Thursday, 19 May 2022

Somerdale pavilion parkrun

This is a delayed post as I didn't realise that Darren had taken a photo.

This total chaos is the Somerdale Pavilion parkrun, although when you are running it it is very logical and it is actually one long route, not laps. The start is totally normal and then within 200 metres you reach the curly wurly. Basically it is a grass track that curls into the centre and then uncurls, but the runners never meet. Does that make sense? 

I have my Strava of the route (only the red bits, no idea what the blue is). 

The curly wurly is run three times and the rest of the route is a mystery run.

At the moment I am following a training plan from Garmin to try to improve my speed, so as well as following the 5k route I had to do the first 1.5k really slowly, the next 2k as fast as I could and then the remainder slowly again. It was a bit embarrassing suddenly overtaking loads of runners and then just as suddenly slowing down and them overtaking me again, but if I stick to the plan then in 12 weeks time we will see if it has worked.

Another exciting event in the evening, as we were invited to our neighbours birthday party in a marquee on the marina.

First guests to arrive on the green carpet were the ducks,

but we got there a little later,

and then we saw the balloonist who didn't get an invite so just sailed past.

A very nice night and a good chance to get to know our neighbours. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Half finished pergola

 Darren got out the chop saw to start on a new garden project.

The plan is to make the pergola that looks like a doorway with windows on either side over the wood stores. It could be a bit like the house on the old Play School TV programme, but we aren't having a round window - well probably not. 

I have an idea in my head of what it will look like, and fingers crossed that it works out.

I originally had a plan to put a real door in the gap and we found a great second hand one online, but we are now using that elsewhere, and it perhaps it was a bit over the top anyway. 

After about three hours, and with some nice cut out shapes in the posts, then this is what we have. 

It needs some more posts, then painting and climbing plants growing up it, but so far I like it. 

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Stressful afternoon

We had a very peaceful morning as we packed the car full of stuff and plants last night, so all that we had to do was to get up and then drive down to Bath.

It was a bit of a wrench to leave the garden, particularly as the iris display was trying hard to emulate the famous Van Gogh painting.

Well, in my imagination anyway. I also had to leave the amazing mangave plant that has suddenly sent up a giant spike, and I am really excited to see what is going to happen to it.

Unfortunately there isn't room for it in the car so I will have to wait until I get back to find out. 

Anyway, on the drive down we arranged to buy and collect two large corten metal screens that Darren found on Facebook marketplace. 

We tied old curtains around the carry bars on the top of the car and set off for Chipping Sodbury, which was a half hour drive away. Once there we handed over the £100 in cash and then found out that the screens were unbelievably heavy. 

We dragged them out on to the road and eventually managed to hoist them on top of the car. It took ages to tie them on to the roof, and because we couldn't get the rope underneath them we had to tie it through the inside of the car.

Terrified we set off, accompanied by dodgy sounding scraping noises and we had to stop part way along the route as the load suddenly moved. Finally we breathed again as we arrived home. We managed to roll the top one off the car, but it was too heavy for me, and we just missed it going through the back windscreen.

I couldn't cope with the idea of lifting off the last piece so I went to find our lovely, strong neighbour called Simon who helped Darren lift it off and then carried it on his own, and for some reason barefoot, down the garden for us.

Just got to decide what to do with then now. 

Monday, 25 April 2022

Missing floor

We thought that we had solved the damp floor problem by moving the kitchen sink, however, when we got back after two weeks away it was still as damp as ever.

We then decided on the idea of digging up the floor to see what we can find.

Well, we now have a big hole in the floor but are non the wiser about the damp. The only thing we do know is that the pipe to the old sink did not leak after all!

Next issue - a big pile of rubble in the garden. My brainwave was to dig up the very sad looking rockery at the bottom of the garden and make it bigger and higher. 

I had collected lots of stones, bricks and rocks from around the garden, so I started again.

It worked well, if a bit wobbly and the next bit was the hardest. I had to dig out the existing soil, back fill with rubble to raise the level and then put the soil back on top. I was doing nicely with my trusty lady spade, but progress was slow.

Darren watched from a distance and offered advice and encouragement. Top of the list was getting a bigger spade.

Next thing I know he bought a man size spade for himself and got stuck in for the whole afternoon.

Result - rubble gone and a lovely new flower bed to plant, but still a damp kitchen. 

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Green roofs

Not sure if it should be green roofs or rooves, but anyway, we now have four of them. Work started a few weeks ago on a bin store, bike store and two log stores.

The idea was to hide all of these stores behind the hedge and Darren took down a fence at the bottom of the garden, and reused all of the wood to build bases. An old door or two were cut down for the roofs and I filled them with soil and gravel to make the green bit.

It's all starting to grow and I have been finding 'treasures' to put in amongst the plants. These include a fossil of an ammonite, part of a very old glass bottle and a tile from the old brass mill that says '14" and 12" right oven' on it, whatever that might mean. I showed it to Wendy from next door and unfortunately we both agreed that it looks like a mini gravestone.

I think that it will blend in a bit better as the plants grow, so will post another picture in a couple of months or so.

I also have plans to put a door at the end to add an air of mystery to the end of the garden, something a little like this. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Speaker's House

Today we caught the train to Marylebone Station and hopped on the Santander bikes to Trafalgar Square. After a nice whizz around the Raphael exhibition, and coffee and cake with Susan and Paul we headed for the main event of the day.

On the way there we passed Horse Guard's Parade and were just in time to see the changing of the guard.

Excellent marching and synchronised dismounting of the horses whilst wearing totally impractical boots. However, I was very pleased to see that one of the new guards was a woman. 

Just down the road we reached the Palace of Westminster and saw a very rare phenomenon.

Look very closely and you can see that the clocks tell two different times. This is because the renovations are not quite complete and the final clock needs a bit more work and cleaning before they start it up again.

We had a 2.30pm appointment to visit the Speaker's House inside the Houses of Parliament. It is actually a surprisingly grand and beautiful house hidden away right under the clock tower.

There was only 15 people on our tour and we learned lots of interesting facts about the Speaker, but no photos were allowed. 

For instance, the latest speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is the 158th Speaker and in the olden days nobody wanted the job as it could be dangerous, particularly if Parliament upset the King of the time. This is why they are ceremonially dragged, possibly kicking and screaming, to the chair, but nowadays they applied for the job, get paid for it, and it is a fantastic place to live.

There was loads of security and armed police everywhere and after a very interesting hour we ended up back on the street outside.

Back on the bikes to the station and a quick train ride home. Good day out. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Golf at St Ives

Today we are up on the hill above St Ives and we have a free round of golf included with our booking. I haven't picked up a club for about five years, so can I still do it?

Excellent first shot on the par three course, but then it fell apart a bit as I got there in eight. Ditto the next hole.

I was having huge problems with the shot being either too short, or more frequently miles too long.

I also found a little stream and lost the ball under a bridge. At the end of 18 holes my worst hole was a nine and best was four fours. Daz did better and it was really good fun.

This afternoon we walked in to St Ives. We have heard so much about this place from so many people, but it was actually lovelier than I expected.

The tide was in, and the water was clear so we could see the beautiful sandy beaches beneath it. The weather was beautiful again, and we followed the promenade around the town.

We went round the headland and found another beach with houses built directly on to it, and one house had sand banked right up to the window sills.

The clouds were very low on this side, so a very different look, although it was very pleasant and people were swimming in the sea.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Lost gardens of Heligan

Today we made our way further down into Cornwall, in fact nearly to the end, and visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

It was a huge estate that was abandoned after the First World War. The house was sold during the 1970's and the gardens were left completely overgrown and forgotten until 1990.

It was then gradually restored and brought back to life. Unfortunately, March is not the best time to visit, as it is famed for its exotic gardens and they die back in the winter only gradually start growing again around now.

However, you can imagine it in its full glory, and spring is definitely taking hold.

I do recommend the Burma Rope Bridge across the valley

although the swing on the Adventure Playground was more exciting.

As members of the RHS we got in for free so I didn't mind not making the most of the gardens, and I managed to spend double the entry costs in the on site Garden Centre, so it worked out well in the end.

Lots of fantastic purchases including our own, currently quite small, gunnera manicata. See example below - we have left ours in the car and Darren is hoping that it will grow into something similar overnight.

Tonight we are staying at the glorious Tregenna Castle, with beautiful views over St Ives, although not from our room this time.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Barnstaple, Bude and Newquay

Up with the lark today, partly because my watch put itself forward two hours instead of one. No idea how that occurred, but it had us fooled for a while.

We nipped into Barnstaple for a beautiful jog along the Tarka Trail.

I ran for 10k and stopped, while Darren ran over the bridge and in a loop over the next bridge. I sat and waited with my camera to record a sprint finish, but the other bridge was closed so he ran back and lost me.  So I just have a photo of the bridge instead.

After breakfast we headed to Bude and stayed to enjoy it all for a couple of hours.

Finally we landed at Newquay for the night. Darren found us a fantastic B and B with a lovely view,

although our car is very worried as seagulls keep landing on its roof.

After such a busy day we are staying in for the night with Cornish pasty each and a glass of wine or two.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Two one out of two's today

Confusing title today. I was thinking of writing.      '2 1 out of 2's 2day' in the modern style, but that is probably even more confusing.

Anyway, this morning we did the Woolacombe Dunes parkrun, and the Run Director told us that it is one of the two hardest parkruns in the country.

He wasn't wrong, although I would say that for me it is also one of the two most beautiful runs, along with Hove Promenade.

The start is up at the back of the dunes and there is a gradual slope downhill that gets steeper once it gets to the sand dunes, and then down on to the beach.

From there it was about a mile straight along the beach into the wind, and then up the Dune of Doom.

Darren is posing for the photo on the way back to the car, but we did really run, or rather speed walk over the top of the dune and then down the other side.

Then it was a run along the dunes and back up to the top.

Here I am thankfully nearly at the end. Darren did it in an incredible 26.50, and I managed 32.37.

Back to the hotel for a well earned rest and then off to see Westward Ho! This is one of only two towns in the world with an official exclamation mark in the name. The other is Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! in Qu├ębec, which is totally ridiculous.

Westward Ho! was named after a best selling book of the same name written in 1855 by Charles Kingsley, that was set in nearby Bideford. A tourist opportunity was then spotted and a hotel was built on the coast of to the west of Bideford and called Westward Ho! Hotel. As more buildings were gradually added they were all called the same thing, and there you have it - Westward Ho!

Not having any expectations, it was actually a real pleasure with a lovely terrace on the way to the seafront.

Also a beautiful beach and tasty ice cream, which is all you ever need by the seaside.

RHS Rosemoor

Today we are in Devon at the RHS garden called Rosemoor. It is a lovely spring day and the magnolia are looking glorious.

There weren't too many plants in bloom yet, and the gunnera which will be enormous by summer was only just starting to burst upwards.

We then got to the fruit garden and the time, effort and skill that went in to the pruning was incredible. "This is the best pruning that I have ever seen!" I muttered excitedly to Darren. 

Unfortunately it was obvious that he was very underwhelmed, and even I can see that he does have a point. 

All too soon we had walked around the whole garden, although much too long for Darren I think.

Hopefully this holiday will improve for him tomorrow.