The weather round here lately has been rotten. Soggy and grey, with a nice bit of freezing rain thrown in for good measure.
I don't remember having experienced freezing rain before. It freezes pretty much as soon as it lands, meaning ever-growing icicles, sheet ice pavements, and cars that seem to have been entirely dipped in glass.
Not pleasant, but fortunately short-lived, and back to normal rain plus early morning fog, which I'm slowly getting used to driving to work in.
We did have a bit of sunshine at the weekend, although I've had a rotten cold all week and couldn't really appreciate it. I did get outside for an hour though and tried to do something with the tatty flower bed in the front garden.
This bit of the garden is strange, as there's actually not really much soil. The area under the grass is asphalt, all the way up to the house. The 'lawn' is just what would grow down the middle of your drive if you didn't walk on it for a while - the soil underneath is about an inch deep. The bottom terrace is just filled with stones, and the top one only has a few inches of soil.
I'm not sure what my plans are for this space next year - it already has ferns, roses, a few herbs and some flowers so it may just get left as it is for another year. But it's had a bit of a tidy up in the meantime (no 'after' pictures as I got too cold and went back inside and it's still not quite finished).
The chicken enjoyed marauding round while I was out there pottering.
It's quite difficult to get a decent photograph of them as they move around so much. They're slowly regrowing their feathers, and have created a nice little dust bathing area in a corner of the garden. Of course it's more mud than dust at this time of year, so they generally look a bit grubby.
In other garden news, some more of the barn fell down last week.
Fortunately we weren't anywhere near it (and have been steering clear for a while as it looked like it was about to fall). Such a shame, but without complete rebuilding at this stage I'm not sure what else we can do other than let it fall.
Walls have been coming down inside too - deliberately this time (thank goodness). Our kitchen is finally one room made from two, and while there is still a long way to go, it's pretty exciting to have a table in there (a ludicrously enormous table, but it's solid oak and beautiful and was free and who am I to say no?)
There's a lot of work still to do, but it won't be done before Christmas. Very little will be done before Christmas, in fact, as I'm full of cold and feeling rather sorry for myself. I've hardly bought any presents, and have made barely any plans (other than another attempt at an ultra marathon on Thursday 27th - how did that happen?)
Hey ho. The Christmas tree is up, although I have so far failed to take a decent photograph of it. I've booked a fortnight off work, which I am VERY ready for. Some of my fruit trees have arrived, which means I'll be out with a spade, probably on Christmas day at the rate I'm going. And I've already started thinking about plotting and scheming for next year - my favourite thing to do over this wintry fortnight. Especially now I can sit at my new kitchen table to do it.
Yesterday was lovely, a brief respite in a week of gloom and perpetual mist (which has descended again today). I was delighted, and spent most of the day outside, rebuilding the greenhouse.
The frame itself was still mostly intact - a few poles had come out of their sockets, and I had to fix one of the connectors with some electrical tape, but that didn't take long. The frame is so light I can move the whole thing myself standing inside it, which makes it easy to find the right position.
It's not too far from where it was before, but is a bit more protected from the prevailing wind by that dry stone wall. Of course, the wall itself is a source of potential danger - if you look carefully you can see part of it has collapsed a bit further back. I left enough space so that another collapse wouldn't actually hit the greenhouse (hopefully...), and plan to rebuild that entire section of wall soon anyway.
I wanted to make the foundations somewhat more secure, so I dug them into the ground.
Looking at the pictures, I'm not sure I've left enough space by the wall after all... although it seemed like plenty when I was out there. I'm not moving it again, so it'll have to take its chances.
It was actually quite warm yesterday, and I'm full of cold, so I kept breaking off my digging to have a sit down. I'm very much appreciating that folding stool/kneeler that I picked up in a charity shop before we moved. At one point I decided it would be fun to get the storm kettle out to make a cup of tea outside.
I managed it eventually, but it took about five times longer than just going into the kitchen (and I had to go back into the kitchen several times anyway, for tea bags, milk, and a mug, and then matches to replace the useless lighter, and then some dry kindling, as everything outside was too wet. Good job there wasn't really a storm...
Eventually the foundations were ready, and the greenhouse moved into place, tent pegs hammered in round the frame, and the turf put back upside down.
I'm hoping the turf will all compost down nicely and be a nice crumbly soil to plant some tomatoes in.
The plastic cover had acquired a few tears in the previous incident, and I had to sew a couple of the tags back on.
It was ready eventually though, and, having made a muddy mess out of the grass down the middle, I raided the outbuilding we demolished recently (I use the term 'we' very loosely) to start making a path.
Finally I weighed down the cover with breeze blocks, and I hope all that will be enough to keep it in place.
Of course, because I've dug it into the ground, the door is now lower, and I have to duck to get in, which is rather irritating - I'm quite short and not at all used to having to duck. I think I'll dig myself a step or a little ramp.
I didn't actually plant any seeds yesterday. Instead, I stayed outside in the sunshine, and started dismantling the collapsed wall ready for a rebuild. I've been reading a book about dry stone walling (and trying to remember the course I went on about twenty years ago). You're meant to lay out the different types of stones in different places so you can see what you've got to work with.
I got tired after a while. I'd been out for hours, and my sniffly cold was taking its toll, and there are an awful lot of stones to shift. Once the sun dipped below the horizon I finally packed up my tools and went back inside.
I was hoping to get my seeds planted today, but it's been so gloomy and drizzly that I only ventured as far as the car for a little trip to the cafe for pancakes.
I'm working at home tomorrow though, which means I'll have plenty of time before and after work to potter about. Good job, as I've spent most of today sitting down reading a book.
We've had a lot of visitors this week. I've been off work, and it's been the Easter weekend, and in the last three days we've had an assortment of children, grown ups and dogs running around the place. Some visitors even offered to do some work, and we've had two trips to the tip, potholes filled in, a path laid, and an outbuilding demolished.
I managed to put up a temporary greenhouse, with the hopeful vision of one day being able to plant some vegetables. New greenhouses are so very expensive, and while they do come up on Freegle fairly regularly, I wanted to get going this week so we bought a plastic one to use temporarily. I can actually pick this one up on my own while it's fully constructed, so it should be pretty easy to move to a new site if necessary. It does feel like it sticks out a bit where it currently is, but it was the best placement in terms of sunshine so I'm going to leave it for a bit to see how it feels.
I've not actually managed to sow anything yet, as since I built it we've had visitors every day (and they've mostly been helping with heavy duty tasks), and now it's snowing again. Still, I suppose its not snowing inside the greenhouse, so I should really stop making excuses.
We were meant to have another visitor today, but the buses were cancelled, so instead we donned wellies and not-quite-enough waterproofs and went for a stroll round the block.
I think this is going to be a lovely little route of a summer evening, but today it was just cold, wet, and uneven, with a grey sky making the normally spectacular view seem a bit flat.
I'd love to say we came home to these Baileys cheesecake chocolates that my mum made, but sadly we finished them yesterday so it was just a cup of tea and a biscuit.
The mist has descended again and we can barely see past the end of the garden now, so it's definitely a day for inside tasks. I've unpacked all my gardening books, so I need to read up on what to plant when, and I promised myself when I moved I'd do some more baking and batch cooking. I repotted my houseplants, so I need to find new homes for them, and there's always a bit more unpacking to do...
We have a selection of outbuildings here, in various states of repair - some more usable than others. Straight out of the back door is this coal shed, sturdy enough but might need a bit of patching up, feels like it's been there for hundreds of years. On the right is one of two unpicturesque corrugated tin garages - this one in a decent state and the other one falling down all by itself.
Attached to the coal shed is this breeze block extension, which has an outside tap and electricity, but is incredibly ugly and directly blocks a view from a window.
When we first viewed the house there were three freezers of rotten meat in here, which took forever to get rid of, so my associations with this space are grim, and I wouldn't be remotely sad to see it go.
Next is this lean to, feels cheery inside but looks a bit unsightly outside, and as the wall it's attached to looks likely to collapse at any minute, it's going to have to go.
This is my favourite - every time we visited the house when we were trying to buy it, it had fallen down a little bit more, and now can barely be described as a building.
The local farmer reckons we may be able to get a grant to rebuild it, but we're not so sure we want to. We could put that material to good use in other projects, and have no use for a barn or cow shed. We'll see, but right now our thoughts are drifting to letting it fall down gracefully (or perhaps getting someone in with a digger to give it a bit of a nudge).
The final one is the most useful.
The breeze block pig sheds (we think) at the front will go, but the building itself is pretty sturdy, so we'll clean it out and use it as a workshop. It's big enough to get tools and even machinery in, and the views from the windows are spectacular.
Reading back it sounds as though we're planning to pull most of them down. That wasn't our plan, but a couple of them are in such a bad state that spending time and money on repairing them when we don't actually need them seems a bit unnecessary.
I am planning on adding a new 'outbuilding' though - a greenhouse. I plan to grow most of our veg and as much of our fruit as I can so I'll need to get an early start...
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.