Who doesn’t like smearing mud on walls?

Well, I can certainly say I quite enjoyed it. I acquired a supply of “wet clay undercoat” which is essentially clay powder and chopped straw from StrawWorks and mixed it with enough water to make a very stiff paste, sprayed a section of wall with water and started smearing. It was really fun, actually, and not hard to get a good result.

smearing clay on walls

I got as far as the niche in the end wall, which I’ve reshaped to a reasonable standard, though it’s got a few lumps and bumps. I think I’ll leave them though, and mosaic the inside curve with gold and turquoise tesserae and put candles in it.

claying the cracks

We didn’t get as far on the roof as we hoped, partly due to blind optimism being scuppered by the actuality of fiddliness. The simple theory is: spread bitumen over an area, roll roofing felt over and press down. The real story involves more swearing and kicking things and quite a lot of backache.

Elmo roofing

But the bitumen spreaders Elmo made us worked really well and spread the stuff quite quickly, and I found that tapping along the edge with a hammer sealed down the felt edges pretty well, so at least we did a reasonably high-quality job. Below is steven demonstrating how much fun it was getting covered in bitumen.

Steven demonstrating roofing technique

buying my camelliaI had been spotting a paricularly beautiful Camellia on my way home from Tod to Barnsley, and decided that I’d get one, not knowing when was the right season to do it, except that it was usually not when something was in flower, so I figured I had loads of time. But I mentioned it to my mother in law and she said now was the right time, and offered me one as a late birthday present. She also did some research and recommended one that’s hardy enough not to need my coddling (I’m not much for coddling plants; they either thrive on their own or they wither). So I headed down to Gordon Rigg’s garden centre and bought the last Leonard Messel they had and planted it on the edge of the drive in what will be a fairly shade spot until we take down the willow tree, but much sunnier thereafter.

camellia, planted

Another major milestone was reached with the making of the first rhubarb pie of the season. I used store-bought, forced rhubarb, which I find a bit insipid and tasteless, so I will be lifting my rhubarb plant from Cherry Tree Cottage next time I’m down there in hopes of having a good crop next year in Tod.

Rhubarb pie

The weather was really pleasant, partly sunny and warm enough to be comfortable, so we did a lot of eating outside.

eating pie on the wall

Or on the roof…

steven eating pie

We’d put down a bunch of grass seed last week, and bits of it are starting to sprout, though we trampled a lot of it on the roof edge while doing the gutter drips on the roof. Hopefully it will recover and become something a little more like lawn/meadow and a little less like bramble-strewn wasteland.

Grace with coffee

We decided to move the failed potato tyre-garden off the path, and found that the crop had not entirely failed. We’d planted them in early autumn in hopes of a christmas harvest, but they’d got blight almost immediately, so I cut them down. Then, partly out of pessimism and partly out of laziness, we’d not bothered to see if they’d produced anything. But while moving them up the hill to plant this year’s crop, we discovered a reasonable number of tiny potatoes, so we’ll have a small feast tonight.

potato harvest

We planted the new crop at the top of the steps, a variety called Swift that claims to be disease resistant. We’ll see. I’ve never had a potato crop that didn’t blight. but as long as you cut then down and burn them before it travels down the stem, you do get a crop.


Hopefully I’ll make it up there a day or two this week to clay some more.  Closer, ever closer, to moving in!

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