Shutter Renovation

With her keen eye for decoration Laetitia had noticed (i.e. nagged me about 😉 ) the weathered state (splitting wood and flaking paint 🙁 ) of our shutters. So, being a two-man job lifting the shutters off, and in particular back on to, their hinges I recruited a decorating professional More “Shutter Renovation”

Staycation

Since Richard broke his arm 10 days ago, our planned summer holiday in Norway had to be postponed. Backpacking and sleeping in a tent would not have been a viable proposition at this point.

So, we decided to stay close to home and have a shorter summer break than planned. Nevertheless we have had a great time, catching up with lots of people and spending some time around the house (which is unusual!).

Day 1: Visit to see my parents and Grandfather.

Day 2: Pressure washed the drive(!) and visited friends in Ilkeston.

Day 3: 17 mile run (take a look at for Mark’s GPS track) and visited sister and Brendan in Leicester.

I was accompanied on the 17 mile run with Mark from running club. We set out with map in hand and ran towards Hints through Gorsey Bank and over to Hopwas Woods. The weather was perfect and the views were pretty good for middle-of-England terrain. Thanks to Mark for the photo

Day 4: Visited friends in Shropshire.

Day 5: Painting and jobs around the house, plus a walk up the local slag heap(!).

The summit of Pooley Slag Heap!

Day 6: Visit to see the Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham and an afternoon with Keith and his garden railway.

One of Keith's trains arriving at Birdlip station

Whilst the trains were unable to take us on a trip around the garden, my camera had a nice ride…

So, no great adventures this time, but everything is slightly more ‘adventurous’ with a one-armed husband!

Solway AONB

Well, a different kind of work. Since I went back to part-time paid desk work I have been able to return to active volunteer work with the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Volunteers. One of the local areas we work on is a group of ponds which were originally constructed for wildlife conservation/promotion from a car park which was no longer required when a replacement parking area was constructed near the beach.

A view across the Solway from Crosscanonby beach

It has changed quite a lot since I started working there several years ago.

I was distressed to find that the toilet block has been demolished!
This used to be a pond

We have not had a lot of rain in the last week or so and the watercourse were negligible. As it has not been possible to keep the ponds as open water – they tend to silt up and need a lot of maintenance – it has been decided to manage the area as wet woodland in future.

What we actually did this week was to replace some of the timbers forming the wheelchair-friendly footpath round the reserve.

When I wasn't taking pictures I hammered nails into timber

Hen Hospital

Blackie’s bad leg made her come last in the race for the feed, and she has lost a lot of weight in a few days. It takes a great deal of energy to keep warm in this sub-zero weather even if you do have feathers, so that hasn’t been in her favour either.

So the Hen Hospital has been set up in the bathroom: warm, and with unchallenged access to a food bowl.

The bowl that apperently contains dog wee is actually contains water with Poultry Tonic additive. She is already looking perkier 🙂

The bathroom has an unusual aroma but fortunately not strong enough to be unpleasant. I don’t know what she thinks of the shower but she hasn’t tried to join me yet.

Lumberjacking

Andy and I donned our high heels, suspenders and bras, and headed off to Brigham to fill Andy’s new woodstore. Andy had arranged to borrow a pick-up and we filled it 3 times….. of course, on the way back to Hesket Newmarket we became typical “white-van men”… I hooted every slow old driver and Andy leered and whistled at all the girls. A good day all round!!

wood ready for loading
Andy loads up the pick-up

It was an adventure for us

We planned a different kind of adventure for this weekend–we actually planned to stay at home and not do very much! We managed it as well on saturday, going no further than to the shops, and having Rachel’s sister Sarah over for lunch and our friends Tony and Catherine over for dinner. In quite unusually domestic manner, we trimmed the hedge and pruned some trees, mended the fence in the back garden, repotted some of the house plants, varnished the back door, cut down a small tree, and most importantly made cake.

A bevy of Rachel's swan profiteroles (yes, I looked up the collective noun).
A bevy of Rachel's swan profiteroles (yes, I looked up the collective noun).

The profiteroles were lovely. Rachel toiled long and hard making perfect little profiterole swans. The raspberry chocolate cake was also good (and best of all, there’s still some left).
Rachel's raspberry chocolate torte. Yum!
Rachel's raspberry chocolate torte. Yum!

We also introduced ourselves to the frog that seems to have moved into our garden.

We just couldn’t manage two days of domesticity, so on sunday we went orienteering at Baggeridge and Himley and visited our frinds Richard and Carol. I should say that I went orienteering. Rachel helped organise things and sat in the sunshine reading her book. She might just be capable of two days of domestic bliss, but I’m clearly not!

Our new tenant. Now, how do we get her to pay rent?
Our new tenant. Now, how do we get her to pay rent?

Grange CC maintenance meet

The CC Borrowdale “hut” had its first maintenance meet last weeknd and some sterling work [pun intended] was carried out. we erected a fence:

Early stages of the fence erection
Early stages of the fence erection

… which in due course is intended to be covered with attractive botanical specimens:

The finished fence
The finished fence

The fun bit: the drains needed seeing to.

Rick and Paul excavating disgusting sludge
Rick and Paul excavating disgusting sludge

Everyone got remarkably excited at rodding the drains – lots of spectating took place:

Rodding the drains
Rodding the drains

Rewards for the workers included barbecue and booze, fully appreciated:

food for the hungry workers
food for the hungry workers

Is this why they call it a maintenance meat??

Thanks to all who attended.

Project in copper – Part 7

This will be almost the last post on this item before the grand opening. Richard G. and I have been amazed how this has turned out with every successive step. It all began with Richard D. suggesting that we have a caving-themed wedding cake, that is a cake with a stream running through it. I explained to him that this may be difficult in terms of icing erosion, but we both got hooked on the idea of having a stream – especially me! I soon decided that a cream stream would be even better and would confuse the hell out of all our wedding guests. The original idea was to have a helter skelter structure with the stream running around it, however after some discussion with my structural engineer, Richard G., it became apparent that this would be difficult. He came up with the idea of the leaves and then the need for large amounts of copper … because we’re tight and of course keen on recycling 🙂 , we opted for the second hand hot water cylinder from Jonathan Pitts. That decision worked out great except for the black covering that was on one side of the copper and which needed an incredible amount of wire wool buffing to shift! I think we did an ok job in the end.

The polished cream stream
The polished cream stream
Look at those leaves
Look at those leaves

So here it is on Sunday we added a few leaves and buffed for a few hours… all we need to do now is bake the two small chocolate sachertortes and the one large one -which will be located on a board on the 3 copper legs (we were going to have 4, but we couldn’t get the drill into the middle of the structure to drill the fourth hole!), we need to make some chocolate frogs and then cover the base with some green (perhaps) material. Finally we need to buy a few pints of cream, attach the pump and hey presto …. hopefully it will cause much confusion and hilarity at the wedding. And, if the cream stream overtops, I will personally find it absolutely hilarious! I hope you are all impressed that we even have the BS safety mark – that was not planned at all and wasn’t realised until we turned over a newly cut flower shape – of course it had to stay!

Complying to safety standards!
Complying to safety standards!

Carol, Richard’s wife, was also somewhat concerned that the small cake flowers were not level – this was entirely intended!

Finally, thank you so much to Richard G. for taking on the challenge of our somewhat bizarre idea! He was instrumental in there actually being a plan at each successive stage of the construction.

Job done
Job done
Rachel in the fire!
Rachel in the fire!

Following construction we settled down by Lake Greswell for a fire and BBQ – wonderful 😉