Friday, 26 June 2015

Busy Day

Today was going to be gentle and thoroughly indulgent - nothing scheduled except going up to Carlisle to collect my new car.  A fine plan until I found Walter in the garden shortly after 8.00am wondering if it would be OK to try and finish the paths.  (Blog lag and an unpublished draft post  means I've not yet written about heavy rain damaging the sub-base and having to wait until a drain was unblocked ...)  Management helped me move all the stuff which I'd left laying around and by the time breakfast was finished Walter had returned with extra fine sub-base to do the repairs followed swiftly by his big wagon full of slate chippings.

I left them working, Management in charge of Daisy and the kettle, and went to Carlisle.  There was nearly a tear and certainly a big lump in my throat when I handed over the keys to Hattie.  I've never kept a car this long (nine years), she was the most comfortable vehicle I've even driven, never once failed to start, never let me down in any way;  I hope she goes to a good home.

Our new car is wonderful but it might be sometime before I worked out how all the modern bits & pieces function.  There's more computing power in this car than sent Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins into space.  Not withstanding technological befuddlement, we 'christened' the car with a quick family outing to Allonby when Management finished work, but only for a walk and not fish & chips.

Back in the garden Walter and his guys started at the nursery area and spread slate chippings everywhere but ran out when they got to the Big Pond. They're coming back in a couple of weeks to finish off as we've decided to include the Coppice path in the refurbishment.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


The process of recovering from having done far too much for far too long involves naval-gazing. (It also involves a lot of map-gazing - planning routes and walks for one day in the future, but that's another matter entirely.)  During a recent spell of contemplating and cogitating a blinding truth finally made it's way to the top of the consciousness:  I've not necessarily been doing too much this year, but I've been doing the wrong things.

I've been fire-fighting in the garden, constantly moaning about the need to weed and clear areas which are going feral, whilst ignoring the increasing number of plants either I've bought or raised from seed which were languishing in the nursery.  Plants don't belong in pots which is why you'll rarely find big tubs or containers at Bag End - I've enough to do without forcing things into artificial conditions and setting myself a huge watering task.  Plants belong in the ground where they can spread their roots, develop symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi, combine with their neighbours and take their chances.

So this morning I set to with a clear intention - just work steadily through the nursery area and get EVERYTHING in the ground.  If some plants ended up in not quite the right place they can always be moved later; I'd prefer to get the location correct first time round, but needs must. And so the day progressed with a pattern of one hour on, 30 minutes off.  I spent the 30 minutes off with my Kindle and read an entire book today; in truth sometimes the breaks got extended if I was at a good bit!  This way I pottered gently from about 10.00ish until the light started to fade, which at this time of year is also 10.00ish.  Of course I didn't get nearly as much in the ground as I'd like but when I'd had enough of planting I set out the remaining plants around the garden.  Today's been so enjoyable, if only I could do it all again tomorrow - sadly, errands will come first.

There were also countless games with Madam and a couple of short walks around the block.  Daisy has done so much sprinting back and forth after the vast assortment of toys which live in the garden I reckon she's covered as much ground, if not more, than she did on Monday going up Sale Fell.

The G&T next to the pond at 10.15 was lovely, so quiet and still except for three or four bats who visit every night to take advantage of the Midge Buffet above the water.  I needed a jacket on, it wasn't warm enough without one, but at least we were outside late into the evening, not something we've had much chance of so far this year.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dog walk

No occasion, no fanfare, just getting (slightly) organised and heading off for Sale Fell immediately after breakfast instead of the usual fannying around achieving nothing and then being surprised that it's nearly 12 o'clock.

Daisy and I did the whole route and it was lovely to find I wasn't knackered.  There have been times in the past when, for whatever reason, walking up this little hill was just too much effort but today we had a steady pace, a gentle rhythm and all of a sudden we were at the top and heading off down to Lothwaite.

Biscuits for her, a banana for me, and sitting in complete stillness and silence, just relaxing.   According to the Viewranger stats which don't seem to transfer when you upload a track we were stationery for 29 minutes.  There was a bit of a breeze when we sat down but until then neither of us had needed a coat, which makes a change this year. 

There was a half-hearted attempt to catch that tail, she never succeeds.

All weeks should start like this and with not much effort on my part (weather permitting) they could :-)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Midsummer, the turn of the year

No Solstice sunrise today, thick cloud put paid to any chance of seeing the sun climb above Skiddaw.

I can hardly believe it's Midsummer.  From now the days get shorter and there is less light and we move inexorably towards winter.  Yuk.  Summer hasn't even begun this year. But as the year changes, so do I.  Things are good here and I've been pottering around in the garden thoroughly enjoying LP's absence.

Still not got everything planted out or weeded but I no longer care.  I had a turning point of my own a couple of weeks ago but I don't want to commit the details to the blog because doing so creates a permanence, whereas I'd prefer to forget a couple of really shitty days.  The result however, was that I finally gave myself a metaphorical severe thump around the head and am now able to view the garden in a completely different light.

I no longer look out and see all the jobs that I've not yet completed.  Instead, I am looking around the garden constantly amazed at just what a wonderful space we've created.  I'm no longer working outside every available moment but spending nearly as much time sitting by the pond reading as working.  It's rather lovely:-)

I might even take a few photos at some point, in the meantime, here's today's photo.

Middle of the year and we've got the fire on and not for the first time this week.  There is consolation in knowing it's not just us - everyone I speak to admits to having the heating on for an hour or so in the evening, "just to take the chill off".  Hell, I even took a hot water bottle to bed one day last week.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

By jove, she's finally done it.

I was never, never going to have another dog after Ollie died but life would be so much less if we hadn't brought Daisy into our family.

I was never, never going to change my lovely Hattie Honda.  Mutterings of "you will prise the keys from my cold, dead hands" have been heard on more than one occasion when Management generously offered to get me a newer car. 

But long ago I learned never to say "never" and the slow process of finding a new vehicle began last November.  I hate changing cars but even I don't usually take quite this long.  But this morning a decision was made, contracts were signed, and next Friday we become a two-Scoobie family.

Now it's all done and dusted I'm rather looking forward to it :-)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Upheaval? Well, maybe not so much

On this occasion, the lack of stress (to me) can directly be attributed to two things.  The first was having Management at home on Monday and Wednesday, the second was choosing local firm, Eddie Shimmings, to do the work.

Every time I was asked a question I brought in M. to confirm the decision I was making and that really highlighted just how many choices I'm called upon to make when work is being done.  Might not sound like a big deal, but it takes its toll.

We had two teams from Shimmings.  Dean & Steve to do all the preparation, and Tony & Jason to fit the new vinyl floor.  Plus assorted other staff who would turn up unexpectedly with exactly the right sized screws, or trimmings, or whatever it was the crew had asked for.  Nothing was too much trouble and everything was done cheerfully.  This may have been due to a constant caffeine/sugar high; I've never known any workmen get through as much coffee as these guys consumed.  Hey - if it made them happy then I was prepared to put the kettle on as often as necessary (which turned out to be about once an hour!)

The hallway caused problems; it wasn't until the vinyl was down the reflections allowed us to see a bump in the screed ... I think the vinyl was put down and lifted about four times before everyone was happy with it.

There's absolutely no way this room will stay this tidy.  By the weekend we will be back to the usual miscellany of abandoned rucksacks, unread magazines and dog toys. 

The only question now is how soon we'll have the same vinyl fitted in the rest of the hallway and my sewing room :-)  We chose the most hard-wearing, thickest grade of Rhinofloor that's available.  This is what we used extensively in our Hampshire house and when we left after nine years it showed almost no wear at all - and that was despite enduring a young and active Ollie using the hallway as a racetrack on an almost daily basis.  The Rhinofloor is warm underfoot, easy to keep clean, quiet to walk on and dogs don't slip on it as they do with wooden surfaces.  No affiliation and not being paid for this {giggle}.

Edit: 8th March 2016:  it is NOT hard-wearing and it is VERY slippery.  Will never use again. For Daisy's safety we have covered it with carpet.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Upheaval, 2 (aka "is it really only Tuesday?")

First things first, this is how the rooms looked after hardboard was laid yesterday:

I suppose today's not been too bad .... depending on your definition of bad.  It started at 4.00am for Management who unexpectedly had to be in London (so much for 'working at home' to help mitigate my stress and disruption!) 

It started just before 6.00am for me with the continually smiling floor fitters on the doorstep at 7.20am . . .

Daisy followed me around like a shadow all day.  She didn't mind yesterday's noise but today's shut doors and barricades had her confused and more than a little worried.

This was my kitchen for Tuesday.  Making coffee for the boys was easy, but taking it to them involve walking around the entire garden to get to somewhere I could leave mugs which they could access:-)    Fortunately it was dry so cooking a late breakfast on the camping stove in the garden worked fairly well.

Being denied access to most of the house wasn't too bad, particularly when I realised I could open a never-used door on the balcony and get into my study if need be.  Having wet screed poured everywhere wasn't too bad, at least it didn't smell, and the boys left at 10.30am.  They returned four hours later to "finish and polish" which should have taken 60 minutes.  They finally went home at 7.00pm. 

The wet screed in the hallway had pulled the hardboard away from the old and damaged parquet flooring underneath and the whole lot had to be redone.

Just one more night of mild chaos, and hopefully there won't be any problems tomorrow when what feels like acres of vinyl flooring is being fitted.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Upheaval, 1

Hmm, I've got some catching up to do ....  It's exactly three weeks since the new paths did not get finished and LP left.

I finally managed to convince him that I really did mean it when I said we weren't going to start any new projects until I'd (a) planted out everything which I've grown from seed and bought recently and (b) caught up on the weeding and areas which are going feral and (c) sat down a lot and looked at the view.  He said "oh, so I've really been sacked then?" and I had to spent another quarter of an hour convincing him that "no, this was just a sabbatical whilst I got caught up" and reminding him of all the other work he had waiting.  Case in point, ten days later I called in to nearby farm for eggs and found him working there - currently full-time.  

So in the last three weeks I've done a bit of planting out (but not enough), a bit of weeding (but not enough) and quite a lot of reading and sitting around.  And Management and I have also moved furniture ... well, that was just Sunday evening.

It has "only" taken us 2½ years since the last bit of kitchen remodelling to finally make a decision about flooring.  And not content with just fixing the kitchen floor, we're also doing the boot room, the day room and part of the hallway.  So that's nearly half the house out of commission for three days.

Management points out I shouldn't have joined if I couldn't take a joke.  I suggest that maybe this is one of those bits of 'humour' that isn't actually funny.  We are (thankfully only briefly) back in the land which Hazel describes so perfectly as the "kitchen-contents-in-every-other-room syndrome".

It's not really that bad and oh boy, it's going to look bluddy lovely when it's done!