Wednesday 30 May 2018

Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - May, 22-28

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I can't believe how quickly May is passing by and that I am nearly at the end of the first month of my picture a day project.

May has definitely been a month of two extremes here, ranging between bright sunshine and scorching temperatures to torrential rain and impressive thunderstorms.

Last week was another week of flying solo, with Martin at work, though he is now off for the next three weeks and there is plenty on the calendar to keep us occupied ... once we get up to date with house and garden chores.

So, this was me for last week ...

Day 22 - After a morning of cleaning the muck out of the gutter, left behind from last week's sloppy builders, and a marathon ironing session I was more than ready for half an hour just chilling in the garden. These three delphiniums are going to be just amazing. Mum bought them at the end of the season a couple of years ago for £1 apiece and they just keep on flowering. Last year they flowered three times and that was in a garden full of brick dust. There are currently 22 flower spikes and no brick dust so I am hoping for a pretty impressive display.

Day 23 - After a couple of days trying to get kind of straight inside I decided to start work on my garden before and after posts for my blog and it was lovely taking in the new patio, once I’d moved all of the odds and ends that were just laying around waiting for something to happen with them. I’m really liking how this space is turning out, it seems that we made some wise planting choices at the end of the season last year.

Day 24 -These both arrived today and I’d love to say that I spent a chilled out hour in the garden reading them. I didn’t. I spent the morning making it to the bottom of the ironing pile which has been building up for about four weeks and the afternoon cleaning the inside windows. I am, however, always excited to receive both and am very much looking forward to sitting down and having a browse over the weekend. 

Day 25 - Today was a funny old day. It rained pretty much solidly all day. My sewing machine came back from being serviced and seems to have got damaged in transit so that was a bit stressful. I didn’t really feel like getting on with anything and couldn’t even have a wander round the garden, which is always good for spotting something joyful. It was Martin's last day at work for three weeks and we did have a lovely evening in front of the TV with a Chinese from a different Chinese takeaway to our usual favourite, which is closed. I didn't take any photos today at all, so here is one of the view looking up through the pergola that I took a few days ago. 

Day 26 - Martin and I had a full day pottering in the garden today, under the watchful eye of the green man we bought from Rosslyn Chapel when we visited a few years ago. Martin is certain that the garden has come on in leaps and bounds since he’s been in situ. We spent our day just gently getting on with bits and bobs. We didn’t let the morning's rain showers put us off and were rewarded with a glorious afternoon of sunshine.

Day 27 - After some pretty impressive thunder and lightning in the night it was a pleasant surprise to wake up to warm sunshine, though more stormy weather was forecast for later on. It was lovely and quiet in the garden, with only the sound of the birds to be heard. The little yellow daisy like flowers on the succulents were wide open catching the rays of the sun, so I grabbed the camera and made the most of the moment.

Day 28 - Sunday ... not so much a day of rest but a day of some serious cleaning, well it's not before time. We managed to get all of upstairs done and had a welcome reward of cake and a sit in the garden in the sunshine. No sign of rain or thunderstorms for us today

It was interesting to me that all of these photos were taken in the garden and, whilst doing this project, it's really becoming clear that the garden is something that really does give me lots of pleasure. If ever I am feeling a bit restless or a bit fed up with what I am doing, a quick wander around, looking at what is in flower and listening to the birds really does bring a sense of calm and peacefulness that I wouldn't want to be without. All of the hard work is most definitely worth it.

So, just three days left of May and time to decide whether to carry on with this photo a day series of posts through June. What do you think? Have you enjoyed reading them? It's certainly been a good way for me to capture my everyday ordinary, but I'd love to know what you think, so go on, drop me a comment and let me know if you've enjoyed them, it would be lovely to hear from you πŸ’œ


Monday 28 May 2018

This time last year - The Top Patio

Hi there everyoneπŸ˜€

Since the beginning of May my Timehop and Facebook pages have been bombarding me with memories of this time last year, when we were in the throes of having some pretty heavy work done in the garden.

Before the works started I published this post, giving an idea of how things looked back then and what our plans were.

Looking at the garden now it's very easy to forget how it was at the height of the works being done and now seemed as good a time as any to share the progress we've seen over the last year with you.

I took lots of photographs whilst the works were in progress so I thought it might be good to do a before, during and after post of each area of the garden, starting with the top patio which used to look like this ...

The plans for this patio were for it to be extended down a bit further into the garden and fully repaved with a colourful Indian sandstone. We were also having a new brick planter built along the back wall of the house, a new gate and shallower steps up into the garden and some tidying up of the drain.

Before any of the garden works could start we had to have some repairs made to the external render, which really started a period of chaos ...

Once the render repairs were completed works on the garden could begin. The works to improve this patio were not without incident. We had lots of rain, an incorrectly fitted soil pipe, the discovery that the old grey slabs were laid on top of a layer of crazy paving which, in turn, was laid on top of the old concrete yard, leading to lots of issues in excavating the drain. Added to that an incident with the Stihl saw leading to a hospital visit it was a fairly stressful time.

Here is a bit of the journey we went through ...
Old slabs taken up and new shape starting to be seen

The existing side bed will stay but will need to be built up

Footings going in for the retaining wall for the extended patio area

In spite of the mess these delphiniums just keep on flowering

Starting to see the new shape

Starting to excavate the drain, which needs to be raised to the level of the new paving

The bottom of the gate was the level of the old patio, it was one hell of a step down

Yay!!!!! Slabs!!!

More slabs, steps and some brick facing

Beginning to see how it will look
Surely we are getting there now?
Delphiniums are still looking good

My favourite bit so far

It looks fabulous wet

Time to build a planter

And some steps

My new favourite bit

Finishing off the planter

We are definitely nearly there now

July 2017 - BBQ Ready

So there you go, that's what we went through to get the top patio as it is looking today ...

We have been pretty busy since the landscapers left ...
We have given the arbor a makeover
Added slate chippings around the edges and have a brand new gate
Planted up the raised bed in a bit of a purple theme

Planted up Martin's mum's old bread pansion with succulents which have not only survived the winter, but are actually flowering

We have added this plantstand, planted with more succulents, ferns and seasonal bedding
Re-planted the side bed with a mixture of spring bulbs and evergreen perennials
It is really starting to look good with plenty of colour and interesting bits and pieces to catch your eye. This is the view from my kitchen door as of today ...
And this is the view looking down the garden ...
If you've made it this far, well done and thank you for sticking with it, I know there were lots and lots of pictures, but I am so glad that I've captured this journey that we've been through with this part of the garden. 

Overall we are really pleased with how it has turned out and, whilst there are still a few bits and pieces that we want to add or finish off, we are really looking forward to spending lots of time out there over the summer 🌞🌞🌞


Saturday 26 May 2018

Stratford-upon-Avon - #4 Shakespeare's Birthplace

Hi there everyone

It was the second day of our mini-break to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we were exploring the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust properties. We had spent our first day visiting Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Hall's Croft and the morning of our second day at New Place.

Whilst our 'full story' ticket gave us entry to all five Shakespeare Birthplace Trust properties, we had decided that we would leave Mary Arden's Farm for another time, but we did want to visit his birthplace, which is very handily situated in the centre of town.

Having had a real good wander around the gardens of New Place we decided we needed a bit of a breather before looking at his birthplace and found a very nice spot in the High Street which fit the bill perfectly.
We were sat outside in the sunshine, pretty much opposite the birthplace ...

Once inside there is a bit of a film showing lots of different interpretations of Shakespeare's works and a colourful comic strip which summed up the plots of all of his plays ...

We were eager to head outside into the gardens at the back of the property ...
... where getting a photo without any other visitors in it was pretty tricky, as there was a very steady stream of student and school trips coming and going  ...

There was the occasional quiet and tranquil spot ...

We did look round the ground floor of the house, which was laid out as it would have been when Shakespeare was born ...

... but it was just so busy that we couldn't face queuing to climb the narrow stairs, so we ducked under the rope and we were soon back outside ...

We had a sit in the regulation deckchairs before being swarmed upon by a group of foreign students as they finished their tour of the house.

We managed to grab one fairly decent shot of the gardens and the house, apart from the Patisserie Valerie presence which kind of spoils the moment, before deciding that we'd had enough and moved on ...

Whilst I'm sure we would have enjoyed this property more if it hadn't been quite so busy it was most definitely the least favourite of all that we had seen and we were glad to leave and find a nice quiet spot on the terrace at the back of the RSC for a drink and go at the crossword.

Whilst it was still nice, the weather did seem to be taking a bit of a turn and it got a bit cooler and greyer overhead.

We managed a final wander around the canal basin, picking up a few Geocaches along the way, before heading back to the Premier Inn for a bit of a chill out before dinner.