Tuesday, 30 August 2016


David, who helps me in the garden, called me over to view the robinia pseudo-acacia (get me!) near the gate.  It's a tree that sits at the top of a mound, which we are turning into a rockery.  Gradually, obviously.  You can't rush a good rockery.  He had noticed a pile of earth at the top of the mound and on further investigation had found a big hole under the tree, which something had obviously taken great trouble to dig out.

I strongly suspected that this hole had nothing to do with the new heating system.

David bravely stuck a stick down the hole and it turns off to the right.

Off to Google to find out what kind of hole it might be.  David guessed a fox and the information that I found seemed to confirm that.  Badgers dig a D shaped hole, while foxes leave lots of debris outside their holes.  (I expect the badgers carry their debris away in their trouser legs.  Cunning creatures that they are.)

We've had no sighting of foxy.  We did consider sitting in the car one rare warm summer's night but then couldn't be bothered.  Bed beckoned. Besides the dog makes us go to bed at 10pm and I suspect that is far too early for a fox.

However, we are aware of foxy's presence, despite not having met face to face.  Because on my morning inspection of the garden on Monday, my salad bed had been dug up and all of my baby lettuces had gone.

I showed David and he confirmed that this was the action of a fox.  There was a smaller hole dug in the asparagus bed.  Which is annoying because I have been nurturing those roots for two years now.  And a few in the herb bed.  But not the strawberry bed, which is covered with netting to keep the birds off.  So I have covered the salad bed with netting too and re-sown my lettuces in the hope that they will survive.

We have been wondering where all the squirrels had gone.  In foxy's tummy, I suspect.

Friday, 19 August 2016

We Have Lift Off!

I'm so sorry.  It's been ages since I last posted. March, in fact. And now, scarily, it is suddenly five months later.  But the good news is that there is much to report and major work is underway with more major work about to start.  It's not just tinkering about at the edges any more but a major leap for mankind. At last, Houston, we have lift off!


The heating engineer, Nathan, has been on site for the past two weeks and is making great progress, even claiming to be ahead of schedule, which must be unheard of for a renovation project.  We have finally decided to put the boilers, all two of them, in what was the log shed.  Now rather grandly referred to as the boiler room.  Nathan spent much of the first week ensconced in there, fitting the boilers.  It looks wonderful now.

Once a Log Shed, Now a Boiler Room

One Boiler

Two Boilers

Boilers In Close Up

Lovely Pipes for Something or Other

More Lovely Pipes with Additional Technical Bits

A Work of Art

And just a reminder that the log shed once looked like this, shrouded in ivy!

The other thing that has been happening is more pipework in the pantry, which is to be recommissioned as the utility room.

And trenches are being dug.  Everywhere. They will take all that lovely hot water into the house and will also accommodate extra big pipes to get lots of lovely water from the mains. Here they are.  Enjoy!

So now it really does look like a building site.  At last.  As I said, we have Lift Off!!

(However, not everything has lifted off.  Some things look more like they have been laid out.)

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

I haven’t written this blog for a while.  Since November, in fact, according to the date of my last post.  Work has been busy and then there has been Christmas and then there has been Easter.   And I began writing this about a month ago, sitting in the British Library next to St Pancras Station.  

Piazza, British Library
I had time to kill whilst waiting for H, who was busy being interviewed for a job, and Storm Imogen was raging away outside.  Now we're on to Storm Katie and it’s Easter Saturday.  Where does the time go?  Going back to the day of the British Library visit, we should have been lunching at the Capital Hotel with Nathan Outlaw but had to cancel due to the interview. When H was released from interrogation (she got the job!), we had a much needed glass of wine in Fortnum’s before crossing to the Royal Academy to view the Painting the Modern Garden: From Monet to Matisse Exhibition, which I just loved. I’ve been to Giverny, Monet’s garden north of Paris, and it's on a par with Sissinghurst in terms of its spirit, atmosphere and beauty.

Then more culture, sort of, Eddie Izzard, transvestite and comedian, at the Palace Theatre.  But, before that, as I said, I was in the odd position of having time to kill. And where better than the British Library? Even sitting in the entrance lobby, I was surrounded by industrious writers.  People using laptops, tablets and phones.  Looking up, I realised that I was the only one writing by hand. It made me feel odd.  Eccentric.  Old-fashioned.  

And then the phone rang and it was H to say that she was free.  Which meant that I no longer had time to write about what we have done.  And time slipped by until, finally, in the midst of Storm Katie, I am sitting by the fire with time to reflect, time to write about what we have achieved at the Old Rectory since I last reported.  I need to catch up on progress, review the year, chart where we have been and where we have got to on our journey to revive the Old Rectory and to turn it back into a home.  At the moment, it seems to be clinging more to its time as a workhouse!

The Workhouse

 The big news is that at last, at last, the water tank is in and the plumber is supposed to be coming on Thursday to do his bit.  An exclusive on all of this to follow…just as soon as I’ve topped up my gin!

The Water Tank Edges its Way into the Cupboard

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Pathway to Heaven

I haven't had time to write anything of late - always a sign that work/life balance is out of kilter!  Anyhow, we have not been idle during this period and I have a backlog of reporting to do.

Firstly, the vegetable patch.  And my vision is to have four squares divided by paths.  And because we are lucky enough to have a ton of stone (proving that every cloud, including a collapsed wall, has a silver-lining), we decided to go for crazy paving.

I'm not an aficionado of fashion in relation to paths but my best guess would be that crazy paving is passé, a thing of garden design of the '70s along with pampas grass and patios.  But we have the stone and we are going to use it.  And perhaps we'll start a new trend.

Me.  Doing the Hard Work.

Sand and Cement Down, Stones Placed

Getting Longer...

S Needs Supervision

Supervisor Gets Distracted by a Passing Dog

And One Path Down!

Now we've got one path down, though, we now have decided to point it to make it look really fab.  And we still have two more of the same length to do.  But now the weather has changed.  My plan is to spend nice weekends in the garden and bad weather weekends indoors.  We seem to have spent months and months doing outside jobs.  While we wait for more good weather, the trenches for the other paths have filled with fallen chestnut leaves and  

Happy Birthday, Sprocket!

Four today!  And I noticed that they played the National Anthem on Radio Four in his honour.  Or perhaps it was for Prince Charles who shares his birthday.  The bow tie courtesy of H.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Arbor Again

Did I mention that I'd finished painting the arbor?  It's still not in its rightful position though!  So, fear not, dear reader.  It will feature in this blog again.

Me and My Arbor!
And in close up...
An Interesting Angle on Tomatoes
Proud Tomato Grower
Proud Apple Grower
Dog in the Grass
In Close Up
Mother and Daughter
Back to the Arbor