Sunday, 30 November 2014

Not looking my prettiest

Hello everyone,
So much for my vow to blog more, Since my last post things have not gone altogether to plan as I have been in hospital. I'm now recovering gently at home. It was nothing too major, just a small operation that made me look quite awful, don't worry, but I am certainly not at my prettiest best right now. Big aaaawwww

As I say, everything is fine although I did a concert looking like this last Friday (actually looking slightly worse) and horrified the audience I think - probably should have cancelled but I don't like to let people down if I can help it :-)

All that remains is for me to horrify my students this week with my frankenstein look.

Hopefully I can now continue my blogging as I vowed to.

See you all soon.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Steps part 2

I took advantage of the very sunny Sunday weather to do the next stage of my garden steps project.

I am very pleased with the result - it may not be pretty, nor as expert as a professional's would be, but the concrete (my first ever attempt at making it) has hardened well and I have been able to walk on it succesfully.

The path along the side of the greenhouse at the bottom of the steps is not finished yet as I ran out of concrete materials (it doesn't go nearly as far as I had hoped) but I have put the gravel base in, next just a fairly thin layer of concrete to stabilise it all and then I am done.

So here is how it looks.

No more scrambling, slipping and sliding down to the greenhouse. My plan at the moment is to plant a small lavender hedge along the side of the steps to soften the edges and then to put a trellis along the side of the decking and grow some small plants up there. I'm very pleased all in all.

I reckon the whole project has cost me £150 which is quite a lot, but I really couldn't have done it cheaper I don't think, the materials, quite simply, were expensive! Still I am sure a builder would have charged me at least £500 considering the amount of hours it has all taken, so I am very pleased to have only spent that much. I am quite keen to lay a path from the house to the top of the steps now and have plans brewing in my mind.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Autumn and Garden Steps

Hello all,
It is well and truly Autumn now but here in North England it is unbelievably warm so I am taking the opportunity to do some hard graft outside. I have been up on the roof and cleared the gutters and now I am getting on with the big job I started months ago - the garden steps and path down to the greenhouse. For those of you familiar with my garden layout you will know that I have a treacherous slope down to where my greenhouse is sitting and it makes trips to the greenhouse in Winter months or in the rain virtually impossible unless you are willing to risk a fall - I'm not.
So I have been slowly getting my act together to build some steps. At first this seems like an impossible feat for an amateur like me, but like everything else, having approached it logically and theoretically, and bit by bit, I am slowly getting there and I think I am getting it right.

First I excavated the site, then I built wooden things (I have no idea what the technical terms are but they will all eventually screw together and be filled with an amount of concrete - so far not screwed.

Here is how it is looking.

This will form the path alongside the greenhouse.

And the framework for the steps themselves - the posts will be concreted in and I will use a couple of small sleepers to form the three steps. Then fill with some concrete and maybe put some gravel on the top surface - not decided yet.

and this is the view down to the path - it all looks very wonky because the wood is just balanced here in this photo, I will screw it all together when everything is ready, sleepers etc. but it gives you the idea.

I am then going to put some stepping stones into the lawn from the house to the top of the steps so hopefully I will be able to get all the way to the greenhouse without having to put wellies on every time, even in the pouring rain.

Everything else is going well, I now have 16 students plus five whom I teach at a 6th form College and I am so enjoying teaching. Meanwhile I popped to London last month to do a performance of Don Giovanni, so I am keeping my hand in as it were. I am singing in a concert in Ely at the end of November too if any of you find yourselves in the area :-)
So considering this time last year I didn't have any students, I was totally unsure which direction to go in etc I am very pleased as to how all of it has turned out.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

June is busting out all over.

I have been so enjoying the weather. We have been very lucky over the last few weeks with weather here in East Lancashire, glorious day after glorious day with just enough occasional rain soakings to keep the garden very happy. My house is full of sweet peas which fill every room with their glorious scent and, as is the way with sweet peas, as soon as one batch is finished there is another huge crop ready to pick, they really are a wonderful Summer treat.

As you can see, the garden is at it's absolute best at the moment, with flowers galore, all spilling out on top of each other, with something to look at in each direction.

The hebe turned out to be a good choice to replace the blighted box, I just have to try and stop it from getting leggy as time goes on.

Finally I can safely say that the tomatoes are the best year ever. This is great news after 2 very poor years. I have 9 plants, all of which are doing well. Keeping them in the greenhouse for their whole life has definitely been the answer and the growbags have really come up trumps. I should have masses and masses before long.

Couldn't quite get a good enough angle on the photo to get them all in, but you get the idea.

I have been dieting and am only 4lbs off my target of 13 stone, (if you'd asked me last week I was 2lbs off target but something went wrong this week). Meals are so easy to plan at this time of year I find and it is also pretty easy to eat healthy food (as long as you like salad that is haha)

So life is ticking along well, my budgeting is going like a breeze right now, not much spare money but enough to be happy and certainly that is what counts :-)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

I had a job interview....

and I got it!

I am now the piano teacher at a 6th form college in the area. It is only one afternoon a week starting in September but that, combined with my private teaching will make all the difference financially (and I wouldn't want much more hours there than that anyhow. Things are going well and there are no regrets and a lot less worries now. I am embracing my new life and really enjoying it all.

The garden continues to thrive and being here to enjoy it and work in it makes all the difference to its progress. I haven't got any further with my steps and path project yet, but thank you all those who gave me advice, I have a lot of good ideas now.

Now I am thinking of putting a pond in too, in the future.................

And thinking of converting my garage into a music studio..................

Dreams are great.

Friday, 27 June 2014

New project started

Hello all,
Well it's been a fantastic bout of weather here in the UK with glorious hot days. That spell seems to have passed for now and it is grey and significantly colder, but I'm really enjoying the Summer (especially as I am not working away from home for the first Summer in 18 years).

So I have begun a new project which for me is the most head-scratchingly difficult I have attempted thus far so anyone who has any knowledge and tips will be welcome to give advice.

The slope that leads down from my garden proper to my greenhouse is annoying and unmanagable in bad weather and so I have started the groundwork to create steps down and a path along the side of the greenhouse, this should make trips down there in winter or when it is wet much better.

I have started by doing the initial groundwork of cutting out the turf where the path will be

and then I started to cut out where the steps down will be

Finally leaving me with the complete area cut out.

Now that the site is cleared I need to move onto stage 2 as there is no going back now.
My plan at the moment is to put in wooden sides and posts along the path and then to fashion the steps using wooden sides and posts also, three steps down to the path should do it. When that is all in place I will put down hardcore, sand and then concrete and hope that the whole thing works and is stable. It's at times like this that I wish I had a friend with knowledge :-)

I will continue to mark my progress but the next stage will certainly be careful measuring and wood purchase.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Take a tour of my garden.

This Midsummer's day I thought I would do a short video tour of my garden as it is looking so lovely.
Stephen Spielberg I aint, so I'm sorry about the shaky camera work but you get the idea.