Sunday 28 February 2021

Painted the fence

 Four days of unbroken sunshine, and full days of fence painting, but it's now finished!!

Just in the nick of time too, as the temperature drops tomorrow so the paint would be too cold to dry. I have also painted both gates at the front of the house, and the bird box on the pergola. 

The lovely weather has done wonders for the garden. It was only about a week ago that I was thinking that none of the crocuses around the pond had survived the winter, and then within about two days they all popped up. 

Within a day about half a dozen bumble bees had arrived and they were all landing on the petals and burrowing head first into the pollen. 

They are a bit too heavy and the flowers rock about dangerously,, and it gets even worse when two of them accidentally both land on the same crocus.

Good news on the goldfish front, we definitely have five babies, maybe more, and I am sure that they are too big for the other fish to eat them. 

Finally, Darren has planted the basin that we used in the outside toilet, and it is now officially a bird bath. 

Disappointingly, there are very few birdy visitors to our garden, although as I think the quote goes, 'if you build it they will come', or something along those lines. 

Friday 26 February 2021

New picture

Exciting morning today as I went to collect a new picture that we have bought from a local artist called Sally Stern. 

She only started selling her paintings during the lock down and she is really popular already. It is now hanging on our landing and we think, looking lovely.

I am still painting fences and I ran out of paint at the back with only three slats left to paint. This is a guess, but after about 500 slats it is disappointing to get so near, yet having to buy another pot of paint.

In the front garden I have splashed out on a more expensive decking paint for the fence and gates and it is going on well. The idea of going with dark grey is to match the house, but apparently the plants show up better with a dark background.

I think it might be working as the leaves on the right look much brighter. 

Finally, our goldfish have all livened up after the cold winter weather and what a lovely surprise, we seem to have at least two new baby fish. No photos yet as they seem to be hiding in the plants but I am keeping a close eye out for them now. 

Thursday 25 February 2021

Painting the fence

Wow, I am two full days in to the fence painting project and I have to say that it's a very long fence.

Since this photo was taken I have squeezed behind the pergola and painted half way along the side section. Annoyingly I also had to re do a two metre section yesterday when a sudden shower washed some of the paint away.

The information on the pot says one coat only is required, but that is a complete lie. However, the sun came out this afternoon and I got loads done, so I don't really mind.

I have also been looking online and found a fantastic photo of an outdoor suite that would look amazing on the upstairs terrace.

I have given the photo to my personal carpenter and I am hoping that he will get started on it soon. Our next door neighbour has a pile of spare scaffold planks in his front garden that would provide most of the timber. I fancy making the cushions and I am growing some plants from seeds for the wooden planter. 

Sunday 21 February 2021

Time has flown by

I have just realised that I haven't written a blog for ages, but life hasn't been very exciting lately. 

We have been busy preparing our VAT refund claim on the house build, and have collected every receipt for material used to build it. It's quite a complicated process and not everything can be claimed for, so we have had to check every item. It's almost done now and we have a pile of 400 receipts to send off. Phew. 

A few months ago Darren bought me a new mobile phone with a supposedly brilliant camera feature. I kept trying to use it and it has about ten different settings,but everything I photographed came out fuzzy and faded, so in the end I gave up with it. Last night Darren borrowed it to take a photo and found out that the lense was covered in a protective plastic covering. 

That was very annoying and a bit embarrassing, and this morning I went to try it out and took some arty shots even though it was dark and trying to rain. 

It has been born again and works excellently. The top photo is of our street, and we are right at the other end, and the above is a random teasel. 

Another task that has been taking up my time is the floor of the greenhouse. I saw some mosaics on line, and decided to give it a go myself. We bought some stones from Wickes along with sand and cement and I made a start. 

It was a bit trial and error, but I found out while making the first one that it helps massively if you sort the stones into similar shapes and colours before you start. Also, it's very important not to walk on it until the concrete has completely dried! Naming no names. Apart from that, it's just good fun. 

Today's effort, concrete mixed by Darren, which is the hardest part of the job. 

Wednesday 10 February 2021

It's not Thailand

We had booked to be on a beach holiday in Thailand at the moment, but Bicester is sort of similar.

Lots of water to paddle in, and the sun was out. Lots of open space and we had a lovely time exploring. 

Today we walked around the village of Launton which is next door to Graven Hill. It is quite posh and like everywhere else nearby, it is also quite waterlogged and icy. 

Fortunately we made it along this pathway without disaster and then found that the sheep had a sensible idea and were all relaxing quietly in a warm barn. 

Walked back along the main road and checked out the building work which will eventually be a road bridge over the railway. 

Monday 8 February 2021

Mind the electric fence

Very cold day today, so ideal for a cross country walk with all of the mud frozen solid. Or so I thought.

We walked from home to a footpath and followed it across the fields. 

Lovely views and a well marked path. Also long lines of electric fencing and notices about cows in fields, although I was pleased that we didn't see a single one. 

The mud wasn't actually completely frozen, but we made good progress, although it was a bit difficult at times. 

We made it to the halfway point and then followed a main road for a while before finding a different path to take us back. We had to go under the main train line and the puddle was extremely deep. Fortunately we both managed to cling to the side wall and got through to the other side. 

Shortly after this excitement we had to make the choice of either the right or left hand field, and there was a big hedge between them. I looked at the map on my phone and said right, but actually I found out later that I had the map upside down and should have said left. 

We realised my mistake when we got to the dead end of our field and could see the path continuing on the other side of the hedge. Then we noticed that there was a very deep stream to jump across to get to the path. 

Darren jumped first, making it inelegantly across. My jump wasn't quite so good, and I slipped down to the edge of the stream. I saved myself from a dunking by frantically crawling out. It was then that I headbutted the electric fence - good news - it wasn't turned on, but I don't recommend this method of testing it. 

Back home for some hot coffee and homemade apple crumble. 

Thursday 4 February 2021

Front gate finished

Two blogs on the trot and two finished jobs! Happy days.

At 7.30am this morning the doorbell rang and two pieces of metal arrived. We had decided to put in galvanised metal cross pieces for the fence next to the gate so that it matched better. (We bought the metal gate frame from another company, the wooden posts from an Oxford based wood shop, and the western red cedar slats from yet another different company.) 

Darren spent all day working out the spacing of the cedar wood and then drilling holes in the steel to fit it. By lunchtime it was pouring with rain, but he kept going and by the end of the day it was done. 

The wood matches the timber cladding on the house, and once the sun has been on it for a few months it should be the same colour.

Really pleased with it, and the gaps between the slats will allow sun from the back to occasionally reach the front garden. 

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Front garden finished

 So yesterday I built the final wall in the front garden.

I can't imagine what Trevor (the bricklayer who built our house) would think when I stopped for lunch with only four more bricks to lay. Also, there was only four bricks remaining out of 13,500. After the break, I knocked up the final concrete mix, and in the end, I only needed three bricks, so we can use the last one to hold the gate open. 

Darren has also achieved something fantastic, as he has cleared and tidied the garage, so tonight for the very first time, the car is tucked away, warm and dry.

Photo showing the car in the garage - you will have to take my word for it.

I saved another £115 today at the garden centre and bought two more balls on sticks for the front garden. That's it now, no more purchases. 

Breaking news - I clumsily managed to knock one of the bricks off the wall, so tomorrow I will have to do a concrete mix for only one brick!