Best Lockdown Ever (until it started raining)

Well last night we had about the reddest sky a sailor (shepherd?) could want, but it did not herald a beautiful day today. It’s been raining pretty much all afternoon, which is good for the plants (including the weeds) but is not as cheerful as the last several weeks have been.

Pretty though. Whatever it heralded.

Julian took the opportunity of the recent good weather to turn the above picture’s mess of redneck crap into the below picture of the very soul of garden tidiness.

And just in time for the crabapple to bloom rather spectacularly. It’s lovely that it’s thrived there; we weren’t at all sure there was enough soil, as it seemed to have been backfilled with a lot of stones and rubble. I think Julian also planted some flower meadow seeds in that area. We shall see what comes up.

Me, I did a bit of mosaic today and then quit.

I can only handle about a 3 hour stint on it, which does not cover a whole lot of ground, to be honest. It’s pretty soul destroying to do something this big, but it’s going to be spectacular. And actually, it’s not even a 5 out of 10 on the scale of soul destroying, what am I talking about? I know a thing or two about soul destroying after some bits of this build.

Anyway, 3 hours a day is enough and then I have to bake something. Today it was rhubarb pie.

I love rhubarb season.

And so does everyone else in the household.

And finally here are some fabulous bluebells, just because. Happy spring.

 

 

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I Feel Bad But…

… I kind of love lockdown.

I mean, obviously a global pandemic is a very bad thing and for the people who are dying and the people who love them, this could not be worse, but if you’re lucky enough to be locked down in a beautiful place with a big garden, a plentiful supply of well rotted horse manure and the produce of seemingly every plant nursery in the UK being sold off at ridiculous prices by the supermarkets, you can pass the time quite happily transforming this:

Into this:

The plentiful supply of well rotted horse manure is maybe not considered an essential, but the farmer was quite happy for us to go get a load this morning, so we did.

The weather’s been absolutely stunning, Julian’s got a proper tan, and the garden has really never looked better.

My new yellow shoes have looked better.

It’s rhubarb season and the gin is in. As well as the pie. And crumble.

My wisteria IS GOING TO BLOOM I’M SO EXCITED!

My kitchen is taking shape!

And I finally glazed that window in what is now the scrubs-sewing room.

I just can’t get enough of this lockdown!

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Lockdown Tales

Yesterday, in a show of easter spirit, the universe sent us a lambing season adventure.

We were out for our government approved hour of exercise when we saw two pretty lambikins out with their mum on the wrong side of the fence.

They got off the path and we passed them by and thought not very much more of it. They’d find their way back in. Next thing, though, they come bounding along behind us with a dog chasing them and they panic and head off to the side of the path and… over a cliff.

They tumbled a bit and ended up on a slight outcropping, but we (and the runner who also saw this) didn’t fancy their chances of getting out of it on their own.

So the three of us gamely clambered down the cliff a ways downstream and got below her with a view to prodding her back up the cliff if she could make it. At the very least dissuading her from continuing down. She was not minded to cooperate.

Over the next hour and a half, half a dozen other people joined the effort, one fetching a small rope not much good for anything but stopping her from falling further if she were to panic, so we did that. By this time I had tried prodding her and she wasn’t moving. So I ended up quite up close and personal. I got the lambs and handed them up to Julian who handed them up to someone at the top. I thought that would motivate her to go up, but she was dead weight in her panic by this time.

Somebody had thought to go for some loppers so we could clear some of the brambles between sheep and clifftop.

Eventually, the farmer was called by one of the neighbours and turned up with a long lorry strap. He chucked one end down to me and I tied it round her (pleased that I know a few useful knots) and everyone at the top hauled her unceremoniously up.

She was pleased to be back with the lambs and seemed pretty chill as she wandered back into the field.

In other news, covid-19 continues to ravage the country. I volunteered along with most of the other costume technicians in the UK, to make scrubs for medics who need all the PPE they can get.

We had a bit of a marathon session, with me and Lisa sewing and Julian ironing and packing and got the first lot done for Friday pickup, hopefully delivery soon to Manchester Royal Infirmary and the Nightingale hospital they’ve set up at GMEX.

Glad to be able to do something to help and glad I have a room suitable for turning over to production line sewing.

Also been doing a bit of gardening, augmenting Julian’s heroic efforts on the hillside. I have always wanted to have a go at starting a bunch of perennials from seed, since one ought to be able to get hundreds of pounds’ worth of potted plants if one puts in the effort.

I bought mixed fancy aquilegia, mixed snap dragons, pink nasturtiums and dark purple lobelia in the end, just picked some things that hopefully will fill in space while the rest of the hillside planting fills out a bit. I think they take ages to come up, so I have to pay attention and water them now (what a pain) but hopefully this is the cheapest way to a hillside garden full of lovely flowers rather than weeds.

Both camellias bloomed this year, after three and five years respectively of doing nothing at all. We potted them last summer just to see if they’d fare any better and they do seem to have done.

In other news, Ben has been building a staircase bookshelf for ease of access to the little nook we have been struggling to name.

Julian reckons we might call it the projection room above the auditorium. If you don’t get it, go watch Mean Girls. Apparently.

And finally, here is a picture of my first attempt at hot cross buns for Good Friday, because Julian was sad that we hadn’t bought any and I can’t have Julian sad. They were damn fine. And very sticky.

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Greetings From Lockdown

Hey so the apocalypse is defo happening, I’ve been saying it for years and there’ve been floods and locusts and now the pestilence. Still, we are remaining as cheerful as possible and hoping that from the ashes of this shitty world economic model rises a bold new economic model that works for all of humanity and the planet, leaves nobody starving or unable to access education or healthcare, treats our environment with respect and gives all these key worksers literally risking their lives to keep the world running the remunerative recognition they have always deserved.

Is that so much to ask?

I have this theory that massive world events like this can offer opportunities for human growth that weren’t possible the day before the apocalypse. Like the first world war gave women the vote and the second world war gave us the NHS. This round of end times is obviously scary and dangerous for the lives being lost and the chaos it is causing to the world of employment, but it’s such an excellent opportunity for us as a world (and for the first time it’s actually practical for us ALL to think about it together as a world) to talk about what the world economy is for. What is money? What is worth? Why do we pay bank bosses as if they were demigods and nurses and teachers as if they did nothing useful? Money is a completely invented thing at this point in economic history. Used to be gold. Then it was bits of paper promising gold. Then it was bits of paper promising gold that doesn’t actually exist. Now it’s bits and bytes promising not gold… just erm… worth… uh… wait, no, it doesn’t exist at all. It’s just a big lie we all continue to tell each other and agree to pretend we don’t know it’s not real!

So let’s reinvent the whole system! Let’s fix as many of the stupidities as we can! Let’s compensate nurses and cleaners and carers and delivery drivers with what they’re really worth, considering we literally can’t function without them.

Ok, soliloquy over. On to donated house updates.

First things first:

I made Death By Chocolate for the first time in approximately 10 years. It was amazing. Lockdown spurs all the creative energies into activity and some of the results are delicious.

Oh, here’s a blurry, shitty picture of that bed Ben and I were building in the last post. It came out great. Thanks to Anthony for the reclaimed wood and Ben for the carpentry skills.

We went on a holiday to Scotland just before we weren’t allowed to leave the house, and there was this amazing tourist attraction in the town.

A Victorian toilet block with the most ridiculously over-opulent interior imaginable, albeit in a badly coordinated mish-mash style that would make Billy Morris turn in his grave.

…in the men’s loos, that is. I went in the women’s first and was feeling very cheated, having been promised unparalleled toilet splendour, but then the attendant saw me looking glum and directed me into the men’s, whereupon my toilet dreams were realised in all their eye-watering glory.

Such a shame there was not a neat row of men in tailcoats and top hats having a piss. would have capped the experience neatly.

Anyway, more about tiles. It came time to put a floor down in the kitchen-to-be, and I had a few boxes of some really nice natural stone tiles (thanks Anthony) but not enough for more than about 5 sq meters. So the audit of the reclaimed tiles began. A lot of messing about with the random shapes and sizes I had resulted eventually in a pleasing layout.

Which, when filled in with the stone tiles and surrounded by the leftovers…

 

Turned out really nice. And is now ready for Ben to build the actual kitchen units.

In other news, we had a lovely stretch of nice weather which was quite inspiring for gardening. We’re going to plant up the front slope this year, with a bunch of stuff I started from cuttings in the last year or two. And whatever comes up at Lidl for £4.49.

Julian dug over a bunch of it and we put the black plastic back to keep it dry and friable for when we get around to it.

This cherry tree I rescued from that house clearance (thanks, Anthony!) will take pride of place.

So all in all, lockdown is not treating us too badly. Plenty of toilet paper. Plenty of beans and rice. Plenty to be getting on with. So I’ll go get on with building walls in the kitchen.

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This Post Is Mainly About Pizza

Well, however many years after we had a pizza oven built into our house, we finally made pizza in it

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Ben (who is now staying here again for a while, hooray!) declared that he was good at pizza dough and he was not lying.

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We bought ALL the pizza toppings and set them all out and everyone got to build their own pizza. It was amazing. I want pizza all day every day. I want pizza right now.

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I got another large carload of scrap wood from Anthony. That’s my day sorted now, doing something with all of it. A lot of it will end up in the fireplace, but some of it will hopefully become part of my kitchen, which is genuinely about to become a reality.

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Oh, and blah blah, straw walls, clay plaster, blah blah.

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So sick of straw walls and clay plaster. And only like 5% done with that job. Aargh.

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