More garden work

There was but one small thing to do in the garage and that was to fit the other keyhole escutcheon disc on the inside of the new door. I had been too busy to fit it on Monday as I was concentrating on other things. It would only have taken a few minutes to do so I thought but when I did fit it on Tuesday morning it proved to be a bit of a nuisance. One of the screws simply wouldn’t screw in all the way perhaps because there was a small knot inside the wood. I had to find another shorter screw and then found it wasn’t holding! Back to the first screw again and I dropped it on the floor and spent five minutes looking for it. You have to remember these screws are quite tiny. Eventually I managed to screw it in with the aid of a persuading tool….a hammer! The second screw had to be put in at a slight angle as there wasn’t enough wood immediately behind it because the slot was just a tad too wide. You have to be spot on with these things but isn’t it usually the case that the small things cause the most problems? I find it so anyway. The main task for the day was a job in the garden, specifically on the patio. If you remember a few weeks ago I wrote about topping the two small flowerbeds with pebbles, well I wanted to do the same with the larger bed.

First of all though I had to add some compost and a generous helping of bone meal. There was just enough of the pebbles remaining to cover the surface though I had to pinch some from the lawn feature to do it. Fortunately the lawn feature had more than enough pebbles to lose a few. Notice the Phoenix Canariensis nearest the camera in the first shot and on the far right in the second. It had been cut back drastically after the wind damage caused by ‘The Beast from the East’ two winters ago. New growth has sprung from the centre so it has recovered though looking a bit sad.

The other looks better for being larger but it was damaged too and it hasn’t as yet produced new growth like the other one. During the winter just past they were both well wrapped up and suffered no further damage. The ones in the smaller beds on the other hand are doing enormously well but they are better protected from the wind. That was all I did on the day except to give the garden another watering.

Shirley Anne

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Still more to do

‘Should I or should I not?’ were the words in my mind when I arose on Wednesday and prepared for my morning walk. It was one of those mornings at this time of year where I was undecided on what garments I would wear. Would it be too cold and should I wear something to keep me warm for as I opened the door to get a feel for the conditions it was somewhat foggy and damp. I must have chosen correctly for I was very comfortable throughout the walk. However when I was within a few hundred yards (or metres, take your pick) the sun broke through and I began to feel a little too warm! Time for breakfast after which I took a drive to the builders merchant in order to purchase some more materials including more lengths of the wood I had purchased for constructing a new garage rear door. I needed more ‘granno’ and cement and one bag of small granite stones. When I returned with the goods I approached some workmen who had been at the house of a neighbour pruning the trees around their garden. They were using a machine which turns the branches into wood chippings and I asked them if they would dispose of the few left-over branches we had stored in the garden after we chopped down the fruit trees. They kindly took them from me and put them through the machine. It meant I didn’t have to saw them to dispose of them myself. You can see them in this photograph I took a few weeks ago.

When that was done I unloaded the van and began to mix the concrete for completing the base layer of the ramp project and then laid it. I had to cover it just in case it rained but that wasn’t likely according to the forecast. Better safe than sorry though. It would be a few days before I would begin laying the top layer of concrete to finish the project. Once that was completed I would have the new door to construct though knowing me I might start work on it before. The afternoon turned out very sunny and quite warm and I was able to sit out on the patio to relax with the newspaper.

Shirley Anne

Winding up

Usually a heading like that would indicate a finishing process, something coming to an end but in this case it is the other way round. I am beginning to get more things done (outside) after the last few weeks of wondering if I could because of the poor weather. It is Monday 11 th February as I write this. I had a really good night’s sleep and was ready for my morning walk. Deliberately skipping breakfast I was out the door just after eight-thirty-five. It was a sunny day though still a little cold at seven degrees but there was little or no wind. By the time I had returned home I was beginning to feel too warm in my winter clothing. E had long since finished her breakfast and was at the top of the house in her workshop. I grabbed a small bowl of porridge with fruit to stem my hunger until it was time for lunch. I had plans to get out in the garden whilst the sun was shining. After lunch I put on my overalls and went into the garage to begin filling a bucket with the pebbles stored there. They had been purchased last year for filling in the lawn feature I had constructed around October.

Although it looks full in the picture taken late last year it wasn’t completely filled. The job was to place another layer of pebbles over the whole area. Two large bags had been delivered on top of a wooden pallet and at my request had been placed just inside the garage to one side. There was enough space to allow my van to be parked but not really enough space to walk past with the van in there. I couldn’t move the pallet because of the weight on top of it. When I placed the first layer of pebbles on the feature I thought most of the pebbles would get used but far from it. Today as I write I have completely emptied one of the bags a bucket at a time and was able to pull the other bag off the pallet. The second bag, in fact both of the bags had been partially emptied during the initial filling of the feature so it wasn’t as difficult to shift with a little effort. I was able to remove the pallet and move the remaining bag of pebbles more to one side leaving plenty of space to walk past. I am now left with one bag two-thirds filled with pebbles which will be used elsewhere in the days ahead. Before returning indoors I hosed the feature to wash the new covering of pebbles. Now it looks as though I’ve done nothing as they appear as they did before I started…….but I know different.

Shirley Anne

Framed

There’s a popular (?) tv program in the UK called ‘You’ve been framed’ whereby viewers can send in clips of mishaps they or others have had the misfortune to endure and it is broadcast for all to see. Each clip broadcast rewards the sender with £250. I was ‘framed’ if you like when I erected this with lots of help from E….

….and if it had been recorded it might have made the program! I began the work by myself but after fifteen frustrating minutes I had to enlist the help of E. As with most self-assembled units the instructions are not all that easy to follow and by me especially. I seem to have the knack of getting it wrong and then getting angry because I experience problems which if truth be known don’t actually exist! E came outside after my insistence that she wear warm clothing for it was a cold October day even though the sun was shining. In a matter of minutes she had things sorted. What I had failed to do was to recognise the numbered parts and indeed the large components were all numbered. I just hadn’t noticed and had been trying to identify them from the drawing. The drawings never seem to look like the things they are supposed to be representing do they? Perhaps a photograph would be more useful. We began the assembly, though it was only myself doing the assembling whilst E held the parts which needed supporting. Finally we ended up with the structure you see and we lifted it up to sit on the patio walls. I had to add some supports  to the frame where it overhangs the patio deck by using two lengths of plastic pipe secured using ‘Jubilee clips’.  When it is time we shall be putting the plastic covering over it to protect the plants in the raised bed from severe wind and frost during the colder months.

Before the cover goes on I shall be fitting some eye bolts on the walls to secure it using the tie ropes supplied.  Its actual purpose is a growing tunnel but it will be equally as good in the use we make of it.

Shirley Anne

A little fib

In yesterday’s post when writing about the work I did on the utility room project I mentioned that I would paint the floor today, Saturday the 20 th. I must confess to that being a little fib though at the time I wrote it was true. What happened was late in the afternoon I called next door to give my neighbour a loaf of bread as she had asked if we had some. My neighbour is house-bound because of her condition and her son was away at work. We chatted about things and she was asking if I had been busy so I told her about the project. An hour later I began to think about the painting of the floor, well that part on which I would be working the next day. The painting takes minutes, the drying takes a few hours but the fumes linger for a very long time especially as there is little or no ventilation down in that room. If I were to paint it on Saturday I wouldn’t be able to do anything else that day and I wanted to get on with the work. With that in mind I painted the floor on my return home.

  

Having done that I was able to continue the next day and install the third cabinet and also move the old freezer.

I then moved the other smaller freezer to the spot where the old one had stood, though it will be moved away from the wall whilst I paint the wall and floor there. That left the rest of the floor clear and ready to be worked on later. Before I did all that work and also paint the floor the previous afternoon I lifted up the remaining pieces of carpet, cut them into smaller pieces so I could dispose of them in the wheelie bin. The carpet had been fine whilst lying on the floor but the rubber backing had deteriorated over the years and was left on the floor as the carpet was lifted, 

I finished the work for that day by 1 o’clock and rested but during the afternoon I noticed that the membrane I had laid in the lawn feature had a couple of holes in it. It could only be the squirrels whom we’ve seen on the lawn at times digging little holes either to bury food or to dig for worms! I decided to cover over the area with a robust plastic netting until we finally get delivery of the pebbles (see recent posts).

    

Shirley Anne

Getting near

I have just finished the next stage of the garden project which leaves me just three things left to do. Today as I write on 28 th September I have laid the membrane and set in the perimeter of it with concrete.

The cobbles dotted around are there temporarily to hold down the overlapping joints of the membrane which comes in a roll one metre in width. The next stage will be to lay some cobbles through the plot to form stepping stones but I will have to cut the membrane along the proposed route to remove a little of the soil beneath. I will then lay concrete in the bottom and set the cobbles in it. The concrete will also re-seal the gap in the membrane at the same time. The final stage will be to fill the area with pebbles and stones then clean the perimeter cobbles. 

Shirley Anne

Little by little

Following on from yesterday’s post where I had gotten outside at five am to remove the remaining turf from the new plot I rested a short while before driving to the supermarket for the weekly shopping. On my return E rose from her slumber and came downstairs for breakfast by which time I had packed all the food away. I sat with her and ate something myself as my breakfast had been almost six hours earlier. We are like ships passing in the night, she likes to stay up late and rise late whereas I like to retire early and rise early. Anyway an hour after eating I returned to the garden project and E came outside to help decide which of the plants went where. She returned indoors to her workshop and I planted the shrubs….    

There are only five but that is because they grow outward as well as upward and much of the space will eventually be covered. The two on the right at the back (or nearest the path on the right) grow to a height of around two and a half to three metres with a two metres spread unless they are pruned of course. The two on the left either side of the dwarf conifer grow to around a metre and a half with a similar spread. The conifer mainly grows upward with only a little spread. As there is only around 250 mm of topsoil before the sand beneath is reached I had to dig wide and deep to remove some of the sand before refilling the hole with about a metre of soil and compost for each of the plants. That was stage four completed. There will be more to follow before it is completed.

Shirley Anne

Sometimes

Sometimes you’ve got to go with the flow. Last night, well early evening, I went to bed very tired after the work I had done during the day. Mainly it was my upper arms and neck which ached the most through removing the grass and then the soil from it. Despite the fact that I was tired I found it difficult to get to sleep. This usually happens when I dwell on things and fill my thoughts with the problems I am faced with doing projects or any work at home. I lie there thinking about how I will tackle the work the next day. It was Thursday and I was up around two having finally gotten the sleep I needed. Around five o’clock I decided to take the bull by the horns and dig out the remaining grass from the new garden feature. The garden lighting would be enough to work under.

The picture was taken a couple of hours later as it was still dark when I had completed the work at six o’clock.  The two wheelie bins were full, though not all of grass so I couldn’t dispose of any more. I decided to place the new sods in one of the builders bags we have and put it under cover in the passageway behind the second garage. This would allow the soil to dry making it easier to remove at a later date. Doing it later would allow me to get on with the project. As it was Thursday I would be doing the weekly shopping but afterward the whole day was at my disposal. Maybe I could do some planting? Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow.

Shirley Anne

Walk and work

Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day. 

Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.

Shirley Anne

Moving along

No walk for me this morning as I went yesterday. It is the 25 th and the first thing I did when I arrived downstairs at three o’clock was to prepare and bake an apple pie using the left-over pastry to make a small blueberry- filled pasty. Who makes pastry and bakes pies at three in the morning? It is great being retired as I can please myself what to do and when to do it, a luxury I couldn’t enjoy when working. anyway the result was this..

I think they are an improvement on the first ones I made the other day and the apple pie is larger too. This time I rolled the pastry a little thinner and coated the top with milk before adding a sprinkling of sugar. If you remember I hadn’t baked a pie before, that is one covered in pastry. I tended to make crumble instead. After the baking I ate breakfast but I really wanted to get into the garden to do a little work. I had to wait a couple of hours before that could happen of course unless I was to work in the moonlight! When I did get out there all I did was to scrub the cobbles with a stiff brush and water. I wasn’t able to remove all of the cement from the tops of the cobbles but I would be tackling that job again later on. Rubbing a piece of stone or brick over them will clean off the cement but it will be a down on my hands and knees job. When E came down for breakfast I suggested we might go to the garden centre to purchase the plants we would be putting inside the new plot and whilst I was waiting for her to finish her breakfast and get ready I decided to mow the lawn then off we went to purchase the plants.

There are five of them and they are standing on the path immediately in front of the small greenhouse and behind the main flowerbed there. They would have to stay there until I was ready to plant them. After a little something for lunch I went out again into the garden for an hour or so and began digging out the grass inside the new plot..

It isn’t much to look at but the main work was in removing the soil from the sods and dumping it in the flowerbeds. We are not allowed to dump soil in the green waste wheelie bins so the soil must be removed beforehand. Even when the grass is fully removed the remaining soil level needs to be dropped a little too. At least the work is moving along in the right direction!

Shirley Anne