Friday Afternoon

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Ever felt like you were being watched?

Ah, Friday afternoons. When I have been on contract, this was often a time that I was sat on a train/on a bench in a railway station waiting for a train/in a car on the motorway heading home after a week away from home. I was filled with the anticipation of reaching my destination station/actually getting on a train in the first place/reaching the end of the hundred miles of traffic cones, and the satisfaction of a week, clearly defined, being at an end. The weekend started there. Well, eventually, when the train arrived or the motorway ran out and I found myself on the small back roads that led home.

More recently, I have worked from home (because writing a novel IS working, I tell myself) which means that Friday afternoons don’t have quite the same air of satisfaction to them.

This Friday afternoon, I have that air back: I cleared a raised bed and accidentally harvested some potatoes and a chilli, all under the watchful eyes of Sam.

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Definitely being watched

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Bed cleared, Sam taking the credit

Time for a cup of tea and a ponder about my next pallet project. And before too long it will be the witching hour, and by that I mean 6 o’clock and time to answer the question of which wine to open.

Friday afternoons – don’t you just love ’em?

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Surprise Harvest

oOo

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Categories: gardening, General silliness, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Fistibeaks

Robins can be very territorial, and the one who lives in our garden is no exception. This defence of his realm took less than a second. Fortunately, there was no blood.

Not this time anyway.

oOo

Categories: birds, gardening, wildlife | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Scythe o’ the Times

 

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My scythe doing a very bad impression of a guitar

At the end of August, I went a one-day course to learn the noble, ancient and fantastically sensible art of scything. I thought I would give it a go, with no real reason other than to see if I liked it or not (and indeed could actually do it).

Many years ago, I learnt some Tai Chi and I was surprised to discover that scything is very similar in terms of how you shift your weight from one side to the other and allow the momentum of the blade to do most of the work. Once you have the hang of it, scything doesn’t make your joints ache!

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The vegetation is definitely shorter in the bit I attacked, er, scythed

Turns out I did really enjoy scything. So much so, I bought a scything kit at the end of the day. Now, I thought, I can practise at Denmark Farm, helping to maintain the meadows there.

Two months later, I managed to find time to give it a go!

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Honest, there are some windrows in there somewhere…

I manged to scythe an area of approximately 23.75 m2 in just under an hour and a quarter, which included setting the blade angles up initially, and sharpening as I went along.

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Heap o’ grass

People using a strimmer, particularly a petrol-driven one, have to wear ear defenders and usually have an MP3 player too. I did think about listening to some tunes while I scythed but then thought, no, that didn’t feel as if it ought to be part of the experience. So I listened to the swish of the scythe, my (occasional) swearing as I swung the blade incorrectly into the ground, and the glorious sounds of Denmark Farm on an autumn morning with the cries of a kite overhead and the sound of Roesel’s bush-crickets from the field just over the hedge. No mechanical sound, no smell of petrol, no having to stop and remove debris and clumps of wet grass from the blade – bliss!

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Honest, the bit to the left has been cut

My scything teacher told us that a council (it remained unnamed) had trained a number of its land maintenance workers to us a scythe instead of petrol strimmers, for cutting verges by roads. After 6 months, they decided they would train everyone as it was as fast as strimmers, and cheaper. There were also health benefits, mental and physical. How great would it be if every council did that? And, come to think about it, that person who decides to cut their lawn at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning?

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Blade cleaned, everything ready to be packed up, then off for some coffee!

oOo

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff, volunteering, wildlife | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Then there was the rain…

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It has been a while since I posted here. I’m pretty sure that time does not run at a constant rate and is sensitive to diverse things such as temperature, happiness and percentage of blood in your alcohol (or vice versa).

Here in the UK we have officially had a heatwave, being 5 consecutive days of temperatures in excess of 5°C of the average for that day. Certainly one day was very hot for us, causing our dogs to almost melt. Good job they’re not chocolate*!

For inspiration, I walked around my writing office at Denmark Farm the other day, shortly after cooling rain had made it seem more like a normal British summer. The rain drops on the leaves and petals were too magnificent to ignore. So here they are…

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oOo

  • If they were, I probably would have eaten them by now anyway…

 

Categories: camera, gardening, wildlife, Writing | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Somebody to Cove

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Replacement Front for Darth Vader’s face mask

 

For me, coving is as necessary as allowing fish to take part in the Tour de France. So, you can imagine my delight when the piece above the fireplace decided that it really wanted to visit the carpet, via the top of the fire. Sadly, the trip was too much for it and it went to pieces. About a million of them. Some of those bits are now decomposing in a raised bed. They can be squash plants in a year or two’s time.

Surprisingly, it turned out that thesnailofhappiness’s Mum had three lengths of coving in her barn. More surprisingly still, she also had a Cove Mitre which I later learnt was a really useful thing and not a piece of headgear for a pope to wear on DIY Sunday, which is probably a festival in some sects. Papa Snail had, apparently, coved (that must be the verb) their previous house and I believe that such coving was not the reason they moved out, so he must’ve been good at it.

It took me a while to figure out how to use the Cove Mitre – actually thesnailofhappiness worked it out while I swore – but cutting the coving was quick and easy. Sticking it up would have been too, if the glue had had the quality you expect of glue, you know, stickiness – but some panel pins held the coving in place while the glue thought about what it should be doing.

Eh voila! Coving up and waiting to be painted. And I thought afterwards how not only did Papa Snail make a snailofhappiness for me to love, but also gave me a Cove Mitre and two and a half metres of coving. That’s quite a debt I owe him!

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All my Coving

oOo

 

Categories: repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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