Thursday, 30 May 2013

Post-party holiday

Management's Mum and his Aunty stayed on for a few days after the party.  Although the weather wasn't perfect we never got completely rained off and were able to go out every day which they thoroughly enjoyed.

MM loves beaches and the sand dunes at Mawbray are a must whenever she visits.

A quick stop at Bassenthwaite lake.

Tuesday saw us at Ashness Bridge and then Surprise View  before going up to Watendlath.  Lovely place and we only ever go there to take visitors which is a shame because it's a good starting point for some nice walks.

On Wednesday we had a super trip to Rannerdale.  The bluebells are very good this year and we caught them at just the right time before the bracken starts growing.  A bit cold to get much scent but the colours were really intense.

There's always much gazing out of windows too :}

And then everyone went home, and we finished putting the house back to normal, and breathed out ... no lists, no deadlines, no pressure other than to look at the map on our kitchen wall and wonder where to go next :}

Sunday, 26 May 2013

An ending and a beginning

After five years of near constant slog we have finished most of the main garden renovation so it is time to end the toil and get back to why we moved here in the first place, which was to fell-walk and enjoy the beauty and quality of life which is Cumbria.

The family party, although incredibly hard work and stressful, acted as a superb catalyst to get loads of jobs finished and whilst I didn't particularly enjoy the preceding two weeks Management and I get to enjoy the fruits of our labours for the rest of the summer and probably much longer!

The party was, in the main, a great success.  A couple of people couldn't make it at the last minute due to vehicle problems which is a great shame but those who did attend enjoyed the brightest, sunniest, warmest day of the year.  There was even a little sunburn.  I got to spend time with a couple of Management's cousins whom I'd never really met before and they were an absolute delight.

Daisy behaved beautifully and was friendly, gentle, and very patient with a 12 year-old who fell madly in love with our gorgeous girl and wouldn't leave her side all day!

Not everyone behaved quite so well, as is always the case at large '"do's".  One person with whom I had hoped to sit down and chat with hit the ground running on arrival wine box she'd brought with her which set the scene for the rest of her day.  Someone else drank far more than was good for him and made the mistake of being extremely rude to me.  I am now way too old and grey to put up with that sort of crap in my own home and told him so, in no uncertain terms.  He left early and is unlikely to return to Bag End.  Ever.  This is more than a little upsetting and I did a fair amount of crying the following day, these people are Management's family and I take no pleasure from the fact that some of them don't seem like me very much. 

His Mum and Aunty stayed on for a few days after the party and we had a very good time quietly bimbling around.  Slightly limited by the weather and guests in their 8th decade we didn't venture far, however it was lovely to be tourists on our own patch visiting the beach, Honister, Watendlath and Rannerdale.

Photos to follow, there are rather a lot to sort through!

(finally published on 4th July)

Party pictures

I took no photos all day, too busy doing whatever I was doing as hostess.  The pictures which others took that went straight onto Faceache have not been copied to us although apparently they are mostly of the amazing view.  But here's how the garden looked before everyone arrived.

(this is easier to see if you click on it to enlarge)

(finally published on 4th July)

Saturday, 25 May 2013


We've done everything we can do to prepare for tomorrow (including finding a slightly unusual use for the Little Red Tractor).

Daisy and I took a couple of hours off for a gentle saunter up Hopebeck.  After the bitter cold of the last few months it was a gorgeous morning, bodes well for the party but I hardly dare hope the weather will be kind.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Farewell, old friend

It's the old man's birthday and time to say goodbye.
With construction and disurption at an end we can safely put his ashes to rest.
It was the right time and I must have been ready because I did it without tears, until later. 

Daisy hated to see me cry.

It was a big day for her too - she has been with us exactly six months.  How she has changed, from a skinny, insecure little thing to a strong and happy girl who is so pleased with her new life.

Losing Ollie hurt so much that I really didn't think I could ever do this again, it's good that I was wrong.

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you, whatever we were to each other, that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow,
laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort, without the trace of a shadow in it.

Life means all that it ever meant, it is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you
somewhere very near
just around the corner.
All is well.

Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918
Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

(finally published on 22nd June)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Pre-party prep

I'll be glad when this family party is over;  30 or 40 visitors concentrates the mind wonderfully and is a great catalyst to get jobs finished but it's bluddy hard work.

LP did one full day this week and a "half day" which started at 3.30 and finished way past supper time.  I don't seem to have the motivation to take work in progress photos at present so there's no proper record of everything that was completed.  More bark chip was moved, particularly to the path at the back of the house.  That's all of the walkways re-covered and refreshed, feels lovely underfoot.

In what will be the vegetable patch LP dug over the soil in what will be the hedge, covered it with the well rotted contents of a compost bin and topped off the whole lot with old bark chips.  Now ready for me to plant apple trees and laurel and looking fab.

In the potager all the old bark chip was stripped off - some of it was so beautifully rotted as to be pure potting compost.  Half of it covered the veg patch bed, the other half went over what will be the front hedge.  LP then fixed new boards to the ends of the paths whilst Management ferried nearly 40 buckets of fresh chippings up the steps from the drive.

Too much shovelling of bark chip and pony poo has left both my forearms strained, my shoulders over-worked and with muscles which complain about picking up a coffee cup, let alone anything heavy in the garden so I was excused helping fix the remaining larch slab.  This acts as a retaining wall to the new front hedge and tidies up the view from the pavement. 

Despite sore arms I did more planting on the long side border - all the laurel are now in plus two wisteria.  The plan is for them to climb over the metal trellis and I have horticultural fantasies about sitting on the new deck, watching dragonflies hover over the pond with the scent of wisteria behind me.  But not this year, everything is at least a month late and the long range forecast for the next few months is no better than last year. 

I cut all the grass for the first time together with the verge opposite the house.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Stir crazy

Daisy does not understand convalescence and the fact that she has a badly bruised shoulder.   The only way to confine her would be to lock her in a crate and we're not going to do that unless absolutely necessary.  She does not understand don't run, or don't jump and certainly does not understand why she hadn't been for a walk since Monday.

On Thursday I let her have a half-hour stroll around the top of Harris Park.  She was not off the lead and we went at a very gentle pace with Mrs Sniffer Dog being allowed to take as much time as she wanted to investigate every scent and smell. I enjoyed the walk as much as she did, bluebells just starting to open, cherry blossom and a little sunshine, a good tonic for us both.

By the end of it she was ready to get back in the car for a drink and the regulation end-of-walk Bonio.  She was much happier and considerably more calm in the garden this afternoon.

(finally published on 22nd June!)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Accidents happen . . .

A lovely Monday, long and tiring but very lovely.  I decided that regardless of the weather I was going to tidy up the mess/dumping ground that is the covered area between the shed & log store, and straighten up the nursery.

And I did.  And it took all day but it was worth it.  I'm particularly pleased with the new netting which makes the nursery 'shade roof'.  A 2m wide piece is much tidier than the two 1m strips I used before.  Had to dodge a few showers but deciding to wear waterproofs all day helped.

The green box is a present from LP.  He bought this in a sale three years ago, never did anything with it and now wants to clear his garage out.  It's going to make a fabulous upright cold-frame in the nursery.

The soak in a hot bath after dinner was great but the day went rapidly downhill at 11.00pm when I let Her Ladyship out for her bedtime comfort stop.  She streaked down the garden chasing goodness-knows-what and before I could follow there was a crash followed by a shrieking, wailing Daisy.  I caught up with her at the big log pile; gash in her head, refusing to put one leg on the ground.

A conversation with the emergency vet concluded that the cut could wait until tomorrow and once the shock wore off, Daisy was prepared to put weight on her leg and let us examine it;  thankfully not broken.

I held out for an appointment with Clare the following morning rather than see the first available vet.  By the time we got to the surgery Daisy was much happier even rolling on her back on the waiting room floor!  Clare is sensible and doesn't dispense unnecessary treatment.  30 seconds with a tube of superglue and Daisy's head was looking much better.  A week of rest, minimal exercise and Loxicom should do the rest.

Three days later - healing really well.

** We've subsequently worked out that in the dark Daisy crashed into the log pile hitting it so hard that she broke the piece of wood which cut her head.  An inch to the right and she would have lost her eye, doesn't bear thinking about.  I reckon she then smashed her shoulder into the timber, did a barrel roll (which explains why she was covered in bark chip) and started shrieking once upright. 

(finally published on 22nd June!)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Wallpaper wrangling

First, iron your map.  No, really.

There's a blank wall in the kitchen and ever since we've been here I have wanted to paper it.  But not with wallpaper which has never been high on my list of 'must haves'.  It is the perfect size to host the four Ordnance Survey maps which make up the Lake District and it was time I stopped prevaricating.  The worst that could happen is that I mess up an old set of maps and have to buy new ones . . .

So first iron your map!

Then measure, check, remeasure and double-check then finally trim the maps down to remove the overlapping areas.  Followed by messing around with a laser level and step ladder.

After all that malarkey, Management took over.  Pasting the wall and sliding the maps into place was relatively straightforward apart from the amount the paper stretched, but at least it didn't tear. These are old maps and printed on just one side of the paper which seemed a bit thicker than that which is now used, I'd be nervous about doing it with the current double-sided sheets. 

Love it, love it, love it but I can't get a photo which shows how good this looks.

A wonderful birthday present - thank you sweetie :}

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Normal service will be resumed ...

...  actually folks, I have no idea if and when normal service will be resumed because I don't have any flippin' idea what 'normal' is any more.

The Big Picture is that all is OK here, turf laid and looking superb, too tired to finish the blog post about it but I will when I can muster the energy to process photos.  Daisy is wonderful and has just completed her longest ever walk - 6½ miles through Whinlatter to Lord's Seat.  She did really well but was extremely tired the following day :}   Management has some big changes at work but he reckons they may make his life better, and certainly not worse although his travelling will not reduce in the near future.

I am mentally worn out, not just with preparing for our big party but with five years of constant slog, and just when we should be coming to the end of it I am now worrying about our tree-hating neighbour.

I used to be so organised and efficient, I don't know where that person has gone but she sure ain't here any more.  My Inbox runneth over.  That is not a good thing.  If you are a friend who really matters to me and your email requires more than a cursory two-liner in response then chances are you haven't heard from me in weeks/months.  Special people I haven't named (you know who you are), you all deserve a 'proper' email - one which takes a bit of care and thought.  My brain is way past the necessary care and thought.  My brain is fried, frazzled, burnt out. 

I'll be back when I'm in a better mood and a nicer person to be around.

Comments are off.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Lord's Seat from Spout Force

Daisy's longest walk to date.  Not planned at all, we set off from the car and walked a bit, and walked a bit more, and ended up at a new Hobbit Hill (for Daisy) by which time the cloud had closed in so there was little point carrying on to Broom Fell and Widow Hause.  We retraced our path (sort of) to get back to the car.

     Finishing off the regulation 'summit snack'.

Just over three hours, 6½ miles.  Her Ladyship did really well and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the outing.  She was extremely tired the following day :}

(finally published on 18th June!)