Monday, 30 June 2008

The front 'lawn'

Just in case any of you are thinking that the front can't be that bad...

The saga of the skip

I do wonder whether it is worth blogging about a subject that I have already bored everyone around me with for the last 2 weeks, but there is still rarely an hour that goes by that I don't think of skips. This morning we saw 3 on the way to work. That can't be normal.

Starting at the very beginning, we spent much of May taking trips to the local tip (sorry, 'recycling centre'), but still the pile of junk in the garden was growing and not receding (due to pulling down teh back fence, clearing out behind the back fence etc). One day I decided that enough was enough and that we would fork out the money for a skip. The company were very obliging and told us that it would take around a week to get a permit, but that the skip would be with us in exactly 2 weeks.

The week of the skip arrived and I decided that it would be worth spending our evenings moving the pile of junk from the back garden to the front garden to make it easier to load the skip. After all, the junk would only be there for a couple of days. This involved a large number of trips up and down the garden. William helpfully sat bang in the middle of the only available route, temporarily moved out the way as we passed and then sat back down again.

The day of the skip arrived and Ian and I spent the day in teh lounge, looking out the window every 5 minutes to make sure that no one had tried to park in front of our house. We had used our car to block half the property boundar and placed a wheelie bin on the other half. The hours went by and the skip did not come. At 5 pm the neighbours drove up, got out of the car and moved the wheelie bin before parking in front of our house. I was about to go out and ask them to move when Ian suggested that this was a waste of time - they were obviously not coming. This was the last weekend for a month in which we would both be home and we were both upset that our plans had been ruined. Still we did not risk moving our car though in case we lost that spot as well.

Saturday morning arrived and we phoned the skip company, who were most surprised to find that the skip hadn't shown up - blaming the local company for not delivering it. The local company decided not to answer their phones all saturday morning so we gave up on it being delivered at the weekend. Ian stayed at home on the Monday, saving a spot for the skip with our car and phoning the company every couple of hours. Eventually they came up with the answer 'we don't think there is a permit for the skip yet' (i.e. they forgot to order one in the first place). The week went by and on Thursday morning they phoned to say that it would be delivered on Friday. Unfortunately we were due to go to Formby on Friday, but we managed to arrange a morning delivery.

Thursday night came round. We went home early to beat the other workers in the street to the parking spot outside our house only to find a washing machine repair van that had been there in the morning was still outside our house at 4:30. A quick phone call to the company revealed that the company was based in Newton Abbot, the owner of the van had gone to Glastonbury until Monday and as to why they had left the van in Exeter they didn't know. So we cancelled the skip and rearranged it for Tuesday (tomorrow).

We have left signs outside our house asking no one to park. I am beginning to dread going home. Please everyone cross your fingers that our neighbours (and all washing machine repair men in a 20 mile radius) don't ignore those signs.


It is easy to ignore the plants in our garden when looking at the bigger picture, sighing at the lack of fence, skip, decking, pumpkins (William dug the last one up over the weekend), the multitude of concrete, barbed wire... but I have finally got round to putting up some photos of the plants that do deserve a mention.

Sweet William

The cornfield - currently dominated by corn poppies and corn marigolds

Water soldier

Monday, 23 June 2008

Frog at frog end

Finally, a full 12 weeks after installing the pond we had our first frog in the pond. Actually it was cheating a little as it only jumped in when I disturbed it in the border, but I suspect it wasn't the first dip it had taken.


Finally I have got round to taking a photo of the anaemic ants that reside under practically every pot and brick in the garden (the more common something is the less likely I am to photograph it).


Today we responded to a post on freecycle offering a 'massive quantity of yellow iris'. They weren't joking! The iris had 'outgrown' their pond. Since their pond is 3 times the size of ours I find that amusing. Theirs was a brick built raised square with koi in and they considered a large quantity of plants to be spoiling the scene. We on the other hand are particularly pleased to have so much greenery for our pond (even if it did come with a large quantity of spiders).

To give an idea of scale the pot is about one square foot.

In Japanese the word for carp is koi. So when we refer to koi carp it is equivalent to saying 'carp carp'. That reminds me of a placemat we used to have that was titled 'lake windermere'. Is there a word for using 2 words in succession that mean the same thing?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The old fence

I have to confess I was so taken by the photo opportunity I didn't actually ask Ian what he was doing - possibly considering how tall the new fence should be?


Every few days I pull a large amount of algae out of our pond. I spend quite a while pulling it out - carefully making sure that no newts or snails or other water creatures are taken out of the water. The algae is really rather pretty in the sunlight.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Lovely moths

It's been a great few days for wildlife in the garden. I saw 2 slow worms yesterday and one the day before, a damselfly that unfortunately didn't settle long enough to be photographed and 2 of these beautiful moths (although I think one of the slow worms I saw on successive days was in fact the same one, one of these moths was in hte front and the other in the back so I am assuming they are different individuals). I thought that the moth would be easy to identify, but having been through one book am no longer convinced. Fingers crossed that the next one proves more successful.

House Mouse

Today one unlucky (or was it lucky - I can't decide) little mouse was brought into the house by William. William dropped the mouse upon being shouted at by Ian. Happily it was unharmed, but of course it then proceeded to hide.

First it hid in the hall, then just as we thought we had it cornered it ran into the lounge. I was quite surprised as I'd shut the lounge door, but despite being a good-sized mouse it slid under the door with ease. Having chased it around the lounge we observed it go under the door back into the hall. This time we blocked under the lounge door with the doormat, only to find that the mouse managed to get under that as well. Ian finally cornered it in the lounge, giving it only the option to go in the waste paper bin where I photographed it before its release.

Monday, 9 June 2008


Our first damselfly visited the garden twice this month: a large red damselfly. We may live in Exeter and GB may live in the Outer Hebrides, but we both saw our first ever damsels in our gardens (even the same species) in the same week.


We've had 3 guests in the house in the last 10 days. Only one was human. One was a speckled wood that decided it liked the dining room wallpaper. The other created much more of a shock. I was on my way outside when Ian said I'd better come upstairs and see what William had done to my cacti. I was shocked to find that he had knocked all 5 pots off the study windowsill. On occasion he has knocked the odd object off, but never been so clumsy as to send soil flying everywhere (including unfortunately all over our colour laser printer). Whilst staring at the mess and cursing William I got an enormous shock. We have a net curtain on the study window, which had been pushed to the far side so we could view the progressions in the garden. At the top of the net curtain a dark object suddenly moved. My first thought was rat and despite the fact that I do indeed love rats I was horrified. The flutter of wings calmed me a little and I realised it was simply a bird. How had a bird got in the study when the window was shut? Turns out Ian opened the window to let a large buzzy fly out, went to the bathroom, came back and shut the window and in that time a bird had got in and been so quiet that Ian didn't even notice.

The bird had got inside the netting somehow and got stuck at the top. When I tried to help it out it simply climbed higher into the corner of the netting until it was all caught up. Leaning over the printer I eventually managed to untangle the claws and after a little panicked fluttering it soared out the window. I'm not even sure if it was a starling or a blackbird - it was such a flustered moment. Blogging reminds me that I must test out the printer to see if the soil got anywhere it shouldn't have.

We apologised to William.

Clay particles

Clay particles take such a long long time to settle in water. 10 days since the big storm and we can still only see the first shelves of the pond.

Water, water everywhere

I'm rather behind with blogging, but shall do a few entries on the things that have been going on over the last couple of weeks.

One of the most memorable moments was when I was planting a border at the bottom of the garden. It suddenly clouded over and began to rain. Within seconds it was torrential and I had to run inside. Having been sunny all day I assumed that it was a quick thunderstorm and would pass, but we waited and waited and waited. Unfortunately I'd lifted 2 shrubs from the ground, so I had to go back out and plant them in the rain.

It rained for around 3 hours and by the time it stopped the vegetable patch was underwater, there was a stream running down the garden and the pond was red with the colour of clay.