Tuesday 22 September 2009

The Plans (or men are from Mars and women ...... aren't!)

Over the past couple of months several people have asked whether we drew up any plans for the tea house and Japanese garden so, as my next few posts will be concentrating on the building of the tea house (yeah!!!), maybe now is the time to share them with you.

As many of you will know, Himself is a reincarnated Victorian engineer and inventor (he's actually a software designer, but hey!). He is meticulous and thorough, so his plans are a thing of beauty which should be shared.

Himself and our dear friend Pete spent many a happy(?!) hour designing and redesigning the tea house, discussing different types of joints, angles, load bearing timbers, roof curves, elevations, flooring depths, materials, insulation, sliding doors versus folding doors, etc (have you noticed - I almost sound like I know about technical stuff!). I was relegated to the odd comment along the lines of "no, that's not what I want, please can I have........" and "don't forget I want a wood burning stove and to be WARM!". Eventually, after their umpteenth discussion but no pen to paper, someone threw a strop, accused them of procrastination and the plans miraculously appeared!

Anyway, here are a few photos of our plans. If you click on them they will enlarge for you to see the details more clearly. Enjoy:

This photo shows the building's structure, including the roof lines, distances between the posts and so on.

Himself's ID system. All the posts and beams were numbered and lettered according to position. The next two photos show his cutting schemas and identify some of the different types of joints he needed to cut.

This one shows the concrete posts in the water, distance from water to top of post and to the bottom of the horizontal beam. Nothing was left to chance!

This one focuses on the roof - angles, joints, number of rafters, distance apart, etc.

This one shows where the pond is in relation to the tea house and which posts are above or below floor level.

Some of the details for multiple joints in a beam.

Himself's maths ........... good job he understands it!

I, in the meantime, was busy getting on with the garden design part of things - admittedly mostly in my head, but hey, who needs plans?!!! Yeah, yeah ...... I know - one rule for them, another rule for me! The thing is (in my defence!) I had had a very clear picture of the finished garden lurking in the back of my head for about 3 years by this point and had been working away on the hard landscaping to create it. I didn't need a paper plan!

Anyway, after some ongoing persusion from Himself - along with his arguement that he still didn't really understand what I was trying to do or achieve, I eventually spent considerable time and effort into putting together a scaled drawing with detailed planting plans for the Japanese garden - not! :)

The plan

The planting scheme!

Job done, everybody happy!!!

Friday 4 September 2009

Seven things you didn't know about me!

Both Monica at http://gardenfaerie.blogspot.com/ and Happy Mouffetarde at http://inelegantgardener.blogspot.com/ have nominated me to take part in the 'seven things you didn't know about me' meme - thanks girls! Having never been nominated for anything in blogland before, I got quite ridiculously excited about it - but then realised I'd have to come up with some interesting stuff!!!

Anyway, to participate in the Meme Award, you need to:
- link back to the person who gave you the award;
- reveal seven things about yourself;
- choose seven other blogs to nominate and post a link to them
- let each of your choices know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog;
- and finally let the tagger know when your post is up.

So, down to business!
1. I was both an accident and born 5 weeks premature!
I was born at home and came out at great speed - the midwife only just arrived in time and the doctor didn't. If I'd have been born that early and at that weight (5lb 5 oz) nowadays I'd have been taken straight to SCBU for a couple of weeks and also been closely monitored for the first couple of years of my life. Back then, I didn't even get a hospital visit!

(My parents were convinced I was going to be a boy and had planned to call me Peter. I didn't find this out until I'd had Last-Born - I was convinced I was carrying a boy and we had decided to call him ......... Peter! How weird is that?!)

Here's me at about 18 months old with my brother and sister. Don't you just love the curl?
Do you remember the rhyme:
There was a little girl who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very, very good
and when she was bad, she was ...........horrid!

2.I was South Yorkshire's first female Queen's Scout.
This is the highest level of achievement and takes lots of hard work over about two years. The reward is to take part in the annual Queen's Scout parade at Windsor castle, where I got to meet the Queen, who was taking the parade that year. She is even smaller than me - and I'm not exactly known for my vast height!

The writing hasn't come out very well as it has a plastic sheet over it - which I didn't dare remove due to the great age of the article! Sorry!

3.I got my glider pilot's licence when I was 20 through a joint programme between the Scout Association and the RAF.
My RAF wings were on my Venture Scout uniform. That is how I got to meet the Queen - she spotted my wings and came to ask me about them. We had a nice little chat. I still have my uniform and the shirt still fits!
(Jackie, who is in the picture with me is still one of my dearest friends nearly 30 years on!)

This is the glider we flew in ....... it was called 'the barge' and it was made up from bits of other old gliders. It didn't so much fly as lumber through the air somehow defying gravity. I cannot describe the sheer joyous excitment and pure adrenalin rush of being taking up to do aerobatics in one of the RAF gliders one day!!!
I still look up at the sky some days and long to fly again.

4.My first marital home was a Land Rover.
We took a year out and drove through Pakistan, India and Nepal - and back again, obviously! The Land Rover had all mod cons - a bed, cooker, lights, music, curtains, filtered water through a tap and a washing machine! Well, okay, so it was a lidded beer brewing tub fastened into the back corner with seat belt strapping, but it worked well. We put the clothes, soap powder, water and a few stones in then drove to our next destination, rinsed everything out and hung it out to dry. Easy!

This is what our family and friends did to Fred (the Land Rover) for our departure. Subtle, eh?! We did clean it off before we got to Customs at the docks.

5.I spent my 27th birthday under arrest in Nepal.
We had an accident and hit a cyclist who turned into our path ......... quite how he didn't hear our very loud truck horn remains a mystery. Anyway, the law in Nepal is that the biggest vehicle is automatically at fault and if a foreigner is involved, then they are definately at fault because if they hadn't been there the accident wouldn't have happened! I can sort of see their logic, but it wasn't funny at the time.

Most of our photos of the trip are on slides, but this is one that I had printed years ago and I love it - Himself and I had driven 300+ miles up the stunning, starkly beautiful Karakorum Highway to the Pakistan/China border (which had only just opened again in May after the Winter snows!). This is the border marker.

6.I HATE spiders. But , when the Gnomelets were little and in order not to pass on my irrational fears to them, I held a tarantula. It was awful - it moved and everything! I'd had no problems with the Falcon or the snake, but it was only the prospect of a free cream tea that stopped me from dropping the dratted thing! It didn't work either - my fixed grin and glazed expression didn't fool them and they're nearly as bad as me about spiders. *sigh*

7. I would love to go white water rafting down the Grand Canyon.

Anyway, that's all the stuff about me (- except that if I had to have an 8th thing, it would be that no matter how filthy, dirty or grotty the job is, I always wear girlie earrings!)

My nominations for continuing the meme go to .............. (cue dramatic drum roll)

Carolynn at A Glowing Ember - because her eloquent writing frequently moves me.
Matron at Down on the Allotment - because she grows wonderful veg and shares some great growing tips.
Kathryn at My Roots Run Deep - because it is such a lovely blog - and she grew multicoloured carrots!
Rob at Our French Garden - because I love where he lives and the photos he takes and, okay - I'm nosey ..... I want to know more!
Camellia at motstrvigtragardsdesigner - because despite English not being her native language, she writes beautiful evocative posts.
Irena at Plant Whatever Brings You Joy - because her posts are always thought provoking and informative, especially her recent ones on butterflies.

and last, but by no means least
Mrs Robinson at Mrs Robinson Presents - because her lovely sweet posts on a huge variety of subjects always make me smile.


Ooops ......... I've just realised that I've messed up the links for 'My Roots Run Deep' and 'Plant Whatever Brings You Joy' - they're the wrong way round. I am a bit of a plonker sometimes!!!
Strongest apologies to Kathryn and Irena ...... grovel, grovel :)

Tuesday 1 September 2009

The Tea House work starts to get technical!

Having finally got to the point of clearing the area for the tea house (as seen in the photo below), we could start making the various component parts that would build up into a Meccano-like kit that would all fit together to create the composite tea house - hopefully!

Himself had decided that we couldn't use wooden posts to go into the water to support the tea house, so he crafted (and it was definitely crafted, rather than just made!) a mould to make a concrete post instead. It was tapered to both look more aesthetically pleasing (although quite who was going to notice under water wasn't discussed!) and to make it easier to get the post out again once it had set - because we had to re-use the mould for the second post. He also, bless him, used filler on the top corners so that the post would have rounded corners when it was finished - this man really thinks of every little detail!

In the photo below you can see that the mould is raised off the ground ...... this is to allow room for the stainless steel pipe that Himself inserted so that the wooden post could locate onto it for
stability and accuracey when adding in all the other posts and beams of the framework.

Being a reincarnated Victorian engineer, he couldn't resist a bit of extra strengthening - "just to be on the safe side". He drilled a few holes in the pipe then bent a few wall ties and inserted them into the pipe and into the mould for a bit of extra reinforcement ....... if there is ever an earthquake in Derbyshire, my tea house will still be standing!

The completed post with its lovely rounded top!

Himself with one of his more complicated joints. This one is an external coner post with the slot cut to take the corner roof rafter.

Ceefer cat doing the health and safety check as we started to bring the wood out onto the yard for the trial assembly! This was the 'dry' run (ie, with no glue!) to make sure that all the joints were accurate and that everything fitted correctly - not that I had any doubts about the standard of Himself's meticulous work, but he reckons it's far better to check twice and glue once!
First used as a counter-weight, now just a weight! Ho hum!

We borrowed our best friends' son, OJ, (also know as our 'spare son' or 'my boy'!) to help erect the frame as he's considerably taller and stronger than I am. The frame quickly began to take shape.

Some joints needed a bit of persuasion ............

some needed a bit of chiseling out.............

but by the end of the day the frame was up and looking good - even if it was in the wrong place!
This is the complete external frame. The actual tea house will cover 4 posts of the long side and 3 posts of the short side, giving an internal dimesion of roughly 8ft by 10ft ('roughly' because I can't remember the correct metric measurement having been brought up on feet and inches!) with a 1 metre wide, L shaped veranda taking up the rest of the space.

Looking up, with the purlin ring in place which will support the weight of the roof.
The diagonal piece is for support, but it's also the gap through which the wood burning stove chimney will go!

Whilst all this was going on, I was cracking on in the Japanese garden. I couldn't wait to get some planting done! I have to confess that I didn't (er ....... still don't!) have a planting scheme drawn out. I have done some research on what plants should be in a Japanese garden and I know which plants I like and want in there. Once I've aquired them (mainly by virtue of asking for garden centre vouchers for birthdays and Christmas!) I just play around with placing the pots until I think they look right, balancing size, colour and textures!
This is looking up towards the pond, which is a couple of feet past where my spade is, from the bottom path. I dug up all the stepping stones from their straight line (bad!) and re-set them in a more curvacious line (good!) before working out which plants I wanted where ........ although two of these plants have since been moved to better positions elsewhere in the larger garden - but I thought they looked right at the time!
I am convinced that plants do well in our garden because I keep them permanently worried! I shift them at the drop of a hat, regardless of whether it's the 'right' time of year - if I want to move them then it's obviously the right time!

Planting a bamboo.
Job done - for the moment!

I then began work on the ground near the beach, being careful to leave space for a rough access path near the fruit cage for when we construct the tea house (and for where my weeping willow will eventually be!).
The pea gravel path in the foreground is a tester area about a metre long and shows what all the finished paths will eventually look like. The path was dug deep - I know how deep ... I dug it! It was filled with motorway grade hardcore previously dug up from where the pond now is. It was topped with fine grade sandstone and sand - also gained from digging the pond, before a layer of Weed Stop (metallic coated weed control fabric) was put down and the pea gravel spread on top. The path is edged with 1920's 'Tucker's Mixed' reclaimed roof tiles - left over from a load we'd sourced a few years ago when the house roof need some work doing on it and the tiles had to match into the existing ones.
The tall plant in the foreground is a bush Acer - but I'm cross now because I can't find the label I'd carefully kept to identify it correctly!!!
However, the other tallish plant next to the flagstone path is an Acer palmatum 'Kotohime' - Hah! Kept the label for that one!
This is the bed above the island with the stones on. The path to the bridge runs to the right immediately in front of the large rock. This photo was taken this time last year and the bed has matured beautifully!
That is Acer palmatum 'Ornatum'.
Looking back down the garden from near the beach. A. p 'Ornatum' is on the left, Acer p 'Emerald Lace' is on the right. You can just see the island and how well the moss I transplanted from the lawn has done. The bamboos in the background form the bottom boundary of the Japanese garden, the righthandmost one is Black Bamboo. I planted these about 7 years ago when I first began to think about creating the garden!
Phew - I thinks that's probably enough for one post ...........!