Monday, 31 August 2015

Photo Shoot

This photographer's favourite model has been in front of the lens over the Bank Holiday :-)


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Dependencies - again

Neither of us like where we have parked the caravan.  Being on the right-hand side of the drive is too "in your face", gets in the way of moving the cars around and means I can't see anyone come in through the gate.

Of course, at Bag End "just" moving the van is not simply a case of raising the corner steadies and firing up the motor mover.  First there is the small matter of a massive pile of half-rotted bark chip.  Over the last couple of weeks we have thoroughly mulched the laurel hedge in the Cottage Garden and shifted much of it into builders' bags, which whilst still on the drive are tidy and waiting until I am ready to use it.
Mulching the hedge was made possible because I have taken out all the huge Miscanthus Sinensis which I grew from seed and then discovered I really did not like.  The laurel hedge looks much nicer without grasses crowding it and will grow better for the extra light, air and lack of competition.  (There seem to be no photos of the harvesting of enough grass to make my own small bale of hay . . .)


This morning Management helped me move the remainder and we thoroughly mulched the laurel hedge behind the big fruit cage.  No more industrial-sized piles of garden materials on the drive - Yay!

The next small obstacle was all the logs which LP supplied recently.  Thank crunchy for our little garden tractor and trailer - I would hate to be barrowing all these around to the log store which is filling up nicely.  We managed to move about half before deciding that we had worked for quite long enough in close proximity to the wasp nest in the compost heap and it was time to stop before someone got stung. 

With a place to pile brush until it can be shredded we could work on the next problem.

When we moved here in the dead of winter I thought the big tree next to the drive might be a beech but it turned out to be a magnolia

March 2008

I love magnolia and this was a pure white Stellata.  According to the RHS this is a "small shrub" and like most small shrubs at Bag End pays absolutely Sod All attention to what the country's foremost horticultural experts say it will do: our magnolia was at least six metres tall not the nice, neat 2.5m it is supposed to be.  Every Spring the frost wrecks all the flowers and for the rest of the year it's just a big green lump.  Parking a caravan underneath those big, brittle branches was never going to work.

Last weekend Management made a small start on reducing it and this afternoon he went back for more :-)   We fuelled up the chainsaw and the pole pruner and I agreed he could do whatever he wanted . . .   It must be mentioned that even though the pole pruner is absolutely the right tool for the job, using it is Incredibly Hard Work - it's heavier than it looks and not brilliantly balanced (we choose not to use the body harness) and M. is an absolute star for bringing the whole tree down with no damage to the hornbeam hedge below.

By the time he had finished we were far too knackered to even think about moving the van.  But it was definitely worth it - we are both staggered by how much the view has been opened up.  It is the usual gardening problem of getting so used to a tree/shrub/whatever that you don't really "see" it and realise the effect it is having on the whole area.

We moved a bench further up the garden, got a drink, sat down and went "WOW".

Taken from the same spot in July 2013:

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Simplify - it's still there, quietly in the background

At the end of last year I chose 'simplify' as my goal for 2015.  And then I didn't mention it much again. But slowly, quietly in the background, small progress has been made.

It's been a funny year with a lot of distractions and I haven't achieved as much as I would like, but all and any progress is good, and there was never a deadline or specific target to be reached.

I came across this site recently, with the biggest, longest, extremely clever 'infographic' you've ever seen.  Only the top section is relevant to me at present, so I've taken the liberty of copying just that bit I want to remember over the next few months.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

An alternate 'View From'

No surprises that I couldn't resist the opportunity to climb on to the top of Bag End's own Lakeland summit.  There was video but I'm pants at movies so the motion-sickness-inducing files can stay on my hard drive :-{

I love living in a bungalow, but I do occasionally mis the opportunity to look down on the garden.  It's a completely different viewpoint and I really ought to make the effort to prop a ladder on a tree every now and again.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


Hard to believe it's nearly four years since LP frightened the bejeebers out of me by climbing all over our huge log stack to try and make it weather-proof and in the main it's been very successful.   Each winter when one of the tarps got shredded by the wind/weather we've just battened another on top and with four layers in places it was time to take everything off and start again.

I missed the removal of all the old tarps whilst taking M's Mum to the railway station, but came back to find that LP had "had an idea".  He and Management built a 'ridge' and the plan is that this time round the tarpaulins won't be able to sag and we won't have dips & hollows fill up with water.

Monday was one of those lovely days when everything went right and the laughter never stopped.  We couldn't resist the opportunity to try to recreate the famous New York 1932 lunch on a girder photo.  I think the view is better in our version.


The next phase was to consolidate the additional timber we were given so that we have just one huge log pile rather than four or five.  The small miracle is that these piles have only been in place for four months, instead of the usual four years that things tend to hang around at Bag End :-)

I wasn't entirely idle and consolidated all the small rubbishy wood in one place where it can be cut up and added to this winter's log store.  (I'll add a photo if I remember to take one at the weekend!)

Management had to intervene when LP got completely carried away with the height of the pile he was creating but as always, everything settled down nicely in the end.

I kept out of the way whilst Management supervised an unusual use of steel mesh.  It's subsequently been covered by a new tarp (green side out) and looks much tidier than before.  Although from the ground it seems massive, when viewed from the footpath behind the house it doesn't really look much bigger than the mess than was there before.  How difficult it will be for me to fight my way inside it in future years and get at the timber remains to be seen . . .

Monday, 24 August 2015

You don't have to be mad to work here . . .

. . . but if you are then you'll fit right in.


Why are we building a fence on the top of our log pile?   

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Someone's been busy

LP is determined to move house.  We'll see - the relocation plan has been on and off for as long as I've known him so I am not going to bemoan his permanent absence until I see a change of address card.

In the meantime he is in "clearing up his garden" mode which is going to involve dismantling an old log store.  Just like Bag End where one job depends upon three others, first he has to empty it and also deal with all the large logs which have been laying around for years.  As a joke I suggested that instead of cutting up OUR logs to help fill OUR log store for the coming winter, we take his surplus.  He said yes and to my surprise, two days I later I received an email saying "ready for delivery" with this picture attached.

LP had already done a full day's work at a nearby farm when the trailer arrived and I'd not been completely idle (cut back all the strawberry plants, tidied up the greenhouse and cut the grass) so neither of us were in the mood to shift everything to the log store, the furthest away point in the garden. I climbed in the trailer, threw the large logs to LP who stacked them, and we moved the small stuff in tubs.  In 90 minutes we had everything tidy and in true Bag End style who else do you know leaves a gap so as not to obstruct the wasp nest at the bottom of the compost heap?

When time and mood allows Management and I will move the logs to where they need to be.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Bag End Cam 9

Huge relief over the last few days (and the reason there are so many 'cam' pictures) as we have enjoyed visits from THREE young red squirrel.  With no ear tufts these are this year's kittens and hopefully the hazelnuts they find here will help them thrive.  These are the first sightings for about six months and we feared the worst - not helped by the kerfuffle caused by a rather unpleasant nearby wealthy landowner whose contractor 'accidentally' felled three trees which were not only known to contain dreys but had been recently marked as such by the local Red Squirrel protection volunteers. 

It would take someone with the patience of a saint or the naivety of a new-born not to make a connection between the tree felling and a huge building project that the landowner wants planning permission for (am I cynical to wonder if those trees were "in the way" of his plans?)