Tuesday, 30 August 2011

 What do you do with 13 tree stumps? Why, draw on them, that's what! This kept the girls busy a couple of weeks ago.
 Then, when you get fed up of looking at tree stumps and wondering what to do with them, you get the nice tree surgeons back round to grind them down.
 That's better. Since this photo was taken at the weekend, our nephew has been round to create a nice border, using some soil from the veg patch. I am planning on buying plants tomorrow. We went to a local garden centre yesterday to see what was available. I might have a mad dash to three different places to get all the plants I am looking for. Not entirely sure the kids will be happy about that.

And whilst we've been out and about in the garden over the last few days, we have been picking apples from next door's tree. I've also been given another crate full of pears. Really must get round to making some chutney. We had some chocolate and pear pudding on Sunday - it was delicious, even more so on Monday morning for breakfast!

The garden is looking really different now. I have been taking photos as we go along, just need to catch up with blogging about it all. More updates later on this week. x

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Does having a bonfire count as gardening?

 On Tuesday evening, after a grey and rainy day, we had a bonfire to get rid of the oodles of branches that had been pruned from our very overgrown garden. I love a good bonfire. It didn't take long to light, considering it had been raining. We had so much stuff to burn, we spent about half an hour adding to it.

Lots of conifer branches which made pretty orange patterns as they burnt.

 Lots of molten, golden splodges against the green of the oak tree behind.

At certain times, the flames were impressively tall. Luckily, they didn't go anywhere near the surrounding foliage. Even my husband looked on in awe!

I was mesmerised by the golden splodges floating in the air. I do like a good bonfire.

 This is our pile of conifer prunings that came from the trees behind the swing. My husband broke them up into manageable pieces which I then lobbed onto the fire. Lobbed being a technical term, obviously. :)

Wow, haven't seen those paving slabs for a while! These slabs are going to be lifted and used to pave under the BBQ.  We will then lay turf over the bare patch so the girls have more lawn to run around on. Our greenhouse (just out of shot) is going on ebay soon. We just don't use it and can't ever see ourselves getting into gardening so much as to need a greenhouse. It's also bang in the middle of the back garden - not the most convenient place to be.
And once this cat woke up, he decided to hang around for a while. He's still not our cat, even though he tried to go in the lounge twice!

BTW, this afternoon I spent a leisurely hour pruning the shrubs/trees behind the veg patch. I now have another big pile of garden waste to get rid of! x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Harvest time

 Our very generous neighbour popped round this morning with these beauties. Some Williams pears and..
 ..some Conference pears. She has pear trees growing up the fence that backs onto our decking area. We can see a few pears at the top of the fence, weighing the branches down. We went round to have a look at the trees in all their glory last week. It was a sight to behold, a bumper crop apparently. Might have something to do with all the rain we have had, mixed with the odd burst of sunshine. I saw our neighbour wandering around this morning, delivering baskets full of pears to all the neighbours. After living next door for 30 years, I think she may be a bit fed up with pears.

The big question is - what to do with them? I think there will be some that will get eaten over the next few days but I do really want to preserve some of them. I've found a recipe for pear and lemon jam which sounds delicious, but I don't often eat jam so I'd like to make something else. Another neighbour has an apple tree in their front garden so I may pick some apples and make an apple and pear chutney as we seem to be getting into eating cheese boards. We had a yummy tea last night of crusty bread, crackers and various cheeses with chutney, celery and grapes. I was amazed at how much celery F ate and how few cheeses the girls tried. Why did they not want to try wensleydale and cranberries?

So, any pear recipes you can recommend??

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A little trip to Somerset

 Hello all, hope you are enjoying the early arrival of Autumn - there's definitely a chill in the air and I've seen more than a few autumnal leaves, although I think we may still have the odd day of sunshine and warmth before Autumn really sets in. We are still on our staycation at present, my husband goes back to work on Monday and he commented yesterday that staycations really don't work as we (read he!) always ends up doing jobs around the house. So far, we have been to Ikea, necessitating the building of two pieces of furniture. He has also (very bravely, I couldn't watch!) borrowed a chainsaw from a friend and tried chopping down the tree stumps a little lower. No injuries incurred but not a successful endeavour as the chain needed sharpening several times. Will need to have a re think.

Anyway, last week we pootled down to Somerset for a couple of days, and we stayed at this little place in Axbridge.
 It was a lovely hotel, we enjoyed some amazing food there and the staff were so friendly and helpful.
 There is a museum in Axbridge which was King John's Hunting Lodge - there he is, looking right at you! Quite freaky really!! A beautiful old tudor building and unfortunately the museum was closed at the time we decided to go have a look around. Never mind.
 Here is the old church (1400s if I remember correctly) that was next door but one to the hotel. E was especially interested in looking around the graveyard, reading all the names and dates on the gravestones. She takes after me.
 Never too far away from crochet, I spotted this hanging in someone's front window. An intricate lacy design, very beautiful. Not sure I'd have the patience to create something like this. Maybe one day...
 On the one full day we were in Somerset, the heavens opened so it made sense to go with our back up plan for rainy weather. A trip to the cinema to see Cars 2. Not just any cinema though, we went to this one in Clevedon. It's run by the community and it was like stepping back in time. There were two organs at the front, a little ice cream kiosk and I really wish I had taken a photo of the inside because it was a sight to behold. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the area. I felt like I was 7 years old all over again. There was no interval though!
Before we went to the cinema, we visited Cheddar Gorge. It was tipping down with rain so we popped into a coffee shop and spent half an hour goat spotting. F adores goats so she was very happy. Bit difficult getting a decent photo of them though. This is the best I could manage. Cheddar Gorge has changed a lot since we last visited 20 years ago. It probably didn't help that last time we came, it was glorious sunshine and this time it didn't stop raining. We didn't bother with the caves, partly as the kids weren't really fussed and partly due to price. On the last day we were there, we visited Wells Cathedral - will do another post as there are so many photos. It was amazing.

Another rainy day here but the kids won't mind as they have the Playmobil out. I love listening to them making up different voices and scenarios. I will be ploughing on with my Mollie Makes blanket - haven't really touched it for over a week. We are hoping for another trip out tomorrow (if the weather behaves), just a wildlife park or farm. Next week my nephew is coming round to help clear the veg patch at the back. I cannot tell you how happy I will be once that patch is turfed and looking neat and tidy. And if it stops raining, maybe the weeds won't grow so quickly before it's turfed! Have fun, whatever you have planned. x

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bye bye big nasty hedge!

 A very important day in the Peacock Blue household today - a visit from the tree surgeons. They turned up at 8.30am, bright and breezy and ready to take on the huge green structure in our front garden, which has definitely seen better days.
 They made quick work of it, starting from the road side so we couldn't see what they were doing, but the chain saw was making plenty of noise, so we knew they weren't stood around chatting! Then.... there was a problem. A wasp's nest. And the wasps weren't happy ( a couple of the tree surgeons got stung) so they suggested that they carried on working on the hedge from the other end and they would get someone to come out and deal with the nest later on.

But then, these tree surgeons were on a mission to destroy this hedge and just kept getting closer and closer to the nest (didn't know exactly where it was as the hedge was so dense, but we could see the wasps coming out from a certain area). In the end, they were cutting through branches and quickly stepping back to make sure they weren't stung. There were a couple of moments where they were running away from the hedge at super quick speed! In the end they decided to just set fire to it to smoke the wasps out. It turns out the nest was in the ground so it was quite a display to watch - safely from inside the house!

The girls were fascinated. It kept them entertained anyway. The tree surgeons were fantastic, really hard workers and before we knew it, they were all finished. So, this is the side on view before...
 and after...
 The view from our kitchen window before...
 and after...
 The view from the road, before...
 and after...
We found six large rockery rocks, 5 balls (!) and there were 13 conifers in total. We have lots of raking and clearing of excess debris tomorrow. Once we have finished, we will decide what to do. We might get the tree surgeons back to grind out the tree stumps or we may just leave them for the rockery plants to grow over them. One thing is for sure, all of the neighbours are glad to say goodbye to the hedge. A couple of them even took before and after photos, just like me. Can anyone recommend any rockery plants?! xx

Friday, 5 August 2011

Mollie Makes inspiration

 After subscribing to Mollie Makes based on reviews made by other bloggers, I have enjoyed flicking through the magazines and revelled in all the colourful photos and inspiration for future projects. It's so nice to finally find a craft magazine that is up to date and most of the projects are something that I would consider making. Having said this, the only thing I have made so far is a little felt dog for my youngest daughter (when she was last ill) which was very much appreciated. Sorry, forgot to take a photo of it - it's so tiny and cute! I haven't even made any of the free projects stuck to the front of the magazines, but they will get made eventually, probably when autumn arrives.

However, there was one image in the third issue that I kept going back to for another peek. It is such an incredible blanket, obviously made a long time ago using up odds and ends of yarn from a multitude of previous projects. I think the charm of it is that it does look old, well loved and the imperfections add to that charm. So I pondered over whether I could make a blanket just like it from new yarn, without having odd colours here, there and everywhere and for it to somehow come close to matching the charm of the original. I decided to take the plunge and have a go, no harm in giving it a try is there, especially as I had a bag of yarn sitting in the wardrobe, waiting for a project that I have not yet worked out a pattern for. I think that project may not get made for another year or two. Nothing like planning ahead!

Having looked closely at the image in the magazine, I worked the pattern out (roughly the same) and started making.  Another reason for wanting to make this blanket was that the squares are one colour only - the thought of making a blanket with several colours in each square fills me with dread at the moment. Sewing in ends is not fun, as all crocheters know.

This photo was taken last week, I have made a few more since then. These squares are approx. 3x3in and take about 10 minutes to make. Easy and because I am only making little squares, perfect for this hot weather we've been having.

 I'm very happy with the colours I  have chosen, although looking at the original blanket, I have decided I need to make more of the paler colours. What do you think?

Of course, the yarn I am using is Stylecraft, partly because it is so cheap and partly because of the wide range of colours available. As a crocheter, I find it really frustrating when I find a yarn at a reasonable price that also has the perfect texture, but the range of colours is poor.

The inspiration for the colours came from this:

Not a great photo, only one I could find. I love this picture and as you may have guessed already, I bought it from the charity shop! I managed to get most of the yarn colours as close as possible and added a few more, which tends to be my way. I'm really enjoying making this blanket, it's quick and easy to make the odd square in a spare moment and also very mobile - I was crocheting squares whilst waiting for a doctor's appointment yesterday. I think the joining of the squares may be where the difficulties start.

My husband has the next two weeks off from work so we have lots planned. We are going to Somerset next week for a couple of days and we also plan to have some day trips out. Looking forward to relaxing and having fun as a family. We've also got some friends coming over at the weekend for a BBQ. Let's hope the rain holds off. Hope you all have some fun things planned for this weekend too. x

Monday, 1 August 2011

New fence

 We had a busy time over the weekend. Not only did we go to the fair, but my husband made a temporary fence using split bamboo (a 4m by 2m length was bought for the purpose) attached to a wooden frame. This screens off our front garden from the side garden, and it gives a whole new feel to the side garden too.
 This is where we barbecue and also where our decking is so it really does need some privacy, especially once the front hedge has gone.
 It feels a lot more cosy round here now, the split bamboo has warmed up the area, giving it a sunshiney (is that a word?) glow and I am now much more inclined to sit out now - the amazing weather we are having at present also helps.
 We still need to plant the hedge - I have decided on the type of hedging we need, but cannot get it until the Autumn so will have to wait until then before it's all finished. In the meantime, we have the job of laying paving slabs all round the edge of the decking - the slabs will be at a lower level and will provide space for some pots. We also need to choose some kind of sail to provide shade as the decking is South facing and it has been particularly  hot out there today. I much prefer to sit in the shade and never sunbathe so having some shade is an absolute must. If anyone can recommend a good value sail shade or something similar, let me know as we are struggling to choose from the vast selection online.

Last week, we had a visit from some lovely people from John Lewis, who fitted a venetian blind to our front lounge window.

These photos were taken before all the furniture was moved back into position. After umming and ahhing over roller blinds, which proved extortionately expensive due to the width of the window, we kind of had no other choice but to opt for venetians. I think they look fab, much better than having a bare window anyway!

Today I rang the tree surgeon and they are coming next Monday to start chopping down the mammoth hedge. If I remember, I will take photos - exciting! x