Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Avoidance tactics?

Not intentionally, but spending nearly all day making compost bins ensured I didn't get the creosote out and three large trellis panels still look terribly pale and new.

Management has booked his late summer holiday to coincide with blazing sunshine and unexpectedly high temperatures. He smiles and says "I've done it again" which is strange for someone who doesn't function well when it is too hot ...

He did motorbike stuff, I spent all day making three compost bins out of old pallets. Solved the problem of the bins looking crooked when they were straight by covering up or removing everything which was causing the optical illusion. The larch slab at the back of the bins has been covered with thick plastic sheeting and the fence post extensions have been taken off and I'll think of another way of screening this corner.

(The white bags contain the remains of the straw bales which are coming in very handy as a brown layer when dealing with copious amounts of grass clippings)

Construction was not helped mid-afternoon by a village-wide power cut, I resorted to a hand saw to cut larch slab to length for the fronts and seriously considered getting the chainsaw out.

Once the bins were (nearly) finished (subsequently decided to put capping on the pallet edge which now faces upwards) I emptied all four daleks. With the benefit of hindsight probably a bloody silly thing to do because I am knackered, and it didn't end well for the mouse nest I found in the bottom of one of them ... but the end result is a splendid and very workman-like looking bin which hopefully will heat up. Despite my good intentions to turn it in a couple of weeks I suspect it will now all stay where it is for many months.

At the risk of shooting myself in the metatarsals by admitting to a plan, the next stage is to make a large pallet-based bin behind the log store just for grass clippings, and decide on a location for the daleks which are going to be filled with leaves.

Green Dot Days

Whilst not excessive, the number of green-dot days in August ended up quite reasonable.

The Loweswater Puffins are currently working on their 2011 calender - if you're interested in a copy and not directly in touch with Roger & Ann, please let me know.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Painting, day off

Quite understandably, shoulders have informed me that two days painting is enough and they would like a rest please, or if not a rest, then they would like to do something else on Bank Holiday Monday.

Finished woodwork around the nursery area - funny how much simpler and quicker it all was when I abandoned something which required being cut (precisely) to 27 and a stupid fraction degrees and went for a basic right angle. Black membrane underneath and half a bulk bag of gravel later - and we have a small courtyard with decking :}

The wood is high-level shelving for the Alton greenhouse which will be far more useful turned into staging for plant pots.

The solid wooden table used to support the hot water tank in the basement therefore it should be quite strong enough for the water butt although it needs a bit of altering first.

Made a start on more compost bins. Last week Management and I successfully dismantled a couple of large pallets and this has produced a useful little pile of timber, all of which will be pressed into service in the name of recycling. Having a great deal of trouble accepting that the spirit level is LEVEL, another reminder of just how much of a slope there is in parts of Bag End. Shouldn't be surprised - we're on the side of a valley . . .

Didn't achieve as much today as I expected (although by the standards of normal folk I probably got quite a lot done). With Management in the garage it fell to me to keep an eye on Hattie. Very deaf and with less than perfect eyesight she's capable of wandering off and then not being able to find you, she also couldn't decide whether she wanted to lay in the sun or shade, silly dog.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Painting, day two

I think I'm half way; all the five foot wide panels and both the arch side panels must equal the remaining three six footers?

Management has offered to do the horizontal bearers of the arch, but I'm determined to slog through the rest. He's finally getting some "garage time" with his motorbikes and I don't want to ask for his help unless I absolutely have to - he'll get drawn in and that's not fair.

Made a start on gravel boards for the nursery area next to the greenhouse but called it quits when I realised I was too tired to work out what angle I needed to cut the timber I'm going to use as a threshold.

An interesting day - we have a house-guest for the weekend. Hattie is a very elderly lady and has come to stay whilst her Mum & Dad attend a wedding, she is a lovely little girl, absolutely no trouble at all. First time we have had a dog in the house for more than a few hours for over a year, felt strange.

Also strange-ish, but in a very good way - the realisation that we have been at Bag End 2½ years - yikes!


Is summer over? ("What summer?" asks a little voice at the back)

There's a feeling, an awareness, a sense that the seasons are changing. The air feels different, after supper it seems chilly, time to draw the curtains, tuck toes under a quilt.

One of our rowan trees is heavily laden with berries and the cotoneaster is not far behind. Is this an indicator that we will have another hard winter? Another rowan has no fruit at all - worried about the health of the tree. Whilst I have no qualms at all about felling any leylandii within fifty paces, our native Mountain Ash is a great favourite and not one we would want to lose.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Painting, day one

There are some sections which look like they'd benefit from a second coat, but it is looking much nicer already - far more "settled" into its location.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Trellis, day two

Not quite as much to show for Friday's efforts, probably because so much was achieved on Thursday. Paul and Alan returned to fit the completed top to the wide arch, build the arch near the driveway and reinstate fencing.

The panels on the left are 6' wide, the gap and right-hand panels are 5' wide, the panels finish 7' above the ground, the clearance through the arch is 8'.

Eventually there will be big beds in front of the trellis. Climbers will grow up adding to the wind-break potential and perennial planting in front. Am busy studying Beth Chatto's "Dry Garden" for planting suggestions. This area gets completely baked in the sun therefore it makes sense to use plants which will be happy in these conditions and not require daily watering.

(Cue link to book which doesn't show in Google Reader)

Management receiving tuition on how to whack in fence posts!

There was swearing - apparently the intention had been to run the fence line with the slope on the ground but this was not acceptable to a Hobbit who likes things straight and can spot a crooked post at 50 paces. I went out for half an hour to take Alan to the timber yard and came back to find Paul and Management had worked out how to step the fence down to match the land. They both had the good grace to tell me how much better it looked this way.

The section next to the arch is cleverly in one piece and can be quickly removed to allow wheel barrows full of cow muck to be pushed up the slope :}

HAPPY DAY - the garden is once again completely enclosed and
safe for visiting four-paws.

(The frustration with Blogger's over-enhanced and bloody stupid new editor got too much and I have reverted to the nice, simple "old" one until such time as James can come up here and sit next to the computer with me, and explain how to edit the HTML)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Bank Holiday started early

It's been a busy week but I'm damned if I can remember what I did for most of it. Thursday however, saw Management working at home and a very confused Hobbit who thought it felt like Saturday.

The day started with a deep and meaningful conversation with this young Rook. First thing in the morning (that's 5.30am first thing) if there is no food laying around on the ground he thinks it is a good idea to sit on the kitchen windowsill and bang on the glass. First time it happened I was in the house alone and it certainly got the adrenaline flowing whilst I tried to work out what the hell the noise was. Sadly, despite many instances of creeping into the kitchen and trying to hide behind the fridge I have not managed to photograph the little bugger in the act . . . I'll get him one day!

The weather looked like it was going to co-operate so I spent a smelly couple of hours applying creosote to the new posts:

James did have a go at attempting to explain converging verticals to me. Whilst I sort of understood it, I could not possibly explain the principles to anyone else, suffice it to say I understand that my camera lens is not as naff as I feared - those posts are definitely straight!

I set to and turned a barrow load of rubbish timber into three big buckets of kindling.

This is why a new bathroom floor was a necessity, not a luxury:

Good job I'd done the posts early in the day - an unexpected phone call to give me half an hour's notice that Paul and Alan were on their way with most of the trellis.

You'll have to take my word for it that the posts are straight and the trellis is completely level - the photographs, however, are not.

I'll be the first to admit that in its unfinished state it looks a bit out of place and somewhat stark. Me thinks I will be spending a lot of this Bank Holiday in close proximity to a large drum of creosote :}

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lunch guests

This one only stayed a few minutes.

Juvenile female (no red on nape of neck)

This beautiful little Red, however, stayed for about an hour. With no ear tufts I think it is one of this year's youngsters - it is very hesitant moving around the tree but not so timid that it cannot stay on the feeder for some considerable time.

and later in the day when I'd found the perspex front of the feeder which this year's squirrels keep managing to dislodge

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Same old, same old, but none the less pleasant for that.

Shopping Saturday morning, helped Management with more garage painting in the afternoon. Sunday produced the most gardening progress with a chainsaw session to deal with six remaining tree trunks from the Leylandii felling.

They were laying with the huge (removed last January) roots and whilst not in the way, they were good, clean timber and we wanted them moved. Our lumberjack techniques definitely get better all the time and only took a couple of hours to turn this

into this.

Other work over the weekend included the delightful job of picking small stones and detritus off the lawn. Whilst Patersons did a great job of clearing up after they fitted the large posts, it was pouring with rain and they missed some of the muck.

Moved some of the TellyTubby fencing (reed screen) from the fedge to the wire fence between us and neighbour. Starting to create a little privacy which has been missing from the garden for a very long time.

There was also the harvesting of 7lbs of Garden Pearl tomatoes, some of which became a pasta sauce (with homegrown shallots and garlic) and the rest found its way into a huge pan of Bolognaise sauce. Food miles = about 30 yards!

(Sorry about all the blank space under some of the photos. Have finally given in and switched to the "new wonderful" Blogger editor. Hate the feckin' thing, the original one worked fine but apparently will not be available for much longer so I have little choice. I suppose eventually I might beat it into submission, but for now, empty space it is ....)

Friday, 20 August 2010

To anyone else, it's a load of posts

But to me it is a fan-bluddy-tastic load of posts. Because I know exactly what it is all going to look like when finished and it's great!

Despite a typical West Cumbrian summer storm (wet, windy, warm and disgustingly humid), Paul and Alan worked all day to get these posts in exactly the right places, carefully lined up with the house and with each other.

No idea yet when we will get Phase Two but I do know it will be worth waiting for.

(It is also worth mentioning that Management should get all the credit for this bit of Bag End design.)

Whilst I haven't yet solved the Ground Elder problem, we have at least (for the time being) buried some of it!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Before the rain arrived last night I decided it was time to dig up the shallots. The top foliage had died down to such an extent that they weren't going to grow any more. Not bad from a greenhouse sowing in April, planted out in June.

Although the garlic might have grown more the rhubarb leaves were covering it completely and with all the rain we've had recently I didn't fancy it going rotten. The smell is fantastic, definitely going to grow more of this in future, thank you Hazel.

Also emptied out a few tubs of potatoes, flavour is nothing like as good as the Pink Fir Apple from Mr Photo but they're still very tasty.

Our good friends, the Loweswater Puffins, invited me for supper tonight and it was lovely to take a basket of fresh, organic veggies to them to say thank you.

Remind me not to grow any courgettes next year ...