When we first moved into our new house, there was no path to the door. You had to walk across the lawn, and since we moved in at the end of February, and were quickly faced with the worst snow in recent history, the lawn rapidly turned into a sea of mud.
One day me and my mum threw down a load of stones (you can see the initial effort here), and for nearly two years they've been sinking into the grass and being less and less effective.
Not exactly helpful for getting from house to car on the way to work without getting covered in mud.
Finally, after the new year, fixing the path got to the top of the to-do list, and I dug up the stones (with the help of the chickens, of course) and started to find replacements.
We've attempted to lay them properly this time, with sand and gravel underneath, in the hope that they won't sink quite so quickly into the grass.
We've made the new path a bit wider too - we don't have an outside light and often have to navigate it in the dark, so having a bit more space makes things easier.
Finally we finished, and while we probably won't win any design awards, the new path keeps our feet clean (ish) and has the beaky seal of approval.
This has been a nice little project. It didn't last forever, and it's made a significant improvement to our daily activities. We did buy a couple of bags of sand and gravel (total cost less than £10) but we're fortunate to have a lot of this type of stone lying around - if we hadn't, we would have used something else.
It's felt good to be outside again too. It wasn't exactly warm (although it's bordering on being warm today!) but, importantly, it wasn't raining. That's a pretty exciting state of affairs round here at the minute.
I'm told it won't be raining for the whole of this week, so as soon as I've finished this tea I'm heading back outside to see what other jobs I can get on with. First up is cleaning the living room windows - now the sun is shining I can see just how filthy they are.
Does that count as spring cleaning??
If you asked me my favourite season I'd usually tell you it was autumn. Not this year though. This year autumn is filled with torrential rain and mud.
My favourite wellies sprung a leak, and I've done an experimental repair with Sugru. You can see where it's a more shiny yellow across the front. So far they're holding up well.
I've been trying to throw myself into the season, and a couple of weeks ago a friend and I visited a little local autumnal event, which was most jolly.
We have had the occasional glimpse of sunshine between downpours.
But the sun never seems to last long before it starts raining again.
Yesterday I'd arranged to meet a friend in a local cafe, and I was determined to walk there. I've been spending so much time either indoors or driving that I felt the need to move. There was a brief break in the showers, and I togged up as much as I could and set off.
Hmm, that's a small river running through one of our fields.
I did get a bit wet, but the overriding feeling was one of greyness. I took these pictures at lunchtime, and look how dark it is!
There was water everywhere, of course, and I was glad my wellies were holding up.
The sun did come out eventually (for about five minutes), and we had lunch in the cafe and then a jolly afternoon putting the world to rights over a nice cup of tea. Maybe autumn's not so bad after all.
How is it nearly the middle of December already? The weeks are running away with me. I often say that, but this autumn has been a whirlwind, mostly of work. My schedule usually allows for a fair bit of time working at home, but the last two or three months I've had to head into the city every single day. Not ideal.
There has still been a bit of time at weekends to potter around in the garden with the chickens.
The weather has taken a decided turn for the worse in the last couple of weeks. Cold and rainy and windy, and the chickens are not impressed. We've fortified their coop as best we can and it looks ridiculous.
The chickens themselves look quite ridiculous too, as they're currently moulting and soggy rather a lot of the time which makes them look pretty bedraggled.
They seem happy enough (when it's not raining), and have plenty of shelter in their run, so I'm sure they'll be ok.
They do like to join in with whatever we're doing in the garden - this is Hermione 'helping' to rake some leaves.
They're still not much good at dry stone walling though.
The sun finally came out this morning, but I confess it was still quite cold and I've been watching the cheerful weather from the sofa.
I really must clean the windows...
I did take a little trip out briefly this morning, and the stream was up and running over the bridge again - there's been a lot of rain lately.
The rain is set to start again this afternoon. I want to clean the chicken house out before then, and by the look of the sky I've not got much time. I also need to do some washing, order some Christmas presents, and we might even put the tree up. Then I think crochet and a nice film is in order.
Today was the first non-snowy day without visitors for a while, so I finally retrieved my bike from the garage, pumped the tyres up, and set off for a cycle down one of the old railway trails that criss cross the national park.
I used to do this fairly regularly before, but they're a lot closer to home now. Our old house was on top of a hill and surrounded by city roads, and our new one is perched on the side of a hill surrounded by narrow roads with windy bends, and on the whole I prefer my leisure cycling to be flatter and involve a lot of stopping to take photographs.
I did question the wisdom of choosing today for a bike ride. It was raining all morning, and I squelched about the garden as I got my bike ready. But there was a brief break in the clouds which convinced me that it might not rain all afternoon, and I set off (clad in plenty of waterproofs).
The sky was at least a little more interesting than the blank dull grey that it's been recently. I do like to see scudding clouds (although I prefer little fluffy white ones scudding across a blue sky). There was a lot of water on the trail too, and at times it was like I was cycling through a river.
Needless to say, between the rain coming down, and the puddles coming up, I was drenched. I don't actually mind being drenched on a bike ride, as long as I can dry off and get warm straight after, but this was quite ridiculous. Even after removing my (supposedly) waterproof walking boots and two pairs of socks, my feet were still leaving wet footprints on the floor.
I'm quite pleased I lasted for 11 miles. I've not been on a bike for months, and while this was flat, it was also quite hard going with the rain and the wind and the puddles. I was quite pleased to get home and dry though, and gained a new appreciation for the rain when I spotted this double rainbow behind the house.
Rainbows aside, I'd quite like things to dry up a bit soon. Between the rain and the snow, and our many visitors with their extra cars, we've ended up with quite a churned up moat outside our front gate. I'm very grateful for my wellies right now.
Today was the first day I've been at home in the daylight since the snow melted. As there was a brief period between showers, I thought I'd get out for a wander round the fields (I confess, I was actually trying to work out exactly which ones were ours).
I was quite glad of my wellies, although I nearly lost them at one point.
I think we've bought some kind of swamp. I think it's partly because of the amount of snow we've had lately, but I also remember this field in particular being pretty soggy when we first saw the house in August.
The gateways are the worst, particularly in the fields the neighbouring farmer's cows have been in, and in several places there were little streams running down the hill.
I'm (apparently) in charge of 'outside' here, and so dealing with all this water is my job. I'll be doing a fair bit of reading in the coming weeks.
I've made a small start...
This is our main route into the house, and it's been getting muddier all week as the snow has melted. Peter had made a path up to the front door using some old roof slates from our falling down barn, but the entrance itself was still rather damp.
We pulled some more roof slates from the rubble, and I made an extra bit of path from the drive. At some point we'll join the two sections up.
While I was out, I spotted a pile of hardcore, and made a start on filling in our biggest pothole. It was a slow start, as we don't currently have a wheelbarrow, so I was filling one spade at a time, and our friends arrived before I'd finished. Felt good to make a start though.
Now the snow has gone, I can see the drive is lined with daffodils, and we've found a clump of snowdrops at the end of the footpath. Can't wait to see what else appears in the coming months.
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.