Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Return to Wales and a Grand Designs moment

I've had a trip to Wales - lovely green quiet sunny Wales. It was a delight. To meander through the Black Mountains, Brecons and up through Powys, to Ashfield. And to stay with a lovely friend, visit Barney's favourite piece of the River Wye, walk through our favourite beechwood and reconnect with our recent past.

The purpose of the visit? To collect the promised 'Springboxes' - the almost-forgotten Christmas gifts of a garden-in-a-box bought for 6 different family and friends. Pippa is amazing. To get hundreds of little plants to grow in mid Wales in winter ready for planting in the Spring down south - a miracle as far as I'm concerned. Certainly compared to the pitiful achievement of our veg plot back at home (albeit 'gardening in Beirut' as it feels like at the moment). We are humbled and awed at her genius - WELL DONE PIPPA!!

And not only that, she has reclaimed Ashfield almost single-handedly from the weeds and dereliction that had overtaken it a year ago. There were definitely more signs of life there this visit - but still not enough workers to keep it going past the end of her funding in the summer. What will happen to Ashfield? I soooo hope it continues and grows and maybe changes till it becomes something that can last into the future. For the uninitiated, Ashfield is a Village SOS lottery project - an 8 acre horticultural site in mid Wales dedicated to growing food by and for 'the community'.

So sunny was the weather, Barney and I bravely took off to north Wales for a couple of days of holiday. After the initial panic of finding one 'no vacancies' sign after another we ended up at the lovely Farchynys House on the Mawddach estuary near Barmouth. He was even allowed to share my room.... though I hasten to say not the bed.

It was gorgeous walking, cycling, drinking tea amongst the buckets and spades of Barmouth. And I have to say the first time I have enjoyed a 'holiday' ON MY OWN (Ian was holding the fort with the builders). Having Barney helped of course. He is the perfect companion - he's always ready for a walk and even ran 20 miles behind the bike from Dolgellau to Barmouth and back.

Well, back home and back to work. The house project this week has seen a crisis with the stairs. How a shortfall of 10cm headroom over the end of one step can be a crisis I will never know, but that is what it became, with our builder exclaiming such things as "you don't trust me" and "I may as well not continue with the job" before leaving darkly for the weekend whilst leaving me with a double dose of PMT. Still, Monday morning and all appeared as normal, minus one section of ceiling and the replacement of several joists in minutely different locations. No one told me this would be the builders project and not ours.

On the lounge front, the walls are almost ready to receive the long-awaited oak roof frame. Fabricated several weeks ago they will arrive plus crane next Wednesday. This is the BIG TEST. Did we measure the walls right? Will the purlins fit into the pre-made holes? It's one of those Grand Designs moments when everyone holds their breath, and there's either a collective sigh of relief when it all slots neatly into place, or the camera pans around to the Responsible Person (Us) to catch the first sign of tears.