blackberry444: (Default)
It's been a lovely warm day again today and mostly sunny. Yesterday was lovely too;  it makes me feel it must be Summer!

John and I sat in the yard with our coffee, he with his newspaper and I with my book.  Suddenly there was a terrible commotion and I looked up to see Morgan running along the top of the wall like greased lightning after a poor little blue tit.  The tit eventually managed to fly away and I thought Morgan was going to launch himself from the wall after it.  Other birds in the willow tree on the other side of the back lane were twittering and getting very agitated and I was rather afraid that my naughty Tootles was going to get himself mobbed by angry starlings, which happened to Phoebe once when she was minding her own business on my windowsill.  He jumped down and hid under the table until the commotion died down.

Charles was up early today, all without my intervention;  I wish it meant his sleep patterns were going to return to normal, but we had a week or so at Christmas when he became more or less "normal";   it didn't last.

He had the results of his City & Guilds IT exams the other day;  two Distinctions !!.  He didn't even bother to do any revision, but he does have almost-but-not-quite photographic memory, especially for things he's interested in, and, of course, he did do an IT course at Skool, although doubtless everything's changed since then.  We've decided that he must go back and do the next bit of the course, even though he will have to pay for it, since more funding is not forthcoming.  If all three of us chip in, he should be able to start again in September.

Today we went to the garden centre and I got BOGOF bedding plants, mostly petunias and lobelia, which I shall use in my hanging baskets.  (Only allowed four per voucher, though!)  I got a really cheap bent bamboo frame thingy to grow the clematis over, so I've bought another of those incredibly cheap earthenware pots and I shall put the clematis in there, then I won't need to use the trellis for it and it won't have to go right up against the wall, which I think helps the slimies get to it.  I actually found a snail asleep in the pot today when I moved it.    Cheeky hooter!! That snail quickly found himself out on the back lane after a short flight through the air.

I also bought a new type of pelargonium which looks as though it's made from red velvet.  I bought some more runner beans as well.  If they all do well, we shall get sick of them, or of course, I could freeze them.  I don't really think I ever could get tired of runner beans.  After a brief tussle with myself involving such thoughts as "What about the gas bill?"  I bought a vast hanging pot of strawberry plants with several plump strawberries on the brink of being ripe, but I shall have to remember to look out some old net curtain to put over them tomorrow, otherwise the birds will eat them before I can.  I bought a couple of other plants which I can't remember at the moment... some sort of daisy thing and something else.

Almost as soon as we'd had a reviving cup of tea out in the yard, it started to rain, so nothing got planted today.  The forecast for tomorrow is dire, but from Thursday onwards, the weather is meant to improve again.  I need to have a blitz on this room in any case.  When I was trying to fish my new-ish slippers out from under the TV stand, I found enough cat hair to knit a cardigan!

blackberry444: (Default)
What a lovely day I've had!  I've spent the entire day in the yard doing nothing but drinking coffee/alcohol and reading a book.  I can't remember the last time I spent the entire day sitting in the sun reading!

It's been really warm in the sun, but not too hot;  there was a brilliantly blue sky, with those teeny fluffy clouds which disappear to nothing, and a gentle breeze to stop it all getting too hot.  It was so lovely sitting out there all day!

I had quite a few jobs I could have been getting on with out there, but after a good night's sleep for once, I just felt that I'd like to relax in the sun, like a cat.  They all spent most of the day out there with me, too.

I got John to put up a bracket on the west-facing wall, which gets sunshine for a lot of the day and planted a hanging basket with my tomato seedlings;  they are a special kind of cherry tomato which likes growing in hanging baskets.  If they thrive, I rather fancy having a riot of tiny tomatoes hanging
down;  they would look really ornamental, and I could just reach out and pluck a couple to have with my lunchtime sandwich!  We'll see!!

I had to keep inspecting the white rosebud which is threatening to burst into bloom, and the red carnation as well, but it didn't make them inclined to flower any sooner.

The only downer I've had today is finding that the slugs'n'snails had been feasting on my clematis, which has made me rethink the position I'm going to put it in.  For some reason or other that particular planter seems to be a magnet for the horrid slimy little things and this will be the fourth year they've ruined the stuff in that trough if I plant the clematis there.  The only trouble is that that is where I stupidly put the trellis up.  I've tried sweet peas two years running, which were eaten before they even came out, I tried runner beans and the same thing happened and this year they've already eaten chunks of clematis flower and a whole bud which hadn't even opened yet, leaving just a frill of petal around the stamens and pistils.  And I haven't even transplanted it yet,  it's still in its original pot!  I think I might go and get another of the lovely cheap large pots I got for the dwarf acer, and rig up some bamboo sticks for it to twine around until I decide finally what to do.  I wouldn't mind so much if I hadn't spent a fortune on copper strip to go round the top and the bottom of the trough, hoping it would deter the horrible little slimies!

The Morning Glory seeds I planted a few days ago
have pushed their way into the daylight and will be ready to plant out soon.  I shall have to find something for them to climb up, too.  I would really like to get another half-tub, but I don't really have room for it.  I shall have to think carefully about all this.

I still have my dreadful sore throat;  I've had it for three days now, but it hasn't developed into cold or flu or anything;  it just feels as though someone has cut my throat inside.

blackberry444: (Default)
Nothing much has happened today.  I didn't go to the gym, yet again, because I had a rotten night through knee pain, and when I finally fell asleep, managed to develop a ghastly sore throat before I woke up.

I feel rather better now, although the sore throat is still there but not quite as bad as it was.

I spent some time in the yard this afternoon, not doing anything but just drinking coffee and reading the paper.  It was beautifully warm even though the sun kept going behind the clouds.

I somehow managed to make a complete dog's breakfast of my day with regard to pill-taking, largely because I didn't feel like breakfast while I had such a sore throat, so I couldn't take my medication.   Unfortunately I completely forgot to take the medication after lunch and it wasn't till I tried to go upstairs for something at about 4.00 pm, that I realised, through the breathlessness I experienced, that I'd had no medication all day.  What an eejit !

Adrian-from-next-door came round this afternoon and told me that his tenants have gone, leaving behind a dreadful mess from something leaking or overflowing in the bathroom on the top floor, which had run its merry way right down to the ground floor, ruining ceilings and carpets on the way.  He will be keeping the tenants' deposit, but it won't cover the cost.  I'm sorry he's been disappointed in his tenants, because as far as we were concerned, they were model neighbours;  we never saw or heard them, except for the occasional bang on the skirting boards from someone hoovering, and the sound of the front door very late at night.  They even managed to put out the wheelie bin without disturbing us in the slightest.

He says he's going to do the repairs and will probably then sell the house, but he intends to give first refusal to the Asian family next-door-to-me-on-the-other-side, which would be fine with me;  you couldn't wish for better neighbours.  Their existing house isn't quite as large as ours and they now have nine people living there, if you include the baby, and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't arrange No. 2 son's marriage soon.

Tonight Charles made a lovely French Soupe de Poissons, with an unbelievably garlicky aoili.  He made croutons with his GF bread, which were very successful and what with the aioli and the grated cheese, it was very authentic, except we didn't have any rouille.  John and I had Morrison's delicious caraway bread with it and very nice it all was, too.

The weekend weather forecast is pretty good, but there is to be a Festival on the Quayside and on the Gateshead side of the river, with all the sorts of bands I can't stand, so I hope we don't get lots of noise to spoil sitting in the yard or stop us sleeping.

I had a charming e-mail reply from The Poetry Archive this morning saying that they were glad I enjoyed the site and that they would love to put Gillian in there reading some of her poems, but it costs them £4500 for each contemporary poet they put on there and  £2,200 to put on an historic recording; they've run out of the original funding they had and are looking for financial help.  I will have to write to say that unfortunately I'm unable to let them have more than a tenner, but if I win the Lottery I shall be happy to support them.  I thinks it's a shame that something as worthwhile as that can't get funding when I think of all the money that I personally know has been wasted in this area alone on various unproductive Government initiatives.

blackberry444: (Default)
Another lovely day, but this time without much wind, just a gentle zephyr and warm sunshine, so I've finished all the jobs I urgently needed to do in the yard, except for clearing out a trough and planting my clematisI'm disappointed to see that what I thought was a heavenly blue clematis is in fact, more of a delicate mauve.  It's still very lovely, but I'm a bit disappointed.  I can't imagine how it can have happened.  I wonder whether the plastic corrugated sheeting over the plants at the garden centre may have been coloured rather than clear and so made it look much more blue.  I think I will get a blue morning glory to go with it.  Actually, I've just remembered that Lidl are due to have clematis in sometime soon at a much cheaper price than the garden centre.  I shall have to look at the handouts and see what date that will be.

I took a chance and planted out the four runner bean plants I bought the other day.  I've put them into an improvised trough made from a green plastic crate with holes cut into the base for drainage,  I've put in the bamboo poles and I've put them where they'll get plenty of sun, but where they'll be shielded from wind, and maybe even frost, by the shed.

Charles planted catnip in a small rectangular container, which was the litter tray when we only had one cat.  All we have to do is keep the little brats off it until the seeds germinate.  Yeah!  Right!

The four patio roses have been planted out in individual tubs or pots;  they all have lots of buds so I should have roses in the yard soon.  I've grubbed up some violets to send to A, because they've tried to take over almost every pot in the yard.  I don't want to get rid of them entirely, but A has a large garden and I'm sure she'll find somewhere to put them where they won't be too much of a nuisance;  I have warned her that they're invasive.

I put one of the roses into an old bread crock we no longer use.  I got John to drill a couple of holes in it, and it took him a lot of trouble.  It makes a really nice plant pot!

I've repotted the dianthus I bought on impulse and that too has loads of buds, but so far no flowers.  The picture on the label is of a beautiful bloom which is a sort of cross between scarlet and purple.  I don't know whether it's scented;  I hope so, I adore the scent of carnations, but in my experience it's usually the white ones which are heavily scented.

I've decided against getting the hostas which are on offer this week;  I'm already running out of space, I have to buy bedding plants yet for the hanging baskets and I'm not confident that I could protect the hostas from the slugs'n'snails.  On the other hand, maybe I could put them in the front garden if I can ever get round to sorting it out.  I shall definitely go next week to look at the acers which are going to be half price.  I want a dwarf one, but if I find one I can't resist, I shall have to buy another tub for that too, which will be expensive.  But then I shall have to find a place for it, which won't be so easy.  I was quite glad when they sent us a blue wheelie bin for recycling, but two wheelie bins take up a lot of room in my tiny yard and there's also the compost bin, lurking like a headless Dalek!  I don't think there's ever going to be room for a raised bed which I had rather set my heart on for lettuces and so forth.  I did think I would have a spare tub this year because we cut down the bay tree in the yard which I'd had for years, bringing it from Hampshire but which was badly affected by scale.  Amazingly, it's grown new shoots and leaves, which so far show no sign of scale, so I haven't had the heart to turf it out, even though I bought a new one last Autumn which stands outside the front door.

I'm also hoping to squeeze in a small fruit tree, but will probably wait till next year to do that, as I want one of those which has different kinds of fruit on it and I imagine they'll be rather expensive.

Next year I'm going to make an effort to get new garden furniture which won't, I hope, take up so much room as the huge table and benches which was fine in our large garden in Four Marks, but which is Far Too Big for our tiny yard.

As soon as I'd finished my chores out there, a freezing cold wind blew up, but I didn't care by then, even though I'd planned to sit out there and read for half an hour.  How lucky was that?

Yard stuff

Apr. 20th, 2009 06:15 pm
blackberry444: (Default)
Yesterday we spent quite a lot of time in the yard.  John and Charles swept and tidied the yard and took all the rubbish to the tip while I started potting-on the herbs I'd bought and some stuff from last year which needed repotting.

Before we did that I spent some time sowing seeds in the propagator I'd bought at the garden centre and the mini-propagators I bought at B&Q.  In the end I wished I'd bought trays to go into the large propagator instead of those little peat "plugs" because the arthritis made it very difficult to manipulate the seeds and sow them in the tiny space at the top of the plugs.

So I sowed basil, physalis, mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber,  and lettuces.  And I sowed sapphire lobelia, double marigolds (to act as companion plants to try to scare off pests), busy lizzies, and geraniums.  They're all sitting on the only windowsill in the house, which is the one in the dining room, so I now have to remember to look in there every day to see if they need watering or whatever.  Actually I lie;  we do have a windowsill in the kitchen, but it's always full of washing up stuff, dishwasher tablet tins, Milton and other stuff unsuitable to mix with growing plants.

This summer I plan to reorganise the shed and throw away a lot of stuff, so I think I shall get John to put a couple of shelves in there under the windows so that I can use them to bring on seeds as well.  When I had my plastic greenhouse I could use that, but I haven't replaced it since all the plastic blew out of the mesh in a mini-tornado type storm, about 18 months ago.  I will try to replace it before next spring. 

I wish I could afford to have a tiny porch/conservatory built onto the back wall, moving the back door to round the corner and walling up the present back door.  It would really help draught-proof the house and provide a place for plants and seeds.  We could keep the cat litter-box out there too, which would save litter forever being tracked round the kitchen.

This afternoon I finished potting on all the herbs.  I've covered the bare earth in the pots with pink grit to discourage the cats from digging in them and hoping it may discourage the slugs, although I bet it doesn't.  It actually looks rather good.  The grit is barely pink really, just pink enough to stop it being grey.

I am so frightfully slow nowadays that I only managed to repot five pots this afternoon.  Admittedly I have to carry them and lift them onto the table, remove all the dead stuff, and the top three inches of compost, then plant the herbs, fill up the holes with compost and cover the soil with the pink gravel, but even so, I'm pretty sure I would never have been so slow a couple of years ago.

The lovely two-year-old compost from the bottom of my composter is wonderful, dark, sweet-smelling and rich.  There were even worms in it, which I returned to the composter.  I wonder where they came from?  The nearest earth to my yard is a sun-baked bit of heavily trodden earth under the willow tree on the other side of the back lane, but I suppose the land adjoining might be a good home for worms.  They've recently spent yet another fortune tarting up that small piece of land, putting in another bed for shrubs, and sticking in large rocks.  If they would only put a bench there, it would be really inviting.  They've defiled the whole thing, though by erecting two prominent notices saying in large red letters "Playing golf prohibited".  I hadn't noticed anyone playing golf there, although it's true that a golf-ball shattered the loo window three years ago and I found a rather nice new golf-ball in the yard today, which the cats adore because it's so bouncy!

Now that I've made some room in the composter I shall be glad to return to putting all my vegetable peelings in there rather than wasting them in the rubbish.

I'm so glad I've been able to make an earlier start this year.  Last year it was still freezing cold in May, even in the sunshine, which made it impossible for me to sit outside long enough to get anything done without ruining my knees for a couple of days.

This year, if it continues like this, I shall have all the pots and planters cleaned up, topped up with good compost and ready for the petunias and so forth that I buy in every year.  Who knows, I might even have time to sit out there and laze in the sun with a book!

I'm always amazed at how happy an afternoon spent playing with my pots and plants makes me.  I must be very easily pleased.  Or perhaps I'm just getting old!

blackberry444: (Default)
Tomorrow Charles and John are going to tackle my room while I'm at my writing class.

It's been well over a year since I was able to do any effective housework and although Charles does my room from time to time, he's not what I would call thorough, so dust has piled up everywhere I can't easily reach, notably on the bookshelves and the venetian blinds.  On top of that, the ancient carpet in this room, which was here when we moved in, is almost impossible to clean, because it's one of those scratchy hairy carpets originally meant for the public areas  of the meaner sort of government institutions of yesteryear and it's not only a dust magnet, but it attracts cat hair and holds on to it as though it were gold.  It's impossible to clean properly with a vacuum cleaner and the days are long past when I might have got down on my hands and knees and hand-brushed it.  I hate it and I'm really ashamed of the state it's got into. 

We lifted a few corners of it this afternoon and found that the floor boards are in not too bad a state, so I will get John to stop up the cracks with floor wax and then varnish it.  Tomorrow, however, it will be enough to have the carpet removed and the floor thoroughly washed to get rid of the dust.

So tomorrow they are going to remove the carpet and wash the floor, remove the blinds and wash them in the bath before drying them in the yard.  When they have done that I will take down the curtains to wash them and when the dust has dissipated from the air, I shall strip the bed and vacuum it thoroughly, just in case it's actually house mites I'm allergic to, and to get rid of the extra dust which is bound to get in the air when they move the carpet.  If it takes too long to get it all done tomorrow, I shall have to sleep in the spare room till the dust dies down.

I think I will definitely have the floor varnished and leave it like that for a while to see if I like it.  I'm sure it will be easier to keep clean, but it may be that I will feel the cold too much in the winter and will have to have carpet after all eventually.

Today I've spent half the morning and most of the afternoon reading in the yard and looking at plant books, deciding what new shrubs I'm going to put into the two large empty tubs I shall have shortly.  I tidied up half a dozen pots, threw a dozen or so snails over the back wall for the blackbird to find and generally fiddled about.

On an impulse I picked all the dandelion flowers and put them in a vase of water which I placed on the kitchen table.  I wondered how long they would last as picked flowers.  Later this afternoon Morgan appeared with a yellow face which he must have got from sticking his face into the dandelions.  I don't know whether it's vegetable dye or pollen, but he doesn't seem to be able to get it off.  If it hasn't gone by lunchtime tomorrow, I shall have to wash his face.  That will be fun!

This afternoon I spent some time picking all the remaining good leaves off the bay tree to dry and store because I've found that it has a renewed attack of scale and I really don't think I can get rid of it again, so will send the poor tree to the tip at the weekend.  I've been looking at the price of replacements on the web, but no-one seems to have reasonably mature, plainly grown bay trees, they've only got them with corkscrew or plaited trunks, and the leaves tortured into shapes.  I just want a natural bay tree three or four feet high to supply me with bay leaves.

I've also decided that the replacement will be put next to the front door, just in case having it in the yard would infect it with the scale the old one has.  I shall, of course, scrub and disinfect the tub, but I will in any case get a new one for the new tree.  This means that I will have room for another shrub-in-a-tub in the yard.  I'm thinking of getting a lavatera, although I don't know the name of the one I really like which has black in the centre of the flower, and a King David Buddleia;  I think that's the name of the very dark purple one...........or is it Black Knight

I've just looked on Scroogle and the Buddleia is definitely  Black Knight!  And the Lavatera appears to be Lavatera arboria "Variegata".

I shall have to go to the garden centre.  Perhaps I should go tomorrow afternoon so that I can miss some of the dust and upheaval.  I can't say I'm looking forward to all the mess, but I must get something done to minimise this miserable rhinitis/allergy, which is giving me such an awful cough that I have a permanent headache at the moment.

I've searched all the pots, but I can't find either my missing thymes or my hyssop.  I wonder if the yard has been burgled?  I wouldn't have thought they were the kind of things the yooves around here would find attractive, though.

I think it would be a good idea to try to have an early night while I'm not coughing too much.
blackberry444: (Default)
Well, the weather certainly made up for it today. It's been a gorgeous sunny warm day. I had a podiatry appointment this morning, but after lunch we all went out into the yard and spent two and a half hours tidying up, that's seven and a half man hours, so we got quite a bit done. Then John and Charles took all the rubbish to the tip while I cleared the tools away and locked up and made a pot of tea.

There's still an awful lot to do though. Tomorrow, all being well, we shall get out the high pressure hose and wash down the concrete where the cats have spent all winter upsetting pots and earth and making a complete mess. We swept it all today, but it really needs a good hosing. Thank goodness we have so much water in our region and I don't have to feel guilty about it.

I'm amazed that a Greek oregano has made it through the winter. It's a bit overstretched and woody, but I've trimmed it back and hope it will come back prolifically.

I don't know what's wrong with my poor bay tree. Two years ago I nursed it through an outbreak of rust, or scale or whatever it's called, but now it has something which is killing all the new growth and making it look as though it's been scorched. The older leaves are OK, it's just the new growth, which is rather alarming. I shall cut off all the damaged shoots tomorrow and see what happens next.

I have another problem with a very large tub which Bramble and Morgan are enthusiastically excavating. They're not using it as a litter tray, they're just digging an enormously deep hole (for cats) in the compost. I don't know what they've done with the compost they've extracted; they must have eaten it. Last Autumn I put three climbers in there, after the complete disaster I'd had using it for runner beans which just didn't do anything, but only one has survived and that is in imminent danger because the hole is getting nearer and nearer to its roots, and it's getting knocked about by the enthusiastic team of diggers. I must find some way to discourage them from digging in there. Karen has suggested chicken wire stuff, but the yard is so tiny I like everything to look nice. I wonder if a good layer of bark mulch would stop them doing it.

I suspect that the chief digging culprit may be Morgan, because Bramble has never attacked the outside pots before, but on the other hand, he was the one who dug out loads of compost on my sadly-deceased yucca plant in the sitting room. And he did eat that, too. There again, Morgan is the one who is making it impossible for me to keep plants indoors at all by attacking them all the time and destroying them. Sigh!

I was a bit cross when I opened the composter to put some stuff in the top to see that someone, I know not who, had filled it with about 4 inches deep of sticks and twigs which hadn't even been cut up. I took them out and stuck them in with the stuff to be taken to the tip. Very naughty of me, I know, but I just didn't feel like sitting there all afternoon snipping it all into tiny bits.

The new sage officinalis I bought last year has turned into a very pretty little bush, although there was snail trail all over it, which rather surprised me, because I would have thought that the taste of sage might be a bit much even for an enthusiastic slug!   The purple sage, however, has become altogether too woody and leggy and I think I shall have to replace it. I only seem to have one surviving thyme, where I had several potsful and that is old and woody and will probably have to be replaced, although I did spend some time cutting back the old wood and trimming it with scissors, hoping to induce it to put out lots of lovely new soft leaves.

I think perhaps the pots of thyme have been overcome by the self-seeded wild violets which have invaded almost every pot.  I gave several pots of them away last year, but shall have to find someone else who would like some.  I can't bear to just dig them out and throw them away, but they're turning into a pest!

The pot of self-seeded teazles has grown back. I'm always in two minds about them. It seems strange to grow a pot of weeds, but I know the birds love the seeds and I rather like the plants myself. If I had more room, I'd like to have one of those giant thistles as well

I weeded and chopped back the chives which had the consistency of thatching reed where no-one has been snipping them as they grew.  I have terrible trouble getting Charles to use the herbs growing in the yard;  he'd far rather use the packet stuff, which is OK, but nowhere near as nice as fresh herbs, in my opinion.

I still have a lot to do out there before I go and buy plants for the pots and hanging baskets, but it looks much better out there now, even tidy!

The strange thing is that the whole time I was out in the yard I was untroubled by  hay-fever or my dreadful cough, but as soon as I got back into my room it started off again.  I know my room is incredibly dusty and John and Charles have promised to wet-dust it for me sometime when I'm out, but the window was open and the trees are in blossom..............then again, and I do hope it's not this, I wonder whether I've become allergic to my beloved kitties.  But it started up again this evening in the  sitting room which isn't really dusty at all, so I don't know what to think, except that I'm heartily fed up with it.

I had a truly awful night last night.  I spent it propped up on pillows and cushions coughing, choking and spluttering, nose running until about 5.00 am when I finally fell asleep. At one point I got up and spent a couple of hours messing about with my would-be web-site.  Of course, I couldn't have a lie in because I had to get up for my Podiatry appointment.

Now I somehow seem to have managed to acquire a blocked and runny nose at one and the same time.  That should be impossible, surely?  And why, oh why, does it always get worse the nearer to bed time it gets?

I'm so shattered that all I want to do is sleep, but it doesn't seem as though that's going to happen for a few hours yet!  I've tried Piriton, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.


blackberry444: (Default)

June 2009

 1234 5 6
78 91011 12 13
141516 17181920
2122 2324252627


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags