Tuesday, 30 July 2013


It had been a fairly nice day, not too warm, no rain and Daisy and I just pottered around.  She was tired after our walk yesterday and I had one of those days when I just couldn't get myself going.

We met up with our neighbours for a play date with Fraser.  Even though he is twice her size, there's no doubt that Daisy is the boss in this relationship.

Half an hour after coming home the skies darkened to the point of having to put lights on and the heavens opened.  Nothing like the devastating floods in other parts of the country but still torrential.

And it suddenly got very chilly.  I seem to feel the cold if I'm tired so in a moment of madness I did the obvious thing ... took Daisy all of two minutes to assume her normal position :}

Hell hath no fury*

True to his word the Mole Man was here first thing this morning.

9 traps set, he'll be back in a couple of days to dig up the body(s). 

Always misquoted, the line should really be:

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, 
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," 
William Congreve, The Mourning Bride (1697) 
Act III, Scene VIII.

Monday, 29 July 2013

High Nook Tarn

Daisy and I set off at lunchtime today without a clear plan of exactly where we'd walk, other than it would include Holme Wood behind Loweswater.  An inch of rain last night had kept me awake and I didn't think either of us had the energy to go far or do much.

After a pleasant stroll down the side of the lake I stopped for a natter with the National Trust ranger and J. who lives near the water. 

Made a decision to head up towards High Nook farm, but five minutes later I was back chasing down the locals . . . and another five minutes after that J. came back up the path with me and together we released a young ram who had got his head through pig wire (twice), hooked his horns around the wire and was in the process of being throttled.  It took both of us and a great deal of brute force so no photos.  J. went back home to contact the chap who owns these sheep, Daisy and I set off again.

It wasn't long before we were at High Nook Tarn, and despite wet ground from last night's downpour, Her Ladyship seemed quite pleased with our destination.

     A close-up of Whinlatter where we walked at the weekend.

     After last night's rain there was a lot of water in Holme Force.

     Looking over to Crummock Water.

A gentle stroll up the old mining track which lead to Fangs Brow, back into the woods and then home.

Yes, I have some new navigational trickery which I will probably write about when I've got to know it a little better :}

5 miles, a little further than I intended to walk but it was a gentle stroll.  Daisy seemed to take it all in her stride but has done a lot of sleeping since we got home :}


This is war.  It will not end well for one party involved.

For sometime I have had a sickening and sneaking suspicion that Bag End had acquired a little more wildlife than is good for it.  After all the time, effort and money that has been spent on creating a garden here, I am damned if a small, furry mammal is going to destroy it.

The "mole man" is due tomorrow morning.  I don't care whether he uses traps, poison or witchcraft.  He gets paid when the little sod is dead.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


A very fruitful Sunday,  much of which will end up being a Fruit Sundae ....  :}

Heavy rain all night so I didn't expect to get much done outside but it cleared up by late morning.  A few plants in the two new beds (Coppice and next to the Top Pond trellis).  The yew plants emphasise that gardening is a long game - and it could be a very long time before these little plants make much of a screen!  They are self-sown seedlings which have been rescued as we cleared the garden so have already shown their toughness and will to survive.  Hopefully now they're in a good location with decent soil there will be a growth spurt?

In the usual style of "Bag End dependencies" I want to get the pile of larch waste cut up and added to the Log Store.

Before I do that the pallets need moving out of the way.

I want to put the pallets behind the log store so it is necessary to move all the small timber which was cut and stacked when we made a start on clearing what will be the veg patch ...  which thankfully is where Management came in.

I filled buckets of logs, he packed them into the Log Store.  He is much neater and tidier than me and we got nearly everything moved before it was time for lunch.

The hot weather has brought on a case of 'soft fruit all ripening at the same time' syndrome so the entire evening was spent preparing gooseberries and blackcurrants.  The last handful of strawberries have been added to a red gooseberry and blackcurrant mixture ready to make a Summer's Pudding.  Yum yum!

Daisy, very helpfully, took up station right behind my chair so I couldn't have given up and gone somewhere else if I'd wanted to.

     Blackcurrant fingers - it washes off, eventually :}

Inspired by my friend Sue, this will all be compote and stored in the freezer by tomorrow.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Short stroll at Whinlatter

Not sure how I managed it but Daisy and I were pulling into the car park at Whinlatter at 8.45 this morning.  We just had a little stroll, it was warmer than I'd expected and neither of us seemed to feel like being very strenuous.

Goodness knows WHAT got into Her Ladyship.  We stopped so she could have a drink and before I realised what was going on, she'd walked across the stream, wandered around and then come back again!  The little dog who started out petrified of water is certainly gaining confidence.

Breakfast at one of my favourite sheepfolds after which Daisy had another rush of blood to the head moments and decided it was necessary to head off-piste into the conifer plantation.  I'm not sure she can cope with these early starts!

Just 2¼ miles but a very pleasant start to the weekend.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'

I am very bad at recording small details.  This is something I shall try to remedy now that most of the garden construction is done and (theoretically) I have a bit of time to focus on the little things.

This clematis seems to like growing up the willow fedge.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sale Fell, and stupidity

One of my favourite definitions of stupidity is accredited to Albert Einstein:

The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

We'll return to that theme later.

Only 3mm of rain yesterday which is not nearly enough, but it's a start.  Cooler this morning so Daisy and I made record time getting out of the house and were at Sale Fell just after 10.00.  A pleasant stroll although it soon got a lot warmer than I'd hoped so we cut short the walk missing out Lothwaite.  My photos from this little excursion are, frankly, a disappointment.  They've been resized but I've done no Photoshop work.

Take this first one - the gatepost on the left is in focus, the rest of the image is not.

In this, Daisy is out of focus but the bracken to her right is sharply defined. 

As for this and the next one, heavens knows what was happening to the colour balance but the ground definitely did not have this autumnal tint!

I deleted seven other shots to end up with this one - Daisy is completely still, about 3m away, but around her face & chest area the image is soft.  The camera is set to take pictures at its highest possible quality.  I've just compared this to a similar shot of Daisy taken last month with the Lumix TZ35, there's no comparison ... the Lumix image is clear, sharp and stands up to magnification which this certainly does not.

There is absolutely no point me carrying a camera which I cannot trust to get the shot.  The demise of three previous Panasonic cameras is documented here.

So here comes the Einstein moment - I've sent it back to Amazon and ordered ANOTHER Panasonic Lumix in its place.  Before I did so I had a long chat with Panasonic's authorised service agent in the UK . . . fingers crossed I won't need to call them again :}

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


It's not been a good year for seed sowing, far too cold in Spring and then far too hot.  The seed collection which lives in the fridge didn't get to see much action, despite my best intentions.

Some of the seed will stay cool and dark for a few more months, with fingers crossed for its viability next year.

As well as the neat and tidy purchased packets was a collection of seed that I've saved (and a few previously opened packets with a bit left in the bottom).  As most of these are native or (nearly) naturalised plants which will grow without much attention, I've tipped them all into one pot and given it a good shake.  The mixture contains

Lamium Macculatum
Ammi majus
Bupleurum Rotundifolium
Morning Glory
Papaver somniferum
Tagetes Minuta
Miscanthus sinensis

Now we've had a little rain (although not nearly enough so far) I have spread this mixture onto the long side bed and across the deep curved bed beyond the Big Pond.  I also put a small amount in a deep seed tray which, hopefully, will give me a clue as to what the germinating plants look like.  Positive thinking there - I am assuming something will germinate!

I will now have to curb my tendency to pull anything which looks like a weed when I walk past these beds and adopt the practise of not weeding out anything until I am absolutely sure what it is.  Good way of cutting down on work, huh?

Monday, 22 July 2013

An early start, and a finish

Up at 5.00am today.  Horrible when the alarm went but not so bad after a coffee and a long shower.  It was LP's last day and he wanted to start early to avoid some of the heat. He also had some wildly unrealistic expectations about how much he could achieve during a heatwave in the time available, but that's his problem ...

He arrived promptly at 6.00am and left at 3.00pm.  There was much standing around chatting and drinking iced water but we still got a great deal accomplished.  Actually, HE got a great deal accomplished, I either stood around on the receiving end of a load of blether or drove the Little Red Tractor back and forwards with numerous loads of soil, rotted pony poo or bark chips.  Oh, and I made bacon sarnies, but I didn't lift anything heavier than a bottle of water :}  So, a quick round up of what got finished:

The final bed in the Coppice.

Bed behind the trellis, Top Pond.

Hedge bed at the back of what will, one day, be a vegetable patch.

Bed at the front of the Potager.

Once all this had had a good soaking (we're due for thunderstorms tomorrow) I can get planting!

We made quite a dent in the rotted pony poo bin but not too much impression on the bark chip.  There is loads of poop waiting to be collected from the pony field but it's just been too darn hot ...

Daisy just sat around - I think the novelty of Mediterranean temperatures has well and truly worn off and she'd like to get back to normal Cumbrian weather and some decent walks.  We've also still got skin problems which cannot entirely be attributed to buttercups.  The culprit is now suspected to be grass mites and the only treatment the vet can offer is a steroid spray which (allegedly) is not absorbed into the body.  With vet support we've also added Evening Primrose Oil and Garlic to her diet.  The EPO might help with the allergy and Garlic is an all-round good thing :}

LP was unhappy not to move the ENTIRE soil heap before he went.

I reminded him that the original reason for getting the soil in before he went away was so that ~ I ~ could toodle around in his absence and do a few things slowly.  "Ah" he replied "but that was before you b*ggered up your shoulder", and he's quite right :}   I might get some of it moved during the summer, I might not.  One thing is for sure - I'm not going to worry one way or the other.  Whilst it is wonderful and a privilege to have such willing help whilst we create the garden I confess to really looking forward to him being away until October.  Sometimes we work in the garden on days when I'd really prefer to do something else, or nothing at all, but if we've promised him a day or two's work then I can hardly turn round and say "don't feel like it".  And before Management says "but you don't have to work alongside him", no I don't.  But I do need to be around to supervise, guide and generally make sure he's doing what I want :}