Saturday, 25 February 2012

Planting season...

We can't let another winter go by without getting some plants in the ground.
Our massive earth bank is now covered with 800 little hedge plants, all staked and guarded - bought from Wee Tree Nurseries in Somerset. They are so tiny it seems impossible that they will grow into a thick hedge.

For the record this is what we planted - 320 hawthorn, 80 blackthorn, 80 spindle, 80 hazel, 80 guelder rose, 80 field maple and 80 dogwood. The mixture will have some fruit and nuts for the birds, flowers in spring and the dogwood will have bright green and orange tips in winter. Can't wait!

Friday, 24 February 2012


Today's respite from the current occupation of grouting floor tiles was planting 100 little snowdrops 'in the green' to add to the ones from Cornwall that were planted 2 years ago. When we came here there were very few spring bulbs (apart from daffs), just lots and lots of ivy.

These are the ones from Cornwall that were planted 2 years ago, and are now quite established.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Shapwick Heath

Last weekend we paid a visit to see the starlings at Shapwick Heath. I love this place - not just for the birds and otters, but the FEEL of the place is so prehistoric. Makes me want to try a spot of time travel to see the original British Isles before we spoilt them. It's easy to mistake a heron for a pterodactyl here.

You might not be surprised that our route to Shapwick took us via Wells, and Wells Recreation Yard, as we have now renamed it, being one of our most popular weekend destinations at the moment. Thankfully Ian's parents quite enjoy ferreting around old church pews and roof tiles. We bought a gorgeous bent-wood 'plantation chair' to sit at the breakfast bar.

Now it's back up to 10 degrees it seems incredible that everything was frozen last weekend

It's not too easy to photograph a murmuration as they tend to swarm at dusk when the light is poor. They were also flying past us to roost at Ham Wall instead of Shapwick but we got some good sightings. The Bishops Palace

Wells CathedralVicars Close
The famous chair.


Today we had a visit from a family of bright red bullfinches, pinching the buds off the cherry tree.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


After many phonecalls, agonising about the colour, and changing the wooden floorboards from one room to another, we at last have a kitchen floor. It was great when someone asked only days later "are the floorboards really old?". We went for a 'distressed' finished on the basis that they would be scratched and dented by us within hours - and yes they were!

The lounge also has its carpet (plus its first muddy pawprint.....),

and here's me grouting the utility room floor. I think this is the only time we will see the grout as this will truly be covered in mud and dog fluff for most of the time. Not that we particularly want to be dirty, we just can't help it!

I blame all the log-fetching, wall building and gardening.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Earth, water, fire....

Today has been a joyful day of freezing sunshine, clearing flower beds, and sorting through the veritable reclamation yard that has taken root in our field. Over two years of building work has generated mountains of stone, logs, soil, roofing sheets, drainage piping, bricks, slabs, pallets........ The neighbours have been patient but the time has come to give them their view back.

The earth bank will soon be planted with 800 little 'whips' - small plants of native species, and I'm back to my favourite occupation of building stone and earth banks. It has to be used as a reward for painting - my least favourite occupation.

The muddy hole we dug in the summer filled promisingly with water when the spring started flowing just before Christmas. I wouldn't call it a 'pond' quite yet but Ian's Christmas pressie of a weeping willow stands proudly on its banks. A lot more planting needs to happen, and the 'stream' needs to be 'naturalised'.

We might need to resort to the borehole to keep things alive through the summer however - unless we are lucky enough to have a wet summer!!
The afore-mentioned borehole now supplies the house...... Much to our relief the test results came back from the lab to say it's perfect for drinking, and we are still very much alive so they must be right. It has 3 filters at the moment, with 1 more to come. First a particle (sand) filter, then a UV filter just in case any bugs get into the system, and finally a charcoal filter on the two kitchen taps (this is supposed to remove any strange taste that sometimes comes from iron or something in the soil). The grey tank in the picture below is the 'pressure vessel' that gets the water up to mains pressure before it goes into the house.

Despite all our filters, I will either be looking like Cleopatra, or like I have a very dark suntan if I have too many more baths like this one........ hence the 4th filter needed to strain out those ever-so-tiny clay particles.
Any finally, fire....the woodburner from the lounge has been cleaned up, repainted, and installed on its new stone hearth. The heat is amazing. Despite the high ceiling, the insulation is doing it's job and we have to open the windows to let some cool air in!!

'before'...'after'...Yes I was sad to lose the brick fireplace too, but it had to come out so we could relay the floor and damp proof the wall.