HOME & GARDEN: Daffodils

Not the greatest pictures, perhaps…

On the way home from Hannah’s we stopped in at Season’s Garden Centre. A new business that’s recently appeared (after years of watching construction and wondering what was coming!), between Chatteris and Somersham.

But they do at least show some intent!

I bought five daffodil bulb sets. Every year as the daffodils come out I long for more at home, in our garden. And slowly I’ve been adding to our meagre stock. But it seems to be taking forever!

My attempts with umbellifers, or cow parsley type plants, are faring even worse! Only the stuff nature plants flourishes. The two seed sets I’ve bought have yielded naught, alas.

These King Alfred are, I think, a bit bigger.

I got four sets of cheaper generic narcissi, and one of a larger more expensive King Alfred variety. There are probably a similar quantity of pre-established daff’s in this particular border.

These are amongst the few from previous years.

We don’t know what the little purple multi-flowers are. We’ll have to Google image search ‘em, I guess. Which Teresa has just done… grape hyacinths, apparently! Or muscari armeniacum!

I planted five new bulb sets today.

Believe it or not this long thin flower bed has actually already been weeded a couple of times since xmas! Still haven’t mowed any lawn. Reckon I’ll wait till it gets a bit warmer first. Mind, it’s warmer outside right now than it is inside our home!

MiSC: Squirrelympics!?

A friend on Facebook just shared this. How great are squirrels? Just watch to learn. A fun and uplifting video.

We have squirrels. We also have a walnut tree, actually in a neighbour’s garden. But overhanging ours. When we moved in here, I wondered, for a while, how and why we were continually being carpet-bombed with empty walnut shells.

Reflecting rather poorly on my Sherlockian powers of deduction, it wasn’t until I was literally sat ‘neath the trees at the back end of the garden, that I twigged. I could hear debris falling around me and I could hear an odd ‘scrit-scrit-scrit-scrit’ sound.

I looked up, and cool as a cucumber, there was a rather ballsy (very literally) squirrel, leisurely enjoying chomping away on his walnuts. I don’t know how many squirrels we have living nearby. The most I see is a couple chasing each other.

As this video demonstrates, it can be quite rewarding to pay more attention to these fabulous little furry critters.

MiSC: Nature – Amazing Sunrise/Rainbow…

Arrived to this at work today!

Today’s sunrise was garlanded with a rainbow, putting me in mind of that rather lovely John Sebastian lyric about ‘painting rainbows all over your blues’.

The initial sunrise, en-route.

As the day lightened, it was beautifully sunny, even though the sun hadn’t as yet cracked the horizon. My route to work passes alongside a canal or river waterway. Which is where I got the above shot.

I couldn’t capture this very well, alas.

Then I spotted what I think is termed a ‘sun dog’, or little partial ribbon of rainbow. Which proceeded to grow, till it eventually became a phenomenal double rainbow. Sadly the camera on my iPhone doesn’t do these morning glories (aye… steady!) any justice at all.

Tried zooming in to enhance colour intensity.
Stopped at Swavesey playing field to snap this.

The view the other way was amazing as well. The strange yellow light is totally not captured by my iPhone. Aaargh!

Trying to capture the yellow cast in the east.
An earlier stop, at Swavesey’s church.
That strange dark/light rainbow effect.

None of my photos really catch the intensity of the colours. But you do get a sense of how the rainbow refraction makes the sky ‘inside’ the rainbow lighter, and ‘outside’ darker. I wonder why that is? Must find out!

MUSiC: Joni’s For The Roses, 50th Anniversary Edition

It’s incredibly rare that I hear of this sort of thing before it happens. More typically I learn about it long after. And frequently – the Burt Bacharach or Magma complete box-sets, for example – it’s so long after that they are no longer available at anything but insanely high prices, if at all.

But, for once, I’ve heard some fab news with almost perfect timing. Joni’s For The Roses, released in ‘72, the year I was born, is now, like me, 50 years old. And it has been released in a remastered form, on vinyl. Including a rather snazzy blue version. So I’ve ordered me a copy.

Joni, Nordic mermaid nature girl Goddess.

Teresa and I are currently on holiday in Cardiff, with family, visiting my sister Abbie, and her husband Dan, who’re now living here, in the Welsh capital. When I learned of this reissue, yesterday, I immediately ordered it. And today I got an email confirming it has been dispatched. We travel home today, so I’m looking forward to it arriving soon.

For The Roses, her fifth studio album, is part of Joni’s early years run of pure gold. Rather like Woody Allen’s purple patch, or Tom Waits in his prime; such artistic genius and musical gloriousness is to be savoured and treasured.

Overshadowed by her two best-selling albums – Blue, which was her previous release, and Court And Spark, which came next – I hold Roses to be an overlooked meisterwerk. My picks/favourites are Barangrill, Electricity, and Woman Of Heart And Mind.

According to the Wikipedia article on For The Roses ‘she originally intended for the cover to be a drawing entitled For the Roses, the imagery in which relating to her feelings on the music industry.’ I’d love to see the artwork in question! I wonder if I can do some sleuthing in that direction?

MiSC: I Knew It! Chatting with Cats…

I appear to have Chester’s attention!

I knew it! Or, rather, it’s what I wanted to believe. And, in all honesty, this study seems so small as to be of questionable scientific merit. But it’s in line with my confirmation bias, so I’m running with it!

Anyway, I doubt anything would stop Teresa and I chatting in our baby-ish ways with our cats. We did it with Tigger, now we’re doing it with Chester. It’s natural! We love it. And, so it seems, so does he.


DAYS iN: Holidays – Staycation, Day 1


The plan for today is extremely modest; lazy morning, late lunch, a trip to Huntingdon to look at antiques and walk by the river, maybe sit and read. And poss’ a movie back home with dinner, to finish.

We had booked a small cottage via AirB&B. But, for the first time ever, we had to cancel. Times are tight! And, by the looks of things, likely to get worse. We would only have bee. Just outside Norwich. So not far! But instead we’ll be home.

Pancakes… and look at that expression!

We’ll try and make it feel like a holiday with little day trips. Like the one we’re about to leave on now… Just finishing a moules marinierre and pancake lunch, and then orff we go!

Oh, and a literal footnote; yesterday some Brazilian flip-flops arrived. No doubt just in time for the change from summer to autumn!

Later we went for a walk along the river in Huntingdon. The sun came out here and there, and we had a picnic type snack, and sat and read in the car!

A venerable aulde tree.
Boaty folk enjoying the river.
Being by rivers is so calming.

HOME/DiY:bShed Shenanigans – Installing a Door

Ta-dah! My best door yet.

Yesterday I started opening up what was formerly just a window, with a view (geddit!?) to introducing a door instead.

The ‘before’ state.

And then today I actually got the door cut down to size and installed. It was a funny old process. I managed to size the door on the first cut. Unusual for me! And I had a load of plastic shims that were massively helpful in doing a better fit/install than most of my previous efforts with ‘Dianas’.

Viewed from inside.

I really like the warm glow in the above picture. The evening sunlight coming through the tree, the leaves dappling the honey coloured light… ‘tis lovely!

Lunching, whilst working.

Backtracking a bit, above was today’s luncheon break. French toast, sliced apple, and cream o’tomato soup. Yum! The door became a temp’ table, in the manner of Alan Partridge’s ‘Apache Solutions’ pitch to Dante’s Fireplaces (what’s the burning issue!?). Like Alan, I didn’t have a hat hard-on…

So, recapitulating the process:

A new opening is cut out.

The new opening was wider than the original window. So I had to add a new vertical structural member. And I didn’t have the exact right timber, to match the rest of the framing.

The internal view: note new right hand beam.
Offering up the as yet un-trimmed door.

As you can see, in the above pic, the door was too tall. So I had to trim a few inches off the bottom. But luckily the bottom was oversized (ooh, matron!), so I could shave a bit off. And to finish, a side by side of before and after.

I’m very pleased with this change.

I’m chuffed with how this turned out. And I might also add windows at this end, poss’ even on both sides… Hmmm!?

Potential colour scheme?

And finally (again!), a potential colour scheme. On the left is ‘Wood Pigeon’, and on the right ‘Tell Me A Secret’. Both are Valspar, B&Q’s paint range. Which I really like. And I love the colour names. Silly, perhaps. But satisfying!

HOME/DiY: Shed!

Yesterday I got the two back panels of the shed roughly in situ’. I kind of wanted to go further. But I didn’t have the right fixtures (coach-bolts!). So I ordered some from Screwfix.

They arrived today. So it was on with the show… This shot shows how the tree at the back of the Arden overhangs this newest shed.

Note the little brace, on the left panel. I had a few others in different places, just holding stuff roughly in plane. I did all this assembly on my own. It was quite tricky!

All the panels needed the bottom framing element – at the furthest end, above – replacing, as the shed was pretty old, and the bottom was a bit rotten in places (very rotten in some!). I did all that before assembly, except for this final panel.

I moved a few bits inside the shed, so I could work on it internally.

Got the larger of the two side doors in place. I’m not sure about retaining the doors in the long side, as that doesn’t suit our long narrow garden too well. I’ll come back to this later!

The longer and lower side of the shed, running along Sean’s – our northern neighbour’s – fence.

Note how the panel on the left has five verticals, whilst the one on the right had just four. Evidence of this being a self-build project, perhaps, by whoever made this shed originally?

This panel, originally the left of the shed, is what’s now the back, facing the far end of our long garden. I’m thinking about putting a pretty large window in. So we can see to the back of the garden, enjoy evening sunlight, and see the big old tree that’s only feet away.

This larger opening has two smaller doors that go in it. Again, I’m thinking I might change the layout a bit, in the fullness of time. These two doors are the last major components of the shed walking ‘as is’ that remain to do. Then there’s the roof and floor!

One of the new timbers is very obvious in the above image. Also worthy of note is that the window in this photo survived transit and re-assembly unbroken. Whereas the other window – below – didn’t!

Note another supporting brace, in the above picture. This was the right end, but is now the front facing aspect of the shed, that you see as you come down the garden. As can be seen in the next pic’, below.

There’s another highly visible new bit of timber along the bottom of the above panel. Plus the lowest piece of timber cladding on this face was rotten, and fell off/to bits! That’ll need replacing.

The whole shed might want shifting, about three or four inches towards the fence. I’ll defola need help doing that! But in the meantime, there’s a bit of a gap here.

The neighbours fence is falling down in places along this part. Is there sufficient gap, I wonder, to allow for minor repairs and weatherproofing painting/treatment?

The strip of garden south of the shed, ‘twixt the shed and Ruben and Anne’s garden is pretty narrow! If I can shift the whole shed towards Sean’s, we’ll gain a bit more space here. Albeit only three or four inches!

Teresa arrived home whilst I was chatting to Chris and his partner, our relatively new neighbours, at no. 66. She was really impressed that I’d ‘got it up’ all by my own! Not that you can tell that from this pic’.

Looking into the shed interior as we go down to the rear/far end of the garden.

Teresa’s approbation of my efforts is more visible here, methinks. Also visible here are the two doors yet to be affixed to the larger side openibg.

Looking back towards the house. My what a tight passage we have! If we can shift the whole shed back a few inches, it’ll help ease our passage…

This is the view, sat in our deckchairs, behind the shed, looking up at the venerable aulde tree, around 7pm this evening. What a beauty, eh!?

So, sometimes it really does pay to be a scavenging hoarder! This old door, a Freecycle acquisition going back four or five years, perhaps, is going to be ideal – with some judicious trimming – as the new front door, probably roughly where I’ve leaned it in the above picture

DAYS iN: Home & Garden

Hollyhock avenue.

Yesterday and today I’ve been out in the garden, filling in a hole I dug a whiles back. I had hare-brained plans to dig an underground drum bunker music studio. Actually I still do. But I was eventually persuaded that, for now, such schemes weren’t really on.

More Hollyhocks.

I took these photos whilst working in the garden. What an absolutely gorgeous day it’s been! Our long thin garden is looking lovely. To my eyes at any rate. It’s cluttered and messy, just like ever single room in our home! And that’s actually something I’m determined to start dealing with better.

Look at the roses. Lovely!

I haven’t bothered to document the re-filling of the concrete slab ‘ole. Tho’ I may take some pics tomorrow. As there’s (literally) tons more earth to shift. Pretty flowers and grasses seem more uplifting!

Our ‘cottage garden’ long grasses are out of control.

Fortunately the large tree at the end of the garden meant I was mostly in the shade when doing the earth-moving. We wound up inviting some new-ish neighbours over to have a look around our garden, which was very nice. But it did stop me from doing as much spade work as I’d hoped.

‘Strategic neglect’ creates meadow!

Yesterday I picked up two spades and two forks, all nice old fashioned stuff, from a local Facebook seller, for £5 each. I thought these would be useful for this job, and just to have generally.

Returning to the theme of clutter. I’m determined that 2022 will be the year I turn that side of our home life around. In every area: every room, every outbuilding, the garden. The whole damn lot!

‘Egbert the Egret’, by his ‘nest’.

And to finish, a pic of a bird sculpture. We got two of these, one for us, and one for my mum. It’s not the sort of thing I’d normally go for. But Teresa wanted it, and I’m mellowing and allowing her to change me, in many ways. For the better, I hope!?