The (endless) finishing touches

Is it just me or can finishing touches take as long as the initial work?

It’s been two months since the major work in our kitchen and dining room renovation was finished and still I have no skirting boards, bare floorboards, no pictures on walls and we still can’t find anything. I think with the rush towards Christmas we definitely breathed a sigh of relief once January begun (and at least our bank account did too) but that also meant not as much got done. When you have someone you are paying to get stuff done it happens quickly, but when you put yourself in charge…hmm, well, not so much.

There has been some progress though. It wasn’t quite a joke about giving my Christmas houseguests paintbrushes when they walked through the door… In that lull between Christmas and New Year, we did white wash the dining room walls and our very kind Uncle painted the kitchen ceiling. We paid him in beer and leftover turkey…I think he was happy. So, this was where we left off last post:

Not bad for a day's work

The following weekend I started the undercoat for the walls. The top coat would be Blue Ground, and Farrow and Ball recommend a dark undercoat. I realised we had to try to get the undercoat and top coat done in the same weekend otherwise our room would be like a pit for a week…Ironically, when I tweeted the picture many people thought the undercoat colour was the real colour and started complimenting it! It was a very steely grey…and I think in certain rooms it could have worked, but…not in the kitchen…

Dark tones undercoat...

I think, if I remember it rightly, I got one coat done, went to see my friend’s new baby, did another coat, and then recruited my mum (thanks mum!) the next day to do the top coat. That was a fun weekend.

It was pretty scary painting over such a dark colour. On the first coat we couldn’t believe it would cover it over, but I guess they do know what they’re doing and like anything, when the second coat went on we could breath. I think it turned out okay!

photo 1I did feel a massive sense of achievement after this painting was done. And we do love the colour…

Next up was furniture and again, an offer from a kind relative bought us this rather lovely, 70s sideboard, out of storage.

photo 2

(Of course, now it is COVERED with things…post, paper, cards, fruit bowl, vase…etc..but still, it is a nice addition!)

And there have been another two additions to the house since Christmas too. These are definitely not improving the furniture and most likely will start to cost as much as home renovations themselves, but still…a house wouldn’t be complete without…

CATS!
CATS!
photo 4
Ripley (the mum) and Alaska (the baby) taking over.

Tomorrow, our builder returns to lay the dining room floor, attach skirting boards, build a new architrave and add a new door to the cellar top. I can hardly believe what it will be like for that room to be (almost) finished…

Oh, apart from the leak in the kitchen flat roof. Yes, we didn’t have floods, but the wettest winter on record has taken its toll on our brand new plastering and painting.

Damn rain.
Damn rain.

 *Moves new roof up the priority list for this year* *Forgets about new bathroom*

Sigh.

2013: A year in boxes

It was a year ago that we decided to move house.

We stayed in last New Year in our flat in Stoke Newington. We went to bed about 1am, feeling smug about the potential of not being tired and hungover on New Years Day for a change. But, living in a flat, at the front of a house, on a busy-ish street – sleep, we did not. People coming in and out drunk, people having long conversations about how and when to get a taxi right outside our window, people singing down the road. The next morning, possibly more tired than had we been out, we started the conversation. If only we could have a house, maybe we should just think about moving?

By lunchtime, we were on Right Move, looking at houses in Manor Park and Forest Gate, after having spent Christmas with my other half’s parents there, having a nice walk on Wanstead flats and thinking, could we live here? Became pleased about how much we could get for our money if we sold up in N16. Decision made, we started planning. People had said to me, it could take you a year to move. Well, it didn’t quite take that long, but it certainly did take up the whole year, in many ways. I kept thinking in January, maybe by the end of the year I might have a house, and space for a Christmas tree.

And here’s how it happened:

January:

Having made the decision to move, it was time to ready the flat to sell. A.k.a – do all those jobs you’ve been putting off for the last few years. A.k.a – find handyman to fill small hole in bedroom wall, look at the light in the bathroom, fix the cooker hood. During time he is there: cooker hood explodes, upstairs washing machine floods, water comes through ceiling; handyman is booked to return again to repaint the kitchen ceiling once the damp has dried out.

February:

Flat finally goes on the market. After panicking for weeks about whether it will sell, it sells in four days,  after an open house viewing. To a cash buyer. Stoke Newington had become ‘that’ kind of place. Go to New York; panic about finding somewhere else to live now we had sold so quickly.

March:

The house hunt in Forest Gate and Manor Park starts. Take afternoon off work and see a house on Godwin Road (with holes in many walls), house on Sebert Road (detached! With huge garden! But which needed complete gutting and starting again) and house on Durham Road (fall in love, immediately put in an offer!). Offer accepted the next day. Start planning work and picking paint colours. Think, well, that was easy. Two weeks later: house falls through after vendor pulls out. Heartbroken, we return to search. See house on Ridley Road (dank, damp and depressing), another house on Sebert Road (open house viewing, sizing up other couples like us, could be amazing, but it again needs gutting, though, I am keen). Call estate agent – house has gone for full asking price offer. Nothing else on market.

April:

Dearth of property; completion date on own sale set for 11th April. Receive kind offer of a room at both parents’ houses. Decide to pack up and do it. See house on Rosedale Road, just south of Romford Road. Could we live there? Beautiful features, needs some work but all liveable. Amazing cornicing and tiles. It’s under budget. My grandparents were born around the corner. It could be fate. We offer. Have gastro-enteritis, find out offer is accepted. Feel numb. Book survey. Pack, pack, move to temporary room in Whitta Road, Manor Park, take more boxes with us than necessary. Ten days later: receive email from old estate agent about a house back on market in Godwin Road (not the one with holes in walls) that we’d seen early in year but was under offer. Bigger house, better location, near Wanstead flats. Decide we should take a look. Other half is away, so I go alone with instructions “if you like it, offer”. Pressured viewing with two other couples. Feel nervous and excited. Love the road. House needs work but area is just perfect. Decide to offer. Go to Cornwall with friends. Offer accepted while standing in middle of a field with limited mobile reception. Jump up and down, then feel immediately guilty about Rosedale. Call other estate agent to pull out. They are sad, but happy as we have just saved the Godwin Road chain from falling through and they act for the house our vendors were buying. All is well again.

May:

Rush to get things in order for exchange at end of month. Everyone keen to move as quickly as possible. Still staying with parents. Exchange date is imminent when we hear that top of chain are now buying a different property and there is a hold up. Everyone is angry. No movement.

June:

Constant calling of agents and solicitors to find out progress. Play the waiting game. Get more angry. Go to stay with friends for a week to give parents a break. Hassle all the agents in chain to no avail. Finally we exchange contracts after everything nearly falls through on day of exchange. Completion date set for 28th June. Day of completion comes. Solicitor’s bank has error and no money leaves their account. Cry at Westfield and cancel our movers. Error is sorted by mid-afternoon, and money starts to move. Solicitor calls to say they sent the wrong amount of money. Everyone panics. Eventually, somehow we all complete at 4.45pm. We finally get keys at 5.30 but don’t get to move in that day. But, we do, finally have a house!

July:

Moving day, but no sign of movers. Swear we are never moving again. Eventually move in 2 days before we go on holiday. Call electrician friend who comes day before we go to look at electrics – find out we need to rewire. Start process of drawing all over the walls night before we go away. Rewire started while in France! Rest of month taken with rewire, dust and more dust. Oh, and a bit of gardening.

August:

Still rewiring. Get the garden in order. Hmm. It was sunny…? Discover lovely restaurants in Wanstead, just a short bus ride away – Tapas, Pub and Italian (actually owned by our electrician’s dad, who sadly recently retired and sold the restaurant).

September:

Rewiring finally finishes! And clean up begins. Forest Tavern opens to much delight. Friends decide they will also try to move to Forest Gate. Remove horrible en-suite bathroom. Decide to redo kitchen. Finally put clothes away, but still have hundreds of boxes as yet unpacked.

October:

Quiet in the house. Move all the boxes to another room, and make a spare room for our first overnight guest. Take up carpet and discover nice floorboards! Duct tape up the holes in her ceiling. Guest comes and loves the house. Phew! Get call from our builder – he’s ready earlier than planned and can start work on the kitchen at beginning of November. Panic buy floor tiles and take trip to Ikea to decide on kitchen.

November:

See great, free, firework display at Wanstead flats. Try to meet up with other friends who moved to the area from Dalston. Fail. Too many people and rain. Work starts on lounge. Give up all living space downstairs and decamp to our bedroom. Lament decision to do kitchen and lounge at same time. Go on holiday! Return to no kitchen. Eat many excellent meals at Forest Tavern and Siam Cafe and have many curries delivered from Sagor in Manor Park (now, also, sadly closed). Have breakfast with a colleague who tells me ‘Everyone is moving to Forest Gate’. Honestly, nobody had heard of it a year ago.

December:

Kitchen starts to take shape. Lounge is painted, orange! Move back into the downstairs of house. Buy A CHRISTMAS TREE from The Old Slate Yard just down the road. Spend happy day decorating tree. Think back to January and feel pleased. Panic about finishing kitchen and diner by Christmas. We are cooking for 11. Have final day with builder where our glass splash-backs don’t fit, and when trying to trim one, it smashes.  He looks like he might cry. We raise a glass to great progress and not worrying about splash-backs. We move yet more boxes and make up the spare room again for Christmas guests. More holes are covered, but this time with pictures. Sofas are moved around. A shower is made in the downstairs bathroom out of a painting pole! Guests arrive, love house. Phew. Diner remains unpainted for Christmas day but we decorate with paper chains and garlands and nobody cares. Oven works, there is a lot of wine and we christen our kitchen and new house with our family. Card is put through door from someone desperate to move to Forest Gate. Friends are still trying to find a house here. Go on weekly run on Wanstead Flats and feel lucky. Paint the dining room on New Years Eve, but don’t mind.

Feel so pleased we made the decision to move when we did.

Resolve that by next Christmas we will have unpacked the rest of the boxes.

Open wine. Rest.

Happy New Year Forest Gaters!

A sigh of relief

We made it to Christmas – and an almost complete kitchen and lounge.

We served Christmas dinner in an unpainted, but newly plastered, room  – but made it work, with the help of paper chains and garlands!

photo 3

Kitchen revamped from dark:

IMG_1590

To light:

photo 1
Ikea kitchen done good
photo 2
Just missing skirting boards and something for the far wall
photo 1
Painted glass splash backs will eventually match the colour of the dining room walls

Lounge gone from dull:

Living room (sans much furniture)

To bold (and Christmassy):

photo 1
We’re loving the Orangery.

Someone said to me, when you’re living through all the mess of your renovation you can’t see the end, but once it’s done, you start to forget it quicker than you thought possible. Obviously at the time I didn’t believe it could be true, but, remarkably, it was. We finished the last bit of work almost a week ago (placing the splash backs, moving furniture back into the living room, rearranging furniture from various parts of the house) but I am now already completely in love with our new rooms. The kitchen is so light and airy, and seems bigger than ever.

(And it was fab to christen the space on Christmas Day with so many people in it. 11 to be exact. And no major breakages.)

We are particularly happy with our table. We’ve always wanted a farmhouse feel to our kitchen (even in East London!) and found a table on ebay that we liked and then found the maker and his entire range online. They makes tables to order from reclaimed wood, with any changes you want (painted legs, drawers added etc). Much discussion has been had about where our table might have come from – the latest theory is we think it’s made from old scaffolding planks. Who knows? But either way, we totally love it:

photo 2

Things to finish off now are: paint the dining room walls, fit new skirting boards in both rooms, fit the window sill in the kitchen, stain and polish the floors and rehang the original doors. But, that’s nothing compared with how far we’ve come, so we aren’t too daunted.

And in the meantime, we have our feet up for a few days. With a functioning kitchen, a warm lounge, and dust free (ish) spaces to enjoy.

Until January, at least.

Living through dust, or, a kitchen transforming

I have neglected the blog recently. This is because since I last wrote, we haven’t had any living space. About a week after the living room started being torn apart and put back together, we started on the kitchen.

Anyone who’s ever lived through having a kitchen refurbished knows the upheaval that comes with it: the lack of sink, oven, washing machine; the constantly feeling of dust, EVERYWHERE; the longing for the day where you can cook a meal again and wash up in the same room (slash, load the dishwasher). It’s certainly a test of wills, I tell you.

Luckily we just happened to be away for the very worst part of the refurb which we were thankful for. While we were swanning around the US, our builder was ripping out our kitchen, finding the walls in a bad state, rebuilding them, reskimming them, and starting to lay a new floor.

We dismantled as much as we could before we fled the scene:

photo 1
Bye old kitchen…

photo 2 photo 5

Everything had to decamp into our spare rooms…including the new kitchen which was delivered (Thanks Ikea) just before we went away, and single-handedly carried upstairs (all 83 packages) by my other half. Goodbye spare rooms, for now:

photo 3 photo 4

So…when we returned, what did we find? Well, actually, things had moved along nicely, and despite feeling like you constantly can’t find anything, and getting sick of takeaways, we shouldn’t complain that much. In two weeks things have been moving pretty quickly…take a look:

We have been mucking in as much as we can to help speed things along. My other half has been helping with laying the underfloor heating mats (a very straightforward way of getting some heat into our very cold kitchen, and easily bought online), and we have spent each weekend since being home painting…not always what you want to do after a busy week, but suddenly we can see the light.

This coming week should see some big things being done. The sink should be functioning in the next few days, the wall cabinets should be going up, the final coat of paint going on. The tiles we raced around to buy before we went on holiday (just from B&Q, but we’re very pleased with our choice in the end) should be unearthed again after being covered in cardboard all week (to avoid paint spillages…). The lounge is being painted so we can move back into it.

We have just over two weeks to get ready for Christmas, and I *think* we will make it.

The next part to do is the diner. And if we don’t quite finish that, what better way to say ‘Merry Christmas’ than by handing each relative a paintbrush  with their turkey and putting them to work, eh? Certainly one way to work off the Christmas dinner.

Downstairs transformation begins

Two weeks ago we had a surprise call from our friend who was scheduled to do work on our house. He had finished a job early and was ready to start, a whole month earlier than planned.

This was obviously great news. But, inevitably panic ensued. For the week before he started suddenly we had to:

  • Pick a kitchen
  • Plan a kitchen layout
  • Order a kitchen
  • Find and buy floor tiles
  • Make final paint decisions
  • Buy paint
  • Try not to have heart palpitations

Needless to say it was a pretty stressful week, but with much help from relatives – and lifts to B&Q and Ikea – we got there. Work started on Tuesday, and while we’re waiting for delivery of the kitchen, it was decided to start on the lounge first.

Here’s how it was looking as you know:

I almost miss this now
I almost miss this now

And, here’s this week’s progress, click one of the images to load the gallery:

The lounge is totally out of action now, and with the kitchen about to be started, we have had to decamp upstairs.

View from the bed
View from the bed

It’s weird. It feels like we’re living in a cheap hotel room. It’s not normal (in my opinion) to have so many electronics in the bedroom. Though, there is the added bonus of watching Newsnight in bed. Oh the luxury.

Next week work on the kitchen begins. The upstairs is filling up with different pieces of furniture moved from different rooms downstairs, and I’m now about to dismantle the kitchen and pack away all the things only recently unpacked.

But, with the help of Ikea, B&Q and the excellent Kristian – we should be on the road to revamp shortly. 6 weeks till Christmas…when we are hosting 9 other people and ourselves.

*heart races* *breathes deeply*

It will be fine. Honest. I’m the picture of calm.

Making filing more interesting – part two

A few weeks ago my lovely other half spent a whole day doing our household admin. And we still had nowhere to put it. We hadn’t had much time to progress on the filing cabinet – we needed to speed up so we could start to use it!

So, after the clean up last time, it was a case of sanding down the cabinet using medium to rough sandpaper. The more you sand, the better the primer takes.

Got through a lot
Got through a lot

We took all the drawers out and took off all the handles. Some were filthy, so needed to be cleaned, again, and then something stronger was needed. So we popped to our friendly DIY store on Woodgrange Road for some silver polish. It’s funny how some things don’t need to evolve as they are already as good as can be:

SILVO - I remember this from my childhood
SILVO – I remember this from my childhood, works like a charm
What a difference (top vs bottom)
What a difference (top vs bottom)

Then it was time to start the primer. Two coats, on all surfaces (including the drawers and the insides. We are nothing but thorough).

Farrow & Ball Primer for Dark Tones (for metal)
Farrow & Ball Metal Primer for Dark Tones
The drawers were tricky, and drippy...
The drawers were tricky, and drippy…
Even the primer looks nice
Even just the primer looks good…
Primed and ready to go
Primed and ready to go

The primer dried pretty quickly over a day or two, and so, it was time to get the colour started. We were excited to see if we had picked well.

Inside first
Inside first coat (a Friday night paint job)
Top coat...
Top coat…(the next morning, note: daylight)
Now for the outside!
Now for the outside.
Et voila!
Et voila!

So, the two coats are on. And phew, we love the colour! (Blue Ground)

But next, and finally, the drawers need to be done. But, oh, they are not going to be easy…We can’t do all the sides at the same time as they need one clean side to stand up on. So, maybe that will be a job for me for this weekend.

This project has taken the best part of a month so far, but it is nearly there. And its been fun. It’s nice to see something you are making come together.

Final post and hopefully the finished thing coming soon. I, myself, can’t wait to see it.

The spare room develops…

I found this rather beautiful old mirror in our cellar – a lovely gift left by previous owners from the past. It just needed a good clean and then I thought it was a good find for the spare room, so our first guest, staying soon, could see themselves.

photo 1
Mr Muscle gets to work
photo 2
Cleaned up nicely

Having the cleaning bug, I got to work on the spare room again. I cleaned the windows, and window sills. I re-made the bed. I cleaned the shelving unit. And then I dropped the cloth on the floor and when I picked it up, there was a cleaner, much darker patch and I thought, ah, there are decent floorboards under all this dust. So, out came the bucket and sponge and suddenly I was revealing rather nice, old, floorboards.

Before and after as it happened
Before and after

I wasn’t sure about having floorboards upstairs but it was amazing what a bit of fairy liquid did. Suddenly all thoughts of carpet were gone.

And then it was on to finding some pictures to put up. While the renovation happens our pictures had been safely away in bubble wrap, and before that they were in storage for months, so unwrapping some of them was like saying hello to some old much-loved friends.

I bought this one online after a trip to Chicago and have always loved it, and the colours:

photo 1

My other half got me this great print (bottom left below) from a shop in Columbia Road for my birthday shortly after we met. It used to hang above our sink in our flat in Stoke Newington and amuse me. The illustration next to it is from The Gruffalo’s Child, which I got when I worked on the book in my first job…

SING!

And here is the mirror in place below…along with a gorgeous screen print that was given to me by the very talented picture book and general graphic/digital artist Tom Percival as a gift when I left my second job:

photo 1

Extreme close up
Extreme close up

Pictures have basically gone up wherever there were holes in the walls to cover up…so it’s a little random I must say, but, it’s just so nice to have pictures on walls again, and suddenly, suddenly we have one room that seems lovely, even before we paint it. Here it is (with much thanks again to our inherited bed, delivered and put together excellently by my friends)…

photo 5

photo 2

photo 3

And finally, we needed to shield some unsightly piping and remains of the built in wardrobes before they all get boxed in, so we pinned up a simple white sheet, which though was a pain to put up, seems to have done just the job we needed it to.

photo-31

And here we have it, our first room – one that I would genuinely enjoy spending time in:

photo 4

The spare room exists…

While there hasn’t been much building work progress, as I mentioned in my last post, we have been continuing to find things to go in the house – to try to make it liveable for the time being. So, when a close friend who is also doing some decorating, offered us a double bed for our spare room, we jumped at the chance to take it off their hands.

As we are likely to have family staying with us over Christmas, we knew we had to get the spare rooms in some sort of order soonish, so getting this bed gave us a reason to finish clearing all the boxes and rubbish out of there.

A few weeks back, my other half organised a junk clearance company to come and collect all the building materials and things we’d ripped out during the rewire and plumbing work we’d had done. They were fantastic and I jumped up and down in the new spaces we had that were finally clear.  So after a quick hoover, and moving of some doors from the room (we have four original doors which need to be stripped and rehung at somepoint which are stashed away now), we were then ready for our new delivery.

So, here’s the spare room progression from moving in to now.

The week we moved in.
The week we moved in.
Have I made any progress? 8 weeks in.
Have I made any progress? 8 weeks in.
Remains of the old built in wardrobe
No boxes but, the remains of the old built in wardrobe
What a difference a bed makes!
What a difference a bed makes. 12 weeks after moving in we have a workable spare room.

We still need to repair a wall, revamp a window, paint, and decide on what to do about the floor but, for now – it’s starting to look like a room. And cosy! I even picked up a cute clock just in Ikea at the weekend which I thought gave it a homely feel.

So. Now. Who wants to be the first guest?

Making filing more interesting – part one

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged. Hey, I guess I have been having a life outside my house! Yay me.

We’ve both been busy, and the house has been having a quiet period. And while it does we have been looking around for things to go in the house when its done. One thing we talked about getting for a while was a filing cabinet. Anyone that owns a house knows there is a lot of paperwork that goes with it. And while my professional filing strategy is filing paper in the BIN as long as I have a digital copy, that doesn’t quite work for household admin. You always need to know where to find your mortgage agreement, council tax bill, driving licence etc, so, we wanted a filing cabinet. And personally I think they are one thing that can be practical, but beautiful, if you get an old one or work one up.  So, we have been on the lookout.

A few weeks ago I visited this Discount Office Furniture warehouse in Manor Park, E12 after a recommendation by a family member. They have a great selection of used office furniture – desks, chairs, filing cabinets, bookcases – and the occasional gems. We went back last weekend for another look and found the below, and old 15 drawer filing cabinet which we liked the look of:

Complete with old stickers
Complete with old stickers

We talked to the guy in the warehouse about advice for revamping it, and the first step in the process was to get it all cleaned up, before sanding it down if we wanted to repaint it. So far, we’ve just managed the cleaning part but we have ordered some paint for the next instalment.

Cleaning it up actually took a while. It had a lot of residual glue marks from old stickers on it (why do people use stickers when the handles have a place to put paper labels?) – so we grabbed a bottle of white spirit, a bowl of soapy water and got cleaning:

Elbow grease
Elbow grease

I was on quality control duty while the other half white spirited and scrubbed at the leftover glue:

I sent a few back
I sent a few back

The inside was pretty filthy so I grabbed the soapy water and a scourer and got to work:

cleaning inside
Looking better

And then it was putting all the drawers back in, and drying it all off before making our own labels:

Cleaned up nice
Cleaned up nice

Pretty pleased with how its looking so far.

While making our own labels we found a few old ones from the previous owners. It seems this was no ordinary office filing cabinet:

Also found one that said 'Information Profiling'. Hmm.
Also found one that said ‘Information Profiling’. Hmm.

This may have held a few secrets in its time. And I’m pretty sure our paperwork will be far less controversial than the ‘Stop and Searches’ that were previously held in here.

While the original unit looks great, we decided that it might be interesting to paint it with a bright colour to make it more of a feature. We’ve picked ‘Blue Ground’ by Farrow & Ball which might not be a usual filing cabinet colour but we’ll see what happens. The next stages are to rough it up with sandpaper (apparently the rougher it is, the better the paint will take), give it a coat of primer and then two coats of the paint (Farrow & Ball do metal paint versions of all their colour options). We’ve gone for a silky finish rather than matt or gloss, which I hope will echo the original metal finish.

So, the paint has arrived and now we just need to find the time to get the next stage done. Which, is easier said than done.

Part two to come soon…

E7 Gardening: Ups and Downs

It’s a bit quiet on the house front at the moment as we’re between jobs, and are just planning which next room to take apart. It’s funny, you have weeks where the dust annoys you, but when it stops, you’re like…hmm, we should be making dust again! When shall we next make a new building site?

In the meantime I’ve been trying to turn my attention to the garden. As you might know, I’m not the most green fingered, but I am trying. Since my epic B&Q trip a few weeks back, the weather has been unpredictable to say the least. We had one week of intense heat, and then nothing but rain, and then a dramatic plummeting of temperatures.

Some of my plants have faired okay, (despite the influx of snails)…but not my thyme. It’s been looking sorry for itself for a week or so, and just when I was considering bringing it inside, it seems to have completely given up the ghost. The other pots are doing okay, but the poor thyme. See exhibit A:

pots progress
Sad looking bottom left pot

I’m not sure what happened? I think perhaps the drop in temperature was too much for it? In other better news my Rosemary is thriving (far right pot). That is obviously one hardy herb that I can get behind.

A surprisingly nice thing in a different part of the garden, and which has pretty much nothing to do with me, as it was already in the garden when we arrived, is that this green plant (of which I don’t know the name…) has developed very nice pink heads. It had sort of creamy green heads in the summer, and now they are bright amongst the autumnal colours. But, for how long?

Pretty in pink & the makings of a rockery.
Pretty in pink & the makings of a rockery.

My lawn, over the last month or so, has become friend to many, many weeds. So, yesterday I took out the Weedol and started spraying viciously. I’m pleased to say my revenge is working. This was starting to look sad (or happy) when I came home today:

Take that
Take that

A few more sprays and then…*evil laugh*

So, there are some ups, despite the death of the thyme.

There is one very big down unfortunately.  Our garden is directly below an overhanging walnut tree. A very tall, very large walnut tree which we can’t reach ourselves to trim. Here’s exhibit B:

My enemy
My current enemy

You know, it looks nice enough, it doesn’t completely block out the sun, and eventually we will get ‘a man in’ to cut the overhanging branches. But for now, you go out into the garden and hear a sound. You can’t quite place it. Is it someone doing some work in their house? Is it a child nibbling on some particularly noisy nuts? You hear a rustle in the tree above and then suddenly, a bunch of walnuts, or should I say walnut shells come tumbling into your garden. Like this:

The aftermath
The aftermath

You look up to see a squirrel peering down to see what has happened to his spoils. You have a stare out until one of you gets bored (normally me) and normal service resumes.

Repeat about a hundred times until your garden beds end up looking like this:

Walnut graveyard
Walnut graveyard

It’s a becoming one of those things that is bothering me. This week I’ve also started to see the same squirrels BURYING THEIR NUTS IN MY LAWN. I mean, come on. I know they’re preparing for winter, and I feel for them, but I’d also like not to have my lawn dug and re-dug over and over again.

In order to mow my lawn, I need to spend about half an hour first raking up all the walnuts. And only to turn your head and see a new load of shells appear.

*Sigh* I’m fighting a losing battle. Save stringing a large net across the garden to catch the debris I am out of ideas.

When is walnut season over?