Summer

This has become the longest warm, calm and sunny spell I’ve ever known in England. It’s amazing. I want it to last forever. If this has anything to do with man made climate change, I’m almost tempted to forgive mankind for it.

I’m also in a good mood, long term, because I’ve got new drugs for a slightly underactive thyroid, and because I’ve found an exercise I can do for my back that ACTUALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. So more energy and less pain equals me able to do things like clear out some ivy and branble stumps and remove a raised bed from the back wall in preparation for a new wood drying shed.

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And at the same time, finally doing something about the giant hole in the house that pissed away all my heat last winter. I had been avoiding thinking about it all summer because I didn’t know what to do about it and my recent self has been unable to see that as a fun challenge that spurs me to creative problem solving. More like a giant scary unknown that makes me watch movies in bed all day.

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But the new me, which is more like the old-old me, just started knocking holes in the place, figuring it out as I went along. Which was a pain when I realised the ring beam had sagged toward the inside and needed jacking up. My bottle jacks were not really doing the job, so I called in Andy and he lent me is acrow props. Sorted it right out, and I was able to get the old window frame out and cut it up to use as the new supports.

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Insulation is now in, and I’ve put some treated wood cladding on the outside and will stuff and render the edges. Pretty it is not, but weathertight it is, and that is what I will care about come winter. I may well build a lean-to shed out from it to look a bit better and be a handy place to store tools.

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Anyway, summer. Everything about it is great. The orange sherbet rose is going apeshit.

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Turns out it likes nothing better than a good hard prune. Noted. The jasmine is also producing actual flowers after a prune last year. There’s something in it.

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In other news, last night we went to the pop-up theatre in York, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was fabulous, hilarious, engaging, so watchable and so funny I didn’t mind standing for three hours in the flea pit, which is what you get for the cheap tickets.

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The theatre is a sort of replica of Shakespeare’s Globe, but in scaffolding, built in a car park in York. It had a little food and drink village outside with actual good street food and entertaining musical sideshow. A really outstanding effort, highly recommended if you’re anywhere near York.

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I’m having a great summer. Thanks, universe.

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Rendering

The most progressy thing that’s been happening is the rendering of the outside of the house. It’s quite shocking how much better it is when someone who knows what they’re doing does it.

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Miki came back to help, and also put me in touch with Gemma who’s a really experienced professional heritage plaster. The results were amazing.

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I was the lackey, making gak and render so the skilled people could get on with the skilled work.

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Gemma’s partner Loukas came for a bit and did some more skilled work, agreeing to be paid in sewing jobs, like altering a wax jacket. More fun than rendering if you ask me!

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So here’s the result. It’s not done, but it’s a lot more done than it was before. I’m planning to spend a year saving up to have the same team back and finish it all off next summer. So let me know if you know anyone wanting sewing help or lessons, or wedding cakes, or anything else I can do for money.

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Gardening and Gin

After a freezing and miserable spring, summer has decided to be amazing, sunny, warm, dry and the best thing since I don’t know what.

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Consequently I’ve had a lot more brainspace, like, enough to decant and label all the gin.

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And to make some more gin.

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Every opportunty is taken to do daily tasks outdoors.

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Last year’s apple tree got blossoms and three actual fruits, which we took off to help it grow a bit more before it’s expected to produce.

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Most of what was in what is being called the lumpy garden has survived.

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The upright dwarf acer Steve gave is us absolutely thriving.

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The path remains dry, flat and so damn easy to walk on!

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We’ve discovered a love of tulips.

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And Anna did a massive makeover of part of the raised bed.

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We planted a bunch of random stuff, just to make it pretty and to get some potted stuff in the ground.

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And it’s come on in leaps and bounds. The strawberries are going nuts. I am sure the birds and slugs will get them, but they’re pretty to look at.

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And the smelly sherbet-orange rose is still as healthy as ever. And as pungent.

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Painting

Ok, so here’s how far we’ve got with the ceiling painting. That was a while ago, and I should really get on with drawing the next bit but, uh, other priorities.

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While I was up on the scaffolding I took a couple of pictures from persepctives I hope never to see again. Here’s the door I built so I can get through from the floor upstairs and hang art installations from the beam.

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Here’s the requisite smiling selfie.

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Burn Everything

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Everyone came round, we dragged all the crummy old bits of wood into a heap and set it on fire. It was marvellous.

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Some of those of us fonder of fire did build it rather large. They did not burn down the warming hut, contrary to what it may look like.

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We ate lovely food, and although I had only counted 10, there turned out to be 12 of us. Well, there was enough and we all fit, just, so it was fine.

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By the next day, this is all that was left of 5 years worth of accumulated crap that I fooled myself was a good idea to keep “just in case”. Such a life cleanse.

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Another task that was long overdue was the cleaning of the outdoor kitchen, which Bob and Jen did an admirable job of. If you want anything cleaned thoroughly, I tell you, put Jen on it. Now we can actually use the space again.

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