Saturday, 31 July 2021

A New Shed


After four months, and a lot of digging, shoveling and painting, we have a new shed in place in the back garden and I love it.

You may remember that, back in the Easter holidays, we cleared this area in the corner of the back garden. It had previously housed the trampoline, well hidden from the house by the two huge New Zealand flax plants.

Before we did anything else, John and my dad removed the huge tree stump.

Then we removed the two New Zealand flax plants which had grown to about ten feet tall and just as wide.

Next, John and I painted the fences in the corner to protect the wood.

Once we knew exactly how big the cleared corner area was, we ordered a shed - 10 feet wide by 6 feet deep. It took about eight weeks to come, during which time we prepared the ground by leveling the earth and laying paving slabs and sand. You can just see it under the wooden shed base.

The shed was delivered on one roasting hot, humid day in June and John and I carried it all from a pallet on the front drive to a the back garden, panel by panel, when I got home from work. It was hot. But of course, being Britain, torrential rain was forecast before we were going to be able to assemble it so we had to wrap in in plastic sheeting until then.

John and my dad assembled the shed one Friday and I came home from work to this beauty. We celebrated with fish and chips.

Lovely though the shed is, the plan was always to paint it. Black, with white trim.

John and I did this slowly over a few days off and weekends during June and July.

I wanted the windows to have a little more definition, so John cut some pieces of baton to size, painted them and nailed them to the shed.

You'll notice that we also added window boxes. Not strictly necessary for a shed, but since this is clearly visible from the house I thought it would be nice to have something pretty to look out on.

My clever dad made us these window boxes with drainage holes.

The shed wall panels are not strong enough to take the weight of window boxes, so Dad added batons inside so that there would be something to screw into.

The weight is also supported by two sturdy black brackets which sit under the window box.

Then we lined them with plastic and potted them with pink geraniums.

The final stage was to add some pebbles to the area around the shed. This is partly because the area in front of the shed door was already getting really worn and muddy with foot traffic, and also because the area to the right of the shed, under the palm trees, gets very little light and the grass doesn't grow there well. Pebbles seemed easiest.

Borrowing my dad's pick axe, we dug a channel in front of the shed and filled it with old bricks. This was to create a little wall, to stop the pebbles constantly rolling onto the lawn. We also chose quite big pebbles for the same reason.

Then, on Thursday, a lorry dropped off a large bag containing 850 kg of pebbles. John and I used the wheelbarrow to transport them down the side path and dumped them on top of some membrane which we'd put down to prevent weeds.

The contrast of white pebbles and black shed is everything I hoped it would be, and a massive improvement on the area before.

As for the old shed, which was really on its last legs in a different corner of the garden.....

...we emptied it out....

...then pulled it to pieces. 

Angus was very excited about helping with this part.

Once the shed was down (most of it will be fire wood) I dug over the earth underneath as much as I could given that it was boiling hot and the ground was bone dry, and attempted to level it out a bit. My main concern was getting this camellia into the ground as soon as possible - it had previously been in a large pot on our balcony but had outgrown the pot so needed most space to spread roots. I think it will be much happier here and already looks healthier. I am undecided about the rest of the border. I have a fig tree that is bursting out of its pot, so might plant that to the left of the camellia, and a bay tree which is currently in a pot but might do better in the ground. Anything to hide the fences, although our neighbours did tell us that they have planned to replace them this autumn.

So that's what has been going on in our garden lately. And now I need a holiday.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

July Highlights

Hello! Such a lot has happened since I was last here, these July weeks have been absolutely frantic. A feel as though I am racing to keep up with the days and weeks at the moment. But here is a selection of July's highlights, a whirlwind tour of life over the last few weeks.

I finished my teacher training course and now have qualified teacher status. A PGCE is no small undertaking and covid really did not help matters but not only did I do it, I also enjoyed it. No-one is more surprised than me. We celebrated with flowers, burgers and cocktails and I am really excited to start teaching my own class in September. I am still teaching until the end of term but don't have the university work to do any more which is a huge relief. 

Other highlights have been more of the every day variety, but no less lovely for that.

:: A trip to the beach on Sunday (welcome respite from the sudden, relentless heat) and our first swim in the sea this year.

:: Picking the sweet peas. I fill tiny vases and jars and dot them around the house so that I can always smell them. Sometimes I add a few other flowers from the garden, like roses, lavender or giant daisies.

:: My first manicure in a really long time.

:: Ziggy turned four. 

:: Weekend baking with Angus. He is suddenly obsessed, going through all my baking books, sticking post-it notes in recipes. He favours anything chocolatey, or anything that I would probably avoid because it sounds a bit sickly, like these jaffa cake cupcakes. 

:: Watching the Euros on the TV. I can take or leave football, but did enjoy watching this.

:: Double rainbows.

:: My bedside reading pile. I am just finished re-reading The God of Small Things for book club, and loved it as much as I did first time round. Iris Murchoch's A Fairly Honourable Defeat was hard going to begin with but I have started listening to it on Audible and now am completely gripped. Our current book club choices have been quite weighty so I do have some crime fiction in there too, for light relief.

:: Baking my first sourdough in a few weeks and discovering a surprisingly lively, bubbly starter in the fridge producing a really nice loaf.

:: Iced coffee drunk while wandering around the garden barefoot on a weekend morning.

:: The poppies that came up in the back border, the palest apricot pink.

:: Reaching the half way mark on my A Stitch A Day embroidery sampler. June was full of greenery and garden things, a birthday (John's), a school residential trip (me), flowers, football, fresh fruit and my second vaccine. 

:: Our new shed is up, painted and almost finished. I will do a proper post about it soon but here's a photo of it before we painted it.

:: The most beautiful walk through the local countryside a couple of weeks ago, with everything so damp and incredibly green, a typical wet English summer.

And that is all my news. We have three more days left of term - we've almost made it without a bubble closing, fingers crossed we get to the finish line - and then the summer holidays begin. I hope you're all staying safe and well, and cool too, given this bonkers hot weather. Take care.