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The great outdoors!

February 22, 2015

It’s been quite cold recently and not conducive to outdoor activities so we have resorted to planning and scheming. We did get an initial bid on the garden paths and patio and then did a re-think as it was expensive and we thought we might need even more patio area. Eventually we sat down and came up with a design for the second phase (post shed & greenhouse) and this involves paths to the shed, a screen fence to hide the oil tank, bins etc and an extension to the patio area to cut down on the size of the flower borders – they are eight feet front to back and over thirty feet wide, too much. This is likely to go into construction at the end of February. We have bought a huge and heavy plant encyclopaedia on eBay (£3.95) and a book on garden birds. We have also bought a bird feeding pole and feeders plus some bird food all from the RSPB. Next up we ordered a bird bath; we really needed one that has a central “island” to mount our antique sundial but they don’t seem to exist. We have also put up a couple of bird nesting boxes – going to need a hobby or two in our latter years 🙂

We are trying to identify all the existing plants in the garden as we want to save the smaller bulbs etc before the contractors start digging. Snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils and a host of others are starting to stick their heads up so we really need a good day for clearing and replanting. We did get stuck in for an hour or so; cleared all the dead stuff and cut back on the overgrown bushes. There was so much that we had to borrow next door’s garden wheelie bin; it and ours were both full. It’s amazing what more we can see now that is growing and also how much more of the garden we can see.

I have also been busy selling stuff on eBay and as soon as this lot is done I plan on starting on some of the stuff in the garage that we won’t ever need again, like copper & brass ornaments, fireside implements etc. However, we are not just selling on eBay, we have bought a pine dresser for the kitchen and that should see us clearing all the remaining kitchen boxes and sorting out the stuff we want to keep and use. The two new baskets for the larder pull-out arrived and were immediately filled.

We contacted our decorator again and he is preparing estimates for a couple of small jobs including getting the spare room finished. We want to enclose the back door porch into a boot room and somewhere to put the dryer. Andy is going to quote on this; it will give us a lot more room in the breakfast area.

A small interlude happened when E-on decided we needed a smart meter and arrived on Wednesday to fit it. Enlivened when the mailman arrived and he turned out to be the E-on fitters’ uncle! Then the E-on supervisor arrived as well and we had a small convention. Upshot of all this is we now have a display unit in the house which show usage by day, cumulative and projected plus a whole host of other stuff like tariffs, cost, date, temperature. How I managed without it is beyond me.

A trip to the garden centre resulted in some bags of compost for replanting, some minor bits & pieces and some wood for shelves in the shed. I asked their advice on a climbing plant suitable for a north-facing wall – they recommended (and sold us) one called Solanum Glasnevin. A check on the reference book indicates it is a full sun plant – so much for expert advice! They’ll go on the other wall though so no loss.

I have a few pieces of pegboard for making tool racks – the pegboard was an 8’ x 4’ almost new sheet left behind by the pool builders in 2005 and I cut it into smaller pieces and stored them in my work bench – always knew they would “cumminandy” one day. I saved all my pegboard clips as well! The weather cooperated briefly so I made one tool rack and a bracket to hold the mower. The shed walls are pitifully thin and would never support shelf brackets so everything needs reinforcing and that means screwing in from the outside to get the required strength. All jolly good fun and endless enjoyment for all the family.

The bird boxes arrived and have been mounted on the wall at the bottom of the garden, hopefully in time for the spring nesting season. The bird feeder is being studiously ignored by its intended audience (blue tits etc) and haunted by pigeons, doves, crows and other large aerial bruisers. We do have a resident blackbird and a robin has been seen feeding a couple of times and I also saw a starling pecking away at the hanging coconut shell. The only problem with all of this is that it is only visible from the dining room but we have plans to rectify that for the summer.

Tuesday was a really nice day apart from a cold breeze so we started on uprooting and replanting as many of the bulbs as we could. We filled three large planters and a few small pots, removed a couple of jasmines from an old rusty arch and replanted them. This continued on Wednesday with more bulbs found and saved, the two new climbers planted and a load of work in the shed putting up tool racks etc. The bird bath arrived during the afternoon and was quickly assembled, placed and filled and we were duly rewarded by the sight of a couple of blue tits taking a bath – in next doors rain gutters. No gratitude some birds!

The dresser we ordered on eBay arrived and after a good cleaning we started to fill it and combine this with a reorganisation of the kitchen cupboards. It’s still a source of wonder just how much kitchen stuff we have so part of this exercise is being used to offload duplicates and anything which has not been used in a long while.

The neighbours have given us permission to add 1’ of trellis to the top of the fence dividing our gardens and we have already planted the climbers and transplanted a couple of Jasmine that were growing up an old rusty archway. The arch is history and again the garden is opening up. The new fence and trellis panels are ordered and the gardeners are starting work on March 5th.

I’m still having some fun dealing with the NHS – I needed to see a foot specialist as I have a bad callous which is making walking very painful; the local GP surgery gave me a form to complete and send off to Norwich. Nothing happened so I called them and was told my case had been reviewed and determined to be non-urgent. I challenged this as not being able to walk seems urgent to me, they promised to review it again. Two weeks later I called again and was told it had been reviewed but no appointment had been made yet as (again) it wasn’t urgent. A spirited discussion followed resulting in an appointment on Tuesday in North Walsham – what a system!

Anyway, it is Sunday, roast pork in the oven, Yorkshire pudding made, potatoes peeled and cut up and the gravy made. Now for a quiet sit down and relax



David & June

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