It has got to that time of the year where the mower is used on a weekly basis. We leave the cuttings to rot down (with just over 2 acres of grass to cut, we don’t really have a choice), so the grass needs to be cut regularly to ensure that the clippings don’t get out of hand. It is amazing what a difference a bit of sun and rain has on the grass!
Yesterday we had a minor incident as an old climbing rope (used for attaching our dog to a tree!) was left in the grass. It didn’t take long for it to wrap itself around the blades of the mower deck and bring proceedings to a swift halt. Fortunately, the dog wasn’t still attached to it!
It didn’t take too long to sort out this morning, but it meant taking the mower deck off the Z425 to cut the old rope away. While I was at it, I thought I just as well give the underside of the deck a good clean as well as lubricating the spindles. The problem with grass cuttings is that they are very alkaline and attack the paint and metal of the mower deck. Although the underside gets a new coat of yellow Hammerite every year, it doesn’t do any harm to give it a bit of a clean every now and then.
This is what happens when someone leaves an old climbing rope in the grass. The mower definitely wasn’t happy!
Fortunately, there was no real damage done and it only took a few minutes to cut away the old rope. It actually took longer to get the mowing deck off the mower! I took the opportunity to clean out the grass and hose down the underside of the mower deck.
I have never had to remove the belt completely from the mower deck. I thought it might be a good idea to take a quick photo of the belt just in case it ever snaps and needs to be replaced.
Well, this is a sure sign that summer is on the way – trays of seedlings that are going to be ready to go into the polytunnel in the next few weeks. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, mange tout, and lots of flowers (including geraniums and sunflowers).
Last year, we had a couple of wasp nests – one in the orchard and another in the bottom field. We were lucky. A very nice badger came along and dug both of them up and then ate the lavae. This year we have a wasp nest in the vegetable patch. Given that the have a couple of months to go before they reach the end of the season, we decided that we had to get rid of it. Otherwise, someone (me, Jo or the dog) are going to get stung. Jo got stung last year and she isn’t that keen to be stung again.
Given that it is a vegetable patch we weren’t that keen on using pesticides here, however, we are assured that the chemicals breakdown as soon as they are exposed to sunlight. Even so, I don’t think that we will be planting anything at this end of the vegetable patch this year.
Jo’s idea was to whack the wasp’s nest with a mattock and then run as fast as you can! I think the only thing that this approach would guarantee would be some pissed off wasps. Alternatively, you can get someone suitably attired to spray them with chemicals. I’ll vote for the man with the can!
Not quite sure what is going on here, but it looks like the insecticide might being having an effect!
The flagstones went down on the new patio before Christmas, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough to be able to point them at that time – it was either too cold or too wet. Well, the weather has started to turn (I did say “started”!) and we started pointing the flagstones this week. We are using the same lime based pointing that we used on the house so that it all matches. Even at this time of the year, there is a risk of rain or frost getting to the pointing before it cures. The pointing is protected overnight with a large sheet of hessian. So far this has worked well for us.
It has take a week or so to complete the pointing on the lower (and larger) of the two terraces. I reckon that the pointing will be complete on the upper terrace too by the end of next week. You wouldn’t think that it would make much of a difference, but it really has pulled the whole area together.
The lime pointing is being mixed to the same proportions as we used on the house:
1: 1: 5 1 portion 3.5 N /sqmm Hydraulic lime : 1 portion white cement : 5 portions Nosterfield River sand
The materials have all been acquired from Womersleys that specialise in materials for restoration projects.
Now the weather has improved we have started pointing the patio. We are using the same lime based pointing that we used on the house. The fresh pointing is protected from the rain and the frost overnight with a large sheet of hessian.
It has taken the best part of a week, but now the lower terrace of the patio is pointed. It makes a tremendous difference to the appearance of this space.
We have just had the first dump of snow this winter and the views are amazing. It is the time of year that you are glad of 4×4’s.
We had a fair amount of snow last night and this is what we woke up to this morning! The views across the valley are amazing, now the sun is out.
View across the valley with Holme Moss in the background.
These photos are courtesy of Paddy Martin who did the work in the garden. These before and after shots just show how much work has gone into sorting out the sunken garden.
Here is the before and after for the sunken garden. All in all, it took about 8 weeks to sort this out.
Another before and after shot. You can also see the impact that the telehandler has had on the grass in the background.
After we moved in, we had an old pallet for a door step. It is great to see that it has been sorted out. It still needs to be pointed, but it is a vast improvement.
At last all of the ashlar is in place and all of the flagstones are down. There is still pointing to do, but that is going to have to wait a bit until the weather improves – it can’t be too wet or too cold when doing the pointing.
Three sets of steps and 160 square meters of flagstones. The pointing is still to be done between the flagstones, but we are going to have to wait for some better weather. The lights are still to be installed (although the holes and wiring have been put in place).
We still have to point the flagstones. This will be done using lime pointing (just like the main house), however, this is going to have to wait for better weather.
The ashlar slabs have been installed outside the master bedroom. We haven’t moved in here yet, but in the summer it will be possible to step out into the sunken garden from the bedroom. The floor inside is the same level as the ashlar slabs outside.
The new steps from the lounge and a step of steps to the upper terrace.
It would have been easy just to have put 1200mm wide steps in here, but it looks so much better with the bottom steps extended outwards. The reclaimed walls could do with being pressure washed to remove some of the old paint and dirt but they contrast with the new stone steps.
There was major relief today when the final set of stone steps were installed in the garden. Installing these steps has been a monumental effort on behalf of Paddy and Jonny. Most of the stones are well over safe working loads for two men, so that have had to use the ingenuity to get these in without any major incidents.
Once the step is roughly in position (but still resting on the slabs of insulation), the stone step is lifted up (the sides are protected by some thin blue foam) and the insulation removed (very quickly). If it all works out properly, the stone step ends up in the right spot!
Pulling out the installation. It looks a bit like a sequence from a game show, but you need to be quick to make sure your fingers aren’t underneath the stone step when it is lowered!
Once the step is in position, the blue foam is pulled out. This protects the sides of the step as it is lowered into position. The flagstones will cover the bottom half of the first step which is why it is a taller than the other steps – half of it will be buried.
After 5 weeks of waiting, the ashlar finally arrived for the stone steps in the sunken garden. We need to get the steps into position so that we can flag up against them and get the flagging finished.
We are installing the three large ashlar slabs that are laid in front of the bi-folding doors to the lounge. This makes the top step wide enough so that the doors can be opened without overhanging the top step.
There are lights to be installed in each of these three slabs (you can see the wiring where the middle slab is still to be laid. These slabs are being moved into position using a powerful suction device.
Using a powerful suction device, the final ashlar slab is lifted into position. These slabs are very heavy and this photo doesn’t really convey exactly how difficult this task was. There was relief all round once it was in position.
These steps still need to be pointed, but the steps are pretty much complete. They also need to be pressure washed to get the “green” of them – they have been covered for the past few weeks to protect them. Once cleaned, the steps will match the new slabs installed in front of the doors.
The weather this week hasn’t been great. And the weather today has been great either. The fog never really lifted at all. However, we are continuing to make progress in the sunken garden and it is starting to feel like we have turned a corner. The main thing that is holding us up now is the delivery of the stone steps from the quarry. This was meant to take 4-5 weeks, but we are now on week 6. I am guessing that by the middle of next week that we may run out of things to do if the stone doesn’t arrive.
The last of the has been completed so that the flagstones can be laid on the upper terrace. This small wall can’t be seen (it is under the hessian) as it is being protected from the wet weather that we have had today. We have also had the holes drilled to take the lights in both the lower and upper terraces.
The wall that we have built today is hidden under the hessian. There is still some work to be done on the other side of the wall, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully, the weather will be a little bit better! Or rather drier!
A view from above showing one of the 92mm holes that have drilled in the flagstones to take the lights. The wires were laid a few weeks ago before we put down the crushed stone. We worked out that these lights need to be about 300mm away from the wall to create the best effect.
There was a small area, just behind the smaller of the front gates, that needed to be flagged. This was completed this week.
As well as sorting out the flagstones to the rear of the property we have also sorted out the flagstones under the porch canopy. They still need to be pointed, but the pointing will be done when all of the flagstones – front and back – have been laid.