Saturday, 18 October 2008

To Autumn

by the brilliant John Keats.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Do any of you remember Whitey?

I hadn't seen him for such a long time, all summer really. One has to worry when one doesn't see a cat around, especially one of the regulars. Whitey was one of the first cats I ever saw in the garden.

Well thankfully I have seen him recently, mostly on the shed in the garden behind ours, his perch of choice. At the weekend, he wandered back into our garden, and had a good little roll around in the sunny soil. All well and good.

However, he must have been having a nosey round (as cats do - curiousity and all that) and in come the Gingers.

I heard that unmistakable caterwaul, emanating from behind the shed, and realised that yes, there was a cat confrontation.

I try to encourage the boys to be nice, especially "our" cat, Little Ginger. But no, he is a bit of bruiser.

In the end, the day being so nice and sunny, the Gingers decided on a nice sleep, hence cutting off Whitey's escape.

I waited to see how things would pan out, but as usual in the cat world, things move ver-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-y slo-o-o-o-o-o-wly. Whitey even managed a little nap, sitting up. Whilst the boys, well they were just enjoying the sunshine.

Two hours later and Whitey is still cut off.

Eventually he decides it's time to take action.

Should I ...

And there he goes. That can't be easy for a cat, I mean it is a six foot fence! I was very impressed. Check that tail, eh?

Big Ginger finally clocked that the prey had fled.

Who had the last laugh?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Let's Talk Sheds

This was on my list to discuss, so here we go.

How to build a shed in several not so easy, but ultimately satisfying steps.

We are very grateful to yer man upstairs, who is a builder by trade. Isn't that lucky?

It's very important to get the concrete base right, that the shed will sit upon.

To do this, we had 2 tons (yes, two tons) of ballast, and about 25 bags of cement, if I remember rightly. You might save yourself some time and trouble by getting pre-mixed concrete, where you just add water, but we were guided by the man so this is what we did.

The boys, and it was their decision entirely, had decided on a 10' x 8' shed. Rather large, as sheds go, but we are sharing, so for all our garden paraphenalia he had an equal amount of tools, and also fixings for his motorcycle. So, seeing as it is rather a large garden, a shed of that size was not going to be too obtrusive.

Shed-base-laying-day. D mixes the cement on a board, by combining ballast with cement and spraying it with the hose - one to spray the hose, and one to mix with the big shovel. That was D and his lovely woman P from upstairs, doing the do. To my boundless admiration, she can actually lift a bag of cement, which I really honestly couldn't to save my life! I'm no weakling, but that was beyond me.

What I could do was bring the ballast back from the front (can you imagine what two tons of ballast look like? And could the supplier bring it to the back for us? Um, no) in the wheelbarrow at regular intervals.

What we also used, completely, were all the rocks harvested from the soil during rotovation and turf preparation and laying. And there were a lot. But it all went into the big heap of the base.

You will see the wooden frame to hold in the said rocks, and ultimately the cement. Then the pouring of the concrete, and the smoothing over, of which he did an admirable job. This took us an afternoon. Phew! We had a barbeque to celebrate in the evening.

Here is the shed, in pieces. We ordered this from a wonderful, highly reasonably priced firm called Walton's Sheds in Lincolnshire. It's a "second", ever-so-slightly damaged in places, you could hardly tell and so cheap, compared to your average high street DIY shop. Highly recommended.

Now, it was delivered again down the side, and left in bits to carry back.

My recommendation is, if you are a woman of average strength, with maybe a few small arm muscles and certainly having gained some strength from the strenous digging and cultivating of overgrown ground, please feel free to tell you husband to sod off if he requests that you help him carry the pieces to the back.

These babies were heavy. Thankfully D came down to participate in what was only going to be a great man-fest of construction for the afternoon. A kind of "barn-raising" a la the film Witness. At this point I was relegated to supplying the tea. Comprehensive instructions were supplied, and were followed.

Ta da! A thing of beauty and a joy forever.