Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Groundworks Continue at FTC

I really love this time of year. The last few days of sunshine before the clocks move and winter hits, coupled with cool mornings that are often 'need a jumper, but no way a coat'. It gives a perfect environment to do work outside!

And its also given me the perfect time to continue working at the garden! I need to clear all the land at the top, thereby producing sufficient space to have the bus next to the fence without being ambushed by ivy, elderflower, thorns and all manner of other bushy items. I decided to start with the area where I park the Mighty Benz, and work my way back towards the barn. There were a number of rooty/bushy looking things creeping through the soil, and I often feared suffering a puncture as a result, so it seemed as good a place as any to begin.

So between Friday and Sunday (about 3 hours in total) I set about digging holes and removing the offending items. I am immensely pleased with the area now, and I know it'll be so much easier the next time when I prepare for concrete to be laid! ;o)

My next task is to move the pallet of bricks which is right in my way (you can just see it on the left in that pic). These need to move next to our neighbours carport, but before they move I need to move all that soil down to the raised beds.

So, yesterday I decided to finish off raising the bed (next to the wall by the social) so I can dump a load more soil in it without it threatening to spill all over the patio!

Alfie fell asleep and it looked like this. Some drilling, some screwing, some sawing, some more drilling and some more screwing had it looking like this.

I then decided to move all the soil to one end and place the squash (?) plant atop - therefore giving it max sunlight, and maybe increasing the tiny chance that it might produce something before winter gets it.

It also means I have the rest of the bed pretty much empty for when I begin moving soil down from the top.

You can guess what I'm doing next!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sal's Birthday Trip To Hollywood (Bowl)

On Saturday we needed to make a trip west, and venture along the dreaded restricted speed limits of the A1 and M25. Tash had a home birthing discussion group type thing she wanted to attend, and then we had to head over to sunny (?) Bracknell for Sal's birthday. We left late, but arrived in Watford for Tash to have half an hour with her home birthing people. I'm sure she'll write about it on http://maybe-diaries.blogspot.com . Anyway, whilst she was in some strangers house, drinking their tea and eating their biscuits, Alfie and I went walking around the local area. Really, just looking out for any cool cars or bikes (ideally for sale) , but we happened to stumble upon this - an awesome adventure playground!!

Sadly it was closed, but Alfie LOVED the look of it!!

We then headed to Bracknell and arrived to meet Sal, Dave (and Dan and Joe), and Beth & Jeremy at Pizza Hut. We had an awesome time, and the kids successfully decorated the floor with all manner of colourful food items. Actually, it was mostly drink. And that was mostly cos Alfie throw a glass of coke (?) everywhere. Still, he got a balloon so he was happy.

And then came the escapade of bowling. Yes, you did read that right. Sal was clearly trying to feel less than her ample 33 years ;o). It was absolute madness, and of course with half term and Halloween coming up the whole place had a spooky theme.

Here's the chaos that was 'Bowling with Team Ferg'.

Alfie wanted to play, and was desperate to use a big persons ball. He was convinced he was 'The Dude' (ref The Big Lebowski).

But most of the time I have to say he was an absolute angel, who was happy to watch the events unfold around him. Most of all he liked cheering on Joe, who was determined to make a dash down the lane towards the pins!

I should have won both games, but Dave beat me. In truth, he's pretty rubbish at bowling, and has to resort to using a kids assistant contraption thing to help him get a ball on target.

I forgave him though because he did "Bowl With The Scull", got a strike, and in turn won himself a penny chew! As Beth said, only in Bracknell could they rhyme 'bowl' with 'skull'! lol.

Afterwards, we headed back to Sal and Dave's to feed the little people. In the time we had been at the bowling alley I thing the moon had come and gone at least 3 times, and so now they were getting a little restless. And hungry. Back at Sal and Dave's I took over from the kids as the one who throws food everywhere. I somehow managed to exploded Alfie's bowl into two, and deposited the contents over Sal's (freshly dettoled!) floor! Without a dog insight to help me out I was forced to get the dustpan and brush out and make amends for my epic fail!

Once fed, Alfie and Joe continued to play ... until ambushed by the superhero BATDAN!


Today is Sal's actual proper birthday day, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAL!, and thank you for a lovely day on Saturday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ever been walked in on when warming the throne?

Well no more at FTC!

After living without a working toilet door for well over a year ... actually probably two, today I managed to find time to refit our door handle!

I wasn't intending to do it, but an odd sequence of events led to it materialising. Take one child who WAKES at 10pm, one adult who has blurred visions at about 3am of an old catch being (in a very specific place) in the barn, and one child who then falls into a coma at 8am the next day, and all of a sudden you have a spare 5 minutes to investigate such possibilities!

It was all very unexpected as I had only wanted to do a tip run! Alfie and I went outside at 8am to load the Benz, and she was fully loaded with old kitchen units and general garden waste.

But when I came back to the small lad he was counting approximately 1,304,733 sheep. Seriously, he loves sleeping outside in his snuggle bag so much I am seriously tempted to leave him out in it for the night!
So I went and dug out the door catch, which was exactly where I had thought! You can see the old seized catch in front of the new catch/door knob assembly.

And so the door looked like so - a quick run with the drill had the holes enlarged sufficiently large enough to fit the new catch.
And viola!

In the afternoon we went to see our friends Claire and Helen, with their little ones Jamie and Verity. Helen had a moan she isn't mentioned or pictured much in the FTC blog, and I must do a recap sometime of our summer escapades with our NCT friends.

In the meantime, I introduce you to Helen! (now in 3D!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Testing out my new wheel!

Whilst Alfie and I enjoyed a 'later than usual' breakfast this morning, we decided that the gorgeous crisp yet sunny morn was a splendid time to be outside.

Before winter hits, I need to get the beds raised, the garden at the top cleared, the bus roof moved to sit over the pond, the chassis in the barn, and the bus where the chassis currently lives. And I need to build a shelter for the chickens, a shelter for the back of the house, and a shelter for the bus. Phew, bust times ahead!

As so, with the tomato plants now removed, (and Alfie asleep) I started levelling some of the land at the top of the garden. It started off looking like this.

And I immediately cleared all the weeds and rubbish that had collected there. Then time to try out my new toy! After complaining to Tash last week that I wasn't a real man as I didn't have a wheelbarrow, she sourced me one from freecycle.

And so I set about removing soil. Basically I need to get the land level, and I need soil in my raised beds - so its all going down there. Perfect job for a wheelbarrow! It gets rather boggy up there in a wet January, so I also decided to lay some paving stones I had lying around so that Tash doesn't end up with a muddy arse this winter.

Lunchtime arrived, where I caught the little Alfie-monster doing this!....

Now I need to teach him not to stand up in his high chair ... otherwise it only a matter of time until I hear *thump*, 'waaroooo!'

And then he came out to help me finish off. You can see how much soil i've moved compared to where the compost dalek currently sits. (don't worry, thats going too!)

And after lots of digging and 'barrowing the soil ended up down here.

You may have noticed there is still a plant in the bed. Its because its growing these. I *think* they are squash, but I really cannot remember. I suspect winter will kill them before they grow into anything edible, but i'm gonna give em a chance!

Tash then arrived home (she had been away at some work thing last night), and we went out for a walk ... and Alfie fell asleep with his tag blanket in his mouth, the silly fool! (but sooo cute!)

Next up - tip run!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Old Boy Hits The Big Six-Oh!

As I mentioned in my previous entry, Dad turned 60 the other week and he'd very kindly rented a place up in Norfolk for us all to spend the weekend and celebrate the occasion with him. Having just downloaded my pics of the weekend I have realised a) I didn't take many and b) those I did take were pretty poor. Wish I had stuck the video camera on black and white like I normally do, oh well nevermind.It was proper in the middle of nowhere. Sat navs tried to take you into the middle of fields, and navigating wives tried to take you into the middle of a mental breakdown. All I can say is i'm glad we went in daylight. Those who arrived in darkness had a much more harrowing adventure ... especially when the mobile phone is still to reach these areas, and as such there is no signal!

I think Lindsey and Dave nearly camped in a field Friday night, and I knew Emma, Daryl and the boys (Josh and Thomas) nearly turned back on Saturday night. I guess when you are totally lost, covering 75 miles you know can be quicker than 2 miles you don't. But somehow everyone made it, and with Doug and Jacquie stopping over Friday night and a flying visit from Dale on Sunday it meant numbers totalled 14 at various points over the weekend!

Still, the old stately home was gorgeous and came equipped with snooker table and access to indoor swimming pool and games room ... and it could all be yours for just under £1million!

Upon arrival Tash and I set about in the kitchen whilst Dawn and Dad were placed on Alfie sitting duty. All I can say from that experience is that I am never again baking without scales ... although somehow my loaves, rolls and muffins all turned out pretty OK.

We had a lovely evening Friday, although I learnt that in the 10 or so years since I last played snooker I have become absolutely rubbish. People will not be calling me Ronnie O'Batsford, thats for sure!

On Saturday we went out for the day. I think the place we stopped at was called Morston, but one thing I am sure of is it had speedbumps the size of everest that were desinged solely to remove the Mighty Benz's exhaust! Why oh why must these places do that!?!? Thank the lord for sump guards, thats all I can say!

The chosen venue gave those who wanted to, a chance to hunt seals, and the rest of us an opportunity to enjoy a nice autumnal walk.

Heres the seal hunters about to depart. They came back with tales of 'the ones that got away', and no blubber to show for all their efforts.

And this little guy joined them, he was captain of the ship! Without doubt, a damn cool dog!

In the meantime, Doug, Jacquie, Tash, Alfie and I walked. We got to a gorgeous little seaside village, which even had a token VW bus! I would love us to do a trip around this coastline in our bus once its done, it was a gorgeous part of the world.

The seal party eventually caught up with us, and after a cup of tea we headed 'home'.

After dressing up the dining room with balloons and bunting we had a gorgeous meal of paella, and a small drink or two. Sadly I appear to have no photos, but I think Dad had a nice time.

I remember very little of Sunday as Alfie woke up a 3am (cos he was too hot, and we foolishly put him in his sleeping bag) and decided he wanted to play. With the 125 race about to start I decided to get up and spend the early hours on 'boy watch' whilst viewing the BBC's MotoGP broadcast. Alfie lacked stamina, and passed out at 4:30am, only halfway through the Moto2 coverage.

We left in the afternoon after a game of 'extreme ping pong', where gladly no-one managed to lose an eye! Which, if you know what Dawn gets like, is an absolute miracle!

I was shattered after the night I'd had and promptly forgot to pack Alfie's bowl. I then passed over driving duties to Tash after about 30 minutes of our journey.

Still, I think we all had fun, right?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birthdays, Burners, Balloons and Back Garden

Tash is sat down watching Whitechapel, so it seems an ideal time to update the blog! Anything to spare me of yet more 'crime' on our TV!

Its been a busy few weeks, and I haven't found five minutes to keep things up to date, so here's a quick recap.

The weekend of 2nd/3rd October was Dads birthday - his 60th no less! We had a lovely weekend up in Norfolk, and Alfie was even kind enough to wake me at 3am so as not to miss the MotoGP! All photos I took are on the video camera ... which Tash has left in Alfie's room. And after the past two nights there is NO WAY I am going to risk entering that hideous monsters little cavern. Instead, I shall cover Dads birthday weekend in another blog entry, hopefully to come before the week is out.

Once back from Norfolk much of life at FTC has been spent getting ready for Autumn and Winter. With the logs delivered, and me spending more time working in the barn, I decided a log burner for the barn would be a good idea. Funnily enough, I had an old fuel drum at the top of the garden I needed to get rid of.

And so in the space of two hours this ...

became this ...

I just need to weld on a door and some legs, and then scour the scrapyard for a suitable flue! I cannot wait to have heating in the barn.

We've taken Alfie out for a few meals recently - its handy doing mystery shops and having some vouchers tucked away! We have discovered the secret to "food fun with boy young" is balloons. If Alfie has a balloon, he can stay out all night. This picture accurately depicts how crazy he goes! There is a balloon in that picture somewhere!

And finally the garden. I have a mountain of work ahead of me this winter, and so today I decided the remaining crops had to go. Thats it, year 1 (for me) of crop growing is over. I am dead chuffed with how things went, and even today still harvested a load of green tomatoes!
The garden went from this ...

To this! ....

And on that note, I made good use of our 14 tonnes of tomatoes and courgettes the other day by making picalilly. As far as i'm aware I've never had it before, and I sure as hell haven't made it before. Judging by the fact it tore out my nasal hairs when I gave it a sniff I think it might be quite potent! Hugh's recipe did me grand, but even with half weight of veg I still had twice the amount for my rather pathetic 2 jars! Anyone visiting FTC in the next fortnight can expect picallily on *insert any other food item you can find in our bare fridge*.

I am now off to make my demanding wife a cup of oooolong tea. Sadly I cannot have tea as said wife has once again forgotten to buy milk.