Monday, 22 April 2013

Gardening surprises

The received wisdom when you move into a new home with an established garden is to wait 12 months before doing anything drastic to it, mow the lawn, remove obvious weeds (leaving unidentified seedlings) and see what comes up/sprouts into life.

I wasn't terribly hopeful of anything wonderful appearing in my new garden, it's not been particularly well maintained and consists mainly of big trees and a lawn like a field (Spike loves all the weeds though and having a weedy lawn is always on our list of desirables for him!) But I have had some surprises already!

Mint is springing up through the gravel where I put my patio furniture set. Have to keep an eye on that, mint is so vigorous, it really needs restricting in a pot to stop it spreading out of control. That might become one of the on-going battles of this garden.

Some surprises are nicer than others ... this very shady rockery was growing nothing more than moss, cleavers, and a silver leaved rockery plant I can't remember the name of but everyone has it (someone help me out with the name!) I just noticed yesterday that it's got all these little shoots all over the place. I am hopeful that it's Lily of the Valley. The rockery is right next to some steps going down into the garden and would smell wonderful if it is.

This surprise - the retaining wall on the lowest of the existing terraces collapsing when DH sat on it (no injuries except to his dignity), well we could've done without that one! As you can possibly see from the photograph, it was obvious that this will need rebuilding in the long term as it's leaning over quite a bit, we had hoped to leave this til after the work in the house was finished (to give us time to save up a bit!)

This made me jump when I came across it under one of the overgrown conifer trees ... it's completely hidden until you get under the canopy. I'm not quite sure what it is, it's made of painted terracotta I think. I have decided it's a Japanese lion (with broken legs poor thing). I've found one of the legs, if I come across the other I may attempt a repair and bring him out into the sun.

The best surprise though was spotting a fish for the first time in the river from the jetty! The Inspector from the Environment Agency who came round last week confirmed what the previous owner had told us, that there are brown trout and crayfish in the river. This fish was only little, a couple of inches or so and had vertical bands on its side, we only got fleeting glimpses of it as it went about its business in and amongst the stones and weed on the bottom.

I didn't get a photo of it but here's one from the jetty where we spotted it from anyway; I could've watched it for hours!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Got rid of the rubbish!

Well some of it is gone, all the burnable stuff left over from the building of my studio and bits and pieces left by the former occupant were collected on the area that will eventually become my vegetable garden and we had a bonfire yesterday evening - it was during a light shower so we knew no-one would be sitting out in the garden or drying clothes. We chose yesterday because the weather forecast is so nice for the weekend when everyone is off work, we didn't want to force everyone back indoors with the smoke.

The high winds put paid to having one last week and as the new materials for the ensuite are going to be stacked here, we needed to have the bonfire first. So, the "conservatory" is still in place awaiting disassembly (not allowed to say demolish, one of my readers is sensitive to that word - you know who you are!!) :-)

So, just as well the joiner isn't coming next week now!

Enjoy the lovely weather everyone!

Friday, 12 April 2013


Jed has arrived! Poor love had his house burgled and then problems with the back axle on his van hence the no show last week. So this "conservatory" is going to be knocked down, DH is doing the demolition himself to save money; I have pleaded with him not to start that until we get a skip ... I don't want any more rubbish lying around in the garden. He's not committing to anything though so now I have put it in writing, he can't deny he "didn't realise"!

In its place will be an ensuite bathroom, the door that you can see to the extreme right hand side of the picture goes into our bedroom. We did have a joiner booked for a week on Monday to start making the structure but he's let us down and hasn't given us a date when he can do it so DH is looking in his little black book to see who else we can get to do that.

Here's what it looks like from the inside

I'm looking forward to having an ensuite. At the moment, if I have to get up in the night (and at my age that seems to be every night!) the only bathroom is at the other end of the house and involves going down two lots of mini steps and through six doors.

We had a surprise visit from the Enforcement Officer of the Environment Agency yesterday. He asked to see the bit of the river that goes through our garden and mystified, DH takes him down. "It has come to our attention that you have a jetty without permission" Eeek! Further he adds "Did you know you're not supposed to erect anything within 9 metres of the river" Dismayed, DH estimates that the fence that he only just put up is only a couple of metres away (fortunately my studio is well outside the 9m).

Now the good news, although he does have the power to make us remove such items, because DH was so amiable he has said he will write a letter giving us retrospective permission. I wasn't there so I have no idea how DH managed to be so charming ...!

They have to investigate any obstructions (quite rightly) which might interfere with the flow of the river as in a time of high rainfall, it could get in the way of water getting away and cause a localised flood. I didn't realise such people existed or that they paid such close attention to the river. Good to know and what a great job!

I have lots of photographs of sets of renegade beads like this to put in my Etsy shop so I must get on with processing them and adding to my listings. Hope everyone enjoys a nice (and warm) weekend. :-)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fine and warm weather on the way!

We've been waiting 6 weeks for the plumber and now we finally have a big warm radiator in our freezing cold bathroom. The weather will now undoubtedly warm up and we won't need it ... no need to all thank me at once! :-)

We now have some decorating and reflooring to do in the bathroom as to fit this in, we had to remove a shelf that was at the back of the bath. It's left a mark against the matchboarding which needs a heavy sanding down and repainting. The floor on the bathroom was pretty hideous and needed replacing anyway but it has to wait til the decorating is done obviously. So the bathroom looks worse than it did at the start of the day but it's much warmer now.

In fact everything we're doing to our lovely new home is making it look worse at the moment! 

We've had a 10mm armour plated power cable run from the electricity box to my new garden studio to get power out there. The electricity box is at the furthest point away from the garden (of course!) For part of its journey through the house it has gone in the void above the ceiling of the lounge so it's hidden but there was no alternative to going straight across at ceiling level of DH's study - it's a huge big black ugly thing so needs to be boxed in. DH has pointed out to me that the electrics on that wall are all surface mounted so he was always planning on dry lining that wall anyway to hide it so it was part of the plan to put it there - more work! 

Tomorrow there will be two pipes going across the same route to feed water into the ensuite so we'll hold off on the dry lining til after that is done :-) It's all in the plan ...

We've had our lovely sun terrace and bar-b-q area dug up to put in drains for a new bathroom we're adding to our bedroom to act as an ensuite. It's all been replaced now but when Ned was digging around, he found lots of old drains that are now heaped up messily in a corner and are waiting to be skipped away after the scaffolding has gone up for the construction of the ensuite (the new bathroom will replace a rickety old lean to "conservatory" which we are planning to demolish). Might as well take the rubbish away at the same time as then so I'm stuck with the rubbish in the corner til the scaffolder turns up ... Jed was supposed to be here yesterday. The plan goes awry! 

DH's Easter project was to put up some fencing at the bottom of the garden to stop the dog and tortoise falling into the river, we still wanted to be able to see the river through it so we've used larch poles and a two inch mesh which is practically invisible from the house. 

It looks pretty good doesn't it but there is earth all over the grass round the holes which needs properly raking and smoothing down and reseeding. Missy actually doesn't like getting wet at all and we're confident she wouldn't get into the river on purpose but the garden slopes quite a bit; if she went chasing a bird or a squirrel, I'm worried she wouldn't be able to stop in time! The fence also enables us to be able to play with a ball down there. There is a gate set at an angle so we can still get down to the jetty.

These gorgous ewes and lambs arrived into the field on the other side of our river on Monday ... aren't they brilliant? When I'm working in the studio now, instead of birds cheeping and quietude, there's loads of baa-ing - it's really great looking out on them and I can see them from our kitchen window as well. Love the way the lambs wag their tails when they're feeding :-) 

On our shortlist of houses to buy - before we settled on this one - was a converted barn with hardly any work to do and an absolutely beautiful garden; all we would've needed to do to it was get power down to the shed for me to work in ... we decided to go with this house instead because we thought it would be a project and having something to strive for keeps you young. We decided that we would just get old quick in a house that's all finished with nothing to do to it ... trouble is I feel about 80 thinking about all the work we have ahead of us!!! 

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter break :-) 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Raffle winner extraordinaire!

I'm doing really well on winning raffles lately. There was an on-line raffle in aid of Harvey last week and I won FIRST PRIZE! A brand new Toshiba Folio 100 tablet. I have trouble figuring out how my phone works let alone a completely new technological device  so I'm sticking to my old PC and have donated the prize to be auctioned on Ebay to raise even more money for Harvey. So, if you'd like a brand new tablet, please take a look at the item which has been listed by Olga Gee, her Ebay account is a charity one so we won't have to pay fees on the sale.

(Click on the photo to go to the listing).

Harvey is a stray dog that was never claimed after he'd had his 7 days at the pound. Instead of being put to sleep, he was rescued by the Doris Banham Rescue. After he'd been there a short time, it was realised he needed a life saving operation - any funds raised by selling this laptop will go towards the costs of his operation - so far we've raised half the amount - more is needed so please bid if you're in the market for a new tablet!

Then on Saturday on the Fete on the Strait I won a milk chocolate egg on the Tombola ... I'm keeping that prize by the way, in fact it's already gone! :-)

Saturday was a big success in terms of raising money for Harvey, DH and I managed to sell £146 worth of books and Harveys Bristol Cream sherry earrings and I've just transferred the money directly into the Doris Banham Sanctuary bank account.

If anyone else would like to donate money towards Harvey's operation, full details are on Doris Banham Dog Rescue's web page for Harvey.

If anyone reading this does Twitter in a big way, please could you share the Ebay listing so we get lots of bids on it. Many thanks!