Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Going, Going, Gone.

At the bottom of my garden is my veg garden and beyond the veg garden was a tree.  A beautiful paper bark cherry with coppery peeling bark.

It was here when I moved in and has grown steadily ever since.  It had got big.  Too big.  It was casting shade over the entire veg garden and had reached 1/2 way across my neighbour's garden too.

Sadly I made the decision that it had to go.  It's never easy deciding to get rid of a tree, especially a beautiful tree, but there was no other feasible option.

I started by taking the canopy out and immediately the light flooded back into the garden.

It was at this point that I realised that cutting the canopy out had done some damage to the tendons in my elbow and I was going to need help to finish the job.

Cue handy friend who came round and sawed the rest of it down.

I now have a bench that I can use again as it's not totally shaded, a sunny veg garden and a large pile of logs to deal with - when my arm is better and I can lift them that is.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Repurpose - verb. To alter to make more suited for a different purpose. (wiktionary)

I'm not sure when this term came into use in the English language but it's what I've been doing this weekend.

About 10 years ago I bought a skirt which I loved and wore and wore and wore.  It was long and floaty and eventually started to fall to pieces - the seam around the zip had ripped and the hem was starting to fray too.  But I couldn't bring myself to throw it out so it lay in the fabric pile until Sunday when, after watching an old episode of 'This Old Thing', I had the idea of turing it into a top.

Armed with a stitch ripper I took the yoke off the  top, removed the zip and green band and started to work out how it might change into a top.

This involved lots of cutting and pinning and trying on - what I'd forgotten was that the skirt was cut on the bias and this made it an absolute pig to work with. At one point I added the original green band around the neck (after phoning a friend for emergency supplies of green thread!) but the bias made it all twist so I unpicked it.

After a lot of fiddling it has become this:

I'm pleased with it and I know that I'll enjoy wearing it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The March of Summer

The builders are working next door (and in a terraced house 'next door' is very close) so I've been escaping as much as possible. Yesterday I decided to leave the brick dust and blaring radio and headed off to Arger Fen, my favourite local wood.

Despite it being the school holidays there was hardly anyone about (they all probably knew it was about to rain, I clearly didn't!).

There were lots of wild flowers about: thistles, hawkweed, rosebay willow herb and greater stitchwort amongst others.

But there were also signs that summer is moving ever onward: teasels, blackberries (quite a few of which came home with me), elder berries, rose hips and sloes.

I walked to the large pond

(not actually a part of Arger Fen reserve but very beautiful) where I sat and watched dragonflies darting and swallows flying high.  This is when the heavens opened and I got very wet as I was a good way away from cover and by the time I got back to cover it had stopped raining!

If you want to see where I escaped to last week hop over to Celia's blog to read about our day out in London.

Friday, August 8, 2014

And There Were Poppies Too

After having had a lovely few days in Ireland last weekend I took myself off for a day in London yesterday.  I spent the morning in the Chelsea Physic Garden, somewhere I'd never visited before.

It is an oasis of calm, surrounded by beautiful buildings.  As someone who is very interested in the properties of plants, especially for healing and dyeing I found it all fascinating - and the glasshouses were fab too :-)

After a short tube ride and an unplanned walk from Green Park (courtesy of 'significant delays on the Piccadilly Line') I arrived at the theatre to see this:

I never managed to see it in the 80s when it was first on and all I can say about is that it is totally brilliant.  I've seen many many West End shows over the years and this has to rate joint first (joint with Phantom of the Opera which I saw with the original London cast in the 80s).

Then I set off on a long walk - first of all along the south bank where I wanted to see some of the Books About Town benches.  These are 50 benches in all designed to celebrate London's literacy heritage and to promote reading for pleasure.

William Shakespeare

Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler
If you're in London it's worth taking the time to find some of them as they are all so different and such fun (and free!).  The War Horse bench was my favourite.

Micheal Morpurgo's War Horse

But the poppies on the bench weren't the only poppies I'd come to see.  I had come to see the Tower Poppies - an art installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper entitled 'Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red'.   888,246 individually made ceramic poppies will be 'planted' around the moat of the Tower of London, each one representing a British Military fatality during the 1st World War.

They start off tumbling out from a window in the Tower

and meander their way along the west wall (clicking on an image will enlarge it)

before appearing to leap over the main entrance bridge.

At the moment they don't go much further than this but by November the sea of red will completely surround the Tower.

You can find more here, including a video of how they were made, and also how to buy one if you so wish.

If you're in London between now and the end of November it really is worth visiting this very poignant and beautiful tribute to the British Servicemen and women who died fighting for us in the 1st World War.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

And Breathe....

I'm enjoying having a little more time to sit in the garden this week, the weather is still glorious and fortunately a little less humid today, and it's nice to be able to sit in peace (before the builders start next door) and look at the flowers.

There's quite a lot of purple and pinks: self sown viola, Eryngium, Hibiscus, Verbena Bonariensis

And quite a lot of orange: Rose Fighting Temeraire, Rose Lady Emma Hamilton, self sown viola, Dahlia Walzing Mathilda, Hemerocallis (name forgotten!).

There's a self sown Salvia growing out of the patio,

and Echniops, Shasta Daisies, self sown Hollyhocks and Echinacea White Swan, all growing happily together.

There's veg growing well too, except I might not have properly thought the bean support through when I made it out of very long hazel sticks as I can't actually reach the top and will soon need the step ladder to pick the beans!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Tale of Three Fireplaces

About 18 months ago I blogged about the lovely Art Nouveau fireplaces that came with my house.  They were pretty but in a sorry state of disrepair with no hearths, missing fronts and totally unusable as fires.

Earlier this year I got the bit between my teeth and decided to tackle them.

I cut carpet back to reveal the original concrete hearths, filling in the cracks with fire cement.

I borrowed a mitre block and made wooden 'fenders' to edge them (and only sawed my finger once, on the very last one!).

I cut a vermiculite firebrick to size and fitted it where there was once only a hole in the dining room one.

I ordered 2 replacement fire fronts, once for the dining room and one for the study, and last week had the chimney swept for the dining room fireplace. Lots of debris and one dead pigeon were removed before finally the brush could come out.

And this is what the once sad fireplaces look like now - in my bedroom just the hearth was needed.

The study got a new fire front and hearth. I am really pleased with this one as it looks so pretty now.

And the dining room got a new fire front, hearth and back.

All the rooms look complete now and the fireplaces are loved again.  I will really enjoy being able to light the dining room one in the winter - although on such a hot day as this it's hard to imagine needing to!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A 24p Bag

I needed a new bag. Not just any old new bag but a bag that both fullfilled the size requirements for the '2nd small hand luggage bag' of a certain low cost airline and one that I could fit my ipad in.  I have loads of bags but would you believe it, not a single one that met both of these criteria.  So I decided to make one.

I rooted around and found some lovely striped fabric lurking on a shelf, some shot silk taffeta that would do for lining and a strap that was from my broken laptop bag. 

Not having a pattern I based it on an existing bag, used some wadding left over from something else to pad it and basically made it up as I went along.

It was finished but slightly boring so I had another rummage ('helped' by a feline assistant!) and

the old silk curtain from the lounge and a red resin rose became a flower brooch,

which when fastened onto the front flap livened it up nicely.

And the 24p?  That's what it cost me to buy the 2 D rings to attach the handle to the bag. 

It'll do the job nicely :-)