Posts Tagged ‘Lady-Vendor’

One area of the garden I had been ignoring was a rather odd section of gravel into which Lady-Vendor had inserted an old metal wheel rim, which had what I thought was some kind of moss growing in it (turned out to be a kind of low growing thyme). I have never liked it particularly and therefore took no particular notice of it. There was quite enough to focus on elsewhere.

part of the garden

Yesterday , rather late in the day, we hared over to Triscombe and bought some herbs to replant this into something useful. There are already some herbs in the garden: fennel, chives, oregano, the inevitable mint but I’ve always thought some additional ones would be nice.

So, with a glass of wine, a chicken in the oven and the sun setting on glorious day, we turned my eyesore into something acceptable.

prepared earth for planting

positioning pots to decide where to plant things

fully planted herbs in the earth

How wonderful friends are, giving inspiration for change, knowledge, good company, laughter and support. This weekend has been a joy!

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Last weekend, I warbled on so much about horsey stuff that I didn’t mention the garden but Spring really was starting to show. At 200 or so metres above sea level, things are a bit further behind at Spring Cottage than in towns or down on the Somerset Levels. So, belatedly, here are some pictures:

daffodils

I love the way that these daffodils have managed to grow right at the top of the bank between Higher Close, the field behind the cottage, and our garden. Perhaps Lady-Vendor planted them up there deliberately, or perhaps they got there courtesy of a rabbit, who knows? But it’s a lovely spot for them.

cats in the garden

The cats are always very keen to get out into the garden and they have very little competition for their territory here. In this picture, they are are advancing in a crouch, still a little bit ‘on guard’ as they head out to explore. The concrete behind Percy is the top of the septic tank and to its left a rough patch of earth that I haven’t yet decided what to do with. I had thought that I would grow a few vegetables there originally but they would need a lot of protection from the rabbits and, so far, I haven’t had the energy to prepare the bed properly for that. My other idea is to have a wild flower patch.

frosty garden and daffodils

Saturday morning dawned with clear skies, a temperature of minus three degrees and a sharp frost, which produced the rather odd juxtaposition of frost and daffodils. The daffodils have a very strong scent unlike any of the shop bought ones I’ve come across.

budding shoots

I think these are peonies just starting to come up. They look frighteningly triffid-like.

hellebore

And, of course, after almost three months, the hellebores are still going strong. These two look like a pair of ballet dancers doing a pas de deux.

front garden

Lovelymost!

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close up of window on sunny dayIf yesterday was chalk, then today is definitely cheese. The weather couldn’t be more different from yesterday’s bleakness: blue sky and bright, bright sunshine with a crisp frost on the ground.

This is the new cowshed at the farm down the road. Not yet finished, it juts unwelcomely into the view. When the field behind it is full of crop, it will look more obvious than it does now. But it could be worse.

The Boy and I went riding, he on my pal Trigger, and me on Harry. Through the woods and combes, we rode across hard frozen mud and icy puddles, the sun slipping through the tall trees above. I wonder who owns the woodland – it’s private around here mostly, I think, although there’s much Forestry Commission land about these parts too. Land that the government wants to sell off with the mistaken aim of raising money for their bankrupt coffers. Money that they’ll then need to spend on subsidies to private landowners, so that they can afford to maintain the woodland. I hope they will see the error of their ways.

On our return, we had  a long talk with John Honeyball, much family history and tales of local neighbourly disputes were divulged and I heard that Lady-Vendor visited recently. I wonder whether she paid a visit to Spring Cottage. If she did, I hope she didn’t find my upkeep wanting.

cat on the grass

cat sitting in the sunshine

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All the images enlarge if you click on them.

Looking through my pictures, I have just realised how often I have photographed the front garden from roughly this spot and how much it changes during the year.

I took the first picture in January 2009 when I first saw Spring Cottage and the garden is still full of Lady-Vendor’s stone ornaments. So, we have here Winter 2009 to Spring 2010.

It does strike me how much less manicured the garden looks in the last picture than in the first two or three. This is a testament to Nick, Lady-Vendor’s gardener, who used to come once a week for a whole day to keep the place in very good shape – not quite like now, with Lady-Gardener and me, who manage a couple of hours a week on it, so that it is has become rather rampant.

I never tire of looking at it and will probably continue taking pictures from here for years. My favourite picture is the one with my two hooded offspring on their first proper trip to Spring Cottage, who got straight out of bed and raced outside on a rainy morning for their first view of the garden in the light.

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Since the blog became public, I’ve been finding it harder to write anything and have gone visual in a big way. This is a shame because its whole point is that this is a record of my time down here.

There was a time when I would just go: “Blah, blah, blah. Went for a walk to Aisholt. Glorious day. Walked for three hours. It was hilly, very hilly. I saw cows and sheep.”

So, anyway, while I was out, I ate something growing by the side of the bridle path, which I thought was a redcurrant, then I spat it out because I wasn’t sure, and now I’m glad I did because it wasn’t one. But I don’t know what it was. There doesn’t seem to be a website with images of ‘things that look like redcurrants but will poison you’. So if I don’t come home, someone please tell them it was this (picture enlarges if you click on it, they all do):

The church in Aisholt is really pretty – I’ve been there twice already, according to the visitors book – they still haven’t changed the pen, which runs out before you can get to the end of your comment, so that it reads: ‘very peaceful, look forward to visiting aga so’.

Aisholt ChurchIt’s possibly one of the smallest churches I’ve ever seen, tucked down in the folds of the hills, not quite at the bottom of the valley but almost. At the bottom of the valley is a house that Wordsworth almost rented. It’s a pretty, white, thatched house with a stream at the bottom of the garden. But gloomy. No wonder he went off to the Lake District.

There’s also a farm in Aisholt that grows turf. This takes so much land. Grow it from seed, that’s what I say, and grow something we can eat in its place. Having said that, they have a pallet of turf rolls outside and an honesty box. And of course, I have bought some, because Lady-Vendor took her bird bath with her when she moved out and left a square of bare earth right bang in the middle of the path up the middle of the garden. I did try seed but it wasn’t very successful in the shade of the Japanese maple. So I will have to eat my words, or the turf, or something.

old lime kilnOh, and I found an old lime kiln by the side of the lane (this area is covered in them because of all the disused quarries round about – it’s where they used to process the limestone being dug out to extract the quicklime which was useful for farming and other things) and some rather sick trees. I wonder what’s wrong with them – sick treesI’ve seen this in other parts of the county as well.

And there was temptation in the form of a notice about springer spaniel puppies for sale. Not fair.

There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it? Or interesting. Oh well. This really is for me. Yes it is.

Postscript: jaw dropping moment – someone just walked past the house, on the field side. That never happens, never. (The maize has finally been harvested, so that I have my view back, which is nice.) But what is going on?

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Spring Cottage with the Honeytree ladies this weekend. The weather was wonderful, it was really nice to have company and we had a lovely time. It was the last weekend that we will have both girls with us before university – and another era – starts.

We drove to Watchet on Saturday, via lunch in an excellent pub/restaurant in Bicknoller (a find that I must remember), where there was an art exhibition as part of Somerset art week. I bought a giclee print by a local-ish artist in the show. Soon the cottage will have colour on its walls.

Followed by a quiet drink before supper at the Travellers’ Rest, which was quieter than I’ve ever seen it. I discovered that it doesn’t open until 7pm which is why I couldn’t go last weekend. What a clot! I felt a bit guilty that we didn’t eat there, but went home to have some delicious pasta made by one of my guests.

The silliest part of the weekend was when we were suddenly invaded by about seven pheasant in the garden. I’ve never seen so many of them, or such brazen ones, before. IMG_3072 pheasantI think they must have been attracted by the growing crop of ripening blackberries a the back of the house. I think they were juveniles as they didn’t have long tail feathers or female colouring.

We did mainly local walks from the house this weekend, up Broomfield Hill on Saturday, to get a sense of the locality and then over to Manor Farm on Sunday.IMG_3079walk

I am so lucky to have found such a wonderful place. The more I learn about my neighbours and the surrounding area, the more I like it. On our walk through Manor Farm, we met John Honeyball, whose details were given to me by Lady-Vendor way back in April. He was on his way back from church in his mobility vehicle with a trailer on the back with two lovely big dogs and offered us a lift. He is such a character  — I don’t mean that to sound patronising, he just is more colourful than ordinary mortals — beautifully got up in a tweed suit, waistcoat and bowler hat and possessed of a wonderful turn of phrase.)

He told us that he’d trained racehorses, which I already knew from the farm’s website which I’d been looking at when I was thinking of going riding, and that he’s been a master of hounds, which I am recording here for my holey memory’s sake. He showed us the way to the path that we were trying to follow through Manor Farm’s yard and explained a bit about the countryside stewardship scheme. The Rowes at Great Holwell do his hedge topping for him nowadays as he can no longer drive a tractor. Although very limber, he’s clearly quite elderly but very spry with quite a twinkle in his eye. I hope I get old like that. He reminded me of Granny and her siblings as I remember them during my childhood before they got decrepit.

It was very nice to work out more of how everything locally fits together. I get a very clear sense of how the immediate local area is split between these two farms more or less. The walk home along the path pretty much across the field opposite Spring Cottage, so now I know a short cut to the farm, if ever I need one. And can start a walk virtually over the road from the house.

Fabulous.

Postscript 27 September 2010: a year later, I now know that Lady-Vendor owned a racehorse that was trained by John Honeyball in the 1980s. They clearly knew her well. I researched this after a slightly mystifying conversation while I was on a ride with Sue Honeyball. It doesn’t help that conversations on horseback are often over the shoulder… It’s fascinating to find out about people, it really is

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I realise that I haven’t blogged for a while. That’s because I’ve been so busy with everything. This weekend’s trip to Spring Cottage culminated with the construction of one bed and the other being in pieces with the headboard downstairs. I didn’t dare dismantle the spiral stairs but phoned Nick, Lady-Vendor’s gardener, to ask him how to do it. He gave me courage that it was possible and my heart returned to its proper place from my boots. I had seriously been thinking that I would have to saw the headboard in half horizontally to get it upstairs. It was wonderful to actually sleep on a mattress instead of on the floor. Aching hands though from all the hard gardening and carting things about.

I gave the painter an advance for materials, as he reckons he is going to start at the end of the week. I’d like to believe that this will actually be the case. As much as I’ve been enjoying setting it all up, it has been wearing me out somewhat, that all the weekends are just full of tasks and chores, and more and more shopping. Who would have thought you could get bored of that.

I finally made the inevitable visit to IKEA which I’ve been postponing for a month. Spent less than I thought I would but bought far more things. At least now I must be almost done with the essentials.

It was a beautiful weekend withHorses stunning skies and a light breeze. The field across the road had three beautiful, sleek horses in, instead of the usual ‘cow-boys’. They were really lovely and I took many pictures, one of which I will upload as this week’s picture, when I am in another place. The field is part of Manor Farm where they ‘do’ riding and seeing the beauty of the beasts has redoubled my intention to have lessons there when the house is sorted out. I felt sorry for them being out all night as they were all stacked closely together for warmth when I got up at 6.30 on Sunday morning. But I’m just being anthropomorphic and I’m sure they love a night in the dark cold.

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I’m such a busy Lizzie that I forget that I’ve only had Spring Cottage for just over two weeks. I’m already impatient with progress on the house, although I’ve got quite a lot done. I’ve now found a painter and he’s due to start in 10 days or so – I hope. He has the keys, so let’s hope he gets going when he said he would. He thinks it will only take a week. At that point, I expect it will feel really different. It should be cleaner and lighter and feel more mine, than it does now, when I can still see where all Lady-Vendor’s furniture and pictures were.

I still can’t take the table down as I’m finding it difficult to get the replacement table for the kitchen in London. Also I will need help with sofa transportation and will have to wait for the Boy to come back from university to help.

I’m just looking forward to begin able to spend a weekend doing something other than clean and organise. Whilst that is fun, I am looking forward to being able to invite people to stay and show them its loveliness.

Beds – I forgot – they are coming in 10 days. I have to find a kind friend to help me put them together and then at least one will be able to sleep properly. So, its beds, table, sofas in that order and then the rudiments of comfortable living will be there. Not much else is necessary really and stuff will accumulate.

Oh yes, and I’m also expecting a peg rail and a slate house sign soon. I got a quote for the new radiator in my room today. Approximately twice what I’d budgeted for. I’ve no idea whether it’s a good price or not, but at least I was right about the existing rad being too small for the room. Since it’s my bedroom, it would be stupid to let it be too cold. Not that I want to sleep in the very warm or spend vast amounts of time in my bedroom but if I found the room cold in May, what will it feel like in December. I just can’t help feel anxious at the amount of cash that seems to go out of the door every day at the moment. But of course this will slow down as things get done.

What fun it must have been for all those MPs to charge stuff like this to the good old taxpayer and feel that they had the right to do so. A rotten system. I don’t blame them individually for doing it, but I do admire those, like Hilary Benn, who avoided doing so. There are so few with real integrity, sadly.  But I think most people’s invoices would look pretty foolish placed under close scrutiny – showing up all our petty vanities, so I think it’s very hard to judge all this out of context. They do need to think of something better though. This system is like something out of the nineteenth century. Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is…

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Front garden - yellow

 

Lady-Vendor wasn’t lying when she said the garden was a picture. it’s going to be a challenge to keep it looking as lovely as it does now. I’m glad that I’ve started with it in this condition, because now I will always have to try and live up to this. Click on the picture on the left – it enlarges so that you can see how lovely it is at the moment.

It is small enough to cope with myself, I think, apart from the 100 feet or so of hedge, which I’ll have to get help with unless I want to spend every moment that I’m here out with the hedge trimmer. I’d rather focus on the flowerbeds which have got some lovely things in – fritillaries and hellebores, two of my favourites, among them.

It’s springtime, so it will be lovely seeing what blossoms and comes up each weekend.

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I’ve just got home from work and now I’ve got just over a week off, during which time I’m going to take over the cottage. I’m really excited. Spring is in the air, plane tree seeds are flying into my eyes while I’m cycling, and everything is in bud or flowering.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the cottage in springtime, given that it was deepest winter when I saw it last. Lady-Vendor says that the garden is “a picture” and I am looking forward to seeing what kind of things are growing. I wonder whether there are any vegetables. I’m certainly planning some.

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Public blog!

I am now officially an idiot. Not that anyone is going to find this blog, I don’t suppose, but I thought I was blogging privately (a bit of a contradiction in terms, I know, but I’m not quite sure that I want my thoughts to be public just at the moment but will probably open the doors once I’m actually down in the country) but didn’t realise that you have to make every single post private or Google picks them up as it crawls through Word Press. Pretty stupid of me, since I was hardly born yesterday with regard to the internet and was editing content on our work CMS only this morning. I’ve not written anything bad. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with Lady-Vendor knowing what I was thinking about the cottage – especially at this point when it isn’t yet fully mine.

Update, June 09: I take it back. You can make the whole thing invisible and customise access but I didn’t explore enough to find out how. Now that’s really stupid.

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Spending money was what your parents gave you to take on holiday, now it’s all I seem to do. The money for the purchase have been transferred to the solicitors now and I’ve been writing cheques for the lawn mower and strimmer to Lady-Vendor, and to the solicitors for their fees.

It’s really not very interesting but at least things are really moving. I couldn’t stop it now if I wanted to.

I’ve finally realised that the difficult bit is over and that Lady-Vendor isn’t going to be there to approve or disapprove of anything I do.

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