Saturday, 27 August 2016

Busy day

Yesterday we had one of those crazy days where it seems we did not stop.  M. was at home and trying to finish up all his paperwork before starting a three week holiday, with all the interuptions he has not been terribly sucessful.  I thought I'd make note of it all just to remind myself of why I regularly collapse at the end of the day in a tired little heap. 

First thing was the unexpected joy of 'first light' through a very indulgent acquisition which arrived on Thursday.  This is just the eye piece - for some silly reason I haven't photographed the telescope it fits into!  We have got ourselves a small solar 'scope that enables us to look safely at the sun.  There is a big learning curve ahead - I had the mount height completely wrong, I need a much bigger hat (or large black towel as someone suggested), I need a lot of practise fine tuning the etalon and the focussing, basically - doing everything.  But both Himself and I had a good view of two separate regions of sunspot activity which is far in excess of what we might of expecting on day 1.

Once we'd put the 'scope safely back in its box someone arrived to take away an old bed.  As soon as we'd come indoors from that, Walter arrived with another two tons of stone.

After an hour's walk and back home to cool off, Daisy went bonkers at the Yodel delivery van (bearing in mind she's already carried out her 'alert' duty for all the other arrivals and half deafened me in the process).  With another 30kg of sunflower seeds in the feed bin, the birds will not go hungry any time soon.

(oops, missing photo, oh well, there are plenty of others)

Just as I sat down after lunch than Simon arrived to do a "quick afternoon's tree surgery".  We have another Acer platanoides, 'Crimson King' right on the fence line near the Coppice.  On the left you can see a huge 'sport' which has grown as regular sycamore and we've decided to remove it.  It is taking valuable nutrients from the rest of the tree, and gives us an opportunity to have a little reshaping done as well.

Every now and again Management abandoned the pretence of trying to work and came to lend a hand :)

After getting far too hot playing games:

Daisy went inside to sulk and get away from the noise of the chainsaw.

Simon did an amazing job with the tree taking huge care to cut back branches to a growing point.  We are left with a much better shape and whilst there's a bit of a gap in the top-left section in a couple of years new growth should fill this.

As soon as Management saw the Henchman ladder I knew we would end up with one . . .

We also have a lovely pile of fresh timber to cut up for seasoning, and two big bags of chippings for mulch.

After supper a hot bath was called for and we relaxed for a while before I took Daisy out for her bedtime walk.  Which is when I realised the sky was so dark and clear we could see the Milky Way.  So of course we had to spend some time outside with binoculars but it was well worth it because we saw four meteors.  It was well after midnight before I got to put the light out - no wonder I get tired!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Underground, overground, wombling free
The Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we
Making good use of the things that we find
Things that the everyday folk leave behind . . .

It does not worry me in the slightest that I didn't need to go to Google to look up those words!

I was eight years old when the first books were published and for many years it was one of my favourite TV programmes.  So ahead of its time :)  Something must have stuck because I hate to see anything thrown away which I can make good use of.

I'm at it again because our new neighbours (in Danny's house) are having their roof replaced.  Guess who has been skip-diving?  Both our neighbour and his builder could not have been more helpful, so much so that when the other half of the roof is stripped off next week they're not even going to put the wood in the skip but leave it on the drive for me.

The builder also seems delighted that I am happy to have all the pallets which the new roof tiles are sitting on.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Slate chippings

Walter has decided he's not going to behave like a poorly person.  He came to see us at the weekend and to my surprise, arrived today with a load of slate chippings for us.  He said he feels fantastic - it had taken him twice as long as it ought to do today's deliveries because he kept bumping into people he knew and having a good chat, that had made him feel far better than the latest cocktail of drugs from the hospital.

No sooner as we have space on the drive (the caravan is away having her annual service) than we get a delivery to mess it up again!

I have stopped being worried about the fact that four tons of stone "doesn't look like much".  I am sure it will look - and feel - like an awful lot when we have to move it all.

Awwww, bless

After a damp and chilly weekend (where we HAD to light the woodburner to keep our spirits up!) today is unexpectedly glorious - gentle breeze, far warmer than expected.  After an hour around the lanes and fields with me this morning, Someone has to lay down for a while:

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

We've been on a little holiday, just Daisy and me, only four nights but it felt like a lovely long break.  A week comprising lots of firsts the biggest being my "going completely solo" with the caravan, and the first time a 'Club' campsite, and the first time Daisy has been away without Management, and the first time I've actually got off my bottom and used the caravan to visit somewhere I've been talking about for ages - although we ventured a mere 30 miles and didn't leave the county! We stayed in Ravenglass for four nights and the car didn't move once between arriving and departing.

Each day followed  the same simple pattern:

An early morning 'toilet walk' for Madam along a safe track to the old Roman bathhouse remains.

A post-breakfast walk for a couple of hours pottering around the estuary.

A great deal of sitting around the rest of the day because it was far too hot to do things we had planned like take the La'al Ratty steam train and go for 'proper walks'.  The Kindle and iPad got a lot of attention, as did my stomach.  Daisy ate alfresco, lounged around like a pro and took the whole thing completely in her stride.

Every evening we had a pre-bedtime walk back to the village and enjoyed lovely sunsets.

And that was about that!   Ravenglass is a funny little place - still trying hard to retain some of its previous elegance (there are some huge houses hidden amongst the trees down quiet tracks) with many residents making a big effort with plants in containers.  Note to self - really must try harder with our drive/front of the house next year.  A couple of pubs and a cafe are kept thoroughly busy with visitors who have come mainly for the railway, but apart from the strangest small post office you've ever visited there is nothing left of a once thriving village.

Without visitors from the campsite and steam train Ravenglass would be a very dead place indeed.

But it was a splendidly relaxing break and I got a lot of confidence from managing all the caravan stuff on my own.  On the downside it was my first visit to a 'big' site and probably my last.  Despite the staff being very cheerful and friendly and the facilities spotlessly clean, I found the pitches terribly close together and if I had not had a fence behind our pitch it would have been difficult to have much privacy.
On arrival I was told there would be 'emergency tree work' for the following two days - hours of chainsaw & industrial woodchipper noise which, coupled with grass cutting, was not conducive to sitting quietly onsite trying to rest and relax.  The work was much needed and long overdue, trees everywhere meant my pitch and many others had very little sun.  On my last night the wind picked up and seed pods from the tree hanging over the caravan rained down on the roof most of the night - sounded like I was being pelted with golf balls.  Thankfully no branches broke and landed on us . . .

Did I enjoy myself?  Yes - because the weather was great and I was in the caravan.

Would I return to this site?  Hmm, not sure.

Am I glad I went?  Oh yes, and I was planning another trip within hours of arriving home!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Perfect day?

P. and I have been friends for nearly 50 years and I have known her Lovely Hubby for almost 35 years.  Living at opposite ends of the country we seldom see each other but today they were able to stop for lunch on their way to Scotland.

Close-up photos remain private to protect the victims and our grey hairs!  But the sun shone, there were no food disasters and as always I delight in reminding her wonderful son that I used to change his nappy.  Far too soon they had to leave and continue their journey.  It really must not be so long until we see each other again.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Real gardening

A common grumble over the last couple of years has been about times when I have spent an entire day outside, but not touched a single plant.  It is not really a 'grumble' - how lucky am I to have such a wonderful large garden to play with, a non-gardening-husband who never flinches at the latest mad idea (especially as he's come up with many of them, I'm sure he could have a post-retirement career as a designer if he wanted to!) and LP to come in and do the physical slog.  BUT, that doesn't mean there are times when I would much rather be tending plants and doing real gardening than all the building and hard landscaping stuff.

The eagle-eyed may have noticed LP is absent at present - he's having surgery on both hands which will put him out of action until the end of next month.  I do hope it works and relieves a lot of the pain he's been in for some time.  I confess I don't miss his presence at all - it means that when I have felt like getting outside I can do real gardening - weeding, pruning, ordinary messing about.  It's been lovely.  Although I haven't blogged much recently, in the last couple of weeks I have:

Harvested the rest of the garlic, some varieties did better than others but overall I've got more than enough to last a few months and compared to shop-bought bulbs it is sweet and juicy and wonderful :)

Encouraged by how much the Top Pond has benefited from improving visibility I'm messing around with part of the Big Pond.  Not finished yet but I know where I'm going with it, and that in itself is an achievement!

Given the willow fedge a serious haircut.  We're definitely going to remove it over the winter.

Finally planted clematis montana next to the small shed, laid black membrane on the ground and done a little painting.

Unfortunately we do not know when we'll manage to get the slate chippings to cover this and the new path in the Cottage Garden.  Walter (who supplied everything last year) is ill, very very ill.  Finishing off a path is nothing compared to what he is facing so I'll just bide my time and it will all get sorted out in the end.

Managed more weeding in the Cottage Garden.  The years of hard work adding tons of compost to the soil are now paying dividends.  It has been surprisingly easy to dig, and even though we've not had much rain recently the soil is holding moisture well.

Finally obtained and fitted some leaky hose in the new beds behind the house.  They are in a near-total rain shadow but now I can easily get water to the soil I can plant up this area.  I've started with a couple of Virginia Creeper, one of M's favourite plants.

Of course, none of this has happened without my Supervisor who does nothing except interrupt me when she thinks it is time for more games.  Which is exactly as it should be!

I couldn't decide which of these two pictures to use . . . so you get both :-)