Saturday, 21 November 2020

November Flowers

Took some photos in the garden yesterday before the frost.  Just as well.  Some are not looking quite so happy today.

First Frost

 Our first frost is early this year.  

Often we get through to January before I am worrying about protecting the summer flowering plants around the cottage.  Sold as annuals most, in fact, will survive the winter if they are kept safe.

We are planting more young trees in the field.  Especially now, it feels like a promise for the future. And against a cold wind and in fading light, as I put stakes in the ground to support a bare-rooted lime tree, I hear the cranes coming out of the north east.  Their V-shape, way, way up in the clear sky, passes directly over my head.  Moving too fast to count them properly I roughly guess - five, ten, twenty, forty ... about a hundred and fifty of them.

After supper, in the dark, I make my way with a torch back down to the cottage, take the fleece out of its summer storage in the shed, cover the most vulnerable pots and close all the shutters.  

The inky black sky with a myriad stars and a low crescent moon to the west promises a frosty night.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

The Covid Sofa

 Apparently, lockdown has forced people to look long and hard at their sofas, which have been found wanting - much to the delight of furniture retailers such as DFS.

In a previous life, with French lessons and Alexander classes, and bridge and photography we rushed in and out past where we live and closed our eyes to our surroundings.  Not any more.  Since March our life has been no more hectic than walking the dogs, visits to the shops and, occasionally, the doctors, the pharmacy and the vets.  Since March, apart from us, only two people have been in our house - an emergency plumber and the guy who managed the company that did our groundworks.

So, like those with unsatisfactory sofas, we have been looking at what we have around us and found some of it wanting.  Notably, the terrace.

When we bought the house all those thirteen years ago, the terrace floor was enchantingly quirky - a mass of crazed old tiling that just reeked age.  In the intervening years our busy lives (lessons, bridge, photos and so on) have meant that we have marched backwards and forwards over said tiles.  The terrace is our way in and out - our route from the kitchen to the cars and our life beyond. So the delightfully crazed tiles have moved, come apart and crumbled.  No longer charmingly quirky, they just look sad.

They are not so easy to replace though.  Modern tiles are different dimensions.  So, one option is to just remove the saddest tiles and replace them with the ones that came out of the cottage and were stacked somewhat haphazardly on the floor of what was once a tobacco drying barn, til it was taken down by the previous owners. The stacks of tiles are now smothered in brambles and young trees are pushing their way up through the barn floor.  They are still get-at-able though - just.  They are mossy, damp, the undersides covered in mortar, but usable - just.

So I ask for advice on a forum and the suggestions from those who know how to manage the process terrify me, starting with using an angle grinder and progressing from there.  

But then I remember.  Twelve years ago, our second summer, we had a big lunch party at a long table on the terrace and I realised at the last minute that some of the tiles where the chair legs would be were badly broken. I had little or no time, so I just cleared out the old tiles and laid new ones in their place on sand. Looking at them now, twelve years on, they are still there, undisturbed, most still in one piece. So, with a bit of luck, just using sand to bed in some replacement tiles may give us another ten years or so before we have to do the terrace properly.

So yesterday I had a go.