Saturday, 24 December 2011

In by Christmas?

Happy holidays everyone :-)

I was hoping to be writing this saying that we're 100% in by Christmas - but that would be rather untrue. However, our kitchen is now 95% done, so our home now has a beating heart. It is amazing the difference that makes.

It is odd though, feels like being on a film set -you open a door and look out onto the chaos of the remaining woodpile and 'the build'. I promise that I'll post pics over the holidays. I've just been so busy DOING the build, I haven't found the time to post about it. I have lots of pics though, so they will get uploaded.

Right now though, I'm putting my feet up. It's time for a few days R & R before we get back to finishing off the downstairs.

We'll be having Christmas dinner in our wonderful new kitchen tomorrow :-)

Be well everyone XX

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A day in the garden

After what feels like a very long absence, I finally got a day in the garden today - what bliss.

We've been (nicely) distracted from the build by music and guests for the last couple of weeks, and before that the house building had me distracted from the garden, so things are quite 'natural' (weedy) in the garden right now.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so it was a pleasure to start sorting things out.

First, I tidied the potato patches - removing the last of the potatoes (I even still had some earlies in .. and they were fine!) and then mulching the beds.

The 'eariles' potato bed is just seen in the right of this picture.

There were still a few nice spuds hidden away - bambino variety.

There is still some colour in the garden, with a few nasturtiums and marigolds hanging on. I even saw a butterfly.

I love chard for colour this time of year.

However, frost has already started to affect some of the nasturtiums.

I still had some nice second earlies too, (hmm, must remember what variety they were!)

The beds where the second early and maincrop potatoes were planted has been partially invaded by renegade mint - that has spread wildly during the past couple of years of semi neglect. So, I patiently dug up all that had spread to the beds today.

Here are the sneaky white roots that I spent some time removing!

Last, but not least, the few remaining maincrop Cara were dug up.

I then quickly covered the two beds (seen in the last pic) with some weed suppressing membrane, as a temporary mulch. I may use a different mulch, I haven't decided yet.

I was really pleased with how dry the beds were - and the good condition of the potatoes, considering the unusually high levels of rainfall recently. I'm sure the fact that the beds are slightly raised (and aren't just clay) helps a great deal.

I still have a lot of work to do tidying up and deciding how to manage the paths (I may mulch them rather than having them as grass or bare soil) they're very messy and weedy.

As well as the garden to tidy up, I still have to finishing preparing the polytunnel, so I missed out on overwintering crops in there for this year. Never mind, next year I'll make good use of it.

Here's me, catching a minute in the garden on another sunny day, earlier this week. I'm glad I don't mind things being messy for a while - it's still beautiful to me, even if it is a bit wild these days.

Next week, we get back to the build :-)

Friday, 14 October 2011

On my mind .. the kitchen

This may not look like a kitchen yet - to the untrained eye it may seem like empty space - but to me ... its our kitchen in the making, tantalizingly close .. the hub of the home, ready to take shape over the next week. The excitement of the closeness of it all is a great feeling. I'm so ready for it!

'On my mind' is a Friday picture post shared from the Down to Earth blog by the lovely Rhonda Jean.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

September update

We're been making steady progress here on the build over the past few weeks. Apologies for not getting posting more frequently - the time just seems to fly by.

I've FINALLY finished oiling the upstairs ceilings and I'm now finishing the dry lining upstairs (see side pic) and painting the walls.

Sam has still been tiling away .. in the downstairs bathroom ....

and the upstairs bathroom .....

Here's our handywork in the office .. which may just become slightly greener in shade.

 The rest of the flooring has been laid in the master bedroom.

Our supervisor, Leo,  was caught in the act taking a 'power' nap in this photo - yes, he is cuddling a battery from a power drill, silly fella.

Of course, the garden has still been growing .. and I've had a few moments to venture out and collect some produce and seeds.

The garden is still flowering really well actually - there are always butterflies and bees buzzing around.

As usual, the red orache makes a great show.

There hasn't been much going on at the polytunnel (apart from having to retrench the end after the high winds  - the end had untrenched itself and was flapping ... but all is well again and re-trenched now). I did get a couple of loads of mushroom compost - some fresh and some rotted, so I'm using the fresh as an under layer - on top of cardboard - and will use the rotted stuff to make my raised beds. 

The Brussels sprouts are shaping up nicely in the veg beds outside.

And, the sunflowers are still amazing me with their large heads brimming with seeds.

Just now, the bath came out of storage and has been put in position ... very exciting.

I'll endeavor to post again sooner rather than later - as things here are changing on a daily basis.

Have started some seeds in modules in the hope of getting them in the tunnel to overwinter and I have some starting in the old tomato bags in the greenhouse. Ah, there's never a dull moment here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Going with the flow

This may not look too exciting, but we've been waiting for this moment for a long time now. We finally have running water :-)

It really feels very exciting .. to turn on a tap, rather than just using jugs!

We finally got the necessary water treatment filters fitted, last Friday, so now our water is EU drinking quality standard. We had a LOT of manganese and iron and some bacteria, so we did need it. Also, our water is very hard, which wouldn't be good for the aerating taps.

Here's our water treatment system - which we managed to shoehorn into the shed.

The blue cylinder is the 'mixed bed' filtration for iron, manganese and water softening.

This is the Ultra Violet light to kill any bacteria.

This unit contains salt and some water and is used to wash out the mixed bed filter.

There are the salt tablets, in water.

It's strange having soft water now. Very good for washing as it lathers easily, but not so nice to drink. I may put in a re-mineralization filter under the sink, with a separate tap for drinking water, so I can drink alkaline (hard) water. Seems silly, but I am 70% percent water and I do drink a lot of water, so, for me, it's worth it.

Prior to that excitement, I've STILL been oiling and Sam has been busy tiling the bathrooms (after we sourced some fab cheap tiles when we couldn't get more of the tiles we bought back in 2009, we looked for ages and it held us up a while, but now we're all set).

Here's himself in full flow.

This is the floor in the downstairs bathroom.

Here's Sam working on the upstairs bathroom floor.

Nearly done ...

All done ...

and approved by myself.

Sam's also painted the walk in wardrobe (which is bigger than my first home from home).

and laid the wooden flooring in it,

which I have also given my seal of approval.

Next up, is tiling the bathroom walls, so we can get the sinks and toilets plumbed in, trying some on oil the wardrobe floor and more dry lining and painting. I've also just started getting back into the garden (just picked the last broad beans and some onions) and may even plant a few bits in the tunnel soon. It's even possible that I'll finish oiling the upstairs ceiling soon.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A BIG week

What a week - at last we have mains electricity and it's great fun.
There is great novelty value in staying up after dark and having the fridge in the caravan actually cooling things and being able to run tools, charge phones etc without having to put on the generator and find lots of things to run at the same time. I have a feeling I'll quickly get used to it again, but for now, its quite luxurious.

Here I am all excited about having lights :-)

As if that wasn't enough, we also had another landmark moment last week. I got re-untied with an old friend - the polytunnel :-)
It may be in a different location and have a different cover, but its still my dear friend and I'm REALLY excited about having it back up here.
This time it will be no dig. I've covered the area in cardboard and some tarpaulin for now and soon I'll get some compost to mulch over the card - so I can plant some winter salads and other winter and spring crops. I'll probably just plant up a small area this year and do most of it next Spring. Sam was REALLY worried that with power (meaning potential to be online all the time) and the tunnel up that I'd disappear from the build, but I've been very restrained and am still mainly doing 'house' stuff (but will be able to blog a little more often).

For the past while I've been oiling the upstairs ceilings - with a mix of linseed oil and white pigment. (The pigment helps give the wood a pale almost limewashed finished, which is handy as the wood had darkened too much while we were away .. we'd planned to oil it in 2009).

Here I am paintbrush in hand.

You can see the difference the pigment makes in this picture.

Other than that, I've been sorting out water filters - so we can have running water in the house (that will be BLISS) Sam's sorting plumbing and dry lining and I'm occasionally remembering to weed the garden.

Our supervisor and morale officer, the wonderful Sally Bongo, is on light duties for a while after having a cruciate operation a couple of weeks ago. She thinks she can jump as normal (which won't help her heal) so we have ramps to the doors and barricades on the stairs. Luckily she's on great form, now has her stitches out and is putting up with us lifting her in and out of the site office caravan very well (she looks at us like we're very silly, as she KNOWS she could jump up just fine).

Once the ceilings are oiled and the dry lining complete, we'll be able to paint the walls upstairs. Then we can put down the floors up there and when the bathroom is done that will be the upstairs pretty much DONE. Happy days.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Weedfest 2011

Think I must have blinked and missed it, but somehow thistle like weeds have sprung up everywhere over the past couple of weeks. True, I had been weeding quite well for a while, but I've been a bit distracted lately - and have paid the price now.

Some of them are going to enrich the compost heap whilst others I may try to re-use as mulch on the beds (so other weeds don't take over the bare soil).

I did try this before ... this time, I'm taking off the roots, so they don't just re-grow!

I think I'll be busy in the garden for a while yet.

Some things are going well though. Interplanting with flowers has been a great success.

The strawberries are doing well this year.

The sweetcorn is doing its best (may be a tad short - but it could stilll work).

The shallots taste great.

The sunflowers amongst the peas are starting to show.

Marigolds look good with the cabbage.

Night scented stock has done well.

Indoors, we've been busy finding bargains.

We got our kitchen reduced in the Ikea sale - just in time, as its being discontinued!

Got the cooker ex-display.

and even got ourselves a well needed discount on our paint - yes, I held out and got the eco-stuff .. luckily it covers really well, so we didn't have to buy too much of it.

Still lots to do inside - haven't finished the dry lining - haven't even started oiling the internal wood.

There's also still a rumor that we'll have mains electrics next week.

Right now, I'm on my last few minutes of battery power, so thats all for now, folks.