Here we are at the equinox, and while there are so many things I love about autumn, this year I am just not ready to let go of the summer.
We've had a run of sunshine this week, and while my days are spent inside in front of a screen, each evening I've managed an hour of raking and hauling not-dry-enough grass out of the meadow.
It's hard but satisfying work, and lovely to be out in the field as the sun sets, but there's also a sense of despair. I so very much want to cut this whole field by hand, and I will (eventually) - but I've had to accept that the realities of the weather mean I won't make any more hay.
Instead, I'm going to be creating an awful lot of mulch, and I'll still be cutting at Christmas by the looks of things.
Like many people I'm not thrilled at the idea of having more restrictions on visiting in the colder weather. Our garden shelter has been brilliant over the summer, and is slowly being modified to deal with more breeze, but at some point it's just not going to be pleasant to sit out there.
Anyway, this is all very gloomy, and while I confess I'm not at my most cheerful right now, things aren't all bad. The garden has been producing some colourful displays.
And I've squirrelled damsons and blackberries away into the freezer, ready for gin.
There's not much more cheerful than damson gin, and this will be the first time I've ever made it with my own damsons.
So maybe instead of looking backwards, bemoaning the loss of summer, I need to look forwards and count down the weeks until I can drink damson gin. I'm told it'll be ready by Christmas (assuming I've got round to making it by then, of course), but I can't quite bring myself to count down the weeks until then.
I might try to do something cheerfully autumnal each week for the next few weeks to remind me how much I do like this season. We'll see.
We've had a bit of a sunny spell recently, and it's been nice to talk advantage and do a bit of walking. First of all, a wander through the woods with a friend in Sheffield.
I don't get chance to wander through woods much around here, and very rarely by running water, so having both together was a proper treat.
The next day, we finally made it up the big hill near our house with some other friends. We look at this hill every day, and while visitors have walked over it, we never have ourselves.
From up at the top you can really see why this ridge is often called the dragon's back.
It was a lovely day (although rather breezy) and we weren't the only ones up there, but we did find a quiet spot for some lunch near the top.
I don't do much hill walking, and clearly I'm missing out on some epic views.
The route off the hill was rather convoluted, but we did end up on this rather jolly path, and found another nice sheltered spot for a cup of tea.
We didn't have to drive anywhere for this walk, just straight out of the gate and down the footpath across our fields. We didn't measure it exactly, but probably walked no more than six miles. I'll definitely be tempted to do it again - maybe I'll even try to get up there early one morning to see the mist swirling in the valley below.
Anyway, all this walking is good practice, as it seems my sister and I have signed up for the virtual London marathon at the start of October. Not running, I hasten to add, and as it's a virtual event, we have a full 24 hours to do the distance, but even so, 26 miles is a long way. I'm probably not going to get any more training walks in before the event, which means my longest walk this year is currently, er, six miles. But we've done the distance more than once before, and given that we'll be walking in loops near her house, really, how hard can it be?
I suppose we'll find out.
The equinox is approaching, and there's a definite autumnal nip in the air. The leaves are falling from the elm tree, and I wish I'd taken a video as they rattled down through the branches the other day.
I like autumn, but I have to confess it's a strange one this year. The changing of the seasons is hitting me hard, and I'm already missing the summer. I'm not ready to be cold yet, but it seems I don't have much choice.
Normally I enjoy the 'back to school' feeling, but this year things are so uncertain. My job is stable (for the time being, at least), but so many things are up in the air that I feel like I'm turning round and round and nothing is getting finished. Maybe I need to buy some new stationery to add an element of normality.
Still, some cheerful things have been happening. We've had a few days where it's been warm enough to sit outside without being under a blanket, and there are still plenty of flowers around.
I think I need to sit still a bit more often. The more I do, the more I feel like I'm stuck in a whirlwind, and the more the time whizzes by. Maybe if I linger more, then time will slow down? Who knows.
I'm enjoying a bit more enforced outdoor time though. A friend and I had lunch in a relatively new cafe this week, with tables outside on the pavement, and it was nice to be still eating outside near the end of September.
Today the sun is shining, but there's a stiff breeze and quite a nip in the air. Not exactly a day for lingering on a blanket with a book, but perhaps a day for a woolly jumper and wheelbarrowing a bit more hay? Maybe after another cup of tea...
Needless to say, I did not get done as much as I optimistically planned at the end of my July post. Is the kitchen ceiling finished? No. Is the French drain dug? No. Did I scythe the entire hay field? No. Did I plant out the hazel tree? Also no.
Still, the wheel of the year turns, and things happen sometimes with or without my involvement. Let's have a look through some photos, shall we?
The veg patch
I've largely ignored the veg patch this month except for a little light weeding, and yet we've still had a few harvests.
It's not all been success, mind you. Caterpillars have set up home in the kale, the sweetcorn hasn't pollinated, the entire cucumber plant is smaller than my hand, and now the pea frame has blown over in the wind.
Our one apple and one plum were lost to the high winds as well, so now the only remaining tree fruit is the damsons, which seem to be doing rather well (so far).
Still, the veg garden overall still looks pretty good, even after I (unwisely) let the chickens in for a bit of a treat.
I've harvested and dried some of that calendula, but haven't decided what to do with it yet. There are masses of seeds, so if you'd like some please do let me know and I'll send them out.
While I had the dehydrator out, I also dried some oregano, which I always forget about because I didn't plant it, and it's half hidden under a bush. I must crawl under and get some more, and think about what else I can dry. Lavender maybe, although I spotted three jars of lavender I'd dried in our old house so I really should get on the case making lavender bags or something if I'm going to dry any more.
Hay (or not)
I had great plans for scything the entire meadow and making a giant pile of hay in August. Sadly, those plans were foiled, mostly by the weather, and partly by them being rather unrealistic in the first place. Still, some hay was made, and a lot of soggy, damp grass cuttings were made too.
I've come to terms wit h the fact that the rest of what I've cut just isn't going to dry out, as the weather is too unstable. If I had a team of 15 able to rush out at the slightest hint of sunshine and turn it all over instantly, then it might, but I don't.
So I've decided that the rest will be cut and used for mulch - my priority is removing it from the field as I'm trying to restore a more wildlife-friendly habitat (which is my priority, more so than making hay). The edible windbreak is benefiting from the first round of mulch.
Not ideal, but then this little adventure of ours is all about trying out what's practical, not what's ideal, so here we are. And I'm certainly getting better with my scythe in the meantime.
Clearly I didn't finish the whole of the kitchen ceiling. I did make some progress though - I've started fitting battens to the joists and have put up one whole piece of insulation and plasterboard (which I now can't find a photograph of).
We decided last week that it would be easier to paint the joists before we put up the plasterboard, so everything was put on hold while we made decisions about that. I'm pleased to say our chosen wood oil has now turned up, and I'm hoping to at the very least get that painted on in September.
So there we are. Harvesting, hay, and the teensiest bit of DIY. I'm not making any great plans for September - it's the busiest time of my work year and it's quite likely I won't get much done at all. When I do get chance though, I'll be out scything the field, or inside painting the kitchen ceiling. I'm not planning anything more dramatic than that...
August has been a peculiar month. I've been off work for half of it, but it doesn't really feel like it. It's rained more than I'd like, and I've not achieved half as much as I feel I should have. As usual though, things have ticked on.
20 things mended (9/20)
Two things added this month - I've sewed up several holes in a pair of leggings, and de-moulded a pair of posh shoes.
19 letters written (12/19)
Two more letters this month, bringing the total to twelve this year. I've enjoyed writing letters, and even more enjoyed getting them back.
18 days without internet (5/18)
Two this month, and both within the last week - and I've felt much better for both of them. Yes, it's annoying not being able to look something up quickly, but I've enjoyed the feeling of having hours to spend outside or reading a book. Definitely going to plan for more of these. I don't find them easy, but they're very satisfying, and that's all the more reason to do them I think.
17 books read (achieved in March)
Still reading a lot - this is a great habit to have got back into.
16 household items or pieces of clothing made (13/16)
Well, I think we need a recount on this one, as my paper list and internet list are just not matching up. I'm counting multiple small things made at the same time (eg cleaning cloths) as just one item, but if I've made a second batch a couple of months later, that counts as a second item. I made six pairs of knickers at the start of the year, and it seems I counted them as one item on one list, and six items on the other list. Let's have a compromise - I made three different designs, so let's count them as three different items shall we?
1. hot water bottle cover
2. face flannels
3. cleaning cloths
5. different knickers
6. and more different knickers!
7. Peter's hat
8. cushion covers
10. cleaning cloths
11. drawstring bags for cleaning cloths
12. face masks
13. present bags
Ok, that seems like a reasonable compromise. The present bags were this month's addition - just simple drawstring bags to wrap Peter's birthday presents in. I made a sack to put Christmas presents in a few years ago, but I still wrapped everything individually. Each year I think it's a waste of paper, and each year (until now) I did nothing about it. Apparently I didn't even take a photograph but I'll do a separate post later.
15 meals with friends (achieved in August)
We've tipped over fifteen this month, which is very exciting! After such a long lull without seeing anyone, it's been so nice to have a flurry of visitors to our little garden. We've very much enjoyed cooking and eating outside with them all.
14 meals from home grown produce (2/14)
Now, I think I'm going to break my own rules on this, and change it to 'meals including a good proportion of home grown produce'. There are only so many kale omelettes a girl can eat, and I'm not that interested in eating 14 kale omelettes for the sake of being able to tell you that I did.
However, we have started harvesting this month, and I have had two meals which predominantly featured kale, chard and eggs - some cheese yes, but since I've not started producing that myself I'm still counting it as a win, especially as they were both finished off with muffins I made - one filled with blackcurrants and the other with our entire rhubarb harvest.
13 evening lectures (0/13)
Nope, still none. I keep putting them in my diary but not actually going back to watch them.
12 donations to the foodbank (6/12)
Another online donation. I never feel I want to linger long enough in the supermarket to collect things at the minute.
11 solo days out for me (1/11)
Yes, finally!! I went to Lyme Park last Monday and my goodness it was lovely. I can't imagine I'm going to make eleven solo days out this year, but a couple more would be nice. We'll see.
10 loaves of bread made (0/10)
No, still none. I'm just not eating that much bread at the minute.
9 bike rides (achieved in July)
Well, after all my fanfare and excitement about cycling in July, I've only been for one bike ride in August! One of my bikes needed a new wheel, the other had two punctures, and inertia stopped me dead. Still, one bike is now fixed, and I had a glorious ride down one of the old railway trails last week.
8 organised runs (2/8)
No. I very nearly booked onto an organised trail run, but wimped out at the last minute because I didn't know anyone else going. Most unlike me.
7 new places visited (3/7)
Two this month! Lyme Park, and Hilbre Island, which I walked to with my sister last week. I'm saying I've not been to either of these places - I have a vague feeling I might actually have been to both, but many, many years ago, and they didn't feel remotely familiar when I got there, so I'm counting them as new.
6 attempts at cheese making (0/6)
5 'No Quibble' weekends away (0/5)
No, and no.
4 pairs of socks made (0.5/4)
No pairs, although I have finished one whole sock now! Just need to cast on and knit the other one...
3 days volunteering (0/3)
2 LAND centres visited (1/2)
1 holiday (0/1)
No progress on any of these either.
Overall not too bad. One new thing achieved (meals with friends), two new things started (meals from own produce, and solo days out), and progress made on other things.
September is often a busy one at work for me, so I'm not anticipating I'll get much more done. The garden is producing steadily though, so there may be some progress there, and as the nights draw in maybe a bit more knitting will get done. Well see.
If you're new round here you might not realise I've been blogging for almost twelve years. Not all in the same place of course. My first blog, started in December 2008, was called Daffy's Garden, and ran until September 2011. I moved to A Cheerful Living Adventure, where I stayed until February 2015. Then I moved to Snippets of a Life, and then finally here in March 2018, just after we moved house.
I'm not sure why I've moved around so much. Part of it was changing blog platforms (from Blogger, to Wordpress, and now to Weebly), and partly just that I like a change of scenery and a bit of novelty.
I often look back on my old blogs, and it's nice to have a record of what I was doing day to day all those years ago. Some things are the same (gardening, knitting, reading, cafes, occasional running) and some have changed (chickens for a start).
I've been looking back recently and enjoying reading those ordinary everyday posts, and so yesterday I thought I'd track a whole day, like I sometimes used to do, so I can look back on it in the future.
Saturday started like most other days, going outside in my fluffy dressing gown and rigger boots to let the chickens out.
Back inside to do a HIIT workout with Joe Wicks.
After breakfast, we headed to a local market town for a quick sweep of the charity shops for the first time since lockdown. This used to be a favourite and very regular activity, but obviously it's not been possible lately. We went early, but not quite early enough, and some places just felt too busy. It was nice to be out with the sun shining though, and we had a bit of a wander round the town, which we also haven't done for months.
One of the cafes we like to go to was open, with a space near the window, so we nipped in for a cuppa.
It's hard to relax properly in a cafe when people are queuing nearby waiting for your table, but we did have an acceptable cup of tea and a bit of a read for twenty minutes.
Back home - I love the drive to this town as you have to cross this little bridge which has the stream running over it. It's about as adventurous as my driving gets.
We got home, made a cup of tea, and then I realised I had a couple of parcels to post. Yes, they could have waited, but they've been sitting around for long enough, so I nipped back out to the post office.
Home again, and the sun was still shining (which felt like a small miracle after the amount of rain we've had lately).
I spent an hour out in the garden, shifting damp hay to use as mulch on the windbreak and the raspberries, tidying up the compost area, and admiring the damsons.
Back inside for lunch, and a nice cup of tea.
And then back outside again - into the meadow this time. The hay I cut last week (or the week before?) has been lying getting more and more soggy, so I turned it all over to (hopefully) dry out a bit over the next couple of days.
While I was working, the farmer turned up to check on his cows (there was a calf born that morning in our fields, which I'd not seen), so we stood either side of this gate for a while and had a natter.
After that, I swapped the hay fork for the scythe, and cut another row of hay. I'm still going to be doing it at Christmas at the rate I'm going.
The chickens spotted me eventually, so I headed back inside - heading swiftly back out again to peg out the washing.
Back inside for another cuppa, and then a light rain started (of course!) so I got started on the next stage of DIY - drilling holes in the battens I cut the other day. Oh, and somehow my sister persuaded me to enter the virtual London marathon.
Half an hour of that, and it had stopped raining, and was time to shut the chickens in. I gave their house and run a good clean out first and replaced all their bedding and cleaned food bowls - somehow I didn't take a picture of that, but it wasn't exactly picturesque so you're not missing much.
Once they were safely in the run, I went for a wander round the veg garden to see what was ready to harvest. The peas had blown over in the wind, but I managed to pick some kale, chard, calendula and our first turnip.
The dehydrator hasn't had much use since we first bought it, so I thought I'd try drying calendula flowers (not sure what I'm going to make with them yet) and some oregano.
Finally I got round to making my tea (a kind of aubergine and tofu concoction).
After tea, I did the washing up, crumbled the dried oregano and removed the stalks ready to store, and chopped the kale and chard to put in the fridge - I'm far more likely to use it if it's all washed and prepared, rather than having to start washing and chopping when I'm hungry, and preparing last night means that today I can just throw it in a pan.
By that point it was after eight, and I was getting rather tired... I did have one last push of activity though - clearing up the mess from my chimney-sweeping exploits the other day, and trying to salvage these shoes. I bought them in Belgium years ago - I love them, but rarely wear them, and they'd been stuffed in a box and gone rather mouldy. I've wiped them over with white vinegar and we'll see what happens.
By that point it was almost nine, and I was fit for nothing other than a soak in the bath.
A long, productive and satisfying day. Notably, it was also an internet-free day, which does rather increase the time available if, like me, you have a tendency to run off down internet rabbit holes when you could be doing something more useful. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder of just how much I can get done when I turn the phone and the laptop off.
I enjoyed tracking my whole day - I used to do it quite often and I might start doing it again. I love to read what other people have been up to as well, so if you've done something similar please do post a link!
I've spent much of today staring at a slightly more rainy version of this view from the living room window. It's nearly September, which is one of my favourite times of year for plotting and scheming. There's a third of the year left, which gives a sense of hope that there's still time to achieve something, and it's the start of the new school year, which always gives me a sense of promise.
I'm in a pondering mood, and have been thinking about plans, both short and longer term. I don't think I really made any resolutions this year, so there's nothing concrete to look back on and try to make a final push of progress. I've got my 20 in 2020 lists of course, but that's more about cheerful little things I wanted to spend my time on, rather than big overall goals.
I usually do some planning towards the end of each month, and at the start of each year I create lists, split into categories (home, garden, health, money, for me, for us, and 'other'), and allocate goals to time points (within one month, within three months, within six months). I revisit these throughout the year, and often find myself shifting things down the categories when I haven't finished them.
Today I'm doing lots of pondering about these categories, and what the future might bring, and what I'd like it to bring, so I might as well share some of my ramblings here. Don't expect too much coherent thought...
This should really have been the main focus for this year, but for various reasons it hasn't been, and I'd like that to change. There are two elements: (1) DIY; and (2) general tidiness.
In relation to DIY, this has been our kitchen since the builders replaced our sagging, rotten joists at the end of last year.
We've become far too used to our temporary kitchen in another room, with a microwave, toaster, tiny oven, and two-ring induction hob. The sink is at the bottom of that small staircase in the left of the picture, and the temporary kitchen is at the top, so it's rather a nuisance to trek up and down to drain rice and do the washing up. Not enough of a nuisance that it's prompted us to do anything about fixing the kitchen though.
We paid for the builders to do the ceiling, but wisely or not, we're doing the rest ourselves. Or not doing the rest ourselves, as the case may be. There has been some progress this month - I've ordered everything we need to fit insulation and plasterboard in between the joists, and done an experimental section which I'm delighted to stay is still attached to the ceiling several days later.
I remembered that towards the end of doing our old house ready to sell it, I created a separate page on my blog where I listed what I'd done each day. You can see it here - it covers the last year before we sold the house, and looking back now I'm in awe of what I got done (that list was just things I did, not Peter) on top of a full time job.
I think I need some more of that energy and focus now, so I've created myself a new page on this blog to do the same thing. We don't have the same sense of urgency (we're not planning on moving again any time soon, if ever), but I would like at least a semi-functional kitchen by Christmas, even if it's not completely finished. We'll see.
The second aspect of home is day-to-day tidiness. I've always struggled with this. I'm not naturally tidy, but I do like living in a relatively tidy home - but having a building site in the middle of the house tends to make me feel like not bothering. We try to keep the living room/temporary kitchen/bathroom areas of the house clean and relatively tidy, and the room where I work, but other than that, things are rather a scruffy mess. Washing doesn't get put away, chicken bowls pile up and occasionally go mouldy, bottle recycling accumulates for months before being taken to the tip (I'm blaming lockdown for the most recent incarnation of that last one).
I don't really have anything wise to say about this. I've been re-reading Rhonda's blog about housework and homemaking and trying to rediscover the joy, and it does help. I seem to remember it was a lot easier (and more pleasant) to keep on top of things when our old house was finished and all our possessions were stored in the cellar. Hmm...
Garden and land
Oh I have so many things to say about this! So many plans! So many overwhelming plans! Fencing in an area to use as a veg patch this year was a great idea, and it has gladdened my heart to see at least one area kept relatively tidy and productive. I've not harvested much though, and I'm thinking a lot about what to grow next year that (a) is more likely to grow well (no more sweetcorn) and (b) that we actually want to eat (so perhaps fewer turnips).
The chickens have been both a worry and a delight these past few months. The new ones are finally settling in, and they're all starting to behave like a coherent flock. Bessie's feathers have grown back, but now Rusty is limping after I stood on her foot when she sneaked up behind me as I was getting the shopping out of the car. Sigh.
Their run now has a roof, but it's not had the weather-proofing effect we'd hoped for, so that's another project that will have to be rejigged at some point. Still, it's safe and warm and relatively dry in there so that's a start.
Peter's garden shelter has been a fantastic thing during lockdown, and since we've been allowed visitors we've had plenty of them, and been able to keep them all outside (good job, given the state of the house). It's pretty robust, but it's not likely to last the winter, so we're thinking about how we could make something similar but more permanent for next year.
As for the rest of the land, well my head spins when I try to think about it. I've been scything the hay meadow, half an hour at a time, and was hoping to get it finished in these two weeks I've had off work, but it's felt like it's rained all the time so I've got barely any done. Dry stone walls fall down every time I look at them, and there are various gaps that need fixing in the coming months.
One cheerful thing that I don't think I've mentioned here is that I've been in touch with a few people, and it looks like we might be able to get someone to plant an area of woodland in a couple of our fields. This is extremely exciting (not least because we wouldn't have to pay for it, or do any of the planting). It's brought up lots of unsettling feelings about land management though, and whether I feel like I'm 'allowed' to make decisions about what we do here (I'd happily make decisions about a garden, so why does a field feel different?) Again, lots to think about, and plenty to do.
Health and exercise
This is a category I've always struggled with, and it will probably only get worse as I get older. I've got a proper sweet tooth, and have put on a good three stone in the last five or so years, which I'm not particularly happy about. I've done plenty of cycling lately, but I miss walking to work and wandering round the city which used to keep a background level of fitness which I no longer have. I've joined the Joe Wicks bandwagon and am enjoying cooking a bit more healthily so we'll see how that goes.
Hmm, another category that makes my head spin. I've been looking back on old blog posts I've written about being thrifty, making things, saving money, and realising I've stopped doing a lot of things that I used to take for granted.
I have mixed feelings about money. I've spent most of my life without much of it, and the last few years earning more than I feel I deserve (although very much in line with others in my profession). There are two interesting calculators that I might recommend you have a go of. This is the global average salary scale - apparently I earn over 350% of the global average. Then the UK Institute for Fiscal Studies has a tool to work out where, as a household, you fit in terms of average UK income - we are in the top 30%.
This doesn't come as a surprise, of course. I'm not one of those people who feels 'poor' despite evidence to the contrary, and have spent enough of my life counting pennies to now count my blessings that I no longer have to.
I do still have a rather thrifty gene though, and while I do spend on things that aren't necessary, I also begrudge spending on things I could easily make myself or find cheaper second hand.
I suppose all this boils down to spending (and saving) in line with your values. So my house is full of charity shop finds rather than new clothes, mismatched bowls rather than matching kitchen appliances. We rarely eat in restaurants, or go to the pub, but we do spend a lot of time in our local cafe. And of course we've moved out to this ludicrous house (which we could only afford because of past thriftiness, an expensive 25 year mortgage, and because so much work needed doing to it), and now we're here we're doing much of the work ourselves.
I don't really know what I'm waffling on about here. We have another 23 years left on this mortgage and to me, right now, that feels far too long. I'm hatching a plot to see where we can cut back on our current spendiness to see if we can get rid of the mortgage a few years earlier. Watch this space.
Anyway, this has turned into rather more of a waffle than I'd intended, and I don't know whether I've got any further along in my thinking. But these are the things that have been whirling round in my head as I've been sitting here this afternoon, pondering what the rest of the year will bring, and how I want to spend my time. It looks like there'll be more DIY in my future at least, and probably less baking. We'll see.
This week has been a veritable flurry of activity and adventure. First of all I took myself off on a solo adventure to Lyme Park, after spotted it on a road sign last week and realising it wasn't actually as far away as I thought.
Only a small part of the house is open, so it only took about twenty minutes to walk through, and I spent most of my time out in the gardens, and wandering about through the grounds.
I confess I can never quite enjoy these places as much as some people can - my mind always goes to the unfathomable levels of wealth it would have taken to build (and where that wealth came from), the sheer number of people who would have been servants (or worse), and the general inequality that lets some people live like this and others very much not.
I did spend most of the day there though, wandering around the herbaceous borders and up through the woodland.
Yesterday I had a very different type of day out - an impromptu visit to my sister. We'd booked both a 10k race and a half marathon this year, and of course both were postponed, and later cancelled, and we missed the opportunity to ramble about the countryside for a few hours putting the world to rights. Then it dawned on us - why not do that without a race?
We walked out to Hilbre Island, and it was more seaside than countryside, but it did the trick, and the sun even came out eventually, and our mum met us for lunch in a little cafe by the beach.
I don't get to see the sea very often so this was just the thing I needed.
Today has been different again - a friend and I went to the gardens at Chatsworth. I didn't think I'd been before, but it turns out I have, probably about 17 years ago.
We were more interested in the kitchen gardens, and cottage gardens, so we headed there first, and weren't disappointed.
What a huge number of gardeners it must take to keep this lot in check! I can barely keep up with my tiny veg patch. I confess I was secretly pleased to see their kale had caterpillars too....
I definitely had shed envy on the way round.
I was interested to see they were growing ginger, which I'd always thought needed more heat. I think it was quite sheltered there, but it gave me hope for starting my own ginger experiment in the future.
We both came back with plenty of ideas for our own gardens (some of which might even be implemented).
The rest of the gardens weren't quite so interesting (to us, anyway), but we did manage to lose nearly four hours in there, as there was plenty to look at.
Again, the sheer unfathomable wealth to be able to pay someone to design your garden to fit with the landscape - and to be able to shape the landscape because you own that too was quite mind-bending.
There were a few other ideas we came away with - less on the scale of a massive fountain, and more like making a fence from old branches.
We brought ourselves back down to earth with a cuppa at Cauldwell's Mill on the way home.
It started to rain while we were in the cafe, and hasn't really stopped since, so I think we timed our visit pretty well.
I've been underlyingly grumpy this week, for no good reason. It's been really windy, which I always find unsettling, and I've had a sense of my days slipping away without me really doing very much.
I'm trying to pin them down, to be more deliberate, to at least create a record of what I've done so I can look back and remember.
Thursday was pretty cheerful. We started with a cuppa in our favourite cafe, and then I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the garden shelter, plotting and scheming. It was windy outside, but not in the shelter itself.
The chickens sat with me for a while - they can be pretty settled and restful when there isn't food on offer.
Thursday was also the day I finally got round to weeding the veg patch - with the chickens patrolling the perimeter looking (unsuccessfully) for a way in. I'd been pretty pleased with the lack of slug damage so far, but this last week the kale has been full of caterpillars.
Any illusions I had about the chickens acting as pest control were shattered when they wouldn't even eat a caterpillar that was plonked directly under their beaks.
Thursday was also the day I harvested some veg!
Not much, just kale, chard and a few peas, which I cooked up later with a massive risotto.
I've been slowly shifting my 'hay sponge' onto the edible windbreak to use as mulch, so I did some more of that on Thursday too.
The garden (or at least the veg patch) was looking pretty tidy by the end of the day.
Friday was quite different. I woke up in a bad mood, and grumped myself into an even worse one by stomping around trying to tidy up the house. Eventually it was 'suggested' that I meet a friend, and so we had lunch in a cafe near her house, and it was most cheerful indeed.
We managed to lose our only set of keys for one of the cars (it seems we may have thrown them out with the recycling), and then later in the evening there was a power cut as I was trying to cook my tea.
Written down in the cold light of a new day these things don't seem so bad, but they piled up on one another and by the end of Friday I was Quite Fed Up.
Fortunately, sanity has been restored this morning, as a lovely locksmith-magician turned up and created a new key out of thin air, and a spare for both cars (and a spare for what I thought was a front door key, but which apparently isn't).
I've been pottering outside today, but the weather is a mix of sunshine and showers and I keep having to dash back inside. I did stay out long enough to find some windfalls though - half of our apple crop and all of our plums (er, one). Sad casualties to the weather.
I'm never gloomy for long though. This afternoon I'm off to meet some friends for a cuppa in a place I've not been to for years, and later we have a friend coming to camp in the garden. I've got some adventures planned for next week, and it's nice to have something specific to look forward to. All good.
Yes, I'm off work again, for a fortnight this time, and I should have timed it better, as we've been basking in sunshine while I was at work, and then having torrential downpours the minute I was off.
Still, it's been a good excuse to get a bit of knitting done, and I'm delighted to report that I've now finished my sock.
It's always a bit of a deflating moment finishing a sock - cheerful, because you've finished - but of course it's rather useless unless you do the whole thing again to make a second sock.
It's Thursday already, and my holiday feels like it's running away with me. I do like an at-home holiday, but I often feel the need to pin down my days, document what I've done, or it all blurs into one and I go back to work feeling like I never left.
We've had plenty of visitors recently - one set the weekend before I was off, another who stayed Thursday to Saturday, camping in the garden, and yet another set on Saturday afternoon. Two lots of visitors brought hammocks, and I think a hammock might just be on my things-to-acquire list.
We've spent lots of time knocking about in the garden shelter, which has been such a success we're working out how we can recreate it in a slightly less ad hoc way for next year.
I spent a day editing a video for a voluntary project, and where did Tuesday go? A nice leisurely trip to the cafe, and some hay making, and a little trip to a local town for supplies. The sun shone and I lingered for a while by the river.
Yesterday we were up early, and got takeaway tea and sat by a canal for a while, but then it rained and rained when we got home, and I spent the day cooking things for the freezer, and finishing my knitting.
Yesterday I also made a start on the DIY - about time really, as we've been without a kitchen for almost ten months.
And today? Today the sun is shining, and I'm trying to spend a fair bit of the day outside, although it's quite breezy out there too. I've got a list of garden things I want to do, and it would be nice to spend some time just sitting around out there before it starts raining again.
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new foray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.