Friday, 12 May 2017

Garden - Part 3

The last job that we had to do - not just on the garden - but the whole house, was a tiny patch of land in the back garden. Since 2009, the most that has ever been done to this piece of garden is that the path has been brushed. Unseen (apart from through my kitchen window) and so, we adopted a kind of 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality about it. Overgrown, straggly, and just an eyesore. I forgot to take a proper 'before' picture of it, but this was it about three weeks ago, when we first started work on it. We'd cleared a fair bit and put the log roll fencing up to keep the bark from spilling onto the path.


Here goes...

Mr G wanted to level the soil out after digging up as many weeds as he could, but there was just no way that was happening. So I had a think, and said that if we were putting weed control down and then bark, it wouldn't really need to be level, and that the levelling out could be done with the bark itself. This worked out fine. The old rickety fence between us and next door, which our neighbour's father put up years ago and he's a bit sentimental about, is now covered with a section of heather screening. We bought two little mirrored tea light holders in the shape of bird cages, these were from Poundworld. A lovely little wall mounted planter from B&M. We cut the pretty pink tree right back before it started to blossom, and put clear fairy lights in, so it looks really pretty at night. Three small mosaic solar lights from Morrisons, which we put in between the potted plants on the bark. A couple of hanging plaques on the wall under the window. Two solar miners lamps hang in the tree too. And my absolute favourite bargain buy, a garden wine bottle and glass holder, which I bought in the Clearance section of Avon for a fiver. It looks so pretty there now, and just as I finally get my little piece of peace and quiet, what happens? Rain.

The view on approach

Ingenuious!



It really looks so pretty up there now, and I can see it becoming a bit of a haven in the summer, as I evade children. Warm summer evening, Kindle, bottle of wine, bag of crisps. They'll never think of looking there, will they?

The shed pub is also tidy and ready for tomorrow evening. Next week hopefully, we should finally have power and electric lighting in there (and internet!) and there are only two jobs left to do. Put the safety flooring down for the dartboard and put the pub sign up outside the shed. Mr G has acquired a long piece of old bannister rail from a friend which will hopefully do as the pole, but we're just stuck at the moment on the best way to erect it, the positioning, and most importantly, the height. It needs to be proportional to the height of the building, which isn't 'pub' sized. Unfortunately.

Every year I'm really proud of my garden and the hard work we put into it, but I think that this year it's the best it's ever looked, everything seems to be spot on. And the lovely weather we've had means that it's been summer ready in record time. I know that usually, around my birthday I'm flapping, trying to get it ready, but this year, it seemed to flow nicely.
















And now today, I will bake, bake, bake for tomorrow, it is Eurovision. Oh yes...

Monday, 10 April 2017

Garden - Part 2

We knew we had to put a couple of hours at least into the garden on Saturday, as we were off to Wrexham on Sunday to the rugby, so nothing would have been done.  A rematch of last week's fixture against Newcastle Thunder, which we won, so we were hoping for a run of form. However, by Saturday night Mr G was in so much pain that he ended up sleeping on the sofa, having had to take a hefty dose of morphine.  I prodded him as he lay on the sofa (not a euphemism) and he asked me how long it took for the tablets to wear off. I asked him how many of me he could currently see, and he replied 'three'. So we 'watched' the match from the comfort of our living room and the Twitter feed! Thankfully, another win for us.  Poor sod. He's worked really hard in the garden this week, and he's certainly paying for it now.

I'm not too downhearted though, even though I like to attend all the home matches, there isn't too much of a gap between this and the next as we're also back there on Good Friday, where Crusaders meet Toronto for the first time! Exciting! Premier Sports are airing this match, so if you're a subscriber, look out for me. I'll be the one standing swaying not too far from the Wrexham Lager Bar... haha.


It was a late kick off (now moved to 5 pm) so we were looking for a cheap hotel overnight. Not the easiest thing to do on Easter weekend, just slightly easier than if I was a pregnant virgin on a donkey. We couldn't find rooms for five, so staying in a Travelodge or Premier Inn would mean booking two rooms and splitting up for the night. This would make it quite an expensive day, on top of the cost of petrol and tickets. Mr G had bookmarked a little camp site in Oswestry that he'd seen, they had pods like the ones we stayed in, in Llangollen last summer. We'd already intended to spend a couple of days there in the Summer. He found that they had one last pod free for the entire weekend and I rushed to book that before someone else did. The cost of the pod for the weekend was cheaper than the price of two hotel rooms for one night. Bargain! A couple of friends of ours have stayed there before too, and they said it was lovely.

The good news is that we've broken the back of the garden. We stained the small shed, the fence, the other side of the trellis fence, the pallet furniture and the decking itself.

Just needs the seat cushions and a glass of Chardonnay...

In a word, if it hasn't moved, we've stained it. Just the Shedpub to go now. Mr G cut back a load of overhanging branches from the trees dividing us from our neighbours in another street. Cut them up into smaller pieces as our garden waste bin is so full we can barely move it. Did a tip run with those and old solar lights and cracked plant pots and other bits. All in all it's looking really good. Still a good couple of full days work to do on it, but it's a spectacular change in under a week! Today, there was a bit of a change in the weather, dull and a lot cooler, but the sun peeked out from behind the clouds occasionally. The main thing is that it's dry. So, today's jobs were: primer the legs of the 'distressed' table.


And the worst job of them all. Cutting the hedges. They desperately needed doing, and couldn't wait until the bin gets emptied on Friday, so we put the cuttings in rubble bags and got them off to the recycling centre too. I've added another thing to the famous saying. 'If it's got tyres, testicles or twigs, you're going to have trouble with it'.

Unruly bush

Neatly trimmed bush. I know, I know, sorry...

So, all in all, I'm really pleased in the transformation within a week. Only two major jobs to do now. The Shedpub. And then tackling the side of the house that hasn't been touched since we moved in. Shudder. Not relishing that job, but once it's done, it will be another hiding place seating area away from the kids which is a suntrap at certain times of the day! I'm really blessed to have such a large and beautiful garden, that it deserves a bit of TLC. Thankfully, we're finally able to do it again.

And in another stroke of brilliance, Eurovision once again falls on my birthday weekend! So we will eat, drink, be generally merry, and viciously scathing about other countries' entries. Time to menu plan, where's my book of lists...

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Garden

Holy shitballs, I hurt in places that I didn't know could hurt.  First thing Monday morning we were out in the garden. We had made a start on it last year, but circumstances meant that it wasn't maintained, it wasn't used because we didn't get a moment's peace, we didn't have one barbecue, and if my memory serves me well, we didn't eat one meal out there, either.  It had been really neglected, and I personally hadn't set foot outside the back door for months.  But Monday was a fresh start. Monday, we were like a pair of Phoenix (Phoenixes? Phoenii?) rising from the ashes of the last two years.  And that could only mean one thing. Summer was on the way.  And we were reclaiming our garden.

The tubs were emptied of dead plants. The patio was weeded between the cracks and then cleaned with a heavy duty chemical cleaner, as it was green. We do this once a year but this was the worst I had ever seen it. Testament to the weather, I suppose?  And then. It was time to tackle the furniture. This too is done once a year, but this year, I fancied a change from the usual woodstain. A friend of ours has the same furniture set and she used Cuprinol Shades on hers, she painted it a plum colour, and it looked really nice. I didn't think that colour would suit our garden, so I looked through the paint chart and we settled on Sage.  The table and one of the benches had been scratched to death by cats, so Mr G said it would need undercoating.  I didn't think anything of it, and so we cracked on.  The table was undercoated. Mr G said he would take the chairs and the benches down to the bottom and just try applying the wood paint directly. He did a bench, and it looked fantastic, so we didn't bother with the undercoat on the other pieces. Thankfully, in retrospect!

The very next morning I was in the garden at 7. A project like this gives me a lease of life, even if it kills me physically.  I start painting the table. And it's apparent from the first brush stroke... this table is not going to have it. It's repelling the paint. 'Christ on the cross.' I muttered to myself, as I persisted. Maybe when it dried, I could give it a second coat, and that would be ok. But it's not drying. And this stuff is touch dry in about fifteen minutes. I call Mr G and show him. We realise that we've done the wrong thing, and it wasn't undercoat we needed, it was primer. Pair of plonkers, we are. We make a decision to wipe the table with kitchen roll, and we end up with a table that could only be called 'distressed'. As was I.

Cue two more days work (and expense) where we attempt to paint over the table and legs with another brand of outdoor paint (more paint than stain) and I don't think it's dried yet! Then we attempted to tackle it with Nitromors, and get it down to bare wood, as it was too tacky to sand down. I was getting really antsy, as we were on our third day of doing the garden, and we still didn't have a bloody table to eat at, and I said to Mr G that, we wanted two new chairs for the side of the house (which is another project on the list). We wanted a bench anyway. And upon checking Amazon for a new table of the same size, the cheapest came in at £150.  Wouldn't it make more sense to replace the entire set for £200? So, we did that. Quickly assembled the table, and that was painted and put in place within a couple of hours.  Job done!


The distressed table, actually looks good though! It looks weather beaten. If I'd tried to get that effect, I probably wouldn't have been able to manage it. So, what we're going to do is leave the top of the table like that, and spray paint the legs white, or black. It's too good a table to get rid of, and will do at the bottom of the garden when we want to eat down there, save lugging our other one back and forth!

Friday comes and after a cloudy start, by lunchtime it's glorious!  I do a little more planting in tubs, and I see Mr G eyeing up the flower bed at the bottom. The one with the palm tree in. It's not the easiest patch to maintain and weed, and he'd been saying that he wanted to dig it up and put weed control down, and put gravel on it. So we did that between us, and as he went to the hardware store for the stones, I grabbed a new tub of woodstain and started to do the trellis on that side. We'd bought two new climbing roses this year, after having passionflower and clematis there in previous years. That was done in the space of three hours, no messing about (and we made and ate lunch too in between!). Staining, stoning and planting the roses.



Mr G then went rummaging in the shed and he came out with various spray paints. He painted his father's ornamental house and put that on the gravel. And he found a full can of barbecue paint, so our slightly rusty chiminea got a coating too! As he did that, I decided to tackle the shed pub. Gave the sofas a good clean with leather feed. Wiped the surfaces down, hoovered the floor and cobwebs. Stripped all the cushions, and washed and dried the covers.

By the time I'd finished, I could barely walk. My back, my hip, my knee, my shin, and my plantar fasciitis all in full swing. He went to get me some wine, and I had a well deserved few glasses sat in my chair, watching the rugby. Well deserved.

Today looks like another glorious day already, the sun beaming down since I woke before 7. Today I'm going to tackle the decking area. Hopefully stain the fence and the pallet furniture at least. That's the only thing about making a part of your home or garden look nice, isn't it? It shows up the parts that aren't so pretty. Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Relief

There has been a reason for my semi-silence over the last few months, a really good reason. I hinted at it in my last post, that I couldn't say what the problem was, but when I could, I would let rip and leave nothing unsaid. And now, today? It's finally over and I don't want to. Not any more. I'm going to be the bigger person here and rise above it.

The hell that my life has been for the last two years, is over. That another human being could knowingly put someone through this, is beyond me. That someone could show such a distinct lack of consideration to someone who would never dream of treating them, or anyone else in that way. When they know what they're doing to you, because they've been told to their face how shit they're making you feel, it's incomprehensible. I could tell you things, I could show you things, that would make any right thinking person's toes curl. When over a quarter of the year has gone and you're stuck in limbo, waiting for the clock on your life to restart again. Feeling bullied and intimidated. Feeling like a prisoner trapped in your own home. Wanting to just pack your bags and move away. And then. And then being made to feel like you're in the wrong for having the audacity to say 'What you're doing is wrong. This is unacceptable. Stop it, now.'

And so, today, there's no champagne on ice, there's no bunting out. It's a very hollow victory, and I'm not celebrating it. What I am doing today is exhaling. Finally letting go of that breath that I've been holding in for so long, and breathing a huge sigh of relief. Go and be someone else's problem now. You've already wasted more than enough of my precious time.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Belated Happy New Year!

Nearly halfway through January and I am just about coming round from the most appalling Christmas and New Year that I have had in decades.  Our Christmas was ruined, after all our hard work, all our preparation in trying to make it perfect for our family.  I can't go into detail about it at the moment, legally.  Not yet, anyway.  But one day, I will unleash the horror story on the world.  I just can't yet. Unfortunately.

Anyway, it's a new year, new start and we are trying to keep positive and not dwell on last year.  We had an amazing break away just before Christmas, we had a week in a converted mill in Cynwyd, which is an adorable little village just outside of Corwen.   Here are some pictures of the beautiful property.  Yes, I outdid myself yet again!  We are hoping to do the same this year, book the same week away.  We had a fantastic, stress free week.  Christmas shopping there was a joy, Caitlin decimated the Primark in Wrexham and Adam is coming up the ranks too!








As I said, unfortunately Christmas was a non-event, although we went through the motions for the sake of the children.  Mr G and I pulled together a lovely Christmas dinner.


Tomorrow, North Wales Crusaders hold their first pre-season friendly against Swinton and we find ourselves in the same position as we did for the friendlies last year.  Will they, won't they go ahead? Can we actually get there?  It seems (as usual!) everywhere in the UK got snow... except us.  So it's not so much leaving here tomorrow, as the weather conditions we'll encounter as we drive closer to Wrexham.  So we have to play it by ear until tomorrow morning, see how the roads are.  I hope we get to go though, it'll be nice to get away from here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how all the new signings perform.  My Cru beanie and scarf are packed ready, and Cait's boyfriend is coming with us for his rugby league initiation.  Fingers crossed that it stays dry and doesn't freeze or snow any more!

Until at least Monday.

:-)