Posts Tagged ‘wasp’

Accurate Diversions?

This is an article that calls out for fly-on-the-wall- photos; unfortunately and as per usual – I got so wrapped up  in the task I , I er … well, I just never got round to taking any. maybe you’ll still enjoy the writing. Hope so.

I started work on it yesterday. Fair to say I have been putting it off, this re-cladding of the double door, one-time garage sized timber shed (for want of a better word) that almost certainly found its way here from use as a storage building on a building site; courtesy of the house’s previous owner (I suspect).

I don’t mind work (I do have an allotment after all!) but to do this justice would always require a degree of accuracy and skill that I like to avoid. Making nest boxes and bee-hotels is one thing, there can be gaps and spaces) but this is an entirely different kettle of roses.

Indeed I left it so long that the work just (stitch in time wise) compounded itself. Where once the ship lad planks just needed painting, next some – and then more – needed replacing, then the frame itself needed attention.

So I investigated, measured, calculated and purchased timber, cleared out one side of the shed (wouldn’t like to be accused of overdoing it) and set to. This, given the random hoarding effect of my nature (a sled, a child’s bike, plastic nuts and bolts from a junior construction kit, a box of Matchbox toys and a five lire can of cam shaft grease and empty wine bottles garnered from a shed load on the Roman road, was a task in itself. But work proper commenced with the left hand door. Seemed sensible: the lengths are shorter, so more manageable, the effect immediate and it gave me practice. Much needed practice.

That was yesterday, when coincidentally we were supposed to be subject to heavy and lengthy showers. They somehow went elsewhere as we had a gloriously warm, sunny September day.

This morning, filed with yesterday’s successes I began on the side wall. It is only a shoulder’s width away from the ten foot brick wall between our garden and G—-‘s garden. Ivy and brambles with spiky stems now as thick as a bricklayer’s fingers had clambered over it, his apple tree branches hanging fruit down into the space – and these, a couple of weeks ago, took some effort to clear. We had a compost heap behind the shed in the days before we had an allotment, the remains of the frame are still there now, with a broken plastic bucket. When I move it a sodden frog emerges from the slime that oozes around inside it. (We lawned over the small vegetable patch we were cultivating and planted apple trees when the allotment was offered.)

I take the task leisurely. Sawing with the sharp recently purchased saw is a pleasure in the autumn-morning chilled air. The skies are high and blue; tomatoes , stripped of leaves ripening in the greenhouse; peppers and aubergines carried into the double glazed, warmer porch, front of house, hopefully to continue swelling. A bee, braving the low temperature swings up inside one of the climbing fuchsia flowers that hang like airborne jellyfish. A wasp crowds the single windfall apple. A blue tit forages in the honeysuckle. Sawdust and wood shavings fall to the lawn like snow.

At different times I mislay the tape measure, the screwdriver, tip over a box of nails and empty the scavenged screws into the recycling bin. Spiders of all shapes and size scurry past or tarry to watch the labour and my work sets hosts of woodlice into frenzied activity as I move stones and timber. Small caterpillars starting to abseil down to the ground from the small leaved lime tree are welcome diversion (what kind of moth/butterfly will they become?)

Although I have an aversion to exact measurements I find the work pleasant; at times all I am doing is loitering with a purpose as Lady Autumn sets out her stall around me. I take a break, eat cheese and home-grown tomato sandwiches (outside of course) and by six o’clock I am satisfied and, it appears successful. Oh, the task is far from completed, but I am in Tamworth tomorrow, and there are more complex pieces to puzzle my way around, but with the nailed up cladding suitably primer/undercoated I have a sense of achievement.


A Bit of Spring, A Bit of a Walk.

A couple of days ago we took a drive over to Carding Mill Valley, near to Church Stretton. It is one of the places we like to walk. This being the Easter holidays the lower portions of the valley were crowded with families for it is an ideal place for children to do the things that children do in fast flowing streams: paddle, build dams, “fish”, fill buckets, get their clothes wet and just relax. The water is very clear and the flat areas beside it crowded with parents and grandparents. Some enterprising youngsters have brought cardboard and a re “sledging” down the steep valley sides on pieces of it. But we took a walk upwards, out past the Townbrook Lake where there were fewer people. It was hot in the valleys sheltered from the spring wind, the sun powerfully beating down. Slopes are steep and terrain demanding; we went a little bit wrong after crossing the Burway road, but followed a sheep path down to Lightspout and around onto Mott’s Road. Deserved a cup of tea at the national Trust café after the exertions, but at least a little annoyed to hear some people (who should know better) moaning about having to pay to park their cars. The charges go towards the upkeep of this beautiful piece of scenery, keeping it clean and accessible. We are members of the National Trust and feel it is worth every penny!

Image result for carding mill valley Image result for carding mill valley families

Facebook postings from our daughters (Swithland, Leicestershire) and my sister (Wiltshire) tell of the first swallows arriving to begin nesting. Here I believe I have seen high flying martins (but, honestly they might have been starlings!)

I look out of this morning window (a mile and a bit from our allotment) to a watery blue sky. It rained overnight after a week of unseasonably warm weather (highs of 19 Celsius). Yesterday there was TV talk (in the news and weather forecasts) of high levels of air pollution: Saharan sand mixed with poor quality air from Europe and our very own traffic fumes conglomerating mainly over the south east.

While it was fine we planted our early potatoes (Arran Pilot) in the “thin plot” as well as our “Charlotte” salad potatoes.  “Thin plot”? You need to be aware that although almost certainly all plot started life as roughly the same size over the years – and on our site that is more than a hundred and twenty – boundaries drift and alter. Is that a universal thing? You tell me. So this plot is, quite literally, thinner than most. In the “hedge plot” (a.k.a. the shed plot) we can get eight potatoes in a row, we only manage six in this plot. To make  a full row I try something my grandfather (“Grandy” to me) would do. Cut the largest tuber in half, dipped the cut end in soot and planted the two halves. It will be interesting to see if it works; I am fairly certain it used to work for Grandy. The ground has been dug over during the winter, weathered and forked over again just before planting. We take out a spit of earth for each potato, add some proprietary fertiliser and some pelleted chicken manure, then place the tuber in the hole and hoe the soil back around each one. It is satisfying work and by the time we have finished we have filled up a fair portion of the land available. I really enjoy the planting side of allotment life. It feels like something has been achieved in a way that simple digging over ground doesn’t. Is that just me?

In the greenhouse I have planted leeks, cauliflower, two varieties of cabbage and parsley. Also I have tried to germinate tomato seeds from a couple of freebie packets of out-of-date seeds. Watch this space.  It was while inspecting these now germinating seeds that I came across my first wasp of the year. Almost certainly a just-awoken hibernating queen, she sounded like an old BSA motorbike as she bumped off first one glass pane then another. There are peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing, ladybirds creeping over forget-me-nots and both cowslips and snakes-head fritillaries are unfolding in our back garden. The cowslips indeed are spreading wonderfully albeit into the lawn.

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There are peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing, ladybirds creeping over forget-me-nots and both cowslips and snakes-head fritillaries are unfolding in our back garden.

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We are heading to Suffolk for a couple of days break and, although I sat out on the back lawn yesterday looking at planting instructions on the countless packets of seeds that are still unopened – and though I feel that tugging impatience – it seemed best not to sow them until we get back.

The allotment hedgerow has had a bit of a trim, the blackberries sending out quite vicious streamers, the thornless blackberry is tied in and pruned and rhubarb is doing its thing next to the path. Blossom is starting to appear on the fruit trees.

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