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December 2020

 

With only a few respites, the weather has carried on in the same drizzly manner. This has had a distinct effect on our dogs who now require a block and tackle to get them through the door.

In spite of the weather Julie Brown is hard at it:

Hello Ed, Crikey, where did the last month go? I can only think back to Saturday when I was able to dig the soil over in my new raised vegetable bed made from sleepers. I did have to dig out some more tree roots but persevered and got several bags of spent compost dug in and then planted the broad beans; we shall see how successful I am with those.

 

The other half of the bed should be easier to deal with as it is 2 sleepers deep to take care of the slope in the garden. I have lots of bags of compost I have made to go into it; I am looking forward to trying to grow some food.

I did think I would dig the hole for the last tub pond, but by the time I had weeded and got my gloved hands wet a 2nd time I gave up and went indoors.

Just going outdoors to feed the birds and to break the ice on their water. I have been seeing the female sparrowhawk in the garden a lot of mornings recently, a couple of times tucking into caught prey, seen her swooping across the garden, amazing bird in flight. I thought she had caught the starling with the malformed wing, but he has been there the last couple of days. He is feeding well and is bigger than those that can fly well. He can manage to get into the hedge quite quickly, but seemingly not very high up.

I am surprised to see that I have a daffodil in flower, picture taken toward dusk. The cyclamen Liz gave me are performing well, I see many bulbs are shooting and peeping out amongst the bark covering I've put down.

Liz and I have been walking in Wretham this lockdown – it's harder than gardening. I think we overdid it the first weekend; I'd rather be gardening. However, I have been crafting Christmas baubles, my fingers are sore from pushing in pins, but the result it quite impressive, pinned and folded.

I've attached photographs, they are personalised and the material is from the bridesmaid dress I wore at my youngest sister's wedding 30 years ago. How time flies, I hope she likes them.

I am looking forward to Christmas dinner, lots of Turkey and the Christmas pudding, so wishing you all Merry Christmas, thankful for all that we have and hopeful for all that is to come, Julie.

 

Sue Cunningham has my old mole problem:

Hi Ed, I’m afraid all the wet weather has stopped work, but on fine days we’ve been tidying up the borders and gathering the leaves up. Oh no, the moles are back. Matt caught one, then after a week of no movement, they have returned so it’s another battle, and at the minute, they are winning. All the Hellebores are getting buds on so should make a nice show and I was surprised to see a Narcissus with buds on in December; things get earlier every year. Really looking forward to spring when we can get outside again. The garden will be full of spring flowers and we may be having our meetings again – hopefully, Sue.

 

Sue Thomas seems to just look for work:

Hi Ed, Just when you think you have cracked it, no more fruit and veg to deal with, wham, the crab apple tree comes into view, absolutely full of lush, round, rosy crab apples, crying out to be made into jelly! The hunt is on again for jars with lids that fit and that you can get those bl**dy gummy labels off!! We have finally raked up the million acorns that lay under the Oak tree, but not before 25% have been pushed into the lawn by the tractor!!  Arms now longer than a chimp.  Still that will help for picking the crab apples.  Have finally taken the hanging baskets down, still in flower, and transported them to the greenhouse for their winter rest. Tidied up all the pots on the patio, composting all the limp leaves.  And finally, having put all the acorns in our stillage (fire cage), we took our chairs and flask. Once there was a north wind to blow the smoke away from the village, we lit the massive pile of branches and dead vegetation, too thick to compost.  Warning, don't put acorns on a bonfire!! They go off like bullets, nearly dropped my tea!!!  Keep Safe. Happy New Year.  Cheers, Sue.

 

Jane Dalton is looking forward to the dreaded event:

Hi Ed, 'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat' … Well he's not the only one - this Lockdown is not helping!!!

Wine or Gin o'clock is about the only thing to look forward to; cheers everyone!!

I thought I would have Christmas organised by the end of November, but as soon as the weather cheered up I was out clearing up the garden, giving it a proper short back and sides, so at least we will be able to see the bulbs when they come up, as some are already... 

The chickens are happy as we finished their roof. Now that they are not under a deluge of rain everyday they have stopped their molt and look healthier. They have had some special boost diet and medication and get better treatment and certainly more conversation and money spent on them than I do. I am expecting gold-plated eggs when they can be bothered to lay again. Was that turkey for Christmas or should I consider an alternative fowl??

 

Next came the house: decorating the busiest areas including cupboards and the dreaded pantry. Took me 2 hours to empty and 2 days to put back! Anyway all done and looks lovely. Shame the flooring can't be done until New Year as we will have to shift everything all over again. This time it really will come with the 'See Me Out' certificate…

I have so much to do on the computer it is a good job it is raining again. Christmas will come and go and this year will be very different. We will 'Stay at Home' and likely be on our tod. Very strange... Worst still my birthday is on 27th, always a non-event day of the year, and this year it's the big 7 0. Just once I thought it might be different, but no. Lockdown and all celebrations and plans are off. Hey-ho, that's life!

The most important thing is to stay safe so those friends and activities we all cherish and miss do much can be resumed once we are out of this Covid Hell! Have a happy and safe relaxing Christmas and we pray for a better New Year. (Well it can't possibly be worse than the last one! Can it?) Jane.

 

My gardening efforts have recently been about working very hard, but making great efforts to have nothing to show for it.

Unbelievably, we are going to get full fibre high speed broadband. The roads have been blocked with Open Reach vans and telegraph poles have been springing up like mushrooms.

 

 

The installation will require a cable to be run from a telegraph pole, festooning through the sky to that part of the house nearest to said pole. This will put the cable entry point furthest from where we use our devices. In other words, where the old telephone line comes in giving us the weak signal we get now.

To position the modem centrally would require the cable to continue from the entry point, traversing walls, ceilings, skirting boards, etc. to a location where we would receive a good signal. I do not find exposed wires, either overhead or across rooms, particularly decorative.

But I have a solution: I can have the cable run underground, into our cellar, along the ceiling, where looks don’t matter, and then up through the floor to an ideal centralised location. Sorted. Barry, the nice young man from Open Reach, thinks this is a brilliant idea. Just one tiny point: he will not dig the trench and lay the conduit.

Now here’s the thing; the only route from the base of the pole is under a hedge, through a flower bed (with many established plants), across the drive, through another flower bed (with many established plants) and finally through the 440 mm of solid concrete forming the wall of the cellar. So, let’s get to it. A spade, with much effort, penetrates the drive by about half an inch. A pickaxe bounces and a hammer drill jams. The problem seems to be that like all modern drives it incorporates all the building rubble left over from the construction of the house.

 

Worse, since that time people have been inconsiderately driving over it and it has become somewhat compacted. In the end I take three days to loosen it with a heavy crowbar, after which the pickaxe is finally able to make some impression. But it’s taking so long, Prue keeps asking me, “Wire you doing all this work?” It’s not helping.

But now there is the bigger problem: how do I traverse the two flowerbeds without damaging any of my wife’s treasured plants? Well I don’t. But I do manage to keep the damage below a level that would bring about my immediate demise.

By comparison, the hole in the cellar wall is child’s play. Looking at the area now after the weeds have started to come back, it is as if nothing has happened, and not an inch of cable visible anywhere. Phew?

 

Don’t work too hard over Christmas, Ed.

 

 

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