A record of our adventures between Pipit and her successor...
Three monkey's fists in fact, more on that story later...
I've (Andy) been lucky enough to see, from a boat, the sun rise over the Ganges (or more accurately Hooghly) River in Kolkata, but it turns out the view from our kitchen window ain't bad either, even if that photo was shot through a window in need of cleaning.
Somewhat unbelievably we have been in our new home for 3 months now and in that time we have been quite industrious, mainly outside, taking advantage of the second good summer weather in a row. Looking at some areas inside, it might appear we moved in only yesterday, with boxes and bags stacked in the spare bedroom, the back of the office and elsewhere yet to be unpacked and sorted. Outside however, is where we have been concentrating our efforts with the aim to get all the essential outdoor jobs done before the weather begins to turn.
Painting the render on the ground floor was one of the first and most important jobs we wanted to complete. The initial mist coat was harder work than we thought it might be, but the subsequent two coats were much easier, so it was all completed over two weekends.
First mist coat
Render painted, paving slabs for the entrance might be a job for next year
In addition to the greenhouse at the top of the garden which needed just a good clean, there was a shed which we thought may be too rotten to save. A closer look though (reduce, reuse, recycle!) and we decided that with a bit work, replacing the roof and roof felt, cleaning and repainting, it should serve at least another few years.
Old roof removed, pressure-washing inside and out
New T&G roof on, roofing felt being fitted
Ready for another few years' service, 2 coats of preservative and 3 coats of paint
We could have made more progress on jobs inside, but between 'normal' work during the weekdays and the outside jobs taking most of our weekends and some weekday evenings, we have taken time to enjoy our new home. Cooking, both in our new kitchen and on the barbecue, has played a big part in that. Having just done a final clean and packed away the barbecue for the winter, a tot up revealed we'd had a total of 23 barbecues since we moved in at the end of June - not bad for a British summer! We hadn't been counting the barbecues for any score sheet, simply so we could judge how long the gas lasts.
Greece meets Cornwall. Barbecued Cornish lamb chops marinated with lemon juice, garlic & oregano, served with barbecued courgettes, tzatziki, rocket, home grown tomatoes and sauteéd new potatoes.
We've also enjoyed harvesting and cooking with our home-grown tomatoes and chillies.
Tomato and feta tart ready for the oven with home grown tomatoes and herbs (basil, thyme and oregano). Apologies there is no photo of the cooked beast, it was nearly 10pm when we sat down to eat!
Repeat performance, more tomatoes but blue cheese and thyme in this version and the cooked beast
The last barbecue of the season - Cajun chicken breasts. We served it with a tomato, chilli, coriander (all home-grown) and onion salsa. The sharp-eyed fashionistas amongst you will notice that Andy seems to be wearing the same shirt in numerous photos. Just so you know, it does get washed and we'll save up for a new shirt for Christmas...
Back to the work in the garden, and following the Greece meets Cornwall theme, we have a pair of olive trees either side of the steps to the upper terrace, an appropriate purchase, with particular significance, courtesy of gift vouchers - thank you Gill & Ian 😊.
We have also planted, along the edge of the top terrace, a number of bee-friendly shrubs: lavender being one obvious choice (which the bumblebees were at before we even planted them), plus some other recommendations from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust - hebe, cistus (rock rose), viburnum, skimmia and helianthemum. We've also planted a dwarf palm and some alium and daffodil bulbs, the latter two mainly on the bank that will be at the edge of the wildlife pond.
Bee-friendly shrubs on the upper terrace
Andy shaping the bank that will be at the edge of the wildlife pond. We've planted rows of aliums and daffs, so should get a nice display come spring. We hope get the wildlife pond done over the autumn/winter.
We've not formally planned, insofar as drawing it onto paper, the layout of the garden, but we do know where the path, lawn, veg plot, border beds and wildlife pond will be.
It's a bit difficult to show the layout of the garden but the path you see below sweeps from the top of the steps, past the gin shack, then past what will be the veg plot, the greenhouse and around to meet the path coming up from the drive. The mass of weeds, residue from bonfires and various bits of rubble, metal and other stuff yet to be taken to the tip, will be some lawn edged with a border bed on the south side. It all looks rather a mess at the moment, but images of the stages of progress will make us appreciate the efforts we'll be putting into it, and one of our readers did ask for before and after photos!
Although the vegetable plot won't be ready this year, we couldn't resist the purchase of a surprise find at the garden centre in the form of Jerusalem artichokes, so have potted those for this year. Apparently they are very easy to grow and keep coming back year after year so once the veg plot is ready, we'll find a spot there to move them to. Despite their reputation for post-digestion issues, we're looking forward to using them for soup and a gratin topped with breadcrumbs and hazelnuts.
The sweet peas we planted late finally began to flower so we're picking them regularly to encourage more, although with the weather turning colder, we might not get more for too much longer.
I (Andy) remember this vase sitting on my parents' Welsh dresser in Frenchay, full of sweet peas grown by my father. Half a century later, having survived being bounced around aboard Pipit for 5 years, here it is full of our own sweet peas.
Having the truck has been quite useful for transporting plants, bags of compost and our first load of kiln dried ash logs. Whilst we don't want to wish the summer away, we are looking forward to lighting the log burner as the cooler weather approaches. The logs we bought last year for The Stables burnt beautifully, so we've stuck with the same supplier, a friendly family-run firm, Firewood Supplies Ltd just out on the Helston Road.
Full load from the garden centre
Kiln-dried ash, kindling and firelighters, ready for the winter
We discovered an unexpected bonus of the feature trusses with the metal webs we added one evening. The light over the dining table casts a shadow onto the south wall - lovely! If you look back at the sweet peas photo above, you'll see there's also a reflection of the truss on the kitchen island.
September also means the Southampton Boat Show and I (Ann) worked on the CA stand for the first four days. As always, hard work standing most of the day, but very enjoyable meeting existing members and welcoming new ones and particularly working with such a nice team, both colleagues and members who volunteer to work on the stand.
An added bonus this year was being invited by MS Amlin, along with 3 colleagues, to attend the YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year Awards Gala Dinner.
Although the bi-fold doors were laser-levelled during installation, in all but the calmest weather the access doors tend to gradually swing open from their fully folded back positions. Magnetic 'catches' are available to prevent this, but we felt their appearance detracted from the clean lines of the fully closed doors, so Ann found these monkey's fists at a shop in Penryn which work perfectly and are somewhat more interesting than conventional doorstops. So there you have it - in our last update there was a reference to tea drinking chimps, in this one monkey's fists...