Tag Archives: neighbours

In the Depths

I’m waiting for a phone call. When I was in Leeds earlier today I swung one leg out of the car after parking, the car rolled forward and, before I could get my leg back in to use the brake, I’d hit the car in front. I left a note under the windscreen and am currently waiting for a call. I’m not sure if I’ve done any damage – there was nothing obvious – but you can’t be sure. I have three areas of damage on my car where people have hit me (twice in car parks and once at a roundabout) and just driven off. It always annoys me to see them, thinking that someone  has done that and driven off. That’s why I left the note, though I could do without the hassle.

I’m also about to embark on a major argument with one of the neighbours. I won’t bore you with the details,  but the day my dad died I got a letter pushed through the door. Since then I’ve being trying to solve the problem, avoid arguments and bring it all to a conclusion. I have enough other stuff to do at the moment so wanted to settle as quickly as possible. They keep wanting more and I’ve reached a point where I’m going to have to say enough is enough. Tomorrow I’m expecting the fireworks to start. It’s cheaper to give way rather than go to court, but they are trying to make me take joint responsibility for a dodgy supporting wall in their garden and that could be a problem for years to come.

Then there are the neighbours on the east side, who are encroaching on the boundary. I have to sort that out before it becomes a problem, though I don’t like making a fuss.

Meanwhile, the rear chimney stack needs attention as it’s starting to look a bit rickety. That won’t be cheap as it never is when a man goes up a ladder.

The re-wiring still needs doing, and the decluttering is progressing slowly.

We are now finishing disposing of Dad’s possessions, which is a sad time. I remember reading a poem about the tyranny of heirlooms. So many items hold great memories, and, as we don’t live in a grand country house. I can’t keep them all but It is so difficult letting go.

And that is why I feel like I’m standing in a pit.

Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes, if you set out to give an honest appraisal of your day, there will be days like this.

I used the butterfly photo as a reminder that there are good days too.

The Fruit Exchange

We gave one of the neighbours a bowl of plums the other day. I thought Julia was being a bit generous with the size of the bowl, as I like plums, but let’s face it, they go bad easily so it’s better to give them away than see them rot.

Today we had a knock on the door and were given a bowl of figs and two sizeable squash.  Fair exchange, as they say, is no robbery.

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Figs – Brown Turkey

They look a bit green, but they are beautifully ripe – I’ve already had one to check. Some of the plums are perfect and some still a little sharp, but it’s better, I feel to pick at this point. One year we left them a bit late and a lot went brown and mouldy overnight. Some years, because of poor management, the tree fails to produce, but although it’s disappointing it’s not as bad as wasting the crop.

Our cherry tree, as I may have remarked before, was picked clean by birds most years so I simply took it out, which gave more room for the plum and the rhubarb.

Julia tells me that the container grown damson tree is almost ready to pick, though the harvest will only be eight fruits.

The final photograph is plums in a steel bowl. It’s difficult photographing fruit. They may sit still, but there’s not much of interest about them so when  I got the chance to use the reflections I gave it a go.

Reflected Plums - Victoria

Reflected Plums – Victoria

The problem was that as I took pictures I ate plums and by the end of the shoot there were significantly fewer plums in the photographs.

I’ve been thinking about my retirement and if I really need a garden or should buy a flat instead. A flat would mean no garden and less work, but a bungalow would mean space to sit outside and would make me take exercise, which I really should have. And I could plant fruit trees.

There are various proverbs and quotes on this subject, but it is now time for me to plant trees even though I may not live to sit in their shade.

Getting Better

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This isn’t the post I said I was going to write, you’ll have to wait for that. This is the post that covers what I did today after posting the previous post and making breakfast.

We had people in on Monday to dismantle the sheds and associated ivy/brambles/honeysuckle at the back of the garden. It has been a great aid to security, privacy and wildlife over the last thirty years, including highlights such as the fox cubs and breeding blackcaps. There’s never a year goes by without at least one nest in it and this year it is great tits. It’s difficult getting anyone at the moment as everyone wants work doing after lockdown and it’s two or three weeks before they can get back to finish off. This fits in well with the great tit family which should be fledged and away by the time we destroy their habitat.

When it’s all done I’m going to plant a mixed hawthorn and blackthorn hedge, which should provide a good habitat over the coming years.

For the moment it’s left a bit of  a hole in the fence and though we’ve plugged it, it isn’t very elegant. As the house is home to a curious beagle I was going to make a better job of it today, so after breakfast I set off. I’ve just been told to increase my dose of Methatrexate to the maximum level. It seems to be working as I have use of my hands and my feet are a lot better too. However, it does mean that I worry about the effect of suppressing my immune system.

When I got to my first call in search of stout stakes and chicken wire I was presented with a queue of people which was positively festering in a shopping centre with the micro-climate of a tropical butterfly house. To be honest, it’s just the atmosphere a virus needs to spread, so I left.

The next shop I tried had a longish queue and I tried two builder’s merchants too. The queue at one of them contained more people than I’d ever seen in the shop before (I used to be in regularly when I was a jobbing gardener and it rarely had more than six people in. There were 18 in the queue. All these queues were outdoors, but after my activity on Monday when we took the shed down my knee is still a bit tender and doesn’t respond well to a lot of standing.

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Water Lily

Before returning home I went to Aldi where the usual bunch of idiots managed to get into my social exclusion zone, including one of the managers who entered via the exit as I was leaving and was so close I could feel their slipstream. I bought ripe avocados, which were made an excellent lunch.

After that I emailed the lady behind us to say I’d be a day or two later than planned with the fence, clipped the front hedge (I said my hands were better – I couldn’t have done this two weeks ago) and dead headed the poppies.

I tried to order the posts and wire I wanted online but, just like a supermarket, they take the order and then, as you pay, tell you that two items are out of stock. I was only ordering three items, so I wasn’t impressed.

I had to take Julia to hospital for a scan as a follow-up to the pre-lockdown episode and, when I returned there were two emails and a brown envelope for me (marked as being from the Tax Office).

The news is that the lady behind us has offered to do the patching of the fence, which will save me a lot of hassle because I’m working Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They could find no immediate fault with Julia, though they may find fault later after properly examining the results. The Tax Office want to give me £16 back, as I have over-paid.

This is all good, and a welcome lifting of the gloom that has been gathering around me over the last few months.

The second email was from a local literacy project (I emailed them last night to make sure I actually volunteered  instead of just intending to volunteer, as I so often do). They  aren’t doing much at the moment, but will be in touch when they are ready for more interviews and training.

Then, just to settle myself down after all this happiness, I spent an hour on the computer arranging tomorrow’s grocery delivery. This is an improvement on last week when I actually forgot to do it. Fortunately we had plenty in to last an extra week.

Only a few repeated photos, I have no new photos to share.

Lockdown Trivia

Just a few things that may escape future historians.

We lost our first potato yesterday. Julia put her hand in the bag and winced as she found a rather squashy potato. This is not good, as I have just been saying that we have avoided food waste. I don’t like waste, and I particularly don’t like waste when I’ve just been telling people how well I’m handling the situation.

Shortly after that I spotted mould on the sliced loaf we are using. That’s the problem with buying bread and trying to eke it out for a week. You either end up with dry bread or mouldy bread. I will take the affected slice out and hope that Julia doesn’t spot it.

We will now use the loaf from the freezer and replace it on Wednesday.

We are doing the best we can, only going out once a week or ten days for food. Unfortunately, the doctor and pharmacist call us out, even though we’d rather not go. The neighbours aren’t trying quite so hard.

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Tulips at Harlow Carr

One set is particularly annoying. They had a friend round two days ago to help with some work in the garden, and then they had family round yesterday.

It’s difficult not going out, and time-consuming to plan our eating so that we only shop every week or ten days, but we are doing it. We don’t want to be responsible for infecting anyone or over-loading the NHS and, despite feeling indestructible most of the time, I don’t want anyone to give it to me. I don’t mind having it, but I’d prefer to wait until it becomes less crowded in hospital.

I could ring the police, or use the on-line form the police are now using, but I don’t really want to go down that route. It’s bad enough being in the middle of a lockdown without having the additional burden of becoming a police informer.

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Mencap Garden in Spring

Three weeks ago we were advised against travel, two weeks ago we were locked down and this week I’m having to wrestle with the concept of reporting my neighbours for having family round for Easter. It’s like something out of the old Communist Bloc.

A few hours ago I watched news footage of mass graves in New York. It feels like watching something from the Great Plague rather than something I’m living through. I’m hoping, that all the bloggers I know over there will stay safe. I don’t think I know any from Kansas, but if I did I’d be really worried, as the State Governor is going to court to stop the State Legislature overturning her decision on limiting church services over Easter.

I thought our politicians were bad, but this is descending to a new level. If the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury are happy to stream their Easter services from empty churches, I don’t see why it isn’t good enough for Kansas.

The pictures are, again, a selection from the last year. For my next selection I may feature a few photographs with crowds in them – don’t worry, they will be historic crowds rather than current ones.

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Thistles at Bangor

Deflation, Doom and Disappointment

I was feeling quite buoyant when I returned home.

The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.

Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.

Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.

And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.

Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.

This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.

As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”

As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.

People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.

Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.

I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.

They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?

I am now downcast, deflated and disappointed.

Another Relaxing Day

I’ve done very little but sit down, read and eat today.

Julia cooked an excellent roast lamb dinner with a multiplicity of vegetables (potatoes, beans, brussels, carrots and celariac) and we had chocolate cake for dessert. I’m digesting that as I write.

The young couple next door (as I persist in calling them, in an elderly sort of way) brought us simnel cake cup cakes. I like them. And I like simnel cake too, just to avoid ambiguity.

I also wrote a sonnet. It’s a proper one, fourteen lines, iambic pentameters, a rhyme scheme and a volta. It took me twenty minutes and actually makes reasonable sense. Despite this, it still isn’t particularly good, but it’s a start. It just goes to show how constant practice makes it easier to write.

Now I just need a way of improving the quality.

I may search the internet for “How to Write Like Shakespeare”. I found this article. It’s not a great help, being geared more towards plays than poetry. I then found this article when adding “sonnet” to the search.

I also found a random sonnet generator, but I won’t post a link because it isn’t very good.

Six minutes to midnight – time to press the button.

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Simnel Cake and Easter Chick

 

A Painted Lady Comes to Call

I’ve had a few problems with WordPress today, including the complete loss of a post. This was annoying as I’d spent a significant amount of time looking for links and photos.

Julia picked plums in the early afternoon and saw a Painted Lady in the garden – another first for the garden. Added to the Small Copper and Hummingbird Hawk Moth we saw earlier in the year it’s all coming together nicely.


When we left home to do some errands this afternoon we spent a few minutes watching the front garden and were rewarded by two small brown butterflies hustling past in the swirling wind, then a larger one, which proved to be a Painted Lady. It took some photographing, as it was quite skittish and there was a stiffish breeze once it left cover.

We’re not doing too badly for butterflies in the garden, partly due to looking a bit more than usual and partly due to a good showing of Red Valerian. We’ve also had Mint Moths on the marigolds, which is a first, as I’ve always seen them on mint or oregano before.

As for the plums, Julia has picked over 200. As usual, it’s a case of picking them when ripe and then using them quickly before they start to go over. We’ve given some to Angela Across the Road, who gave us figs and tomatoes in return. We’ve also given some to the Young Couple Next Door, because they give us cake.

I’m going to make sure we feed the tree properly next year, and ensure the pruning is done properly. I’ve been a bit slapdash with pruning recently and it’s turning into a biennial bearer. This is my fault, not the tree’s. If the feeding works it should fruit moderately next year, which will take some of the vigour out of it for the year after. If not, it looks like I’ll have to remove fruit buds two years from now.

I think this all started about six years ago when we had a bad spring that killed all the blossom. The next year was a bumper year due to all the stored energy and the one after that we didn’t harvest any fruit at all. I should have got on top of it when we had the first bumper year, instead I added neglect to the problem by letting the pruning slip by.

We are having Plum and Apple Crumble for tea.

All in all this has been a good day.

Random Act of Kindness

Our new neighbours just brought some home-made muffins round. It’s the nicest and most surprising thing that’s happened to me for years. In fact, in years to come this may be be recorded as the moment that a miserable cynic regained his faith in human nature.

There are two flavours – lemon and poppyseed and lemon drizzle. I like lemon and poppyseed, but let’s face it, lemon drizzle is the peak of perfection.

So, unexpected cake and excellent flavour choices – what a day!

I’m hoping this is the start of a new phase in my life.