Archives for the month of: February, 2014
Check out the rubble-free wall and new flower bed.

Check out the rubble-free wall and new flower bed.

After a very hectic few weeks it’s high time I updated the blog with our progress. When you’re in the midst of work it can seem that nothing is being achieved, so it’s good to sit back and gather my thoughts about all the changes. I am typing this sat in my almost-decorated kitchen while our second WWOOFER enjoys a quiet evening off after an afternoon of constructing supports for the bird nets on our new veg beds. We signed up as WWOOF hosts last month and, with the help of two volunteers, since then we have:

  • Removed the eyesore rubble that has been sat outside the house since we excavated the inglenook
  • Created 5 new vegetable beds and one flower bed
  • Moved 6 barrow loads of snowdrops from our compost area to a new location on the north lawn so they can be admired from the kitchen window
  • Painted the bare plaster in the kitchen white
  • Carried out a survey of the land and made a topographical map of the terrain
  • Cleared most of the shrubs in the centre of the lawn
  • Hung folding chairs on the wall in the sun room
  • Gleaned and chopped enough firewood for us to not have ordered logs for nearly a month.

In other words – got cracking on a to-do list that would otherwise have taken us months. Here’s a picture of Vincent, our current WWOOFER, digging a bed in the sunshine on Saturday – spot the photographer.

Vincent digging

While all this has been happening we’ve been battered by wet and windy weather. Not much fun for us or our volunteers but the strong winds have provided free firewood from some of the trees and we have cut off some precarious dead limbs as a precaution.

On Friday we have a site visit from the Woodland Trust to discuss planting a woodland in the field, now that Jo and Phil’s Hebridean lambs have returned to their mums before going to market.

The other big change has been a personal one for me as, for the first time in more than 21 years, I am no longer in formal paid employment. I decided the financial cost of childcare and travel, and the emotional cost of being away from the family for days every week, was too great and have decided not to return to working as a subtitler after my maternity leave ends next month. This was a really hard decision as I did love my job and we do need a second income. So, until we win the lottery, I’m doing freelance writing work – mainly creating blog posts for companies overseas, which explains in part why I have not been updating my own blog! I’m working for a good friend, have completely flexible hours and the extra money has made a big difference to the family finances.

The final change in the last month has been upgrading the sash windows in the playroom, the south windows in the lounge and the kitchen. These were all rotting and the new windows are a big improvement – reducing draughts and greatly improving the outward appearance of the house. We’re hoping to overhaul some of the other windows ourselves and get more done by Ventrolla when we can afford to.

Finally, I have to wax lyrical about all the signs of spring bursting up around the house. We have more snowdrops than we know what to do with and, in the new bed by the kitchen door, we’ve planted some of the snowdrops, daffodils, cowslips (kindly donated by Janet) and the campanula Fiona brought us. I really can’t wait to get cracking on the garden and have been spending a ridiculous amount of time collecting ideas on Pinterest.

New flower bed

New flower bed

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No updates for a while (in fact, this whole month- oops!) Not that that means nothing much has been happening, quite the opposite. We’ve been busy entertaining our first WWOOFers, who’ve been helping us move snowdrops, dig up shrubs and today gathering and chopping wood for the stoves. When the weather has been really bad (and we’ve been lucky in that regard given what’s been happening in the south of England) they’ve been busy indoors helping us to paint the kitchen and do more draught-proofing.

The latest big project has been getting the worst of our sash windows repaired/replaced. The front windows in the playroom and lounge were done first, followed by the rotten one in the new kitchen. They look a lot better and are much less draughty. Now they’re in we’re working on the surrounding architrave and woodwork, filling gaps with filler and caulk to help them keep the heat it in more effectively. We’ve also bought beading to install around the skirting board in the lounge. It’s all helping to make the house warmer and more efficient but it’s a long, slow process.