Friday, 9 November 2018

AWOL

Missing In Action from blogland . . . I didn't mean to but sometimes these things happen.

I understand the reasons behind Daylight Saving Time but that does not mean I have to agree with them. Until Winter Solstice I have less light every single day and I hate it;  Friday, 21st December cannot come soon enough.

I know it is wrong to wish one's life away but the days between Autumn and Winter equinox are not my favourite time of year.  I try to play games with it - use the time to clean house ready for winter, or sort out piles of stuff which had been ignored whilst the weather was better but it doesn't really work.  Instead, I find myself in a slump where very little is accomplished, including finding the manners to thank folk for their blog comments.  Please accept my apologies :(   I haven't even been visiting my favourite blogs, not like me at all. 😞

There has been productive activity, it's just I haven't got any particular joy from it.  The wonderful log delivery has been completely put away:







The hornbeam hedge has had a much-overdue cut, and Management shredded all the waste for me.  I can now see that we could easily take it down another foot - try to do that before Spring.





I finished the everso-slightly-mad piecing of dog patterned fabric and realised I was on track to produce a quilt 80" square.  Apart from the small matter of not really needing a quilt that size, there's the ever-present 'problem' of my current longarm machine being two foot shorter than the Gammill I owned in Hampshire.  80" is pretty much the limit of what can be comfortably quilted but Management came up with a solution . . . Four little tops each 40" square . . . Daisy needs four more quilts about as much as I need one massive one, but every spoilt-rotten-little-dog has their cross to bear, too many quilted blankies is Daisy's!



I'm using them to have a bit of a quilting experiment - it has not been going well,  and I need to have a serious rethink 🤬





There has been frost







And the opportunity to sit in the sun





And occasionally there have been lovely sunrises; we are so lucky to have a view like this.














Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Not quite what we planned for today

We ~know~ we have already have an amazing supply of timber which will provide woodburner fuel for a few years to come.



We ~know~ it only takes the pair of us a couple or three days to cut and split to refill the log store.



We also know you never, ever, say 'No' when someone offers you more . . . so when our tree surgeon said "I've got a barn full of split logs which I was going to sell by the dumpy bag, but I need to get the barn empty by Christmas, are you interested?" we said "yes please!"   The first load arrived unexpectedly just after breakfast.



Whilst we were sorting out where it would all go, a second load sneaked in  . . .



The plans to spend a few hours today decluttering and tidying up inside went straight out with the wind.  First clear up at the back of the house . . .  we've stored wood here before, many years ago, and it stays remarkably rain-free but still gets plenty of breeze through it.



Ever since the 'bird feeder blitz' of a couple of weeks ago (Daisy's skin is fine now, thankfully), I have been threatening to move all the feeders some distance and the sunflower seeds relocated across the road a few days ago.  It took the tits and finches about 36 hours to find the new location and (I think) that, combined with blocking off various cut-throughs, seems to have already dramatically reduced the amount of time cats spend sitting waiting to pounce.

(at this point it would be good to have a photo of the sunflower feeder in hedge but it's too dark to go and take one now)

With the other feeders also due to find a home in the field hedge, it makes sense for all the food to be stored on the drive, not at the back of the house.



Paving slabs relocated (Wayne is due at some stage to lay them where they'll be far more useful than in a pile against a wall) and pallets on the ground, the Little Red Tractor once again earned her keep Big Time as we moved next year's fuel to where it can dry out.  Most of this is sycamore which we're very happy with, once seasoned it burns beautifully.  Unfortunately, freshly cut as this is, it's rather heavy.





Fill buckets, move buckets, empty buckets, rinse and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.  Not sure how many trips I made - definitely more than 20, could have been 30+.  On more than one occasion we thanked the Little Red because moving the logs by wheelbarrow would have been a killer.





We've also filled one builders' bag and the second one won't have much room in it by the time we're done.





Thanks to blasted Daylight Saving Time, which I have never been a fan of, we ran out of light and did not finish.  Another hour and we'd have been nearly done . . . which is irritating because it's due to rain tomorrow.







M. is completely knackered and his back has not enjoyed the bending and twisting.  I am irritatingly energised by being outside the entire day and by how much we've done although I'll probably pay for it tomorrow - we've both moved our own body weight many times over since breakfast!   All that remains now is to enjoy supper and then settle down to watch the Bake Off final.




Saturday, 27 October 2018

A new raised bed

I like raised beds - they're convenient, easy to manage and suit lots of different types of planting. Hopefully our latest mad-cap idea is going to work and suit the planting requirements of one of my favourite garden plants - Primula florindae, (Himalayan primrose or giant cowslip if you prefer).  Some of my plants struggled massively in the drought this summer;  whilst they can cope with sun (unlike many other members of the primula family which are generally woodland plants and like some dappled shade), they cannot cope with sun AND dry roots.  However, the plants I have growing at the edge of the Top Pond which were able to keep their toes damp did fairly well.



So Management and I have cooked up what might be one of our daftest garden plans yet - a raised bed on/in the pond!


A small (by our standards) bed between the big deck and the pebble area which is the frogs' favourite spawn laying area was growing nothing particularly special - too many flag iris, a dwarf reed and a couple of the carex which we gave the heave-ho to in other areas back in June (hmm, still have those photos in the backlog . . . )



There was cutting back (easy), digging out (surprisingly easy) followed by the filling of holes with numerous bags of 20mm stones which Management went to the garden centre to collect (easy but bloomin' heavy!)

And whilst I moved large bits of tree trunk which had been saved for exactly this job, the poor chap went off to get another half dozen bags of stones when it became clear that the first six were  just not going to be enough!

In crisp morning light today it all looks quite gorgeous, and we've very, very pleased.





There are plans to dismantle a raised bed in the vegetable area which is really surplus to my growing needs (and its removal will make turning the little tractor round much easier),  that is where the soil will come from to fill this.   Fingers crossed this will work - I am hoping the Primula will be able to put roots down into the always moist (unless we have a drought) pond margin but not be saturated.  Once these gorgeous plants start flowering in June the blooms last for weeks and weeks and the scent is divine.  The flag iris only flowered for a week or so and then look tatty until autumn . . .





I already have the plants waiting, and if we get a few more gorgeous autumn days like today (and our muscles recover from all the bending and lifting yesterday!) then I might just have this whole job finished before next year.  Famous last words?



It took bribery with biscuits to get Daisy to stand in the bed:



Small Person was a very bouncy (and therefore blurred) bouncing-around-dog this morning.



Even after all these years I still am amazed when I see her in this blue coat.  It belonged to Ollie and when Daisy came to us the coat was so much too big* I nearly gave it away - I guess 'small person' is now Big Girl 😍





* as in two sizes too big and falling off her




Thursday, 25 October 2018

After much cogitation

The lawn at the far side of the Big Pond has been a problem ever since we created it.  A deliberate decision was made not to put a drain from the pond to take surplus water and I am still happy with that choice, but it does mean that this bit of ground can be fairly damp much of the time.



It is on a slight slope, despite much work to try and level it off, a right b*gger to mow, and no-one uses it for anything.  I've threatened on many occasions to "do something with it" and finally that time has come.



Rightly or wrongly, we've decided to do away with the grass, and make the area a huge bed, with as many trees in as I can reasonably get away with - Management has put in a Special Request for an oak tree . . .   On the upside there will no longer be a requirement for weekly mowing, or the constant battle with edging to stop the grass growing into the pond margin.  Covered in bark chip, and with a distinct likelihood of a log pile or two we should create a more diverse environment for frogs, newts and anything else which wants to live in this part of the garden, and with time some extra dappled shade will be a great place for hostas, hydrangea and the like.  Of course, I might just try to turn it all into a giant Gunnera bog . . .

Logan Botanic Garden:



On the downside there will be a bit of weeding, and additional trees will put extra leaves into the pond each Autumn, but we've decided that there will be a net reduction in the amount of work, and probably a big gain horticulturally.



So the grass had a final to-within-an-inch-of-its-death cut, logs that were not doing a very good job of making an edge were moved, and barriers were erected to keep Daisy away.



Then came the glyphosate.  I hate doing it but we used a watering can to be certain of no spray being blown into the pond.   In another couple of weeks our tree surgeon is coming to take down four silver birch which, sadly, have reached the end of their useful life here and we will cover the lawn with as thick a layer of chippings as possible.  And then ask Simon to bring another couple of truck loads when he has them.  Should be ready for planting next Spring . . .






Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Inspirational

Herby Jacks in Ambleside - never fails to make me smile











Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Contrary?

Two sofas each six foot long,
or warm and soft VetBed in an elevated position so all activity can be monitored (with a window propped slightly ajar so we can sniff the outside without being in a draught):



So where does she insist on settling down?



Right underfoot where we cannot get to the fridge or move around without standing on her . . . I do love my dog 😍😍