Category Archives: Green Care

It Starts with an Earthquake

We had an interesting start to the day when Number One son texted to say they had had an earthquake in Malta. It wasn’t exactly traumatic – apparently it woke him up by rattling his wardrobe and then he went back to sleep.

This is similar to my experience with earthquakes. I’ve been in two, both in Nottingham. In one there was just a moderate bang and the pictures shifted on the walls. In the other there was a vibration lasting ten or fifteen seconds, like a passing train. Ornaments rattled and all the neighbours went out onto the street to see what had happened. I know that last bit because I went out too.

Julia was in those two, and also in an earlier one where people from one end of the building she was in to ask what the shaking was. There had been no shaking at her end. of the building.

I’m sure some of you have much more interesting earthquake stories but I’m not, as I have noted before, very exciting.

The journey to work was much easier than yesterday. This was good as I had nest boxes to build. One of the volunteers in the gardens has cut up his scrap timber and we have enough wood cut to make 12 boxes. Some it is oak. These are going to be excellent boxes.

It was Julia’s job to provide a fully charged drill and mine to use it to screw four of the boxes together. Easy enough, you would think, but one of us (and I will mention no names) didn’t do their job and after half a box the battery ran out.

I will say no more.

I didn’t say much at the time either, I merely sipped coffee, nibbled a biscuit and remarked in passing that it was a shame that there would be homeless birds this spring because someone couldn’t perform a simple task like plugging a battery charger in.

I’m getting good at this zen stuff.

Then I took some photos and went to work. Nothing much happened after that. This evening I’m going to look at the leaf photos and think deep thoughts. Or fall asleep in front of the TV.

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The Polytunnel News

Julia has secured funding to replace the cover on the large polytunnel. She has also secured agreement from the company doing the work that they will bring the work forward to March. There are so many broken polytunnels after recent weather that the original date she was given was in May.

She’s like that. I have to be constantly on my guard or I’d be forever doing housework and tidying up after myself instead of blogging and drinking tea.

The problem is that they don’t really have much to work with. There’s no mains water and no electricity. As a result of that there’s no light to work by when daylight fails. When there’s no large polytunnel the only shelter they have to work in is the container, which is a bit small for the full group and is not very light at the best of times.

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Mencap, Nottingham – the broken polytunnel

You can’t work outside all day in the cold, and the smaller tunnel is set up for growing space, not as a work area. For the last few weeks they have been packing up halfway through the day and walking back to the youth centre.

It’s been a dispiriting time, but with agreement to funding and a bit of better weather things are on the mend.

Fortunately it looks like the other tunnel, though well overdue for a new skin, will last another year.  That gives time for her to raise the money, and as it’s a smaller job, the group ((and volunteers) should be able to do the work without help.

Flowers in the Frost

It was a bit cold this morning – minus 3.5 degrees C according to my car. With a bit of a breeze and the proximity of the River Trent it felt even colder. I started taking photos and twenty minutes later, when my hands could no longer feel the button, I called it a day and sat in the car with the heater on. Julia continued her inspection, declared the garden closed for the day and started ringing round to reorganise things.

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Frozen solid and minus three and a half degrees, though the moles are still active

I think it’s fair to say that they enjoyed themselves more in the main building than they would have done in the garden.

 

There was still plenty to see, though it was mostly droopy and covered in frost crystals. I tried to get some sun into the pictures but it was a bit low in the sky, and concealed behind trees.

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A cold-looking garden gnome

The poppies, meanwhile, are standing up to the cold weather better than the real flowers.

 

From there I dropped Julia at the main building and went to the jewellers to get a safety chain fitted to one of her Christmas presents. I will say no more…

I managed to do some shopping before my return home and a session of writing Christmas cards and blogging before starting to cook tea.

This is the street, complete with frozen snow. Despite the forecast of higher temperatures I fear it may last a week or more, and continue to be a hazard underfoot.

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A wintry scene

A Rabbit Comes to Call

Here are some pictures from the MENCAP Open Day.  The painted stones sold well, as did the nest boxes and various other items. I say “various” because I’ve forgotten what Julia said.

I know it came to around £100 and is going to make a useful contribution to the garden running costs. One of the volunteers who helps with the garden brought Peter Rabbit to form the centrepiece of the garden display. Ironically, when you consider what he did in Mr McGregor’s garden, Peter is a scarecrow.The group all helped out and everyone had a good day.

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The group took a number of photos of Julia with the visiting rabbit

Even the photograph album (which was back-to-front after my late night glueing session) was judged to be successful.

Cold Garden, or A Man’s Time is Not His Own

I’ve been taking some photographs for Julia this morning, showing the progress she’s been making in the garden (helped by her merry band of volunteers and the garden group).

They have revamped the compost bins, cleared a large area of scrub, put in some raised beds, discovered a variety of plants, loaded up the leafmould cage and found some garden equipment (including plastic compost bins and an incinerator).

I also sorted out the lighting procedure for the gas heater in the site hut and checked the way to remove the spool on the new battery powered strimmer the group has been given. I am a man of many (uncommercial) talents.

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Revamped Compost Bins

After that I was despatched on a job for Julia. I am often sent on jobs for Julia, as regular readers will know. I did the job then I picked her up and I spent the next five and a half hours doing another job for her.

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Hazel catkins

As I say, a married man’s time is not his own.

Down at the (Cold) Garden

The Sedums were looking good with a covering of frost. From a  distance the effect was jewel-like and sparkling. Close up, I didn’t quite get the focus right.  Apart from the vagaries of the camera system, which seemed to struggle, it was tricky as my hands were frozen. After half an hour screwing nest boxes together the cold had got to my hands and I was having trouble finding the button when I wanted to take the shot. Time to sort my gloves out.

With five boxes done yesterday and five again today I have now exhausted the supply of parts. We may do some more next year, if we can find more free timber, but as a lot of customers have been staff and parents we may have exhausted our customer base.

 

As you can see, there is a lot of creative effort going into the the paintwork. It is also clear that drill design has improved over the last ten years, particularly in the area of battery size.

This is the “roof” of the polytunnel, showing the bird damage. It’s actually quite tricky working out where the roof is, when you consider it’s one continuous piece but I decided that if it’s at the top and has holes in, I will call it a roof.

I include it, not because it’s a fascinating shot, but simply to show why we’re making the nest boxes – every £5 we take is £5 towards the new plastic sheet.

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Holes in the roof

Finally, there’s an artistic shot of a leaf sticking to the outside of the plastic. When you’re filling a blog you have to take your shots where you find them.

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Lime Leaf through plastic

 

A Grumpy Newt

Julia came home with a picture of a newt today – she’s been looking for one all year. This one turned up as they were clearing a heap of rubbish. The heap had been there since before she took over at the garden, in case you are wondering. It was, it seems, a more attractive berth than the various newt habitats that they have built around the garden.

The newt was not, she says, particularly glad to see them.

I can understand that. You’re all wrapped up and snug in preparation for a long winter snooze then somebody comes and rips your roof off. In similar circumstances I’d be pretty hacked off too.

They tucked it in and put all the stuff back on the heap. They can finish that particular job in Spring.

The picture is a bit blurred, but it’s taken a long time to get it so I’m going to use it anyway.