeared from my life in the last month is routine . . . and that includes finding computer time to sit and blog.  Does everyone's retirement start like this? Six weeks on we are still in the midst of strangeness and whilst we have a pretty clear idea of how we want to live, what we want to do, and what we need in order to achieve that,  a backlog of months/years of should-do's and have-to's seems to have totally taken over our lives.

How can it be a month since I last blogged?

How can it be that neither of us ever seem to sit down/sit still and yet we are never finished?

We've certainly been busy, LP's last day was 6th June and since then Management has been a tremendous help in the garden.  Ah yes, The Garden .... a place of happiness and sanctuary (especially during the incredibly hot spell last month) but also a place which needs a lot of time and attention.  Much thought is being given to small changes we might make in future to lessen the workload without diminishing the space.

Daisy is, as always, a delight to live with and happily the Apoquel tablets seem to have conquered the seasonal allergies which make her skin so sore.  Many short local walks, especially to a favourite wildflower meadow near the river.

She found some of June rather too hot and the slate hearth was a favourite place to cool her head

Those white boards full of tasks we've been wanting to get to for months/years have kept us busy, particularly from the middle of last month when we started at one end of the house and absolutely BLITZED a room each day until a week later when we were sick and tired of it all, and anyway, his Mum was arriving the next day!  We spent a very gentle week "on holiday at home" doing as much as an 85-year old with decreasing mobility could manage.  A lovely trip to Lingholm filled a wet day, plus the 'obligatory' visits to the seaside which included the Roman milefort at Allonby, Silloth and even a short climb above the beach at St Bees:

The now-traditional last day visit to Wasdale:

After the post-holiday tidying up and laundry sessions we were both completely worn out!  Over the last month I've developed a possibly unhealthy interest in the TriPeaks game on my iPad and that has been filling what little computer time there seems to be each day. When I find myself wasting time on mindless computer games I know I need a break, and as Management has often said "you could take the caravan away alone and I will look after Daisy" I suddenly decided to take him up on the offer and booked three nights at a tiny CL on a working farm outside Appleby with stunning views of the Pennines.

Which was lovely, but very strange to be without Daisy-dog, and now I'm home, surprisingly knackered but hopefully I will get up refreshed and renewed tomorrow!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Just knuckle down and get on with it

Despite appearances to the contrary, the last month or so I have been cruising along, and not really getting on with stuff which needs doing.  So with a bright weekend ahead of us and a couple of decent night's sleep behind, I decided that on Saturday and Sunday I would just "get on with it" and work through jobs which have been waiting for far too long.  Management took the opportunity to get out on one of his bikes, and after an energetic game of rugby in the garden with Daisy, I made a start.

Small willow fedge next to the pavement; first chop of the year and a bit of weeding now that the daffodils have died down.  Management wants to remove the black netting which was shielding the laurel hedge, a job we will probably leave until the autumn.  Once the laurel is free to grow towards the sun I expect it to do so with great enthusiasm, which means that the willow fedge might just be in the way ... I won't be sorry to see it go, like the one near the Top Pond it has probably outlived its usefulness, and having to keep cutting it back is a pain.

Although it never made it to the white board, one of the jobs on my mental list for weeks has been to give the bird food area a little makeover.   The willow screen should stop the sparrow hawk barrelling through from behind and the grow-bag tray is to catch all the seed which falls out of the hangers.

The birds took to the new breakfast bar instantly, although it was mildly disconcerting to be working away whilst an angry blackbird is sitting a couple of feet away swearing loudly at you because "things aren't where they should be"!   Whilst I am not fluent in blackbird it was clear there were many expletives being thrown in my direction.

Never gets on the whiteboard . . . cutting all the grass.

Daisy's skin is still a problem from Spring until Autumn.  We don't know exactly what she is allergic to but anti-histamines have never worked.  I hate using them but steroids have been effective until very recently, however they are no longer controlling the allergic reaction, so a trip to the vet is scheduled because the poor little girl is scratching herself so hard she's damaging the skin.  Until then, keeping the grass short does seem to help a bit.

It took a surprisingly short time to fit the fruit cage roof net (thank you Management!) and although I did a bit more weeding, I fear this is the year when I never really get those beds under control.

The last of the plants which have been waiting in the nursery area are now in the ground, which meant there was room for three of our cold frames (we're still waiting for number four to be delivered).  Management had a building session, bless him, it took me mere seconds to fill them all!

I wasted spent a lot of time hiding in the shed where I can watch both Mum and Dad blackbird take turns to sit on their newly hatched chicks who have voracious appetites.  The slack netting in front of the log store is my feeble attempt to keep local cats away from the nest.  Fingers crossed that it will continue to work.

Management also helped me to net half the roof and one side of the greenhouse to provide some very necessary shade,  when it was glorious over the Bank Holiday I recorded a temperature of 115F which is far too hot.  He worked out a very clever way of rigging the netting to keep birds out of the windows whilst not fouling the automatic vents.  Unfortunately we found a couple of panes of glass have slipped on the roof and whilst we fixed one, the others will have to wait until we can get to the other side.  New ladders may have to be purchased ...

After a tiring but thoroughly satisfying weekend, two wet days gave us the opportunity for some major freezer re-stocking.  Lamb curry on Monday

and Bolognaise sauce on Tuesday.  It is an awful lot of preparation and chopping but definitely worth it.

M. had a huge wardrobe clear out;  two bags of business shoes and loads of poly-cotton shirts made their way to a charity shop whilst all the pure cotton shirts found their way to the sewing room.  One day I am going to make a quilt with them all - but I have been collecting his shirts for 20 years and haven't started on the quilt yet, so don't expect to see anything sometime soon!

That was a heck of a few days, now I think I'll have a little rest :)

Friday, 2 June 2017

Nursery area changes

The Nursery Area is, as per usual, a mess.  I think every garden has a couple of corners where "stuff" gets dumped and unfortunately at Bag End the dumping grounds tend to be larger than normal.

I would like to move that little plastic greenhouse which LP gave me.  It's really not much use and we would like to plant a couple of laurel against the fence to give me some privacy from the (watches-me-like-he's-a-peeping-tom) neighbour.  The bees which have taken up residence in an old bird's nest have other ideas so will not be moving anything from this corner until the autumn.

No surprises that Management and I have treated ourselves to "retirement presents".  His (not surprisingly!) is motorbike related and mine is some proper cold frames and the idea for Friday afternoon was tidy up the area enough that we could build the new frames and position them.  Which would have been fine and simple if M. had not had one of his "innocently making a remark which was so blindingly obvious once he'd said it" moments.

"Does this bit of trellis need to stay here?  Is it adding anything to the party?"

A couple of hours later we hadn't built the cold frames or upset the bees, but we do have a super wide open space that's lovely and tidy 😊

Naturally, small person hung around and supervised.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Penultimate or last?

For nearly as long as we have known him, LP has wanted to move back to the Suffolk area where he was brought up.  I have deliberately never mentioned here anything about his private life but it's a tad complicated, to say the least, however now, after a few false starts it looks like he really will be off before the end of June and we have a wonderful opportunity to tease him mercilessly about leaving a job unfinished ...

Which is a (slightly) mean but extremely effective way to ensure that he "went at it" like a thing possessed to try to sort out the space underneath the patio wall.  It was wonderful for me, having had a fairly sleepless night thanks to Daisy being restless, that Management was here to work alongside LP leaving me with just tea-making and supervisory duties!  Darling Dog (forgiven for her nocturnal disturbance) also supervised.

Far more timber than we actually needed, but knowing us it will all get used up somewhere, eventually!

Recycling the remainder of the trellis panels:  the original plan was just for two complete 6 foot sections, but having a third panel laying around meant we could extend all the way to the path.

M. did a great deal more than stand next to LP but (like me) he's not wild about having his photo taken.

A very well-deserved break :)

Everyone gets a tea break - warning to visitors, never leave a mug unattended around Daisy!

By the end of the day we had four wonderful terraced beds, three of which will be planted but the top section is probably going to be a seating area.  LP reckons he will be back one day next week to finish off, but if packing and moving takes priority Management and I can manage what's left.

Before and after from the patio; last November Graham rebuilt part of this wall and finished it with a lovely topping of old roof slates, something I have not managed to blog about but the photos are there ... unfortunately the slates either came off when it was really frosty, or when we sat on them.   Need to work out a sustainable Plan B to finish off this area.

Whilst the drill was out I got long awaited fixings for hanging baskets.