Tag Archives: garden

Mornings, Magpies and Medals

Today I took some brighter pictures of the garden, including one of a Great Tit eating what appeared to be a caterpillar. You’ll have to take my word for that as it spent most of its time refusing to face me.


Great Tit at Mencap Gardens

When the Great Tits eat caterpillars. I feel that Spring is not far behind. Julia later saw a group of Long Tailed Tits on the feeders, though they flew away as she turned the camera on. They do that. Several Magpies took it in turns to contort their way into the fat ball feeder, but they also declined to pose for photographs.

Birds can be very annoying at times.

It was brighter today than it had been yesterday.


No light, no water, but we do have a heater in the cabin

The work routine is beginning to develop nicely – taking Julia to work and the driving back round the ring road to idle away my days. I went through the medal stock today, including medal-mounting accessories, foreign medals and ribbons. That took me all morning, as there was a lot of chaos to tame, and a lot of bits and pieces.

Fortunately, nothing is beyond the capabilities of a man with time on his hands and a selection of plastic bags.




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.


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.


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.


A wintry scene

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.

Paint, Autumn Colour and Upcycling

Despite my desire to do something different I’ve drifted back to the garden. The pictures are taken and the temptation to use them is too great to resist. The top picture shows part of the bookshelf. They will not be short of reading material, though they may short of light to read by. Despite being near both a school and a lamp post the gardens have no power, which could be a problem as time goes on. It seems that as the winter progresses, the number of attendees falls.

At least the broken window won’t be a problem, though it did cost £70 to fix it in the end. We weren’t able to dismantle it ourselves to fit the new glass so we had to call the professionals in.

Painting is going well, with multi-coloured panels (depending on available paint) cheering the place up. The stationery trays (which were fruit boxes last week when Julia got them from the grocer on the market) were painted using the same system. I wonder if I should tick “upcycling” as a category, or if that might be a bit too grand to describe painting three boxes with left over paint.

Note the cake stand. Julia found it in a school bag that had been dumped in the school skip, with other lost property. She has an affinity for cake stands, and we have several at home, though we rarely use them, as we aren’t that sophisticated. And I’d rather just cut it and eat it instead of showing it of on a double-decker plate.

The library shelves are looking fuller now, with a number of the titles looking familiar. I’m sure I used to have copies of those books, I think, before I realise…

I may go for “upcycling”, considering the planter is a re-used litter bin striped with bits of window blind.

Breakfast, Bench and Bug Boxes

The day started badly, as I had passed a disturbed night and felt tired, stiff and fragile. As the first light of a non-too-rosy dawn crept through the curtains, I groaned and turned over.

This was how I slept in, set off late and was unable to accomplish my first task of the day. We had barely laid out the parts for a new garden bench when the Monday group arrived, two hours earlier than we were expecting. As I’m not allowed to be a volunteer (due to the conflict of interest thing) we had to leave.

As a consolation prize Julia bought me breakfast at Harvester, which was excellent. Fruit, yoghurt, Full English, toast, marmalade, a quick crumpet (because it was there) and refillable tea. All for 75% of the cost of two Olympic breakfasts at Little Chef. I passed on cereal.

After that we returned home to find the internet was down. BT claim we hadn’t paid the bill. They seem to do this about once a year – cutting us off for non-payment without actually sending us a bill or a reminder.

By the time it came back on we were already back at the gardens tacking a pallet bench together ready for tomorrow.

Then it was shopping, chip shop and try to get a blog post done before midnight…

Done, with 12 minutes to go. I will add photos later.


Bug boxes made from frames out of the school skip and filled with the hollow stems of scabious

Had a good morning in the garden this morning helping Julia out. The group put up a shade shelter yesterday using the existing posts and a bit of camo netting. They will now be able to eat their lunch without the fear of sunburn or aerial reconnaissance.

A few final touches were required, and that’s where I came in. It’s good to feel useful, even if it was my height rather than my design skills that were needed – as you can see from the photos, it’s a bit of a stretch for one of us.

Julia did some painting and other bits while I took photos and swept the tearoom floor. That’s my place in this marriage.

One of the ongoing jobs is to make the entrance to the garden a bit more colourful and inviting. There was a decrepit barbecue in one of the sheds, with lots of rust and a selection of holes in the bottom. With a bit of vision (think “drainage” holes) and some surplus paint it is now a bright and cheerful herb planter.

The morning was, apart from the company, a bit dull. This was an impression that was further reinforced when I drove past Trent Bridge at 12.15 – they had the lights on for the Test Match. I’d hate to think of the bill for that lot.

Paint and Pallets


The bench, now painted

The group painted the bench yesterday.  It’s undercoated in white emulsion and then over-painted in blue wood. It’s a finish based on the available paint rather than any grasp of decorative technique, but it seems to have worked well.

They also had afternoon tea in the conservatory. It’s not actually a conservatory, it’s just one end of a polytunnel where they have a desk to work round. However, we were looking for a word to describe it, and what do you call a room where you can see through the walls? Garden room, Orangery or Conservatory?

As you can see from the photos, we lack oranges and can’t actually see the garden through the plastic so it became the conservatory. We will have to see if the name sticks.


A not entirely accurate sign

I’m sorry about the lack of people in the pictures, as happy, smiling faces always make a great picture, Unfortunately that’s the way it is in the 21st century.

However, I’ve seen the other photos and can assure you there were plenty of smiles and paint splashes.