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Showing posts with the label land

The Never-Ending Shed Story: Part Two

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Day 8: We waited for cooler hours before loading up the van, intent on finishing the shed build. The Shed Saga finale! We were optimistically wrong, of course, though the roof felt was tacked down, and both the fascia and the perched diamond of finial were drilled in. The field grass was looking parched, it was the colour of wheat biscuits. Crickets chirped- they always sound merry. We were hot and sticky like two marinated chunks. ‘It looks like a shed,’ we observed, surprised. ‘We should get the doors hinged!’ But our stomachs were growling and we were clumsy-tired. The doors would have to be another adventure. Meanwhile, it was time for cooking burgers in the van, for getting our stable sofa bed ready for a well-earned sleep, for setting up one table and two chairs under the sweep of the ash tree, looking down across the lower field as the sun dipped behind us and the nearly-full pink-faced moon rose up from the tree line on the opposite hill. We fetched out our reclining chairs, im

The Never-Ending Shed Story: Part One

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'January 1st, 2022:  In bed, chinking coffee cups, we say- what will this year bring? We hope it’s a track and a toilet shed.' Day 1: Our DIY shed kit having been scheduled for delivery on a day on which neither of us was working, we arrived at the land having barely finished our morning coffee. Mr had pre-constructed a base, 10 feet by 8 feet, which we diligently levelled. Then we waited. We had a picnic lunch. We napped in the dapples under an ash tree. We had afternoon snacks. We wandered to survey the wild blooms, discovered an unexpected tomato plant. Somewhere between 4 and 5pm the van arrived and was directed up to the shed site; the terse driver helped us unload, and then sped away to the next ‘place in the middle of nowhere.’ We stared at the heap of flimsy panels and knew that we were wrong to skimp and go for the good price and let ourselves be lulled by the internet write-up. But perhaps we let our expectations run too far? There’s one way to find out - start the ad

The Importance Of Losing When Pounced By Hyenas

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Work continues on preparing the flat areas for seeding with grass and clover. We have a new routine of stopping at County Tyres to fill the van with their cast-offs, before getting to the land, unrolling one bay’s worth of weed suppressant membrane, weighing it down with one line of stinky rubber and one line of soil dug from the stony ground. By then we are overheated, feel like we’ve been dunked in vaseline, decide that will do for the day, and snort at ourselves for thinking all of this would be done in a few hours. Usually, we head home for a nap, but sometimes we have company. On this particular day, we are hosting a family picnic- the gazebo is up, some rudimentary furniture is brought from the stable, the cold box is unpacked, salad is chopped. Grandchildren 6 & 7 are here with their Mum, they are ‘helping’ which they are surprised to discover does not include rolling the tyres down the hill. Being made to attempt to recover the tyres does dampen their enthusiasm- G7 informe

The Gross And Wonderful Work

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Thursday was hot like all the other days. Everyone had a warm glow like barbeque glaze. We had planned to go to the land but babysitting duties intervened. Grandchildren 6 & 7 (we have numbered our blessings) came to have garden adventures while their mother attended Grandchild 2’s Junior School Leavers’ Day Assembly. After surviving our lawn being lava, and an attack of maffive spiders (Maffive? Yeah, really big, Granma, maffive!) and this evening’s heat-hazed Tae Kwon-Do sessions (having returned Gs 6&7 to tell their tales) we, in the van, with a snoozy Dog, headed landwards, to be ready for an early start. We took a turn around the newly cut fields, soaking in the cooler evening air, serenaded by medieval music - minstrels at a nearby wedding, most likely, another celebratory moment. There were tiny bats circling a sycamore tree, there were evening primrose flowers glowing in the lowing light. Old Dog, loving the ease of the short grass, sprang into a joyful run; old limbs

Heatwave

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I leave early for work, to get to the beach. I start each shift tacky with salt, and my head full of sea pictures; the green weed wafting, the crab shell rolling, the sand eels flicker-flicker. If we trek to the land we do that early too. I dunked Old Dog in a bath of rainwater which she calmly tolerated. The next time we brought her, she stood by the bath waiting to be cooled off; not excited by the new trick, just forbearing. Afternoons are for naps and ice cream. If we get it right our brains don’t boil over, they simmer and ferment. Days and nights are like the sand eels, they flicker-flicker. The moon rises tiger-orange, while the sun oozes down. Travelling homewards, sunlight stripes a tree tunnel, lights up trunks like embers like I’m driving down the throat of a fire-breathing beast.  Sleep pulls heavy, stealthy, sneaking in. We dream in silver we dream in gold. Morning arrives in birdsong, settles into a mug of coffee. I leave early for work. I swim. I write: Diamonds are ten

Kitchen Hygiene

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30/6/22, A Thursday. Yesterday’s forecast suggested ‘light rain’ but the clouds clearly had not paid that much attention. Yesterday’s washing is sagging on the line, dripping like it's been dropped in a pond. We did not check the weather this morning; we drank our coffee, listened to the birds shrill, and lest this sound too much of a rural idyll, also scrolled our phones for emails and social media whatevers. We speak to each other too, Mr and I. This morning’s chat ruled out repurposing old carpets for suppressing weeds on the bare-earth areas on our land, due to possible contamination of the soil and transportation cost. We chose terram, a geotextile fabric, instead, which we will buy new but be able to reuse. We tog up for a land trip (which for me includes flower earrings, a pretty hair tie, maybe a polka-dot scarf; this is part of my fun-on-the-land policy, which in turn is part of preventing burnout), taking a tape measure to check how much terram to purchase. At the land

Theft, Solstice, Sweetpea

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Theft: At first we thought: we have moved them and forgotten. We went home from the land and looked- we doubted ourselves and went back to the land. The stable was all locked up as expected, so how our Mitsubishi strimmer (fitted with a scrub cutting blade) and our long poled Tanaka hedge trimmer had been stolen was a mystery until our contractor told us he’d found a latch on the floor- he thought it had fallen out and had pushed it back into place. (That’s the downside of honest people, they don’t expect dishonesty.) On closer inspection the marks of it being prised off were visible. From now on we will be noting all serial numbers, indelibly marking all articles of worth, photographing things, and remembering to complete our insurance documents. While we work on upgrading security we have moved all the expensive things to a secure lock-up. Obviously, it’s not an actual tragic occurrence. No life or limbs lost, and we will purposely look to the bright side: how much we’ve learned abou

On Track

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  The grass track was supposed to be a fairly straight run from the top gate to the bottom gate. It had additional wiggles where the muddy spots had snagged a wheel. I will not miss digging the van out of muddy trouble, or pushing it. We rarely dared to drive uphill. The stone track gently curves to follow the land. It will need compacting before we call it a job done- but here we are, driving uphill, downhill, hearing the stone crunch, not quite believing what our ears and eyes are confirming. It’s a silly-hot day, we barely get any work done, and every job we do wanders back to the stone line and rechecks: yep, it’s here. We did dream it, but then we ordered all this stone and now it’s real. So, what next? Of course, there’s a list we can refer to, and subdivisions of lists depending on which segment of our project we deem to be the next practical step. So..? It’s easy to write lists. The first item usually starts ‘research…’ because we are edging along a tightrope here, a couple

Yes!

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June’s weather has been issued in short spells: sunny-dry, sunny-drizzle, cloudy, downpour, rainbows, humid, might-rain-might-be-blowy. Washing is on the line to dry or to get an extra rinse. Roses bloom, and when I get a chance to check the polytunnel there are tomato plants rising, the strawberries and nasturtiums are zooming over the path, the lovage has doubled. When I get to the land, with Mr, Old Dog, and grandchildren 6 & 7 (aged 4 and 3 respectively) there are tracks through it. This is magic to all of us: we, the adults who instructed this progress and fully expected to see it, and the children to whom this is pure surprise. Knowledge is no impediment to murmuring ‘wow’ and savouring the press of our boots into bare earth as we wander up through the fickle mizzle. I see the levelled area which will become an outdoor kitchen: it’s mud and scraped nettle root and it makes my heart boom YES THIS IS IT! We walk to the top field to admire the yellow digger, the huge blue tra