The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gardening Woes

Well it looks like the weather has beaten me as I look at the drizzle outside. Now that metcheck is back up and running I can see that it will be a matter of diving out there when I can. I really should concentrate in these coming windows of opportunity in getting the potatoes out and preparing the veggie patch et al for winter.

I am sort of resigned to the fact the the FTB-to-be is not going to happen this year... Unless I am prepared to brave the rain and gales... Or there is a dramatic improvement in the weather in the last three weeks in October.

I spent a few days last week working on the long bank extension. Better to get the plants and bulbs I already have sorted than continuing on something that may not happen in time.

Digging the edge foot or so of LB11 and LB10 to remove the stones and, as it turned out, areas of solid clay. Then placing in more largish cobble-stone footholds/soil erosion stoppers. Between these I have planted alternating areas of the pink and purple ajugas sourced from the parent plants in LB12 and 150 dwarf daffodils. Also a few groupings of snakeshead fritillaria - I still have some left that I need to get in. A little further along and I transplanted three pulmonarias which are looking a little flaccid but I have hopes that they will survive the trauma (I have plenty more if they don't) and two more Johnson's Blue geraniums.

I then started on the next 'layer' back to the previously positioned footholds. Luckily no clay - probably much deeper here but still plenty of stones. A whole day spent, and at the end of it 45 pink tulips, two rhododendrons and a very vibrant pink heather planted. But it is ready for a plant buying spree next year...

I bought some more bulbs from Aldi's last week - it may be a matter of just plonking them in somewhere this year and then relocating them next year. I was too optimistic of the lovely weather we had last week continuing...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Messing About On The River

A week last Friday and Hedley (from house opposite us) had hired Wendy the Winch to remove a large willow tree that had come down in the floods at the start of the month.

He owns the stretch of the river that runs from approximately opposite the end of our house to the bridge. We have all had concerns at the debris that has now been trapped at the bridge for over a year and getting worse with each flood. He was not sure if it was his problem or that of the council as obviously he does not own the bridge itself. Paul suggested he phoned them and they would know which department to contact.

So this Friday we had more boys toys at the river. The council were here with a JCB. The only real danger of floods reaching any of the houses here is if the bridge gets dammed. Of more concern to the man from the council was the risk of the debris forcing the water to cut another channel and weakening the bridge itself...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cardbox 44444

Work has been progressing on the 6 blockers/not hooks. I have been going through these in a straight quiz from list, and adding in to the cardbox selectively - not just the ones I miss but also the non-everyday words that are easy to get as anagrams but are not totally familiar. I have now completed all words containing 3 pointers or higher.

I have stopped systematically adding in more 7/8s in probability order for the moment That is not to say no 7s or 8s are getting added but as a trickle-feed rather than a steady flow.

I am still hoping to get my 4s and their hooks rock solid - I should theoretically know them all as I have all the 5s in the cardbox, but theory and reality under pressure are two quite different things. I still haven't determined the best way of doing this. So far I have been breaking them into small groups and doing word list recall quizzes. If anyone has any better ideas on this let me know...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shit Happens

The ecology of my dung heap may not be as fascinating as that done by Sir David in more exotic locations but it yielded a fair diversity of wildlife.

I had spent another two days weeding and then digging back over the FTB to be (only about another dozen bucket loads of stones removed).

I was pleased that I found a few worms had moved in. And also this baby frog - or is it a toad? Although once uncovered it was desperate to move out again.

It was time to get muck spreading.

Other than the woodlice and centipedes which made a dash for it I removed a large number of slugs. On a more beneficial note there were a healthy number of worms, which are hopefully now helping the aforementioned new residents munch(?) their way through the soil.

I also came across a newt which very obligingly waited where it was while I went and got my camera and posing before skedaddling.

I had an 'oh no' moment a little later when I heard a popping noise, indicative of a speared toad but there was no sign of such when I pulled the fork out.

I switched to using a spade.

Probably just as well as I then found this belligerent chap. He did not want to leave home, burying himself into the ever diminishing pile. I worked my way carefully around him until there was nowhere else for him to go. He hopped rather forlornly away.

So about one third of the FTB to be covered by end of play yesterday.

Right on cue a replacement pile of muck has just been delivered. Should be plenty to complete the job and another layer on the veggie patch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can You Dig It?

I started digging out the fruit tree bed to be way back on May 2nd.

I have lost track of how many hours, bucket loads of stones, aches and pains this job has entailed. My spreadsheet has fallen by the wayside.

I would guess at least 120 hours of my time.

But today, at about 4.30 p.m., I finished.

Thanks are due to Penny for her help - she certainly got me off to a good start. My nephew Daniel also gave up one afternoon of his time in preference to be dragged around the shops yet again by my sister. Paul also aided in the removal of a particularly large rock (see previous post) and remembering to bring me out coffee some days...

The soil level has dropped about 15 centimetres.

This works out to about 4 cubic metres of unwanted materials removed. This included large slabs of concrete in the last few metres where our builders had obviously been working.

Now I need to go back to where I started and re-weed it.

And then weed the cow muck left over from the veggie patch before forking it in. And begging Margaret for some more.

And then weed and sift the remaining topsoil and fill the bed. I am not sure I have enough but I have a back-up plan.

And then, maybe just maybe, I can order my fruit trees...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kill The Wabbit

Elmer Fudd would be apoplectic.

We have been overrun with bunnies this year.

There are several living in the long bank, and they are quite happy sitting grazing on our lawn until we open the door. Even then they are fairly lazy in their hopping away to safety. The dogs seem quite happy to watch them and then rush over to where they were last seen to sniff and look for them, tails wagging and ears up.

However, it is another matter when they are seen elsewhere...

There was a rabbit in LB12 on the lunchtime walk last week.

The dogs wanted to play with it.

It ran panic-stricken along the bottom of the wall towards the house.

I managed to stop Jen devastating the planted section giving chase but allowed her to drag me up LB9 in pursuit.

The rabbit was scuttling around the pots in front of the house and then darted around the corner to the new patio.

I managed to pull Jen indoors.

I went back out.

It had settled on 'hiding' in the corner between the house and the corridor to the sunroom. It was clearly unwell - it did not move when I approached it. It probably had myxomatosis - the eye that I could see was rather yucky. Apparently the weather we have had in what we laughingly call summer - wet, warm and humid - means that there is an increased risk as the insects that carry the disease are thriving.

Now what to do. I suggested Paul go out and kill it. He suggested that I did the job. We decided on the wimpy course of leave it and see if it went away.

It was still there several hours later.

And then it wasn't.

Squashed rabbit spotted on the road directly opposite where it had been on the 7 pm walk.

We have been overrun with bunnies this year
Bunnies have been runover this year...

Friday, September 04, 2009


So the bank holiday (BMSC) has been and gone. I was in the mix up until the Monday, when I knew I needed to win at least 4 and probably all 5 of the games. The day started well when I got my revenge over Russell, who had done a complete wipeout of me on day 1. And then it went pear-shaped. I think I played well against Mark until I was forced to try a couple of phonies at the end to try to win. Similarly against Ed holding MATELOT he bingoed to empty the bag, killing my bingo with a P. Against Phil I played an outrageous phony near the start, making a hybrid word between FATSIAS and WOODSIA so maybe he deserved to escape when he played (T)ECTA setting up the L hook and emptying the bag. Unfortunately for me I had left the last S and blank in there, and my LAIRIER didn't fit. I at least got some compensation in the last game, beating Paul Gallen for the first time. Of the likely racks that I checked I only missed one bingo that described me perfectly for doing so - BCEEIM? with a floating L...

A disappointing 8th place, tourney rating 194.

A break now from tourneys until the Home International in October. Cardbox under control. I have started working on 6s, starting with blockers that are not hooks of 5s. Also still trying to get my 4s rock solid. Lots of word list recall quizzes and a beautiful colour coded spreadsheet to chart progress and identify my dodgier areas. Especially for Dweeb, I now have the ?Y?E and hooks perfected :)

On other matters my car has been fixed and was delivered home last Friday. Hurrah!

Managed a couple of hours digging/stone clearing on the fruit-bed-to-be on Wednesday with some help from Penny. Looks like an enforced break now for a few days with gales and rain. Luckily the river hasn't made it to the road but is very visible (and audible) from our sunroom. The bulbs I ordered from J Parker arrived mid-week, so thats another job needing attention - only about 300 to plant including Reg's daffodils I dug up for relocation...

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