Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's a Jungle out there!!

Seeing as there is going to be a slight lull in house related DIY this seems like as good a time as any to talk about the garden.

As you can see from the first picture, the garden (as with the rest of the house) had been singularly unloved by the previous owner. The plants weren't complaining, oooh no, the nettles were quite happy being 5ft high, if you listened hard you could hear the bindweed blowing gentle raspberries at you when you passed and the horsetail, well that took a more subtle approach and just quietly busied itself thinking growing thoughts under the cover of its taller neighbours.

Those of you who have read "101 Weeds You Don't Want To Get In Your Garden" will now be heading for a lie down in a darkened room, for the rest of you (and I would include myself in this group until last weekend) what that last paragraph means is we have the nastiest collection of chemically defiant, napalm ignoring, fork shrugging weeds on the face of the planet - and they're not going away.

As I mentioned before, Ian and Rach did a very fine job of clearing what is slowly becoming the herb and veg patch near the house. The addition of a chiminea, table and chairs has made it quite a pleasant place to while away your time - as long as you don't mind being crispy fried because after about 9.30 the sun beats down fearsomely and there is currently no shade. I say currently, because within the next day or so the fitting kit for the sun shade will arrive, just in time for the weather to turn and summer to be over if the week so far is anything to go by.

The upside to all this sun is that the blueberry bush, which was but a sticky stump when it arrived at the house is doing very nicely at the moment. As you can see it's not dead, and that is as much as I ask from any of my plants, green finger I have not got!!

There are some serious plans for this area of the garden and if you squint at one of the photos above you can just about imagine it (you're going to have to because my CAD skills still aren't good enough to have drawn it up yet).

The grassy area that currently sits under the table and chairs and some of the concrete are going to be dug up to a depth of about 3ft. The herb bed will then, logically, become raised and kept that way by a wall of reclaimed brick. The idea is that the table and chairs will then sit in the dug out and paved area which will hopefully give the setup more shelter, more privacy and when things start blooming, a nicer view of the surroundings.

There is only one more thing of note in this part of the garden and that's the doorbell. Isn't she a beauty? Original inspiration came from a conversation with Ammie whilst wandering round Greenwich one Saturday and I kinda liked the idea so it stuck. The only thing I didn't take into consideration was the fact that there is a Social Club next door and they, of course, have a similar affair to call time at the bar. Not really a problem for us as we don't usually have guests arrive at 11.30 at night but the social club on the other hand is in the grip of a last orders frenzy, especially at the weekends when someone will invariably decide to test the theory. I feel sorry for our neighbours sometimes.

Moving further up the garden we come to the area where the bulk of the work has been done so far. Pretty soon after we moved in (approx. 4 hours I think it was) the like travellers had set up shop, and it hasn't improved much yet but I am promised that "when the barn is organised" the garden will become a car part free zone once more. Until that happens I have to console myself with ripping up bushes and trees.

Our friend Hen came over last weekend he was a godsend on the gardening front!! No photos yet but safe to say there are now many bushes and trees that have bet with the chop.

All except one, the namesake of the cottage, which I am having to defend from the evil advances of Keith at the moment. For some reason he thinks it is a conspiracy that the fig tree can't be moved until winter. In the meantime, the tree is happily fruiting away and last weekend the first one ripened. I can safely say that I have never eaten a tastier fig and I'm doing daily inspections for the next ones to be ready.

It also appears that there is a plum tree at the end of the garden, and luckily it is tucked nicely out of the way so there is no excuse for it to be cut down any time soon. Not that Keith won't try. He seems obsessed with the phrase "clean slate" which is enough to strike fear into the heart of anyone who has to leave a saw happy boyfriend unsupervised for 60 hours of the week.
I have tried to remove temptation with talk of mini diggers in the near future - fingers crossed it works!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

You've Come a Long Way Baby - One Month of FTC

Try not to get emotional, but Keith and I are about to hit the end of our first month in FTC together. So, in honour of this momentous occasion, here is a quick update on how the place looks.

In no particular order we have the first bedroom, where the stack of boxes has been reduced to a dull roar, we now have curtains, wardrobes and, yes, even a picture on the wall. The bed is still a bit of an obstacle course due to the box of ali car panels but all in all, a very nice place to lay your head at the end of a hard day.

Next we have the second bedroom, once purple hell the carpet is long gone, the walls are painted and the ethnic dust collectors are now on the walls. The fish seem very happy with their new home and Keith's TV fits snuggly in the corner of the room so any guests wanting to visit are now well catered for.

For those of you wondering whether my contribution to the house has been 'managerial' I give you evidence of my hard work, such as it was. I managed to roller a wall and cut in half the room before I got fed up and moved on to something else.

There is sadly no evidence of my other DIY efforts including the notable high of me conquering my fear of household electrics and wiring in no less than 3 light switches (what can I say, the lure of the bakelite was too great) and glossing the wardrobes, one of them in the few hours after I got home from work one night.

I like to think of my contribution as more of a support role, cooking food for the troops, providing motivation and spending all the live long day trawling t'internet for the perfect purchases.

Hmmm, moving swiftly on ...

The office, now somewhere for Keith to move Kabie Consulting to new and dizzy heights. The laminate is gone and the walls are now ready for photos, the first of which has gone up - the race car towed by Mooch my old econoline, visions of matt black perfection both, with the Santa Pod finish gantry in the background.

The office is also home to Neo, Keith's gecko, who seems very nonchalant about his new surroundings. This may of course be bacuse he is strawberry short of a fruit salad and has yet to realise he has moved house, the jury is still out on that one. Since the move he has been introduced to food he can actually catch too - they have no legs - and watching the little fella pounce on them is almost worthy of a Benny Hill sound track.

Now we move downstairs, or under them to be more accurate. Keith and I both had large wardrobes at our old places and FTC didn't have the space to recreate that so we needed to come up with a good solution for storing coats and bike gear.

What you see here is stage 1 of the solution: The coat rail. We will store Imelda Marcos' shoe collection under it and there will be a shelf going in over the top of the rail to house the hat and lid collection.

The lounge is pretty much there now, though we are having slight issues finding frames for the pictures we have bought. We've gone for retro car posters and there seems to be a conspiracy between poster printers and frame makers so that the sizes of each are wildly different so you have to either hack up the poster you have just spend hours finding and good money paying for or get a frame with an acre of white border at a vastly more expensive price. Bare faced cheek if you ask me!!

So there you go, the more observant of you will realise that I haven't said anything about the barn or garden in my update but as with the kitchen, those little cookies deserve a section to themselves which will be coming as soon as I manage to get Keith over his stage fright ... And that's got 'can open, worms everywhere' written all over it!!