Monday 21 December 2009

I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas ........etc!

At last ....we've had snow! Only a couple of inches, but perfect crispy snow! It made me very happy. I love the muffled silence that descends along with the snow, I love seeing the number of animal tracks across the lawn, I love the birds flocking onto the feeders in search of food, I love having to squint against the brightness of the snow and I love the sound of laughter as people play..............!
(I didn't much love the taxi driver who slid into me on an icy road yesterday though! Good job I was in the Land Rover - BIG dint in his bumper, not a scratch on the Landy and just a bit of whiplash for me but First-Born was fine. Would have been much worse in an ordinary car!)

If you look very carefully you might just be able to make out the rose on the bush by the front door - it has kept flowering for months and hadn't cottoned on to the fact that it is winter!

Acer x Conspicuum 'Red Flamingo'

A tantilising glimpse of the tea house roof......

....and another!

Ceefer cat walks on water - well, okay, the iced up pond.

I suspect the woodpile will have to wait a bit longer to get chopped up now.

Cornus Albus.

Snow on an old tree root in the yard - found on a beach and carried about a mile to 'safety' by the 4 of us. It was flippin' heavy, but lovely! I have yet to find the perfect spot for it - but I will.

Looking up the back garden to the 6ft high snowman me, Himself and the Gnomelets built in the dark last night after a snowball fight :)
We only went out to take the nets off the fruit cage and the brassica cage, but things sort of developed from there really!!!

Colour in the snow.

Whilst all was white and wonderful outside, Christmas colour was developing in the house.

This is our 'Danish branch' in the kitchen. We nicked this tradition years ago after spending Christmas with our Danish friends and it's now an integral part of Christmas for us - and reminds us of our friends.

Even the piano has a bit of Christmas cheer...

Everyone is expected to join in!

Himself always asks me to buy a small tree ..... and I really do mean to but somehow the big ones always call out to me - so what's a girl to do?!

Danish candles

Ceefer cat was singularly unimpressed by Christmas preparations!

Meanwhile, back out in the garden;
Regular readers of my blog are well used to seeing me attempt to win the 'the worst dressed gardener' award ....... I think I was on a full set of thermals, 5 other layers, 2 pairs of socks and hot packs in my gloves at this point!!!!

with Himself trying to get an honorable mention....even HE had thermals on that day!

However, in the interest of proving that we don't always look like complete slobs, this is us on our way to Himself's company Christmas 'do' last week........ it was a Bond themed evening and great fun, but proved that I am rubbish at Blackjack and Roulette!

...we scrub up quite well really!

and I'm trying to match the Bond girl siloutte - almost!

and on that note ........a Merry Christmas to everyone and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year!

Sunday 6 December 2009

The frame goes up at last!

Thank you to everyone for your concern about David following his recent surgery. I am very pleased and relieved to announce that all danger has passed, he is well on the way to recovery, had his first short, chilly walk around the garden yesterday and is thoroughly bored - always a good sign!

Given all the above progress, I thought it was time for the promised post on the day David came up to help us build the tea house frame on site - because, as Himself commented, David was absolutely the best person for the job! As a surgeon, David has had to be thorough, meticulous, precise, not panic when things go wrong and not rush things (sound familiar?!), all of which suited Himself down to the ground for putting the frame together!
First though, I had yet more painting of the 3 coat sealant to do!

The dry beams and posts were carried onto site - about 100 yeards up the garden!
Himself had earlier removed the posts that he, I and the Gnomelets had previously erected twice (*sigh*) then he and David began to lay out the pieces like a 3D puzzle.

Daring to glue the first joint!

Of course, being Himself and David, a few screws went in too ..... just to be on the safe side you understand - can't be too careful!

Checking the diagonals to ensure the corner angles were all even.

The long side of the frame in place, levels being checked - and, oh look, I'm balanced on a wobbly plank over water again! I am convinced that Himself thinks that if he puts me on a plank across the pond often enough, at some point I WILL fall in - and that'll be his payback for all his hard work. Mwahhaahaaa!

Some joints needed a bit of persuasion to go together after glueing, so we brought out our trusty strop and hand ratchet (originally used for pulling me - well, the Land Rover actually, out of muddy holes in off road driving competitions!). It works just as well for pulling chunks of wood together though!
Guess who got to walk the plank again?

Squatting down to put the strop round the bottom beam didn't make me fall in even when Himself 'accidentally' kicked the other end of the plank, so he then had me up on my tiptoes to shove the strop as high up as I could reach - ostensibly to pull the top posts together, but I knew his cunning little plan.........!
David meanwhile happily carried on glueing the next set of joints, seemingly oblivious to his son's nefarious tricks to dunk me in the drink!

Don't be fooled by that innocent expression of concentration as he tightens up the ratchet, he was really planning his next move!

Having failed to get me wet, Himself resorted to putting up the back wall frame and muttering to himself about "....her improved balance.... chunter, chunter"! David happily carried on holding posts in position.

Moving swiftly on to erect the long side wall against our boundary.

Got to keep checking those diagonals boys!
The strop was used for fine-ish adjustment.

Bracing was put in place to provide some short-term stability and rigidity to the structure whilst the concrete went off.........

Each upright post had a stainless steel 'foot' which was concreted into a post hole. Of course plain simple concrete wasn't considered strong enough(!), so stainless steel wall ties were threaded through the foot and angled into the concrete - just to make sure!!!

As Technician, Third Class still working on my promotion prospects, I was allowed to pour and shape the cement - making sure that it sloped away from the foot for drainage.

As Gordon Ramsey might say........."Framework -Done"!

and I still hadn't fallen in!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Autumn in all its glory - but some plants really should know better!

I was going to do a post about the next stage of tea house building, but that involved my wonderful father-in-law, David, and I was finding it incredibly difficult to write about him as he is currently in hospital after (planned) major surgery - but thankfully out of ITU now and the post wouldn't come together........... so I decided to try out my posh new camera instead and went off for a pootle round the garden in the few minutes when there wasn't a howling gale or horizontal rain!
(for those who are interested my new camera is a Canon IXUS 95 IS and it replaced my old camera which had given up the ghost due to eating too much soil!)

So, on my travels round my back garden, I found.......(this feels a bit like the childrens game of 'I went to market and I bought...'!)

My Fuschia bush blooming away merrily.

Some poppies from that mountaineous region which includes Nepal, but which I can't spell correctly tonight!

Sedum, still flowering profusely.

The Cyclamen haven't stopped flowering since I planted them about 2 months ago.

The Quince has fruited well this year .... if only I liked the taste of them!

This tree has a magnificent crop of berries, but no-one seems to know what the tree is - so if anyone could enlighten me, I'd be very grateful!

The Copper Beech has been quite glorious, but I'm still waiting for the oak (far right) to give up the rest of its leaves took me about 4 hours to get the lawn to this state and one windy evening to cover it in leaves again!

Just a few of the oak leaves I cleared up.
Don't you just love my sassy wellies?!

The Hydrangea was blue when it first came out, but has gone through purple to red and is drying off nicely and will soon be ready to take indoors for a bit of colour in my hallway.

I found these hidden under the leaves on the border - they are HUGE. Unfortunately I have NO idea whether they are edible or not ....... so I left them there!

A spectacular Pyracantha berry crop.

My Buddha nestling in amongst the leaves and bamboo in the Japanese garden.

As well as changing my camera, I've also changed how I load the photos. Please could you let me know if you think this is quicker or slower than on previous posts. Thank you!