Friday, 17 November 2017

Not just Nigel

31st March 2017

Monty Don's Nigel is not the only gardening hound who has to endure the horror of his favourite ball finding itself in the wheelbarrow 🐾  💚

What is less obvious is that some hellebores and a Himalayan honeysuckle finally made it into the ground in the Coppice.

(Yay, finally trying to deal with the photo-backlog.  So that Susan doesn't miss any posts I plan on publishing the new ones on whatever date I write them, and move them where they belong a few days later)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Caught napping

Very cold outside but it is a lovely bright day, and look who has found the biggest patch of sunlight streaming through the front windows?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Vehicle week

Last week was all about vehicles and mutterings have been heard that Management has no more "free time" now than when he was working 😊   I frequently mutter something along the lines of "I thought retirement was about putting your feet up" but the trouble is, both of us have far too much we want to do and sitting around on our backsides just doesn't come into it.

Monday was a Big Day because I drove Bill for the first time since my left shoulder had its massive tantrum.  Thankfully all went well and Daisy & I enjoyed a short and muddy walk through Holme Wood at Loweswater.  Management wasn't in the mood to walk in the rain (smart boy) so whilst he accompanied me for moral support (and possible emergency driver if necessary) he stayed in the van and read while Daisy and I were out.  Happily no incidents but we returned home with a filthy vehicle thanks to the weather.

Tuesday was another 190 mile round trip - I went back over to Catterick to collect the caravan.  No pictures, no incidents, but home with two more thoroughly filthy vehicles.

I had Wednesday "off" but we spent most of Thursday and Friday cleaning cars and vans .... that's not quite correct - I cleaned both our cars on Thursday whilst Management pressure-washed the patio.  On Friday I cleaned Bill and he washed the steps and slabs by the gate; I think I got the better end of the work allocation.

It was a long, wet week and I cannot blame the weather . . .

Monday, 13 November 2017

First snow

All is well at Bag End, so well in fact, that I've been too busy doing other things to make sitting down at the Mac a priority, but I continue to live in my cheerful alternate reality where I believe that One. Day. I will catch up with all the backlog!

This morning dawned grey and dull with cold, flat light that no amount of Photoshop can make look cheerful.  And it was cold, did I mention the cold?

A sharp frost left the ponds with a thin covering of ice and in the distance I could see the first dusting of snow on the tops.


Grisedale Pike:


I am grateful that none of the neighbours saw me standing on the balcony in dressing gown and wellies - as it was the dog thought I was stark, raving bonkers and went back to her warm and snuggly bed.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Pats self on back

This is a selfish post, just for me.  At some point in the future when I’m having a crisis of confidence, this will help me remember things that I CAN do :)

It was time for our lovely caravan to go for her first habitation service.  I drove her 90 miles to Ropers in Catterick and had a brilliant run - two hours door to door which is the best time I have ever made when towing.

Said goodbye to Rosie, and then popped a few miles back up the A1 to stop off at Scotch Corner services, a useful place to park and eat my picnic lunch.  Bloomin’ good job I did - because since our last stop there, less than a month ago, the car park has been changed and it is quite clear that Caravans. Are. No. Longer. Welcome.  I would not have liked to discover these changes with 7 metres of large white box behind me!

Previously caravans shared a large area with coaches, with a safe access in and out.  They have now been banned from the Coach Park (fine £100, do not pass go, do not obstruct your licence plate) and are allocated four tiny little spaces at the end of the general car park.  Today the place was deserted, on a weekend in the summer it is hell on earth driving through this section in a normal car, it will be thoroughly nasty when towing.

The spaces are not wide enough for a caravan, and if there are any cars parked nearby it won’t be possible to make the turn into them.  It will also be difficult-to-impossible to get out as there is not room to pull forward far enough to allow for the swing on the back of a van.

I know why the owners of the services have done this - coach passengers all troop off to the loo, and then in their boredom spend goodness knows how much on sweets, cakes and junk from the shop.  Caravanners are self-contained and don’t need to waste money on over-priced and usually stale produce (I have never yet managed to buy a pastry from the onsite M&S which wasn’t already dry and tasteless).

So after a bit of grumbling to myself which did not spoil a lovely lunch and a good coffee, I drove home.

And that’s where “Pats self on back” comes in ... once upon a time I would cheerfully drive a couple of hundred miles in a day without thinking about it.  In recent years doing such a thing has either been too much to contemplate because I was exhausted or in pain, or if I did do a long drive I really suffered at the end of it.  But today I got home with no pain, a slightly stiff back which is really to be expected having sat down for so long, and no tiredness.

Like I said, apart from the grumble out loud about parking at Scotch Corner, this one’s just for me to remind myself that I can 😊😊😊

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Lovely day to be in the garden

Clear sky, no rain, no wind ... are we still in Cumbria?

Perfect conditions to collect loads of fallen leaves from the lane which runs up the side of the garden.  With Management's help we filled seven builders' bags in less than an hour and emptied the leaves onto the big shrubbery bed near the Big Pond.

This bed has been badly neglected over the last couple of years but that hasn't stopped the plants growing.  The privet, which only needs to be about 4 feet high to make a hedge, was about three times that and needed a severe seeing to.

I wielded a pruning saw, Management ran the shredder (with the chippings going straight back onto this bed).  Huge improvement, I can see the individual trees now, although we still need to cut back the laurel that is threating to swamp a lovely red flowered Hawthorn.

The cyclamen I moved down to the bottom of the garden seem to be happy.

Management did more leaf blowing and cleared the paths, and I ran the lawnmower around where I could to pick them up.  I know this won't last, but it does look lovely when everything is tidy.

The ground is so sodden and damp that we could not even contemplate cutting the grass by the pond.  This area is never ever going to be well drained and dry, neither is the section up by the Coppice; serious consideration being given as to whether we could replace the grass with something else that could be walked on and was evergreen.  My immediate ideas were ivy or vinca and to Management's surprise the those are the two suggestions from the RHS website .... hmmmm ..... unusual but so what?  We'll have to see what mood I'm in next Spring before making any decisions!

We were not the only ones to enjoy being outside on such a lovely day:

Smiles all round at watching the sheer joy of having a back rub and playing upside-down-ball (no, we haven't worked out the rules either, but as long as Daisy is enjoying herself then who cares 😊😊 )

Monday, 23 October 2017

Multiple uses for our mini-motorhome

It is time to change the way we both eat; not go on a "diet" but change our diets.  It has been a couple of years since I slashed carbs from my plate in order to help my blood glucose control and an unexpected side effect was that weight has fallen off me to the point where sometimes I have to eat more than I might want, just in order not to lose any more.

Since retiring Management has lost a chunk of weight but things have stalled and he wants/needs to lose more.  He has decided to join me in a very low carb, high fat, high protein way of eating and as we needed to go to Carlisle it made sense to stop at the massive Sainsbury's and do a big shop of fruit and veg.  Very occasionally I resent the fact that living in our rural idyll means we are limited in what local shops sell, and that was very much the case today.  It felt odd to be confronted with such a massive selection in the fruit & veg department, but I confess to loving it 😀😀

Management sat with Bill and Daisy whilst I filled a trolley with items that most people take for granted, and that I don't see every week in Cockermouth or the nearest Morrisons.  There was rather a lot of shopping - we completely filled the fridge and one of the top lockers as well.

We moved Bill down the road and had a quick lunch in the park underneath Carlisle castle where Daisy was thoroughly unimpressed to be told she was walking along the line of Hadrian's Wall.

Maybe not the most salubrious place to ever have lunch but what an absolute treat to be able to chill out for an hour after a major supermarket blitz . . .  I could really get to like this "van life"

Next, the main reason for our trip - another visit to Carlisle Business Supplies.  For some weeks we have been trying to find a new office chair for me, but it is not easy.  Thanks to the endless patience of many staff at CBS we have tried multiple chairs, all of which have been delivered to us cheerfully with no charge but last week the latest one went back leaving me with nothing I could sit on at my desk that did not give me instant shoulder pain - we've learnt that posture is a major contributory factor to the problems I've got.  Well the long and short of it is that we've brought home the 'best so far' which is comfortable (a couple of weeks ago I had 3 or 4 days with no pain in my right shoulder - get the flags out!!) but the build quality of the chair is suspect to say the least, and I am going to use it whilst the chap who runs CBS gets a couple more in - items that he doesn't normally stock but thinks might suit me.

Bill to the rescue - although Daisy was a bit confused!

On the way home I wanted to stop at Dobbies to see the Christmas decorations, unfortunately I was a bit early as they were still stocking shelves.  Management was amused by the item he refered to as "that well known Christmas character - the Festive Rat".

And I was (sort of) amused by the Seasonal Garden Gnome*.

We didn't buy anything!

*  As a "gardener" I have often been the recipient of a "garden related" present chosen by someone who means well, but clearly has no idea what it really takes to manage a large lump of land ... sadly many of these gifts either break the first time out, or end up at a charity shop.  I live in dread of someone gifting us with a gnome .... should that ever happen the hapless creature is going to find itself tied to a large stone and drowned at the bottom of the Big Pond.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

(Hashtag) Absolutely.Spoilt.Rotten!

If the Met Office are to be believed it will be very wet tomorrow, and the day after that, and Sunday and Monday as well ... oh goody 💦😕.  It made sense, therefore, to get out and ‘play’ a little today.   Although only our second proper trip out it doesn’t take much time to pack Bill with a few bits to eat and drink, and we set off down the coast to St Bees.

There was much cogitating when we got to the carpark - no large spaces for long vehicles and a big sign that says ‘no camping or overnighting’ but neither are there any height barriers to keep motorhomes and campervans out completely.  So we parked away from the more popular rows of spaces which are closest to the beach, bought a ticket and crossed our fingers (and subsequently decided life will be much easier if we go to more out-of-the-way places that don’t have white lines all over tarmac!) But I digress . . . What luxury to put the kettle on as soon as we arrived and have a coffee whilst deciding which path to walk :)

The tide was fully in and walking on the pebbly part of the beach is too much like hard work so we headed up the cliff path towards the golf course.  It was surprisingly warm and eventually Daisy had to lose her coat, but not before she’d run around like a mad, zoomy thing clearly enjoying the fresh air and sandy path beneath her feet.

Fairly dull, and the light was very flat, but still good to be out. 

She is less impressed with having her feet wiped before coming into the campervan!

We have decided that just because I can produce a “full English” in a tiny space doesn’t mean it is a good idea, so lunch was scrambled eggs with smoked trout for me and ham for Management.

Madam was MEANT to be eating proper dog food but she can be a bit of a Princess when we are out and not eat or drink .... which might be how she came to be sitting in MY seat drinking MY milk ...  ??hashtag Absolutely.Spoilt.Rotten?   I know some people say you should not give milk to adult dogs - but Daisy adores anything dairy-related and it doesn’t give her an upset tummy.

And then it was time to come home and chill out some more.   Once in more familiar surroundings, Madam managed to devour a bowl of her favourite food at speed that would have impressed a labrador and has been curled up in her bed sleeping soundly ever since.