Thursday, 28 February 2013

Calendar Girls

This month Daisy and I made it to the location where the February photograph was taken.  The calendar shot was taken from near the road, we went along a higher path, a favourite  under Catbells.  We walked along far enough to take some photos, then backtracked and spent a lovely hour wandering along the lakeshore past Manesty and Brandelhow to the Keswick Launch jetty.

It was a wonderful bright Spring day and our coats were jettisoned for the second half of our walk even though much of the lake had a film of ice over it.

A very rough note of our February walks tells me that Daisy and I have covered 25 miles on the fells with a total ascent of just under 4,200 feet.  Not much compared to hardened fell-walkers but Little Miss Perfect and I are just starting out :}

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A little Hiccup (or, another 'Plan' that didn't work out)

It should have been so simple - have Geoff come by one evening on his way home and use the small digger to remove all the stumps from the vegetable patch.  We knew the digger would fit because that's the one he used to excavate the pathway 18 months ago.

What we didn't factor in was that 18 months ago there was no scaffold board edging along the path and no 4" post supporting a big trellis.  Or that the gap was now 120cm which is plenty big enough for my red tractor, and even our friend's quad bike if necessary, but not for a midi excavator which is 140 cm wide ...

Fortunately he and LP had not made a wasted journey and we used the time available to dig out the remainder of the main path.  There's a recently purchased roll of black membrane waiting to be pegged down and fingers crossed our trusty tree surgeon is working locally next week and has promised a couple of loads of fresh bark chip.

So it wasn't a completely wasted afternoon, and we completed a task that needed doing (and gained a big pile of soil which will be spread behind the Big Pond to level out the ground), but it leaves LP with the task of removing an awful lot of stumps next weekend.  As he headed off for his tea he said he was quite looking forward to it ...

Monday, 25 February 2013


This is pure laziness on my part, once again utilising the great little Slideshow facility in iPhoto.

Rather than consign all these pictures to a folder to be half forgotten and seldom visited, I've combined the best shots from two walks into 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  Amusing (to me) are the images of Daisy being more than a little cautious around streams and bridges.  As her confidence increases she is getting much better around water but we're still a long, long way from managing to give her a bath.

Don't worry, I won't be doing this a lot unless I can work out a way of uploading or linking the movie file in a way that actually allows you to see the pictures rather than a titchy little thumbnail sized image.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Weekend working

LP was recently offered four weeks guaranteed work that could not be rained off.  I told him he'd be a fool to turn the job down and not to worry about our garden.  He told me that the contract wasn't "real work" because he'd be sitting down driving all day and therefore he'd like to do some "proper work" at weekends if we didn't mind.  Which is how come I spent all day Saturday and Sunday in the garden perhaps I'm the fool because I'm cream-crackered.

Last October he and Geoff removed all the dead and dying escallonia from the front bed and it's looked dreadful ever since.  We decided to reclaim another 2 metres of garden (like we need more garden!) and have the replacement hedge inside a fence instead of isolated along the pavement and largely forgotten.

So 15 new fence posts, followed by lots of bracing, and in between that we installed the trellis behind the Top Pond and allocated all the roof lathe that is needed for the trellis next to the vegetable patch.  I didn't want to be cutting into our dwindling supply of lathe to make the braces and suddenly find we'd left ourselves short of material to build the trellis.

The paddock fence has been taken down (although we've used the bottoms of the fence posts to support the braces) and I've now got a good supply of timber that we can re-use.

Daisy bimbled around with us and was very well-behaved although she did get cold a few times and had to be put inside which she wasn't very impressed with.

Until new windbreak netting is installed we are horribly exposed and I'm keeping all the blinds closed at the front of the house.  It also means that Daisy could go walkabout so we've banned her from the Cottage Garden by the simple blocking of the archway; makes me wonder whether we might want to put a gate here one day although I'm not sure what purpose it would serve?

Whilst LP did all the real work I cut down dead growth from the perennials and pruned a few shrubs but there's more weeding to be done and I still haven't cut back the autumn raspberries . . .

Saturday, 23 February 2013

If you want to get ahead, get a hat

Seen around Threlkeld on Thursday afternoon.  There were more, but it was cold and I wanted to go home and get that hot chocolate :}

Friday, 22 February 2013

Whoosh, another week gone

How did it get to be Friday?  A busy week, doesn't feel like I've done much although by the time I get to the end of this post I'll realise that actually, quite a lot has been achieved.

As suspected, on Monday our joiner was not terribly happy about removing the door moulding.  I wasn't very happy about the mess it made :{   By Friday, however, Wayne had made a start on repairing the damaged area, and all the woodwork in the Boot Room was finished - window seat, skirting boards and wall cupboards.  There is now decorating to do and curtains & a seat cushion to sort out and I'm not even going to think about the floor for now.  It has taken longer than I expected but the end result is just what we wanted and that is all that really matters.

Daisy had a trip to the vet on Wednesday afternoon with a mucky eye that needed antibiotic eye drops (conjunctivitis).  She responded very quickly to the treatment and by Friday the eye looked normal again and the discharge had gone.  We saw a different vet, Vicky, who was very taken with Daisy as she has whippets of her own.  Vicky thinks Daisy might be even younger than the last estimate - she guesses no more than three, possibly as young as two?  We'll never know for sure but I'm delighted with this possibility, the younger Daisy is the more years we might have with her.

On Thursday she was treated to a new Ruff-Wear harness.  We used one on Ollie with great success, I like to have a 'handle' with which you can grab/lift a dog if necessary when out on the fells.  It was christened with a walk from the Blenthcathra Centre.  I'd planned to go to Skiddaw House but it was more windy than expected and that, together with the cold, was energy sapping.  We went as far as the Guide Stone and turned round when I realised I was thinking more about a mug of hot chocolate & the wood burner than the path underfoot.

I did very little on Friday after falling up the stone steps at the side of the house.  The initial few seconds of "oh hell, have I broken my wrist?" were thankfully followed by "just bruised and beaten up".  It was a bitterly cold day and I expected it to start snowing at any moment so curling up on the sofa with Daisy was deemed appropriate medicine.

In other news - twenty 8 foot long fence posts were delivered for LP to use at the weekend.

As proof that she is feeling confident and settled in her new home, Daisy has been pretending to go off her food. Most likely because I bought some of her favourite biscuits in Keswick on Thursday - canine equivalent of a big bag of Haribos and she's testing the water to see if she can bully me into letting her exist solely on them.  She turned her nose up at all three meals today to be firmly told "eat it or go hungry".  Plaintively standing next to the cupboard where 'Haribos' are stored makes me quite sure there is nothing wrong with her.

My beloved Krups machine is about to expire and has been replaced by a little DeLonghi coffee maker.  Happily it makes even better espresso than the Krups and that makes a very happy Hobbit!  As I had to replace the microwave as well, the early part of the week felt like this:

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Restoring equilibrium

What on earth was going on with Saturday?  I blame the Russian meteor and asteroid 2012/DK14.  Despite strenuous attempts to stop thinking about it, the problem with the door moulding bugged me all day.  I know it can be fixed, I know by Monday morning I will have had WW remove it but the damn problem nagged at me and would not go away.  Strike one.

Daisy and I went up to Whinlatter and found the Spout Force car park completely full of badly parked vehicles.  I drove a little further up the lane to where I knew I could turn round easily and found a marshall for a 'classic car rally'.  He was at pains to reassure me that I could leave Hattie and have a walk in the woods, and completely unable to comprehend that my idea of a quiet fell walk did not include elderly smelly cars bombing around forest roads and having to keep Daisy on a lead at all times.  Strike two.

Instead I drove a couple of miles down a narrow gated road to Hopebeck and we had a lovely walk up the valley.  This was a favourite place to take Ollie and Daisy seemed to enjoy herself just as much as The Hairy One did.  It was surprisingly mild (no wind) and she was getting too warm in her big coat.  In a moment of unusual braveness, she even came close enough to the beck at one point to take water out of my hands - no way she was getting near enough to drink directly out of the stream, even though she was thirsty, daft dog!

  Boxing Day 2008

   "I'll stay in here as long as you like if you're going to keep chucking biscuits at me!"

Thankfully the post-walk soak in a bath was without incident but dinner was not.  We probably have a takeaway once, maybe twice, a year.  Management collected what should have been a lovely Chinese from Bamboo in Market Place.  It wasn't - last time we ate in the restaurant the standards had definitely slipped and we won't be having takeaway from them again.  Strike three.

Thankfully, Sunday was an entirely different prospect and the sun rose to an almost cloudless sky.  Daisy and I set foot on Sale Fell less than two hours after escaping the clutches of my duvet.  For someone who has increasing difficulty getting going in the mornings that's something of an achievement.  We had a gorgeous but unusual walk.  The gorgeous weather had brought everyone out and we must have seen more than 50 people and 20 dogs on our circuit.  That's easily ten times more than we might normally expect to meet.  Remind me to go somewhere more isolated next time I want a fell walk on a sunny Sunday :}

  Someone's ears were suffering from wind-rock :}

Some pond dipping in the afternoon - blanket weed has already started to form in the Top Pond so I collected piles of pond snot which can drain for a couple of days before becoming compost fodder.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Reverting to Plan A?

Plan A has always been to plant proper hedges around Bag End to give us privacy, provide lots of safe places for birds and to act as a windbreak.  There once was a Pre-Plan A where the planting was a mixed native hedgerow but this idea has been largely replaced by evergreens.  And then we had the "Mr Clutter" incident, he was unhappy that he couldn't see anything due to the leylandii we inherited with the house, and now they're gone he is unhappy because he can see into our garden.  So Plan A became Plan B which was to have a tall willow fedge at the fence line, then the usual bark path for access, and then an evergreen hedge about a metre in from the boundary.

LP and I had a fun hour on Friday afternoon cutting down the willow from our friend's beck and the intention (see, I don't say Plan, that's a 4-letter word!) was that I'd spend the next few days creating another fedge.  Until a vitally important bit of information crept back to the brain cell which was paying attention - the bit of info which said "the water main for the entire estate runs parallel to our back fence, about a metre away" ... and in all conscience I cannot knowingly plant willow so close to a water pipe, it's asking for trouble. 

It feels like whatever we consider doing to mitigate the problem of Mr Clutter being able to see our garden fails (two layers of windbreak netting?) so s*d him, if he doesn't like the fact that his elevated position gives him a view into Bag End he can ruddy well lump it.  The willow will not go to waste - Management and I had a Design Consultation (ie: bit of a chat before bedtime!) and have decided that we'll probably use it around the front corner, beyond the Big Pond, which is the area that gets hit most badly by the wind and needs more protection than anywhere else.

So now I have three bins full of willow that will have to wait a few days whilst I get myself organised.

In other news ... on Friday LP moved paving slabs off the driveway and timber off the vegetable patch.  For a brief while (all of two hours) it was lovely and clear - until we put three wheelie bins full of willow all over it.  He also fixed up more larch slab at the back of the garden so that we can eventually extend the bark path along all of the back fence.

The Woodwork Wizard fitted timber for the Boot Room curtain rails to go on, built us a lovely, sturdy boot rack, installed architrave around the door, the frame for our window seat-cum-storage unit and made a good start on skirting board.  Unfortunately on Saturday morning I realised the architrave (which was bigger than I wanted, but the size WW said it needed to be) fouls the door hinges and we can now only open the lovely door 4/5ths of the way.  Conversation with WW means I know it will be taken off and fixed on Monday but that doesn't stop me being far more niggled by it than I should be :{

Definitely some grumpy ripples in the Universe this weekend and I'd like them to go away.  Positive Mental Attitude required, please send surplus my way.  Whilst I'm waiting for it to arrive, Daisy and I are off to Whinlatter.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Short stroll

The problem with getting in the habit of going fellwalking is that it becomes a habit which is rather missed when weather/colds/house renovations get in the way.

Daisy and I had a quick bimble up Sale Fell on Tuesday morning.  Might not have been a smart move because I sat on the little bench at the Lothwaite summit and wondered how unreasonable it would be to ask someone from Mountain Rescue to escort me back to the car.  The bug that is "doing the rounds" just will not go away and returns a couple of times a week in the guise of leaden legs, a headache and far too much sneezing for my liking.  Needless to say I did make it to the top of Sale and back to the car under my own steam.

I realised that in all the times Daisy and I have walked here, I am yet to follow exactly the same route twice, which is probably why we keep coming back.  It would have been easy to wimp-out today and not do the walk but I'm very glad I didn't take the easy option :}

Monday, 11 February 2013

Busy Bag End Monday

The skip disappeared at 8.00am (hurrah, clear driveway) and LP arrived at 8.30 closely followed by Wayne and Keith.

LP's day centred around the vegetable patch with the aim being to clear everything that will move easily.  We've asked Geoff to come back with his smaller digger to remove all the stumps and although he's not likely to be available for a couple of weeks it makes sense to get everything ready for him now just in case his schedule changes.

Small branches which had been laying around for far too long got chopped up and made a reasonable contribution to the overflow store (which will be covered with a tarp once we finish piling the logs up).  Thicker ones were positioned around the top pond. It shouldn't have taken this many months to make progress on sorting out the  edge but it has, and gave us an opportunity to look into the incredibly clear water and see how much blanket weed is lurking at the bottom of the pond.  It needs scooping out soon before light levels increase and it starts to multiply like crazy.

We ran out of time to finish completely, but it won't take long to move those last bits of timber.

Daisy spent the whole day outside.  She pottered around, demanded the ball was thrown numerous times each hour and generally had a very pleasant time. She was also knackered in the evening and didn't move from the wood-burner until it was time for bed!

Wayne and Keith got busy with adding 4" of insulation to the bay window roof, and plastering the boot room.  I tell myself I'm imagining things but it already seems warmer - even without curtains.