Category Archives: Men in Sheds

Another quick post

Sorry about the lack of application but I’ve had another action-packed day.

First off, a lie in, followed by a late breakfast of sausage, bacon, beans and potato cakes. It was an excellent breakfast cooked by my dear, kind wife.

I feel I have to call her that because (a) she is dear to me (b) she is very kind and (c) she is still grumbling that I forced her out of bed to make me breakfast. It was 14 hours ago, can she not forget?

I’m arranging breakfast tomorrow. McDonald’s, eaten in the car on the way to work. We can pretend we’re high-powered executives.

Next, we went to Men in Sheds to have hot cross buns with the old codgers. They are looking forward to Spring. Julia has been hatching plots and extracting help and equipment for the MENCAP garden. We heard the tractor running and watched the plough go up and down on the newly repaired hydraulics.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was feeling miserable and in pain. It was, I suspect, a combination of too much walking the night before, and the thought of returning to the farm.

Whatever it was, a couple of hours later I was feeling much perkier and navigating my way round a bookshop. I have a new Janet Evanovich whodunit to read and a book about Great War tanks. I’m being very careful about book buying these days, as I’m still giving bags of them to charity, and I want to make sure I’m giving more away than I buy.

Finally, we met up for a family meal as my uncle and two of my cousins were down in Peterborough visiting my Dad. It was a convivial party, ending with the male faction taking on the pudding menu as the female contingent looked on and thought virtuous thoughts.

Uncle Tom tried the Gin and Tonic trifle and the rest of us stuck to apple crumbles. The apple crumble was excellent. The trifle, we were told, picked up towards the bottom half. That would be the half with the gin-soaked sponge…

Five and a Half Hours

As I said yesterday, Julia had a job lined up for me in the afternoon.

It involved going to the farm to collect some stuff for a Mencap Open Day.  There we found geese, a couple of men in a shed and a Ferguson tractor. The tractor had all four wheels on, which was something I hadn’t seen before. It always seems to have one off for some sort of work.

From there we went to the Garden Centre for a late lunch (both having Bacon Stilton and Mango Chutney paninis with salad and vegetable crisps), dropped stuff off at the gardens then took an hour-long tour of the Ring Road. I didn’t enjoy that last bit.

I took the opportunity of taking a couple of night shots while we were at the gardens – they seemed to work out OK although the autofocus seemed to struggle a bit with the moon. I don’t think it’s ever had to work at a distance of 384,000 km before, so I expect it had a bit of a surprise.

Tractors, Tribulations and Old Men

After dropping Julia off yesterday I went to see Men in Sheds on the farm. As you know, I don’t really like going, but I wanted to see them before Flintham Show to check on the Little Grey Fergie and to let them know Julia would be round with a group from the Mencap gardens.

There was a covey of four red-legged partridges in the lane, all taking different ways ape and avoid having their photo taken – flying through a gateway, flying over the top of the hedge, running through a hole in the hedge or running along the lane and diving into long grass. I prophesy that in the next few months one will be run over and at least one shot unless they work on their survival techniques.

The Men in Sheds were a bit thin on the ground, with just four of them, plus two women. Women? Whatever next? Two were in Llandudno, one at the doctor and nobody was sure about the others. I hope I’m still driving to Llandudno in my 80s.

The tractor is still in bits, but will be going to Flintham in bits as a display to show the sort of things they get up to. They were actually clearing out a barn today, in their role of cheap labour for the farm, though they have been making nest boxes for owls.

On the way I took some photos of the air crash memorial, which will be covered in another post soon, and while I was there (after having a nice cup of tea) I had a look round at the gardens.

It’s interesting to see things like the anenomes and osteospermum, which were donated as straggly transplants by neighbours, giving a big splash of colour to the garden. Same with the choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom). It was a straggly twig when we planted it (50 pence from a garden centre rescue bin) and now it’s a glossy bright green bush. Same goes for the dog roses – mere whips when we planted the four years ago – full of flowers and fruit now.

It may not be our garden anymore, but it still gives me a sense of achievement to see it, particularly when you think how cheaply we did it.

Things are pretty much as they were last time I visited. The only difference is that instead of merely being absent, the last tenant is now being referred to as having “done a runner”. The barn that is currently being cleared is being cleared of his property to defray costs.

Ironic, I said, that after evicting us to maximise income, there has been no income.

Greed does not pay.

 

 

 

Birthdays and Blue Butterflies

It was the Birthday Party today, and we had cake. It was actually an 86th birthday rather than an 85th, as I previously said, so I got an extra year for free.

I also got a present, even though it isn’t my birthday. Bill has completed a marathon cutting session and gave me 112 pieces of wood. Eventually they will become 16 nest boxes, but for now they are merely a dream.

Combined ages 169!

Combined age 169 years and still eating cake

On the way down to the farm I stopped for a few minutes to take some photographs of bales in a field when a blue flash fluttered past. It took a bit of stalking but I eventually got a decent shot.

The tractor is in that phase of restoration where the Men in Sheds have actually removed even more bits in order to get at other bits that need mending. If you look at the back wheel you may be able to pick out the cardboard box they are using to make a gasket. Farmers and Mne in Sheds rarely spend money when they can cut up the box the cake came in.

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There is evidence of progress as some parts have been put back. I could start a competition asking people to compare the last post and see what has been done. But I won’t.

There’s certainly been more done to the tractor than the butterfly garden. The dwarf buddleias are now getting on for 6 feet tall and the full size ones are 9 foot monsters. There were plenty of Small Tortoiseshells (about 20 I should think) but only a handful of whites and a solitary Peacock.

You’d think that a wild and unkempt garden was best for wildlife but according to something I read recently it isn’t true. An untidy garden is good, and better for wildlif,e than a totally wild one. Strangely, the monster buddleias are acconpanied by patches of bare earth where useful plants (like borage and daisies) have been ripped out and little has grown back due to shadows and inhospitable clay.

This is certainly true for photography – the out of control buddleia makes it a lot harder to get decent photos.

The last six guineafowl are still around (the white one refused to be photographed) and several of the bantams seem to be living the free-range lifestyle. They were too quick for me to get a decent shot, but they are looking good.

Fortunately I was luckier with my morning and evening visits to Julia’s garden, which I will report on later.

Little Grey Fergie

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The title sounds like it should be the opening line of a pastoral poem or a well-loved folk song about a faithful little tractor, but as far as I know, nobody has written either. Who knows, after reading this someone may be enthused to do so.

I’m probably influenced by this song of my youth, though it isn’t about tractors.

Ah, it now looks like I’m going to have to eat my words. According to the internet there is a folk song, and a children’s TV series. It’s amazing what you can learn on the net.

They were also the first vehicles to reach the South Pole. As you can see from the picture, they were modified for the trip, but that’s definitely a Fergie snout poking out.

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The men in sheds are currently restoring a little grey Fergie. It looks to be in pretty good condition, with good tyres and quite a lot of good paint. The brackets for the mudguards have rusted and the hydraulics need attention but apart from skimming the cylinder head there is no major work to be done.

To put it another way – it was born in 1952 and despite being older than me has coped better with the ageing process.

We went to visit for tea and biscuits this morning, where I took the pictures. I’ll go back in a few weeks to take more and see if there is any progress.

Old times, new developments

After a leisurely breakfast we dropped off some dry cleaning and went to have two new tyres fitted. Including tracking it cost me £270, which is more than I’ve paid for some of my cars. After that it was off to Men in Sheds to drop off birthday cards and then on to Rufford Abbey, where I failed to capture photos of Wrens, Nuthatches, Marsh Tits and a Kingfisher.

Just a few shots for now, showing the guinea fowl enjoying themselves in the sun, the new bird feeders being made by Men in Sheds and the kitchen extension.

The guinea fowl seem unaware that they should be staying inside to avoid bird flu, the bird feeders may never be filled (there has been no feeding done since we left) and the kitchen extension has meant that the pizza oven and barbecue have been demolished.

Such is life.

Kind Hearts and Chocolate Cake

We went back to the farm today. It was raining heavily and the farm track, which seems to have had some hard use recently, had several streams running down it. In terms of the pathetic fallacy it was like the sky was crying onto the ruins of the farm. In fact that was rubbish, it was just bad weather and a badly maintained track, but it gives me a chance to allude to past problems and the fact they are too lazy to maintain a simple farm track.

The aim of the journey was not to remember the bad times but to visit Men in Sheds and eat chocolate cake to celebrate Bill’s 85th birthday. We didn’t know it was chocolate cake when we set off, we just knew it was “cake”, with the chocolate element being a bonus.

Since we last visited they have sorted out the catering and now make breakfast for themselves as part of the daily routine. They have also been making nest boxes and bird feeders and are now making markers to identify the trees in the new edible woodland. That’s woodland that produces fruit and nuts to eat, not a selection of trees you can eat. You’d have to be a beaver before woodland became truly edible.

It was a pleasant enough way of passing a couple of hours and we have been invited back in a fortnight for another birthday.

We followed up with lunch at the garden centre and a trip round some charity shops looking for curtains. We found some at the 5th shop (oh, how glad was I?). They are excellent curtains, even I can see that,  and are long enough to cut down and use the leftover bits for making a couple of cushion covers.

That’s a woman thing – no man would think of it.

I wouldn’t have a cushion in the house if it were left to me. I’ve never seen a use for them, apart from throwing at the kids, and in a house full of books you don’t really need cushions for that.

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All looking serious…