“What is one to say about June…

… the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise
of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
–  Gertrude Jekyll,  On Gardening

 

Last Sunday we decided to take the day off from cleaning and clearing and go down into Derbyshire for a walk around the open gardens in the village of Birchover near Bakewell.

It was if you remember a very hot day and not a lot of shade for me but I was determined to see as many of the gardens as possible I just had to walk more quickly around the ones out in the open.  Luckily most people have a tree or two which provided me with some cover when I needed it.

We began our tour at an artists garden – this was my absolute favourite although my photo does not do it justice.

I have never seen a garden with such a limited colour palette before but this one really works.  There were three basic colours –  green of course with many shades and tones  of purple and cream through to lemon.  The planting was casual and mainly Ferns, Irises, Alchemilla Mollis, Geranium and Lavender and the majestic plant to the right (which may be a Thalictrum?) all surrounding a daisy lawn.  The paint colour of the house toned in well with the garden.  The effect was amazing.

Behind this ladies cottage is a tiny white-painted chalet used as an artist’s studio and gallery complete with wood burning stove.  This would be my absolute dream.

 

Before long we headed for the village hall named the Reading Rooms were they were serving tea and cakes.

 

 

The hall has now had a full refurbishment and is well used by all members of the community.

The notice on the wall made interesting reading – the hall opened in 1907, but only men were allowed to go and read the newspapers provided to broaden their horizons.   The rules state that 3 newspapers had to be provided (which I forgot to make a note of but I think one was the Sporting Times!) and no women were allowed.

It was a good cup of tea and a delicious slice of Victoria sandwich cake made by the village ladies.

Lower down the lane is the church of St Michael’s originally built as a private chapel for the owners of Rowtor Hall.

It is a modest church with a tiny graveyard sited next to the huge old vicarage (now a private residence).  In the large picture below you can see that this would have been the garden entrance from the hall which then became the vicarage from what I understand.

 

In contrast to the traditional window in the chancel the stained glass windows pictured below in the South wall are the work of acclaimed artist Brian Clarke and generously gifted to the village.  Clarke lived in Birchover for a number of years and his work has worldwide recognition.

 

The striking clear colours and simple shapes are stunning.

 

The pew ends had been delicately decorated with a few wild flowers for the event.

On leaving the church we decided to wander further down the lane to stay in the shade.

The notice above is asking the Council not to spray this section of verge to preserve the wild flowers and the organic garden beyond.

 

We eventually came across Rowtor Rocks – a series of caves and intriguing rocks to explore  – we will definitely go back and have a walk around here another day.  This is just one of the unusual caves at the entrance.

 

Such a beautiful day the light dancing on the water and through the overhanging trees was quite spectacular.

We walked all the way up to Rocking Stone Farm with the promise of Pimms and strawberries – well worth the trek even in the heat.

We walked back into the village and spent another hour wandering from garden to garden.  On the South side of the village all the gardens seemed to have a stream running through or a babbling brook probably coming from the same source and occasionally disappearing underground in places.  Most of the gardens had made a feature of the water like the picture below.

Out on the main street under the shade of the trees was a pottery stall run by two lovely ladies who belonged to a co-operative pottery studio.

 

This little bowl in particular caught my eye  – I am told it is a bubble glaze – and you might now spot it on my dining room table!

 

hot off the labeller…

After all the decluttering, reorganising and reshuffling of the last few days I have everything labelled to perfection – even my dear hubby –  (though he doesn’t fit neatly into any of my storage boxes)!  You can imagine what he has to say about my labelling but for all his jokes he is able to find things and more importantly put them away afterwards.  I actually quite enjoyed myself – sad I know!

 

Labelled Storage

 

Most of the garage is done now and we can actually move about in there and find things.  We have a few things to sell, a few to give away and a few to mend or just attend to.  So we started a jobs tray for me (see below) and a jobs box (much larger) for OH.

This is as it stands today:-

  • drill a hole in the bottom of the decorative hanging bird feeder – a present from 5 years ago and still waiting a drainage hole.
  • hammer the parasol holder into the ground by the patio
  • Glue the pottery ducks beak on – obviously it is not frost proof as it drops off each winter – a gift from my mum – he is hidden behind the ivy at the moment!
  • replace the socket in the office
  • Screw in the vine eye hooks to the fence for the climber
  • add the wire
  • plant the Xmas tree
  • feed and weed the lawn with one of the 4 boxes of lawn feed!
  • clean the copper rings with Brasso
  • clean the brass plant mister with Brasso

During the clear out I came across the drawer with flower arranging tools.  I am not a flower arranger  – I generally go for the just picked and put in a vase natural look but occasionally I have made gifts with flowers and so I keep a drawer with a few tools, tapes and florist wires.  The vintage flower frog below was discovered amongst my mother in-law’s things and I decided to keep it.  She used to go to flower arranging classes.  I may never use it but somehow it reminds me of her and how creative she was and it is such a delightful little object and packaged in its own charming little box.Flower arranging tools

Vintage flower frog

 

Some items from the shed that are not affected by the weather have had to be rehoused in the garden.  Not knowing where to store my terracotta pots, some of which are vintage from my dads garden shed, I searched around and found this handy little place inside my Victorian cloche that belonged to my father in law.

Terracotta pots

It is a few years since I grew any vegetables – I gave up my little plot, which is now flower bed, a few years ago when I began working full-time.  Looking at all the lovely veg I see being grown on some of my favourite blogs I decided to buy a Courgette plant and grow it in one of my large pots. Courgette

 They are quite decorative vegetables and already I have flowers appearing with the beginnings of the Courgette behind them.  As I was too late for Sweet pea plants this year I also bought a few left over pea plants from a local nursery and have planted these into another pot with some willow stems for support.

Herb pot

The strawberry pot which again came from my dad’s garden has Chives and a few stray self seeded flowers

The Fence

Remember the fence saga – here is a catch up picture – the climbing hydrangea is blooming and once the wires are in place I can tie it back to the fence and hopefully by next year it will cover the mishmash of fencing and all will be well again.
Climbing Hydrangea

The Obelisk (which I previously called a Gazebo!! – it’s my age) is now in place and planted with Honeysuckle – Lonicera Scentsation  – cream and yellow flowers with a long flowering season and a wonderful scent.

Honeysuckle

Just in case you got the idea from my recent moan about the fence that we didn’t get on with our neighbours – well actually we are good friends and I can totally understand that he isn’t a gardener  – I am just a bit too precious over my plants!

Potted geraniums

As part of the garden tidy up I bought one or two summer bedding plants to put in pots – I do like these wooden crates such a shame they don’t last – I might line it with polythene and grow some herbs in it for the summer.

Birdhouse

The new bird house now has a zinc roof to protect it from the weather – another job off the list.

eating outdoors

After all our hard work we put up the parasol and had lunch outside – perfect.

How are you enjoying this warm spell?

Back soon x

 

the end of another day…

What a lovely day today after all the rain we have had recently.  My peonies are blooming at last and the garden is looking more colourful again now with the summer flowers appearing – there has been a bit of a gap lately between the spring flowers fading and the summer ones coming out.

I decided not to work tomorrow – Thursday is a bit of a flexi day at the moment until I can cut it out all together and leave my new team to get on with it by themselves, but presently they still need my input to keep on top of the workload with year-end now only 2 weeks away and the promise of reaching a higher target than last year and therefore a higher bonus is well in reach.

So I have opted to go in on Saturday instead – mainly because I want to make the best of the good weather and perhaps have a couple of hours in the garden tomorrow and to be honest I feel like I have exhausted myself this week and that I would be dragging myself in to work if I went in.  I will get twice as much work done with no one about on Saturday – there will be no interruptions and my brain will concentrate more in the quiet.

On the home front what can I say but the new fascia boards and soffits look very new  – but also quite streamlined – we have a fairly modern house only 30 years old – so it has improved the appearance to get rid of the rotting wooden barge boards.  We have had the ridge tiles re-pointed and an outlet put in the roof for the fan that removes the steam from the newly refurbished bathroom so now I can have a bath at long last – I am looking forward to that.

Next week it is the turn of the window people who will come and renew the double glazing units in the older of the windows we have – then the builder will return to do the re-pointing.  Meanwhile the indoor decorating continues alongside with hubby putting primer on the staircase in the bedroom – no going back now!

After work I did the weekly shop at Sainsbury’s.  Even I was shocked at the amount at the checkout – prices are certainly rising and unfortunately I have been so short of time to sit and write menus or look for bargains.

I bought a can of Brasso to clean up some copper rings I found in the shed and the little brass mister spray.  I should have known better and perhaps have waited to look in Wilkos or even a pound shop for a cheaper can but I have not really had a lunch hour this week to pop to the shops and I didn’t want an extra trip into town on my days off or to pay for parking –  that would defeat the object of getting a bargain!

When I finally got home and was fed and watered I rang my mum who lives up in North Yorkshire.  Unusually she was not in and I could not think where she might be – so how handy is Facebook – I put out a message ‘Has anyone seen Grandma?’ and within minutes I had a message back from my niece to say she was out shopping with them!

Tonight I have had a little catch up in blogland, relaxing with my cup of cocoa and pondering on the world.  Waking up today to the news of the latest tragedy of the London fire was shocking and has been uppermost in most people’s thoughts and conversations, another sad loss of life but even more stories emerging of people of all race, colour and creed pulling together and helping one another with offers of accomodation and donations of food, clothes and money  – such a staggering amount collected in such a short time.

Well enough of my witterings…bedtime beckons.

just a normal Monday…

In some ways it was a light relief (from all the decluttering at home) to go to work today – I got to sit down and give my aching feet and legs a rest.

At lunchtime and after work I had a few errands to run, two of which had become rather urgent – one being fill up with petrol as the light had come on the dashboard and the other was pick up a gift I had ordered at a shop in town for a colleague who is leaving to have a baby and today we had an email saying she leaves tomorrow.  I hadn’t expected that – isn’t Tuesday an odd day to leave?

I also had to return some unwanted items of clothing to both Sainsburys and Next – tops that looked far better on the hanger than on me – do you have that problem?  In fact I have been a bit disappointed with the choice of tops available this year – perhaps I am looking in the wrong shops but unless I have a trip to Meadowhall or the Trafford Centre in Manchester I have to make do with the limited choice in our main shopping centre which is Huddersfield.

When I finally got home OH had cooked the evening meal – Cheesey Leek Ramekins – I can take the extra he made for my lunch tomorrow with salad as they are just as tasty hot or cold.  I am doing really well now with taking a packed lunch but the ladies in the sandwich shop are missing my custom.  I haven’t actually worked out how much I am saving in total because I would have to factor in the extra amount I spend on my weekly shop for the items I buy to make my lunch.

The contractor started on our house revamp today (the outside) – although I hate plastic we have gone with new uPVC soffits and fascia but will keep our wood windows although the older ones in the extension need the glass replacing as they have gone misty over time but the frames are still good.  The guys replacing the glass are scheduled for next week.  When this is done we are having some re-pointing done on the brickwork and the top half rendered though we have just found out from our enquiry to the planning office that we need to put in for planning permission to do this.

The internal decorating is still going on – all the walls are emulsioned now and the primer on the woodwork ready for the top coat – that is all but the staircase, we left this until the rest of the room was painted to make absolutely sure that we wanted to paint it – and the verdict… we have decided yes we do – sorry to all those blogging friends who rather liked the pine!  I will warn you to look away when I post the next photo of the transformation which will be later on this week if things go to plan.

So all I have left to do today before bed is wrap the gift and write the card ready to take with me tomorrow – as it is quarter to eleven I had better get a move on and stop prattling on!

declutter day 4…

The last four days have been quite a marathon and I am sitting here feeling quite exhausted thinking that somehow I will have to drag myself to work tomorrow and iron something to wear before going to bed.

OH will be in charge of dismantling the shed – yes at last it is empty and the contents re-homed one way or another.  We have little stacks of pots tucked in behind borders and under seats.  The plant foods are still in a container on the kitchen table waiting the first available space somewhere in the garage and the garden tools which I have cleaned and oiled have been transferred to a new rack of hooks on the garage wall.

We decided to go to town and buy the plastic boxes just to get the job off the list – these are now full of all the decluttered stuff that was in the cardboard boxes but at least now you can see at a glance what is inside.

I am quite pleased with our progress but as always I am concerned that we have accumulated so much stuff over the years and at what cost.  When I try to analyse it I can put each item into one of the following categories:

  • we have bought an item because at the time we needed one for some reason and either we still use it making it a very worthwhile purchase or we don’t use it making it a unecessary wasteful purchase.
  • we bought an item because we had to fix or maintain another item although we only needed a small amount or a part we could only buy the item packaged in a large amount or many parts thus producing waste that we have then stored as it seemed even more wasteful to throw it away – screws and the like fall into this category.
  • we didn’t buy the item but acquired it as a present or passed on from a family member (we have lots of these).
  • we liked the item when we bought it but our tastes have changed and it no longer appeals or the more modern versions are so much better
  • we bought a new item to replace an old one but then kept the old item as well (I did this with my iron but guess what – my newer one stopped working recently so boy was I glad that I had hung on to the old one just in case!)
  • we bought an item ready for some job we had planned to do – (an example of this would be the packs of additional parquee flooring for the kitchen / dining room but have since changed our minds -we even bought the tub of adhesive too!)

Whichever category the items fall in to it all makes for an awful lot of stuff.

My plan now is to go over the stuff once again as I find once I have reduced a pile I can often find more things to go out if I revisit it all again.

Once everything that is destined for the charity shop has gone we can make a start on the  boxful of items waiting mending and fixing – I am looking forward to this at it will make them usable again and out of storage.

Have a good week x

 

declutter day 3…

As is often the case when having a clear out one thing leads to another.  This morning I began tying up a few loose ends from my shed clearance  yesterday and then as it continues to rain moved my attentions to the garage so we can make some room to accommodate the excess shed fall out.

I started in the large cupboard  – one of the best value items in our house – bought from Ikea for my Gran in 1990 for around £55 and when we cleared out her council flat a couple of years later we thought it too good to leave.  We now make good use of it by keeping our household cleaners / cloths / shoe cleaning / adhesives / car cleaning and other similar items in here.

This is the picture before…

I took out items shelf by shelf, cleaned the shelf then put back the things we still need.

A few items had been put in the wrong place (not usually by me I might add) and one or two of the glues had gone hard (lids not secured) but generally the cupboard just needed a good clean and tidy – not a lot to get rid of in here but I may be able to make room to squeeze in some of the homeless garden products.

I must say when it comes to decluttering items in places like this I can honestly say that a can of grease or a tin of shoe polish hardly sparks the Kondo joy in me – more of a necessity I think than an item of beauty!

Most of our items are kept together in these Muji tubs – one of the best investments I have ever made.  I keep like things together such as the shoe cleaning kit, the oils and lubricants, cleaning cloths, adhesives tapes, bin bags and various cleaners and I can label them clearly so that even my better half can find what he is looking for quickly (this being the operative word!)

I store all those numerous household cleaners in this cupboard that are used infrequently, such as carpet cleaner (for spills), oven cleaner, leather cleaner, and the ‘you name it I probably have it’ cleaner.  The every day cleaners are kept to hand in the cupboard space under my kitchen sink.

I also store the large packets of washing powder I buy when on offer on the bottom shelf and then decant into smaller containers to keep near to where they are used.

These reused Vanish tubs are also useful for storing cleaning powders and brillo pads.

 

and after…

Ahh that’s neater…

Part way through the cupboard clear out OH appeared and so I asked him (not only to put the kettle on) but to look through all the things in other parts of the garage that I can’t make decisions on.

We always seem to have unidentifiable bits and pieces lying around so he has now (for a quiet life) gathered up and sorted through his piles of computer cables, plumbing bits and the like and grouped them together.

We now have a nice little pile for the charity shop, a big bag of rubbish and those bits and pieces have been identified, labelled and a place found for them.

All I need to do now to finish todays clear out is relabel some of the Muji containers then buy 2 or 3 larger plastic see through storage boxes with lids to replace the worn cardboard ones to store those electrical and plumbing parts and endless computer cables (even though when we need to connect something we never have quite the right one).

There are a few repair jobs and one or two of those getting round to it jobs for OH to do and looking at the mass of outdoor candles, incense sticks, lanterns and fairy lights left over from the wedding last year, not to mention a few miles of bunting, I feel we need to organise a summer garden party to make use of them. That is if we have any more summer to come!

There is still a way to go but already I can see the difference.  My kitchen in the meantime looks far worse as everything is being stored in here until I can find them a new home.

 

 

 

 

 

weeding out the rubbish…

I am shocked at the amount of stuff you can fit into a space only 6′ by 4′ and how much of it is rarely, if ever, used.  I think I mentioned yesterday that we are clearing out our shed ready to dismantle it to allow the builder access to the outside walls of the house.

As it was raining yesterday and again today I had to bring some items into the house to sort through them.  This is not all the contents just some of the various feed and weed products.

I found things that I had quite forgotten about or obviously duplicated at some point like the four cartons of lawn food (one of which I bought back in 2014 and recorded here but obviously never got to use), 2 canisters of slug pellets plus an empty one and a variety of weed killers that I aquirred after sorting out my dads old shed many years ago.  I hardly ever have need of weed killers as our garden here in Yorkshire is quite small and I tend to use the natural organic versions anyway but at the time I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.  My dad had three sheds and a very large garden and had multiples of everything – we hardly have room to grow plants never mind cultivate weeds!

I removed any empty or no longer useful items that could be thrown away and combined those, where on closer inspection, I had two half full containers.

 I worked my way through all the various products then cleaned up the canisters and relabelled them. As I only have a small space to grow seeds I really don’t need any more than the few trays and pots pictured below and the tiny propagating lid.

There was also an assortment of clay pots, plant pot holders and various bits and pieces.

I gave all the keepers a good wash and here they are – for the moment – but this might reduce again as I will probably rethink a few items and decide later if I really do need them or if in true Kondo style they spark joy!

Lastly, I cleaned up my garden caddy – this contains my hand tools, secateurs, snippers, a small canister of Fish, blood and bone meal to use when planting and Potash of sulphate, a tin of twine, a weed stick and some Gro-sure (this is not my normal choice of plant food so I think I may have bought this as a stop-gap until I was able to buy my usual Seaweed liquid feed).

I came across this little tin in the shed for seeds – I remember buying it together with the twine canister – so I have now put it to use.

When the rain stopped for a while we went outside and sorted through a heap of old plant pots, plant stakes, canes and odd bags of specialised compost and reduced all this down by 50%.  I had a new bag of orchid compost but no longer have an orchid so I will probably mix this in and use it when planting my tubs of annuals.

So now I am waiting for dry weather and I have a list of use up items –

  • Lawn food – we can use this up on the front and back lawns – the liquid feed with moss killer can go up to Scotland for the lawn there.
  • Compost – various mixtures but can be used to pot up my annual tubs.
  • Gro-sure – I will add this to my plants growing in tubs first and then to the borders.
  • A grow your own Xmas Tree pack – will open the pack and add water as per instructions and sit back and see what happens – a tree by Xmas perhaps??
  • Ant powder and granules – we have a bit of an ant problem by the little path so this will be useful.
  • Little clay acorn bird feeder – I will get hubby to put on a new hanging wire and then hang it from the Cherry tree.
  • Roundup – we can use a little of this on the paths to kill those stubborn weeds that I cannot dig out.
  • The out of date bottle of beer – I can put this down for the slugs.

There is still quite a bit more sorting to do and I will need to tackle the garage to make room temporarily for the stuff from the shed but that is another day.

Just one more thing before I go I do apologise for misleading everyone by recently referring here to buying a Gazebo to match one we already had on the sunny side of the garden – I should have said Obelisks of course!

Have a good weekend x