Saturday, 31 January 2009

A weekend to myself

Well as you can see the kitchen is coming on nicely, floor tiles are down, new ceiling is up and the walls are ready for painting. Hopefully I should make good progress this weekend even if I will be on my own. Sharron is in London all weekend teaching on a course at the National Tennis centre. In her spare time she is a Tennis line judge and as part of this she gets involved in training new people.

I may have been abandoned but I am not forgotten. This morning I have got an invite for coffee an a chat about some of the plans for the village in bloom entry and I have an invite to go out to dinner tonight. I have planned my day around these so I can get some paint on the walls and leave it to dry whilst I am out.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Well I have finally got round to chitting some seed potatoes. I have decided to just grow first early this year and am trying Accent. They are mean't to be very early and heavy croppers with excellent taste, well we will find out.

I have been suffering with a bad back since Christmas which is not good with the amount of decorating we are doing. Over the weekend I went into a sport shop in Huntingdon and bought a sports back support, or truss as I call it! The difference is amazing, I have still got some pain but it really does help.

Sunday afternoon was really lovely, cold and sunny. We took Boris out for a walk across the fields towards Warboys.

As you can see he really enjoyed himself. There are a lot of nice muddy, smelly ditches to dive in. On the way back he saw a rabbit which he chased straight across a field, pleased to say he didn't catch it , but it was close.

Friday, 23 January 2009

A task list for 2009

My Potting shed.

Yesterday as I sat here, bored, in front of my work pc I decided it was time to commit myself to a list of tasks for 2009. These are some of the jobs I want to do out in the garden that will make it more enjoyable for us.

Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Put a green roof on the potting shed, I plan to seed it with wild flowers.
  2. Run power to the potting shed and greenhouse. at the moment I have nowhere to run a propagator.
  3. Clear stable and make it into a garden room/ studio for reading and photography.
  4. Sort out garages for storage and a workshop
  5. Sort out the fruit cage (it a jungle in there!)
  6. Make new benches for the garden
  7. Build a path to the greenhouse and herb garden
  8. Build pergola for small lawn area
  9. Make more bird boxes
  10. Improve wild flower area and make a Beetle bank.
As you can see I intend to be fairly active over the next few months and in case Sharron is reading this, the kitchen. dinning room, etc etc will of course take priority!

So as we go through the year you will be able to see how I get on.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Well this is the view of the garden today!

So what to do, well I have been downloading some Podcasts to my iPhone, there are some really good gardening ones, I thought I would try the Gardens illustrated
Podcasts as I haven't listened to them before.

I also decided to plant some chilli seeds yesterday, not ordinary chillies but Dorset Naga
seeds I had saved from last year. These chillies are absolutely lethal, but make a fantastic chilli jam that will blow your head off. Anyway I thought I would try and get some going on the office windowsill

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Oh what a beautiful morning

This was the view from the bottom of the garden this morning, the 2 spires are the churches in St Ives (Cambridgeshire NOT Cornwall!).

Yesterdays forum on the RHS website was fun, apart from a complete lack of any sensible navigation on the site I think some good points whee raised. For a more full review have a look at VP's site.

Well things are beginning to happen in the garden.

Apart from the bulbs breaking through I have noticed the wildlife getting ready for spring. The squirrels are beginning to pair up, chasing each other up and down the trees. This morning I have been watching Blue Tits Parus caeruleus investigating possible nest sites, including the Bat box on our walnut tree. I also have Starlings Sturnus vulgaris trying to get into a sparrow nest box. I even heard a woodpecker drumming this morning, spring must be on the way.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A ray of sunshine

I thought this picture would brighten up an otherwise dull day, I am looking out of my office window at the sheep in the field beyond the garden. They are wandering around in the rain and wet grass looking very sorry for themselves (it's amazing they don't shrink when they get that wet!)

Well I spent most of the weekend working on the kitchen, we have got the ceiling up, the lighting done and the floor is done and once I have got some paint on the walls I can start to build the units. We had one nasty surprise, we have replaced the 40 amp cooker circuit as the existing one was at least 30yrs old, when it was being swapped over we discovered that it had never been earthed, I think the word lethal just about covers it!

A lot of people have said to us how lucky we are to be living where we do and how nice and quiet it is. Well we were talking about this at 8am on Sunday morning listening to the barrage of gas guns going off in the fields around here. These are bird scarers to keep the pigeons out of the Rape, and Bean crops. They are are long tubes that fill with propane gas which eventually ignite causing a very loud deep bang. The strange thing is you don't often see large flocks of pigeons taking to the air, they are either used to them or not in the fields but in my veg patch eating my brassicas!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

January blues

I always find mid January depressing. Financially it is the worst month of the year. The dark mornings and the short afternoons prohibit good walks with the dog without skiving off work (which I would never dream of doing!). The landscape does look lovely when it is frozen but on grey damp days like today with the footpaths turned to wet claggy clay you just want to stay inside and hibernate, even the garden looks dead......or does it?

Actually it is beginning to come to life out there, a quick wander round and I found my Magnolia is in bud.

and poking out from the leaf litter, Anemone ranunculoides it's yellow flowers will soon be brightening up the borders.

Elsewhere the tips of the spring bulbs are breaking through the soil.

So as I sit in my office looking out of the window at grey day outside I know that in a few weeks it will be a mass of colour out there.

Monday, 12 January 2009

A flower for a friend


Normally on a Monday I would be writing on this blog about what I had been doing over the weekend, however today I am not going to.

This morning I spoke to a friend that I had lost contact with about 3 years ago. When they told me what they had been going through for the last couple of years, it made me realise how fortunate I am with the life I have. So I am going to dedicate today's picture (one of my favourites) to them, no names but hopefully they will see this.

Friday, 9 January 2009

A private Nature Reserve

Yesterday afternoon just after I had finished work for the day and was about to resume building the kitchen there was a bang om the door. It was a friend of mine who lives around the other side of the village. Chris has 2 big interests in life, aircraft and wildlife, he produces DVD's of historic aircraft for the collectors market but it his interest in wildlife which brought us together.

Last summer I set a quiz for the village in which they had to identify local wildlife from my photo's. Chris saw this and came to see me to ask me if I would like to photograph a Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus nesting in his garden (silly question!!). Having checked that it was legal to photograph the bird on the nest with English nature I went round to his garden. Well his garden is several acres which he has converted into a nature reserve, there is woodland, a couple of ponds, one with a small reedbed and purpose built wooden hides. The bird was nesting about 10m from one of the hides in a pine tree.

As you can see the results were pretty good.

The reason Chris came to see me yesterday was to tell me he is building a tower hide ( a builders scaffold tower with camouflage netting) near the nest site so hopefully this year he can get film and I can get photos looking down into the nest, I can't wait.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Ditches, dogs and tree planting

It was a bit warmer here this morning just -1c ! I took Boris out across the still frozen fields which was good as it meant less mud. Why is it dogs want to run along frozen ditches, he at least had more sense than to jump in the stream this morning!

There wasn't a lot of wildlife around today, the odd Pheasant running across the fields, (I think they know it's safer than flying. around here). The one bird you can always rely on in the ditches is the Wren Troglodytes troglodytes with it's tit-tit-tit call speeding up to it's churr alarm call.

One good thing I saw this morning was a newly planted stand of trees around a pond in one of the fields. Neil who owns the land and his brother plant trees every year on New Years day, it has become a bit of a ritual for them now. It's great to see landowners replanting trees to encourage wildlife in this case they are trying to provide habitat around the fields for the Grey Partridge Perdix perdix with I am pleased to say some success.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

It's -7 out there! 12th night, and winter wildlife.

when we set off to the station this morning it was -7 c out there, that's the coldest so far this winter. Our lane is a sheet of ice, in fact it didn't thaw all day yesterday but the main roads are clear. One surprise this morning was that someone late last night moved the Christmas tree that was outside our front door, nothing was taken it was just moved! I think it must have been someone who thought last night was 12th night rather than tonight which is the feast of the Epiphany and wanted to stop us having bad luck. It would also explain Boris barking at about 11.30 last night.

So what of the wildlife when it gets this cold? Well the birdfeeders are very popular with Goldfinches Carduelis carduelis which really brighten up a dull day. This morning on the way back from the station just as it was getting light I saw our local buzzard, a barn owl and a young Muntjac deer crossing our lane next to the house. As I am typing this there is a Grey Squirrel running around the branches of the Walnut tree outside my office window, many people think they hibernate but they do not. They will spend a lot of time sheltering in the winter, but on a sunny morning like today they will take the opportunity to forage for food.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Snow, work and a brace of Pheasants

Artichoke with snow

Well woke up this morning (06.30 !!) full of joy and happiness to be back at work only to be greeted by a car covered in snow. Once I had taken Sharron to the station and made a coffee I logged in to my work pc to find 401 unread emails, this whist listening to radio 4 telling me this is the most stressful day of the year.

Over the New Year the farmers around here organise Pheasant shoots. Now I do not really approve of shooting but I do understand that it subsidises their income, also the Pheasants are bred and released for shooting. What I hate is to think of the birds being shot and not used as happens on some shoots at least around here the birds are distributed around people in the village. On the 2nd Sharron took Boris out for his afternoon walk across the fields where there had been a shoot earlier. All of a sudden he dived into the undergrowth and reappeared with an injured hen pheasant which he quickly (and very proudly) killed, much to Sharron's horror. She phoned me to come and get the bird away from Boris who did not want to give up his prize. By the time I got to them he had dropped it but Sharron had met some more dog walkers whose dog had done the same thing, so it was down to me to check both birds were dead.

So what to do with 2 dead pheasants? Well as I said I hate to see them wasted, (although Sharron won't eat them) so I now have a brace hanging in the potting shed. I should add that I spoke to one of the organisers of the shoot who had in fact been out with her dog looking for any injured birds and explained what had happened.