Oh, it feels good to be back, to be able to blog at will. I hadn’t realised how much blogging had become an established part of my week – not just sharing the experiences and (I hope) the excitement of making things better, but I now realise that whilst writing the blog I reflect on progress to date, which helps keep the whole project in perspective for me.
Talking of perspective, I think the shot below catches well how steep the area is that I am currently trying to groom. More matted grass has been removed, and more rock exposed. The more I clear, the closer I get to a patch of Rhododendron ponticum that needs to be removed. Some of this is relatively easy, but some of the roots have worked their way fully into clefts in the rock and are thus very very tricky to remove. Below we show a good example:
I am still not sure that these photos give a proper sense of the size of these beasts, but I can assure you that this was a really man-sized root, and we had to break off huge quantities of earth before we could shift it to the bonfire site.
This work, along with work on the building, has been temporarily halted while Jane is away on her summer holiday, leaving Mike and I are pretty much chained to the cafe all day. (Do I hear violins??) When we get a chance to return to our day jobs, I will be pleased to get back here. On the photo, the rock coloured areas are definitely cleared, whilst the ‘brown leaf’ coloured areas are pretty nearly cleared, with just a thin layer of root and leaf remaining to be removed. Unfortunately, I have created an obstacle to progress here because back in March we deposited unwanted earth from another project to the bottom left of the photo and I now need to move it elsewhere if we wish to continue clearing down this rock. It should only take a day or two to move the materials, but first I need to prepare a longer term home (adjacent to the bonfire site) where this soil/leaf combo can fully decompose in peace before we move it to line the ‘cleared’ bonfire site to form the basis of a new garden.
Just before we left Norfolk, some Dutch friends of our gave us some Astrantia seeds, from which we have just grown our first full flower, proudly displayed below. Last week, the Gardener’s World programme showed how you can divide and replant perennials in summer (which books do not advise) so we are running our own trial. If the advice on Gardener’s World was correct, we should soon have 14 healthy plants from the sub-divisions we made from our one Astrantia plant.
Now all of this, along with lots of cleaning / breaking down walls / wall paper stripping / disposing of rubbish and other mundane and/or repetitive tasks brings you up to speed with our progress. So Team White is using our enforced relative inactivity to consider next steps, and we will soon be taking on the following:
This is one of the few pieces of work for which we will be getting people in. This entire ‘fire escape’ becomes redundant (strictly speaking) when our new staircase is installed, although we plan to keep the lower two levels to give convenient external access to two suites of rooms. To optimally use space, we will block up the door you can see at the top of the staircase soon, which will make the highest level of balcony and stairs redundant. As it happens, we have an alternative use lined up for the stairs, so in a couple of weeks this area will be scaffolded by a local firm, and then another firm will come in to cut away the top of the fire escape.
Future works 2 covers the windows you can see here at the back of floor 2. These are on the wall directly beneath the fire escape being removed, so we will wait to begin work after the heavy lifting work is completed.
And finally (for now at least) I have had a light-bulb moment regarding a patch of rough grass on our lower level garden. This will mostly only be seen from the higher level (partly as relatively few people park or walk on the lower level, and partly because it currently cannot be seen from the road) I realise that a colourful tapestry of flowers that can tolerate wind and wet, and which are no more than 60cm high, might make a really good view from the house. So obviously, I now need to spend some time with my gardening books to check how Gertrude would have approached this and make plans – such a shame I need to spend time studying this!