Friday, 23 September 2016


It is Saturday and the sun is beating down - but it is not warm and the grass is wet from a heavy dew. The first leaves are beginning to fall from the ash trees.Yesterday I was up the ladder and picked another seven pounds of damsons and a load of cooking apples. The latter have been wrapped in newspaper and stored in trays in the shed.
We have had two birds inside the house, the last this morning - a great tit in our bedroom. At least it was not the guided missile that is the sparrow hawk.
The repointing of the paving is done and we are quiet again.
I have cleared out two of the small streams in the upper garden and both disappear into a hole in the stream bed - presumably the new springs lower down the garden are the exits.

R and I have cut severely back the huge brachyglottis (senecio) and carted at to the bonfire heap. Removing it revealed two birds' nests - tree sparrows I think - and an attempted rabbit hole - within six feet of the house!

The ammi and the calendulas carry on flowering and I must remember to save seed from the latter for next year.

The garden is productive - apples and damsons but I have to admit the wonderful; tomatoes are my daughters - just like the red.

There are so many blue tits I wonder how many nests there have been this year though they can have large broods. There are also plenty of coal and great tits but not seen any long tailed ones for a while.

This is a picture of the gaura my son-in-law gave to us - a beautiful plant.

Then there are the two nests I mentioned earlier - one has plastic tape woven into the fabric of the structure.

I gathered the last of the damsons from high on the tree by covering the ground below with dust sheets and shaking the tree. I remember as a small boy, on our farm, we used tarpaulins on the ground, tied a hessian sack around the trunk and Dad hit it with a sledge hammer so fruit that were ripe fell off.

Last night we had spectacular lightning and thunder with rain cascading down the roofs and over the gutters to the ground. (Wednesday) but today all is fresh and calm, the sun shining and a gentle breeze blowing from the south west.

If we had no weather in the UYK what would we discuss?

So I nipped out to the garage to have my car checked - they took nearly 4 hours to reprogram it with a software update - what ever happened to spanners and an oil can?

Thursday, 15 September 2016


The Bramley apples are ready and the damsons almost, Conference pears could do with a bit longer. I will have to get an long apple picker or improvise something. I tried a plastic bag on the top of the washing line pole but that was useless.
It is raining again - AGAIN!

I am going to raid the pond for plants for PB who has dug a lake in his field - clay bottom, no liner - envy! Anyway R wants some of the plants thinning out, especially the water lilies, as we can hardly see the surface now.

S has made an enquiry about whether we have any damsons yet - methinks he fancies a pound or two. Just been out and picked 14 pounds = 1 stone (6.35Kg) of damsons and only from the bottom of the one tree. Bagged up 3 lbs for S. R taking 5 lbs to church.

There are still white flowers in the garden. Japanese anemones and rose William Shakespeare.

The lawns are still a quagmire (Wednesday), but caught the fox again on the night camera. Men here repointing the paving - a palaver.

I have planted the three gaura plants, hoed the veg beds and picked yet more damsons - we have about four pounds from the trees by the cattle grid - for the first time in any quantity. R has bought a cherry/olive stoner from Lakeland to try on the damsons - it seems to work as long as the fruit is not too ripe - i.e. firm.

It is 27C today - weather we should have been having in August. Down by the pond a female Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea, is laying eggs on an old wet piece of wood.

Another common insect in our Cumbrian garden is the speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, here near the northernmost limit of its common range.

The paving is almost repointed - the colours partly restored with some more power washing. 
Today I have started to tidy the banking bed, trimming back the lavender, dead heading the crososmia and so on. 

The leaves on the grey poplar and the eucalyptus look good against the blue sky - something that has been so lacking this year. Suddenly it is September and temperatures are in the mid twenties - for a day or two - summer better late than never? 

 The plants in the pond are living in a green soup of algae - perhaps we could do with some algae eating fish - but then we also have some fish eating herons - etc etc. The bogbean is spreading and does so in this strange linear fashion. It is a plant I remember well from my messing about on the Coniston fells as a lad.

Noting has been heard about the steps quote - perhaps he has forgotten. Anyway here is a pic to show the line we hope for from the house to the pond.

I will have to dig out the new spring by the apple tree as the drain seems blocked, the tree needs pulling upright once the fruit have gone - a man's work is never done - but don't tell R.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

BIRDS, FRUIT, PATHS AND GYMNASTICS (amongst other stuff)

So somebody has finally found a possible connection between Diesel particulates and ill health - Dementia - surprise, surprise. Is plastic next?

It must be tough eating upside down.
The squirrels seem to manage hanging by one foot. If I tried that I would hit the ground hard.
The heron is only a infrequent visitor at the present and flies off at the slightest movement, even inside the house.
Last night R and I listened at our window as a tawny owl and a young fledgling kee-wicked at one another in the tree only feet from the house.

I have just power washed all the paving and it looks good - will look better when repointed. It has finally stopped raining and I hope the grass will dry a bit.

The garden has all sorts of fruit - yes the usual plums and apples but also courgettes doing too well this year and so are the rose hips - lots of itching powder. Just break one open and stuff the contents down your enemy's back.

Colour blasts still exist like the montbretia (crocosmia) and the pelargoniums.

Picking plums is becoming a nightmare - running the gauntlet of the gorging wasps.
The apple tree has not yet fallen over but I worry as the weight of the fruit increases. As you can see it is propped up with a couple of poles. The strawberry bed is now tidied, old straw removed, leaves cut back and runners removed. I have not saved any new plants this year from those runners. We should get some new growth before the winter.

And to mention paths - I have cut back the day lilies to reveal the path from the house down to the bottom path - and the bottom path has had the moss removed - a laborious job with an old shovel.

I am now waiting for the borehole man to change the filter as it is a bit yucky - the heavy rains have washed some particles into the supple - nothing dangerous just a bit brown.

And he has been and I still do not have a clue what he was talking about with regard to timing and pressures and stuff.
Mowed the lawn in a window of dryness - well, in the air - the lawn is a quagmire now criss-crossed with tyre tracks.

To emphasise the state of the garden - just went down to the veg beds - two courgettes, four sweet pea flower stems (good for this year), apples coming off in  the hand when lifted (thus ripe) and the last of the plums - and then - Olympic Gymnasts be envious - a back flip and slide down the lawn. The surface made ice look grippy. I stood up and fell down again so edged to a  better surface and escaped.

The state of the grass is atrocious and there is nothing I can do (but move to the Nevada Desert).

Saturday, 3 September 2016


The courgettes are marrows, the plums are turning into wasps and the apples doing their best to bring down their tree but on the greengage we have one solitary fruit - or rather had - been out this morning and nowhere to be seen.

This flower is Ammi - an umbellifer R likes in flower arrangements (or if I do it a load of flowers stuffed in a vase.) It is an annual so needs sowing every year.

Just been to the pond and noticed the big sycamore has ivy going up it - will need to deal with that. Many of the trees in the garden - at least the older ones - are ivied. This is a good natural habitat but could bring the tree down one day.

We have three main hydrangeas and they are all doing well though Annabelle falls down with the rain - the heads become too heavy. 

The lace cap up at the woodland fringe likes the partial shade and tumbles over the upper lawn grass. From up there we can see the Sir John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill above the town - a replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse.

Many flowers are doing well - the thug - orange day lily - gaudy and difficult to place as usual and the gentler and preferable yellow on that flowered first earlier in the year.

 It is time for the shrub roses to bloom again and they are coming on well.

Especially Emma Hamilton - blowsy and heavily scented - a bit like a boudoir of thorns.

The rosa rugosa is in full hip, a few pink or white flowers left but now bursting with fruit.

Been away a few days in the south and come back to rain (nothing very unusual in that). I have not yet been into the garden as it is still raining and I am a bit wimpy.

We have brought back three Gaura plants my son-in-law gave us from his quiet area at the Boom Town Festival. If it dries up I will put them in the garden - somewhere.