Middle-and-Off, Please Ump.

‘Tis the season to be outdoors, and for me that means either tending the veggies, cutting the lawn or, better yet, being in the workshop. Apart from the on-going project of making a door for my downstairs bathroom (there’s no rush!) I’ve recently knocked-up a large net and regulation stumps (spring-loaded) as you can see above. My young bloke will love the set-up when he sees it. I’ve got to affix the netting; as you can see, my initial thoughts failed. However, my very first practice throw-down, a leggy that pitched just outside leg took middle -and-leg. It’s like riding a bicycle really, isn’t it!

My strawberries flowering. I’ve two plots of them; the other are select plants of limited number that produce big fruit but far less.

In the garden I find myself aghast each and every day: I’ve never seen such results before! Severe Winter/Spring pruning and a more prudent approach to ground preparation and planting are certainly paying off. Already I can see hundreds of cherries forming whereas last year I got a single mouthful! The number of apricots I saw growing last year was countable on one hand; this year I’m looking for recipes to deal with the potential harvest.

My rockery/wildflower garden area is a delight as I stroll around the place in the early morning with a cup of tea. So many different colours and that will only improve in appearance as the season moves into Summer. The whole place is awash with butterflies, bees and birds.

As my grapevines continue to grow I decided to move my garden swing under the trellis I built. I had three vines but the one in the centre wasn’t doing much. I decided to get rid of it! I yanked it out and the 2-foot long root I got out had a couple of off-shoots. Just for the hell of it I decided to stick it in the teplitsa and if it survived, bonus!

A ‘scrap’ grapevine root is thriving in the greenhouse.

Three years ago I picked up a few ‘conkers’ from the ground outside university. I took them home and packed them in milk cartons full of soil. The following year I had three small Horse Chestnut seedlings…

And Thus Endeth The Hibernation

First job was to replace the wooden ‘window’.

I know it’s been an age … but I’m back to work on my project. Despite a relatively mild winter, there are many jobs that simply cannot be done. But once that snow had finally melted I got out there and got stuck in. After installing the French Windows I had a spare set and, as you can see, I’ve installed them into the workshop. It’s great to be able to work in there and still observe what’s going on.

I ran out of paint!

I’ve been filtering my sand heap to remove all the ‘growth’ and I’ll mix up a suitable render over the coming weeks to enable me to finish the job on the workshop. My aim is to make the entire property look as though is was established in the 17th Century and I think I’m getting there.

Whoever wrote the song claiming that The First Cut is the Deepest is obviously talking twaddle, and certainly doesn’t own a garden. Here, we’ve experienced an unbalanced, yet non-destructive, Springtime. The weather allowed me to prepare the ground far earlier than usual, and so I have concentrated my efforts there.

I have happily only cut the garden lawn to 8cm on the first cut.

Planting preparations

After a few years of gaining knowledge I appear to be something right! I’ve not used the plough this year (after reading something from a farmer’s almanac) and only turned over the patches I intended to grow in. This has proven to reduce weed growth and my plants apparently adore my choice.

I’ve planted:

  • Sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Gherkins
  • Sunflowers
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • French beans
  • Corn
Two lines of spuds… which, if all goes well, will yield me enough starch until April 2020!

Time will tell. I’ve also got a lot going on in the flora and fauna department, and I’m proud to announce that once again, hares, hoopoe, and grouse all decide that my property is worthy of their habitation. I’ve even been fortunate enough for a pair of breeding woodpeckers to see my gardens as the ideal place to rear their young.

Internally, I’m getting on with the downstairs bathroom and I’ve started to plasterboard the pantry/utility room.

More on that next time. So, Until then.. CHEERS!

Chest,Nuts Roasting by an open fire…

I can think of nothing more festive than a glittering tree, a sparkling open fire and a deep layer of brilliant-white snow covering everything outdoors; great-tits squabbling over the hanging coconuts and nuthatches protecting the seed-feeder from the blue-tits.  Of course, this perfect scene is flawed when it comes to building a house:  an open fire is in-conducive to progress!

I certainly made no mistake when it came to designing around a feature-fireplace; the stone flooring compliments the underfloor heating and ensure any red-hot flying ember from the fire lands harmlessly. The problem, of course, is that real fires are hypnotic; you build the fire and set light to it whilst thinking of the jobs ahead and yet, once flaming, that fire draws you in.  One may manage to walk away for a minute to recharge one’s glass, but the magnetism holds still.  Once again one finds oneself standing within bearable distance of the flames, wrapped in thoughts of nothingness whilst trying to remember other jobs on-hand.  A waste of time!  Even when reading a book, that magnificent distraction proves too much.


No real snow to report though even these few inches is enough for me to change tack when it comes to planning jobs.  At least, as you can see, i can get the car out if I need to buy supplies!  It is enough, however, for delivery trucks to waver which in turn limits my potential projects.

I’m getting on with extra electrical socket installations and tomorrow I might even complete the circuit in the kitchen… if the fireplace allows!



That’s Door Day to you and me.  It’s been five or six weeks since I cut a huge hole in the wall (muscles still remember the workout!) and I’ve been rather restricted in my movements not wishing to leave the house unmanned for any lengthy period but here I am, secure again and as happy as the proverbial pig. Triple-glazed, with ‘vent’ option and, of course, their addition now allows me expedited access to the kitchen from the garden.  Not having to walk that extra  60m round-trip might prove detrimental to my stomach girth over time however, I doubt it 😉



So, my next job is to construct the steps on the outside and to decide how to finish the inside.  I have plans, naturally.

So now that the house is safe again, I can drive off and spend the required amount of time in the DIY store to assess and procure the necessities to ready myself for winter in regard to pipe lagging and further insulation.

Some very recent investigation has led me to a canned solution for hanging my plasterboard.  That find has excited me as much as when I discovered WAGO electrical connectors; hanging plasterboard without any help is, I have found, almost impossible.

I’ll give it a whirl in one of the storage rooms and, if successful, run it through the house during the coming months.


Radiating Self-Satisfaction

Never one to wish the summer away, I am of course, aware that winter isn’t too far in front of us.  With this in mind I have completed the installation of four radiators upstairs.  I haven’t built-in any ceilings on the upper-floor as yet so the radiators will not exactly serve their purpose though what they will do is keep the severe chill out of the space.  The loft is heavily insulated but the roof area between the loft area and the external walls is somewhat exposed.
I survived last winter (lows of -28C) by simply laying the floor with insulation and closing the upper floor off.  The only problems I encountered was the cold water feed to the bathroom freezing (at the brass 3-way manifold) but that only happened a handful of times.  Again, learning from that experience, I have reconfigured the piping for the bathroom and now all pipes are situated in the warm zone.

Testing times!

We’ve all heard about the horror stories relating to one’s insurance policy and the ‘fine print’. You only know how good your policy if you have to test it! Why shouldn’t the logic apply to home appliances and systems?
Whilst installing my radiators I had to open the valve on the closed circuit heating system in order to maintain pressure (I have mine at 3 bar) however, getting side-tracked, I neglected to close the stop-cock.  I heard a huge and sudden explosion of water in the laundry/utility room and the boiler had performed beautifully…  a few litres of water were sprayed onto the floor as the boiler reduced its own pressure.  It works!

Again, relating to the aforementioned, having just finished a huge amount of electrical work – that’s to say that now every room on the lower floor has lighting and sockets – I wanted to test my electrical skills, or should I say, “what I remember from my physics lessons?” and so, entirely confident in the work I have done, I cut through a live cable.  The result?  Well, I’m here typing and my electrical work did its job!  Stupid?  Maybe, but I know that my systems do what they are supposed to do because I have tested them…  my insurance policy.

Other News …

My wild flowerbeds are proving successful; I’ve only had to pick out a few weeds from among the honeysuckle, poppies and a dozen other species of flowers that I don’t know the names of!  I don’t care but they really do look great and are very pleasing on the eye at six in the morning when I walk the estate with a freshly-brewed coffee before breakfast.
My French-windows should be ready anytime soon and so my next post will be upon their installation.

My son has just returned from a trip to the UK and he fetched one of my old cricket bats.  Bless him.  Now I’ll have to build a net so we can play properly!

Until then..  Cheers.

Big 'ouse, Rob, big 'ouse!