Monday marvel

Most days are unremarkable in the little corner of ours. The only thing that breaks up our days are when I go out with my books. We also get regular visits from my first husband and his dog.

Otherwise we don’t really see anyone. The cleaner comes every 2 weeks for 2 hours.

This morning we had a couple of visitors. First was the arrival of a man who had come to install a new handrail for mother. He was here for maybe 5 minutes probably less.

Next I had a delivery of 2 boxes. Nothing unusual in that I get at least one delivery every week.

Finally we had the visitors we had been waiting for. We were beginning to worry that the weather was going to change. The forecast being for torrential rain today. Apart from a few spots of rain it stayed dry not just whilst they were here but through the afternoon.

Our visitors were our usual tree surgeon and his assistant. This time they were not tackling ant trees for us but some shrubs that had outgrown their use, in the front garden. The main reason they were here was to secure the hedge in the back garden.

The hedge has for many years been secured to the fence behind it. I could see that the fence nextdoor had collapsed, leaving our hedge to sway in the wind. There is now a wooden frame securing it in place.

While they were here I cheekily asked if they could do me a favour. They weren’t sure if they could do it but would try. It took a bit of effort but the managed it.

To my delight I now have a fully functional rotary washing line. The previous one collapsed late spring last year. Mother ordered a new bigger one which finally arrived in about November. I have been looking forward to using it but needed to find a kind man or two willing to put it up for me. In the past I would have attempted to do it myself. Being that kind of woman who prefers to do things myself rather than ask a man. These days I’m learning to ask for help.

oznorCOQR

Not so little tits

It has been a while since I mentioned my garden birds, most recently I was showing off about our friendly Robin who I got quite close to. He even ventured into our kitchen one sunny morning. Back in May I posted about the baby blue tits that had been visiting my bird feeder. See little tits. For months we were visited by these blue tits, starlings, Mr & Mrs blackbird, many sparrows, the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. We also have regular visits from a couple of pigeons and from time to time a dove.

Over the summer we saw fewer starlings and eventually the blue tits stopped visiting too. The blackbirds had gone, we were left with the sparrows and pigeons. Then Mr robin began making his presence known. He would keep Owl company while he worked in the garden. He would keep me company whilst sat in the sun or hung out our washing etc. A few weeks ago I saw my first gold finch. Then I noticed some tits on the feeder. Getting out my binoculars I discovered that although there was a blue tit feeding there were also three great tits. Not only are they larger and darker in colouring but I noticed that they behave differently too, darting around.

We also have the blackbirds are back and it is impossible to miss the squabbling starlings. This morning I have seen the tits again both blue and great. I am looking forward to the next six months to see who else might visit.

Just an hour

Yesterday I spent an hour in my garden watching and talking to a particular feathered visitor. Here are some of the photos I took.

1  hello 6   I’m under the hydranger7 now I’m feeding.    10  13I like playing hide and seek beside the geranium. 15  I’m getting closer 18 I can’t see you now.21 can I take this?

At one point when I was sat on the decking just 2 feet away from the geranium I thought the robin was going to come right up to me. When he was on the grass he was only about 8″ away from my knee.

Just a little sunshine

They promised us a warm September week, which to a degree it has been. The temperatures have hovered at around 20 degrees for most of the week. The skies have been more grey than blue. I have though found a couple of things that have brightened up my days.

In our back garden we have two yellow standard roses. One of these has been flowering on and off all summer the other has done nothing. Yesterday I was gazing at the flowering rose and noticed that one of the new flowers was not actually yellow. apricot rose  closer standard rose doesn’t this bring a smile on a grey day.

There is one other little bit of sunshine I would like to share with you.

When I came home for lunch earlier in the week we were standing outside chatting about our morning when I noticed we had company. On the flat roof of the extension was one of our little feathered friends. He/she was singing away almost within  touching distance. As I watched he/she flew down onto our table before running around on the decking. Finally he/she came to rest on the corner of a plant pot. Would you like to see who our visitor was?

Robin  I waited a few seconds before taking this next photo. Robin 1 Can you believe I was standing just a few feet away from him/her. This will give a better idea of how close we were.Robin 2 I am hoping that over time we will become better acquainted.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that the other morning we had another visitor. It was Owl who spotted it first, just as he called out ‘look’, I saw a flash of yellow landing briefly on the rail by the shed. I didn’t have time to take any photos before it flew off again. I did get enough of a look to be able to identify our new visitor as a gold finch. The first I have seen that close up.

 

The difference a year makes

This time last year things between us were not good. We had been married for a whole 6 months. When we married I felt happier than I ever remember being in my life. Three months into our marriage we had our wonderful honeymoon in California. But within days of returning home things began to go wrong. My husband was not himself, he was showing signs of dementia or so I thought. However it turned out to be a mixture of anxiety attacks, and an over indulgence in secret vodka drinking.

The anxiety attacks were dealt with by the taking of anti depressants. The alcohol abuse is an ongoing situation, but at least I now know what I am dealing with. At the time I was extremely angry, I felt that I could not trust my husband. I felt betrayed.  More than anything I was angry with myself for not realising what had been going on.

Owl still drinks but, we never go out to the pub anymore. Back in March Owl had a fall in the road  due to his legs giving way. His alcohol level had dropped. I took him to hospital with a cut head and broken hand. There he was given some medication to replace the alcohol he hadn’t had. He was promised help by the hospital clinic. This didn’t materialise other than one appointment where he was told that he is a binge drinker and should cut down for a week then stop. Ha ha what planet did that advice come from.

Anyway, for a time Owl was not able to do much at all. Gradually though he has become stronger and fitter. He has been very busy working in our garden doing all the things he should have done last year but wasn’t in the right place to do anything much except sleep.

The shed that I bought for him last year was finally erected. Owl began by making it stronger in places by making wooden braces. He painted the shed forest green.shed 1  shed 3 before adding fixtures for everything to go inside, there is a purpose build space for everything that goes in there.IMG_1944 then he painted the old shed green to match the new one. IMG_1947 the back gate was also painted green to match. This also involved taking off the ironmongery to be painted black.back gate When he had done that he reorganised the space near to the back gate which meant adding a hanging basket bracket to the wall as a hose tidy.under magnolia tree Once all this had been done he turned his attention to the hedges that he had hired someone to cut a few weeks prior. He was not happy with the way they were looking. He spent the next couple of weeks cutting the hedges by hand. hedge 1 now he is simultaneously working on the five bar gate and taking up the decking at the front of the house.hedge 3 Oh and I nearly forgot he has painted all the fences under the hedges and along the outside of the house.

None of these things would have been possible a year or even 6 months ago. I am so pleased with the progress he is making. I am also pleased that he has even begun to apply for work outside the home. Ok so I have been applying for jobs on his behalf but he has sent his CV to some places too. Step by step we are getting back to where we should be.

Hills and things

After taking 6 hours to complete a 4 hour journey we finally arrived at our destination late afternoon on Saturday. It had been a warm sunny day which made the many hold ups including a 4 mile stop start crawl on A34 bearable. 7 miles before we reached our destination I suddenly noticed that the engine light had come on, this brought on a mild panic, that and the constantly changing fuel gauge as we travelled up and down steep hill roads, would we make it before we ran out of fuel or the engine conked out?

Half a mile to go the SAT NAV told us to turn right then left, I almost missed the left turn it was so narrow. Well by that I mean that I saw it just as we passed it. Being a dual carriageway I had to continue until I could do a U turn, retrace our steps back to the narrow lane. Trundling along the lane I was thinking that I knew my in-laws lived down a lane but I hadn’t expected it to be such a narrow lane. The grass growing in the middle of the lane indicated that it wasn’t much used. It was with much relief that we reached the end of the lane which then merged with the lane we should have been on. A & B were there waiting for us as we turned around.

Next morning we woke to heavy rain, hurricane Bertha had hit the UK overnight, I believe that the weather was worse back at home than it was here in the Peak District. However the rain couldn’t take anything away from the view from our bedroom window.IMG_1783 I can see why A & B fell in love with living here.

Late morning we went for a drive (their car not ours) for a tour of a rain soaked Buxton, I was impressed with the architecture there, I will have to go back another time to investigate properly. This was followed by a drive around Bakewell, which was also very pretty even if it was crammed packed with pubs. Even in the rain there was an abundance of walkers. Before heading back for lunch we visited Chatsworth Park. We stopped to see a small Classic Car gathering near to the impressive stable block. The rain had just about stopped which was appreciated as we strolled towards the stable block. A & I made a dash for the public toilets only to be met by a queue so we made our way to the restaurant to use their facilities. These I found most disconcerting. It is not every day that I find myself surrounded by 3 images of myself reflected in the yellowish tinted glass of the cubicle (whilst sitting on the proverbial throne).

IMG_1809 The stable block at Chatsworth House.

After lunch owl and I set off on our own to find some fuel. I was worried that we wouldn’t make it the six miles to the nearest petrol station, the further I drove the closer we were getting and the prospect of a rainy walk was decreasing, I was beginning to relax. Having filled up I was much happier, we went in search of a local landmark, Monsal Head viaduct.

IMG_1813  IMG_1812 As you can see the view of the viaduct was not quite what we had expected so whilst Owl took himself off for a pint in the nearby bar I decided to follow the footpath to get a closer look at the viaduct. The path to the right looked very steep so I took the path to the left through the trees in the hope that it would come out nearer to the 1870’s construction over the river Wye. The tree covered steep hillside walk meant that all I could see were trees and more trees. Eventually I managed to work out from the glimpse of hill side across the valley that I had long ago passed the viaduct without seeing it so I made my weary way back up the hill for a well earned diet coke.

Next day we woke to see the sun shining on the fields, this was not to last all day but we didn’t get too wet on our visit to the Derwent reservoirs, where Barnes Wallis practiced his bouncing bombs.IMG_1823 IMG_1826 Howden Reservoir leads down into Derwent reservoir before finally ending up with Ladybower Reservoir.IMG_1836 Here we can see the different levels in each reservoir.

The afternoon saw a trip in the opposite direction for a trip down memory lane for Owl and his sister. We drove across the Derbyshire dales to Macclesfield where they had lived briefly in their early teens. We then went on to Knutsford where they sent their teen years. It is a small pretty town that has kept much of its history intact. We ended our visit with a drink in one of Owl’s old haunts.  IMG_1858

On our return to the house the sun was shining so I took the opportunity to take a wander up the garden to take some pictures.IMG_1871 IMG_1875  IMG_1872 Such a lovely place to live.IMG_1879

Then yesterday we made the journey back home, all was going well until the last few miles when the roads were gridlocked due to a burnt out lorry. Which I understand has still been causing problems today.

Well oiled

This evening Owl and I took a trip out to do a few chores. First we went to the recycle point at one of the local supermarkets. You get points on your card if you recycle glass bottles, cans and plastic bottles. However when we got there the recycle machine was out of operation. There were however some temporary bottle and can banks. Between us we managed to get rid of all that we had brought with us in about 5 minutes.

Following this we went across town to a well known DIY store. We wanted to get some lengths of decking to make repairs to our decking at home. We selected one of those flat bed trolleys, much easier to control than the normal shopping type trolley we used last time.

We knew what we wanted so headed straight to the far left back corner of the store. We were also looking for a rainwater diverter for one of our water butts. The plumbing dept appeared to be for internal plumbing only. Perhaps the piece we want will be in the garden section, after all that’s where the guttering should be in my opinion.  We found the decking we wanted, selected 6 lengths. I didn’t believe we could comfortably transport more  than that at once.

Owl left me in charge of the trolley whilst he went in search of the other items he wanted.  After a few moments I was bored of loitering in the wood section. I began to push the trolley through the centre aisle. I walk slowly, taking my time waiting for Owl to appear. My trolley starts to squeal. A very loud high pitch squeal. There is no way that I could creep up on my husband. The whole store can hear my progress as I move with my trolley. It is very embarrassing but it occurs to me that there was no squeal until the wood was loaded onto the trolley.

Owl returns to me and we continue to make our way through the store. I am just starting to say that maybe we should re distribute the weight of the wood into two piles, when one of the store employees rushes over with a can of WD40 in his hand.

‘You have the squeaky one then.’

He sets about spraying all four wheels. However when I start to move again the trolley is still squeaking. The employee again sprays the wheels, this time on the inside. Again I begin to move off, but the squeak is still there, a little more muted but still present. Now, because I have a slight hearing loss, unusually I can hear high pitches better than low pitches. (Most people are the other way around). I am finding this squeak very unpleasant. I try pushing the trolley whilst sticking my fingers in my ears. (Not easy).

‘Maybe we should split the wood into two piles, redistribute the weight?’ I hear myself  saying.

Before anyone can say another word the employee has grabbed 3 of the lengths of wood and moved them to the other side of the trolley so that we now have 2 equal stacks. Hey what do you know, the trolley has stopped squeaking.

‘Can you tell us where we can find one of these water diverters?’

Owl asked the employee, holding up the old one he had brought with us.

‘Try the garden centre.’

‘That’s what my wife said.’

How smug did I feel ?

I left Owl browsing around the store whilst I went through the checkout and loaded up the car. Before settling down with my book to wait for my husband to reappear.

I couldn’t help having a small giggle at the thought of a mere woman out witting to men. I just knew that if the trolley only started to squeak after the wood was loaded that must be the problem not the wheels.

Little tits

Recently I have been watching them in the mornings whilst I munch on my cereal before heading out to the office. It has lightened my mornings just to see them. The first time there were two and they were being fed by their parents on my feeder. It was a pure delight to see these two balls of yellow feathers sitting almost motionless on one of the arms. Their parents fluttering back and forth from the half coconuts, filled with suet and seeds, to the metal arm where their babies waited.

Two mornings in a row I witnessed this natural event. The next day was very windy, the chicks were nowhere to be seen but the adults were flying in and out of the garden. Watching them I soon realised that as they flew off over the hedge to disappear into the trees outside our land, it was two not just one tree they were heading for. Could this be two different families I was seeing?

A few mornings later I noticed a lot of activity on and around my bird feeder. I managed to count 7 blue tits at one time. With all the activity of these tiny birds darting in and out of our cherry tree, our magnolia tree and our hedges as well as landing on the feeder it is not easy to keep track. It would appear that whilst still being fed by their parents, the little ones are now trying to feed themselves. The suet balls and the peanuts seem to be popular, not so much the seed feeders.

The little ones no-longer appear to be  fluffy balls of yellow feathers, they are taking on the more muted colours of the parents. This makes it harder to identify which are adults and which their chicks until I see them being fed.

Yesterday after my return from work, I noticed that one of the feeders had fallen. I went out into the garden, armed with a bag of feed, to retrieve the missing feeder. Before I stepped outside there had been several blue tits out there. Now there was just one solitary little bird, I expected it to take flight as soon as it saw me.

Approaching slowly I got closer and closer still it continued to feed. I could hear the warning cries from another blue tit high up in the magnolia tree, another on the hedge but still this little one continued to peck away at the peanut feeder. one little tit feeding

To my amazement not only did this one stay put but a second arrived, landing first in the cherry tree before joining the first brave little soul on the feeder. Still just moving one slow step at a time I continued to move towards the feeder. I couldn’t have been more than three feet away.two little tits on a feeder can you see them both here? I could almost reach out to touch them before they took flight. I then replenished the now retrieved feeder before heading back inside. After my delightful experience I decided to sit out on the steps leading from the decking down to the lawn. I wanted to see if the blue tits would return whilst I was there. Would they get used to me being in the garden with them? I sat for several minutes before there was movement in the ailing cherry tree. Soon they were going about their business not worried that I was sat just 9 feet away from them. I stayed where I was for about 5 minutes before I left them to it.

Not much later I saw a lot of wing fluttering beside the tree, it was the male greater spotted woodpecker that I have now seen 5 times in our garden. Unfortunately he shot off into the distance as soon as I stuck my head out of the door.

As I sit here now I can seen the blue tits flying around.

 

Surprise visitor

I was sat eating lunch in our kitchen today when I turned to look out of the window. I had seen some sparrows on the feeder when I came in from work but they had gone. Sitting on top of the feeder was a brown bird. I couldn’t believe my eyes for a second. This bird was much much bigger than the sparrows that had been there earlier. I grabbed my phone with the intention of taking a photo, but before I could set it up the bird hopped across to the hedge. I watched as this large bird made its way through the hedge in a downward direction. Normally if I look carefully I can see sparrows moving around in among the branches but not on this occasion.

I always keep a book of garden birds on the breakfast bar where I was sitting. Thumbing through the pages I didn’t expect to find this bird which we both agreed was obviously a bird of prey not a garden bird. Much to my astonishment I did find it, we now know that our surprise visitor was a female sparrow hawk. No wonder the sparrows were nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t long before I had to return to work and it was dark long before I returned so I didn’t see the sparrows returning.

I wonder if we will see the sparrow hawk again.

sparrow hawk

Open Sesame

In the 18 months since we moved into this house we have not been able to open the sliding patio door from the kitchen out to the back garden.  When we moved in there were many sets of keys to sort through but none of them were the right ones for the patio door. It would have been nice to get access to the garden through these doors especially if we wanted to entertain but hey ho. Just a minor irritation, one that we could live with after all we do have a back door just around the corner.

With all the recent wet weather that has gone on and on for weeks we have not been able to open our back door, which being wooden has swollen. Each day since Christmas we have tried to open the door but to no avail. Now 2.5 weeks since Christmas day (the last time I filled the bird feeders) we were getting frustrated. I really wanted to feed the birds, and Owl wanted to sort out the tarpaulins that were coming adrift from their positions. Each day we have hoped that it would be dry enough for the wood to start drying out.

Yesterday whilst at home alone I thought I would find out whether it was feasible to get a locksmith in to change the lock on the sliding door. This morning a young locksmith arrived. 40 minutes later he was leaving us with a new lock and keys and a door that opened for the first time in what is probably a lot of years.

Obviously the first thing I did was to go out and refill the bird feeders.

bird feeders now

 

I am happy