Is a bird on the stand worth anything?

Jane is back at work, on cafe duties today, so we are – theoretically – able to return to the refurbishment tasks. On the other hand, as we also haven’t had a day off in weeks, we both decided to take it easy today.
My version of taking it easy was, now that the old fire escape slope has been removed, to begin dragging the soil and leafage which had previously been trapped under the slope down the hill.

The view from the cafe window this morning

…and the view this afternoon

Whilst pulling things through with a trusty rake, I uncovered a sprawling rhodo stump which I removed with surgical precision – via several whacks with an axe and a considerable degree of ‘lift and twist’ followed by a solid yank.

One fewer (less?) rhodo stump for this slope

Between you and me, Lola was hilarious with the rake. She has previously barked at many mechanical objects – the chain saw, the hoover, the milk frother – but today she excelled herself, barking like a loon at the rake. Even when not in motion. Even if I laid it on the grass and tried to show her what a very friendly rake it was. Perhaps I am just not very good at explaining things?

slowly removing the rubbish

As we continue to clear junk off the site, it is gratifying to see the flora and fauna return to what we assume might pass as normal around here. We now have several pairs of swifts nesting in the eaves of the old building, and we have recently noticed a buzzard visiting relatively frequently. We are hoping that her/his sentinel pose on top of our post (designed for holding an advertisement board, but lets not get into semantics) indicates s/he might be looking to make this his/her spot.

Our buzzard (or at least we hope s/he stays locally)

This afternoon, Mike went to check his other ladies. He had given his bees something of a wide berth during the very hot weather, but after the weather broke he has been rather heavily committed. Today he was pleased to report they all look well, if a little hemmed in by an impressive volume of honey. His next step requires one of us to nip to the Bodnant bee supplies, so more of this in the next blog or two. In case you are interested, the weather has broken to the extent that I am sitting here on 28th August – that is AUGUST – in two jumpers, with a duvet wrapped around my legs, and with finger-less gloves on my hands which are really too cold to type.

Whilst Mike checked his bees, I started my next task. Yes, this is me taking it easy…

We have finally worked out what to do with this lower level area, so I am trying to clear the area on the right hand side…

My next project…

…which we will then cover in topsoil and seed it to lawn. In the meantime, I need to move last years rhodo growth, which had been stored at the far end to die back, to the front end where it can be burned without bothering the bees, so that will be a lot of lugging things from one area to another.

…have just begun

Still, all of the recent hard work with Alex has meant that I was able to re-site the strawberry plants into two clean raised beds last week, and over the weekend I have sowed seeds into a further 3 beds. Here’s hoping I don’t run out of raised bed space between now and sowing the winter crops…

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