Mother’s Day – Great Start . . . Crap Finish!

 

It would have been too much to ask for a perfect day, wouldn’t it?

It started well.

I’d requested a Cornus plant/shrub thingy from my son, Matt, and went into great detail re colour and size. Yes, I would have loved a tree-size one BUT I’d visited the plant centre a week earlier and saw the price of the tree-size ones, and to be frank I didn’t think I was worth that much. That’s a bit sad isn’t it? But you know me – the original shrinking violet. Shut up it’s true!

So, knowing Matt obeys my every fancy and whim (mostly) I was pretty confident that a lovely little Cornus would produce itself from Matt’s car boot come Mothering Sunday.

10.00 a.m. arrived and right on time (another quality he gets from me – always being on time) his work truck chugged to a halt outside the house and there, swaying, slightly seasick was my pressie – a small tree-size Cornus.

Obviously I was overjoyed that, A. I’d got a super-duper big plant and B. that apparently I WAS worth that much.

The grand kiddies piled in followed shortly by a plant and Matt somewhere behind it. I showered him with thanks before scolding him for spending that much on me when I would have been perfectly happy with a titchy one – well, maybe not a titchy but it is the thought that counts, you know.

The plant was placed in the garden awaiting planting. I already had the area mapped out and I told Matt that I’d be planting it when they left. At this point he said, ‘You might like to water it first?’

Good point I thought.

‘It’s been in the garage for two days,’ he added.

‘WHAT!’ I exclaimed. ‘So it’s been in the dark for two days with no water and then rattled up the motorway in an open truck?’

He grinned.

‘You lazy git,’ I said, ‘you just couldn’t be bothered to carry it round to the back of your house, could you?’

He opened his mouth to deny it but then changed his mind and continued to grin.

‘And YOU call yourself a gardener? I said.

He laughed.

This information set me back a bit, so when they had gone I watered it in its pot and then this morning I planted it. It looks OK . . . well, brilliant it fact. I think if it could talk it would breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t think it enjoyed the M1 that much?

As I said . . . Great Start, Crap Finish, because . . .

Later that day I toggled up the garden to tuck-in the greenhouse plants. A frost was forecast so they had to have their little duvets pulled-up round their delicate stems. As I was saying goodnight to the baby cosmos (Prince Charles talks to HIS plants so don’t go thinking I’m mad and alone in this), through the greenhouse glass I caught sight of a bird, on the floor, in front of Richard’s shed. It looked perfect, not cat struck at all. I couldn’t bear investigating so I shrugged down to the house and asked Richard to go and see if it was dead. He did so.

It was dead. I believe it had flown into the shed window. He described it to me (he’s no ornithologist) and I realised in was a bullfinch. Last year there had been a pair visiting the garden and only yesterday I was thinking that I hadn’t seen them this year. I was devastated really. I don’t do ‘dead’ animals very well, but then who does. I kept thinking that its mate would also be devastated. I tried telling myself that it would be fickle and find another mate, a prettier, better-at-finding-food-for-the-chicks mate. Then I told myself perhaps it would be happy knowing that its true love hadn’t had a horrible ending in the jaws of some rotten kitty . . . but none of that helped. The vision of the little thing stayed with me for the rest of the day . . . and has carried over to this morning. Yes, I’m a dick. What more can I say?

Whenever I see roadkill in the distance I have to close my eyes until we have passed it. Last year a muntjac had been hit on the busy road at the side of the wood and it had managed to make it to the gate of the wood. It had two broken legs. I still have nightmares now. It looked perfect, except for the two broken legs – and the fact that it was bloody dead. How long had it been there until shock had claimed it? How much pain did it suffer dragging itself from the road and along the grass verge to the gate? Yes, I think too much!

Last week, as we arrived at the wood, we noticed what looked like snow around the shed. On closer inspection (I sent Richard ahead to investigate) it was, or had been, a wood-pigeon. Feathers were everywhere. I never knew they had so many feathers!

Two days ago I raked the feathers together and burnt them.

So, there you go. A lovely Mother’s Day in many respects . . . I spent time with my son and grand kiddies and received exactly what I wanted but how much nicer it would have been if Mr Bullfinch hadn’t committed suicide?

This I guess is the balance of life, hey?

Right, dashing off to sand some wood. A craft fair looms and I must focus on making stock.

Stay Happy xxx

 

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Busy, Busy, Busy . . . Not Expired!

O.K. first things first . . . I’m not dead. This news will either be met with whoops of joy or total indifference, I suspect the later.

So, where have I been? Nowhere really. Just around and about doing my own thing.

To be honest that probably isn’t honest, you see, I think my ‘hermit’ tendencies are now running parallel with my ‘can’t-really-be-bothered-to-do-anything-that-I-don’t-want-to-do-just-to-please-people-that-don’t-warrant-it.’ So I’ve been doing anything and everything that I WANT to do, and although there were quite a few odd moments when I thought about bashing out another blog something else always got in the way.

Health issues have been at the top of my agenda – well, they are aren’t they, once you step over the line into ‘a certain age?’

I don’t think it helps that I won’t give in to them (health issues) or accept that I’ve crossed over that line into a ‘certain age?’

I’d list my health issues but I’m trying to keep this blog under 20,000 words!

I’ll move on.

So what do I do all day . . . besides Netflix? That’s a joke by the way . . . kinda! Well, I don’t write novels anymore . . . the retinal migraines put paid to that, (see how a ‘health issue sneaked in under the radar there?) but I do other things.

Remember I told you about the small woodland we bought two years ago this May, well that takes up a considerable amount of my time, and rightly so. We have titivated and tidied, erected insect hides, bird nesting boxes, bird feeders (18 to date) and loads of other stuff too numerous to mention, and it has been great. Wildlife has returned. We now have woodpeckers, tits of all kinds, squirrels, muntjac, squirrels, nuthatches, squirrels, foxes, pheasants, wrens, robins, a rabbit (only ever seen one) hares and did I mention the bloody squirrels!!! Such little sods. They carry screw drivers and wire cutters and take down the bird feeders, most of them never to be seen again. It’s an ongoing war with them. I’ve made it my life’s work to outsmart them – the jury’s still out on who’s ahead to date! If I had to hazard a guess I’d say 70/30 . . . in their favour. I do know one thing – after all the food they’ve scoffed over the winter their dreys will be bursting with squirrel babies this year and I’ll need even more bird-feeding stations!

Then there are the craft fairs.

I make all things rustic from the fallen, and trimmed wood – fairy houses, fat ball feeders, other very clever things (?) and toddle off to craft fairs with them. The money I make goes back into supporting the wildlife. Can you imagine how much it costs to fill 14 bird feeders and 4 bird tables? So if anyone wishes to make a donation into my PayPal account go right ahead? Actually, I’ve had a break from the fairs since Christmas but they are starting up again now and in fact I did my first one of the year last weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also . . . my first love – the garden.

Spring has almost sprung and I’ve already got the garden and greenhouse in good order. Green things are springing up everywhere and today I actually SAT in the garden for one whole hour! A bloody miracle for me. You see, I love it but I always find something to do and can never sit still for a minute. I watched the birds coming and going. We have a wren nesting in the recently trimmed conifer. She makes one hell of a noise when Chea (kitty) is around. She really needs to be a bit more discreet – the wren not Chea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you go. The wood, the garden, making the wooden things and the craft fairs. Oh! And I’ve just dug out my sewing machine and I’m having a bash at dressmaking – though they aren’t dresses that I’m making, they are tops. That’s going O.K. except for the first top looking like it would fit an elephant. I cast it to the back of the wardrobe telling myself I could wear it in the garden but then, being O.C.D and knowing it was stuck there, imperfect and as a constant reminder that it was wrong, I retrieved it and altered it. Now it would fit a hippo, so job well done, hey?

I’ll toddle off now . . .  you can probably only digest so much crap in one sitting?

I’ll catch you soon – I’ll add blogging to my nice list of things to do . . . possibly.

Take care lovelies x

If you’d like to take a look at my Woodland Crafts Page over on Facebook, and possible give it a like, a share or whatever, it would please the squirrels no end! (and me) xx

https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

 

When Only One Word Will Do

I’m sure you know what it’s like – when only one word will do?

As a writer and author I’m supposed to have a whole dictionary of words at my disposal and in honesty I do – but do I use them? I do not.

I don’t flimy-flam (beat around the bush) I call a spade a spade. However, when my eleven-year-old grandson stood in my craft shed the other day, looking at the old, battered filing cabinet, and asked, ‘Grandma, why does it say crap on that drawer?’ I had only one answer, ‘because that’s what’s in it Jake, crap!’

He grinned a little (he thinks I’m a rebel) and opened the drawer.

Jake is a great ‘collector’ of things. Many, varied things. He collects coins, ‘interesting’ stones, pieces of wood, all sizes, all shapes, bits of metal, nuts, bolts, washers etc. I adore him. So this led to a rummage through the ‘crap’ drawer where he found this and that and rescued them for his ‘collection’. His father (my son) wrings his hands and exhales deeply when Jake goes home after a stay, and with great exasperation moans, ‘Oh noooooo, what have you got now? Do you really need all that rubbish?’

I’m tempted to tell my son that it isn’t called rubbish, it’s called crap. I think Jake has the same temptation but he’s a good boy and what happens at Gran’s stays at Gran’s. We are partners in crime and all things private, naughty and silly. I think Jake may become an archaeologist, or have a dusty shop where he sits with spectacles perched on the end of his nose reading one of his ‘must have’ books. Did I mention that he has hundreds of books already?

I think he may get some of this from me.

I mean, does anyone really need 10 wooden spoons, 3 shelves of Tupperware (I say Tupperware but it’s the equivalent) 6 doo-dahs of cling film, ditto foil. 500 padded envelopes, card of every colour, 6 gardening hand-forks etc. etc. I simply ‘like’ these things and in my opinion you can never have too many plastic containers with clippy lids – ever.

Another thing that is simply beyond me is this . . . I can’t plant two seeds together (like Monty Don does) and then discard the weaker. Nooooooooo! It should be illegal. How can anyone pull out a seedling and throw it away. I have to save everything. And I find it quite difficult pruning shrubs without shoving a dozen pieces into a plant pot to see if they root. This could be why my garden looks like the Amazon jungle?

Talking of having more of something than you need, I have a million tadpoles in the pond right now. When our only remaining fish went to fishy heaven, last year, we removed the filtration and U.V etc. and decided that it would be a wildlife pond. It could do its own thing and I would NOT fish out duckweed, fallen leaves etc. but leave it to its own devices. This is why the water, at the moment, is pea soup green and we have a million tadpoles and a thousand baby water snails. When we had the fish they would have polished off a few hundred tadpoles but right now they have no predators, other than a blackbird that I saw standing at the edge of the pond plucking them from the water.

Monty (that man again!) said you should place rotting logs in a wildlife pond and so I did. Yesterday I decided that the pond could take one more – just a small one – see, I even have too many logs in the pond! I turned my back after placing the log in the water and when I turned back a shoal (is that right – a shoal of tadpoles?) whatever – a shoal of tadpoles were having a feeding frenzy sucking-up the green algae off the wood. They remained doing this forever so I put another piece of green wood in and ditto – more arrived and pigged-out until the algae was no more.

Some might say that I have too much time on my hands. I disagree. I’m doing what pleases me. See, I am a rebel.

Anyway, I’m off to count my Tupperware and throw another log in the pond. I should clean the house (probably) but then again, why would I want to do that crap?

I’ve posted a very short video of the feeding tadpoles on my F.B. page if you want to take a look. I couldn’t post it here.    https://www.facebook.com/gail.orbell

 

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Into The Wilds Of Derbyshire

This Sunday I’m popping over the border and entering the wilds of Derbyshire. I will have the car loaded to the roof with fairy houses and all things wooden as we make our way to a craft fair. I’m not expecting to have a fortnight in Hawaii off the back of this one but it is for a good cause and we all need to support those from time to time, don’t we? It’s at The Cat’s Adoption Centre.

This, you realise is tricky. I fear selling two tea lights and coming home having adopted eight cats and a litter of kittens! Chea (existing family feline) would do her fruit and we would never hear the last of it. No amount of Purina Gourmet Gold would swing it back round to our favour. She has principles. She is the one-and-only and there is only ONE in one-and-only.

I had a brilliant idea for changing the staging on the table – until I realised that it was less of a brilliant idea and more than likely a stupid idea. I don’t know what table they are providing but it would have to hold a small elephant if I stuck to my brilliant idea. Even my super-duper table in my craft shed would be on its knees so “brilliant idea” has been shelved.

I have a few new things to take to this one.

The Shabby Kinda-Chic Dwellings have extended into Shabby Kinda-Chic Cottages and are due to extend further, towards the Christmas fairs, as Shabby Kinda-Chic Snow-Scene Cottages – a suggestion from a friend of mine, Claire Chambers. I might have to seriously rethink the name though.

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Shabby Kinda-Chic Dwellings

Another newbie is the Weathered Wood Fat Ball Feeder. This has been home-tested and I can vouch that it will hold a flock of flapping jackdaws in a feeding frenzy, the weight of which put my homemade rose frame thingy, under great pressure.

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Weathered Wood Hanging Fat Ball Feeders

Along with the fairy houses I now have the Hobbit Homes – originally named Gnome Homes until I realised that the younger generation probably doesn’t have a clue what a gnome is, so I’m playing safe with Hobbit Homes. Everyone has seen Lord of the Rings, right?

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Fairy Houses
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Hobbit Homes

This week there has been a slight problem with something entering the closed outside run (ex chicken run) where I keep the mossed fairy houses so that the moss won’t dry out. Something has been in and removed the moss from one of the house roofs. It now looks like it has a case of galloping alopecia. I can only suggest a wren because I know of nothing else that could squeeze through the wire. Initially, I thought that I might have left the outside door open and something had accessed it that way, so blaming myself for my oversight I closed the door, top and bottom, closed two catches, two bolts and padlocked it. Nothing was going to get in this time. Yesterday morning I went in after having lost the key and taking ten minutes to realise that it was in my shirt pocket, in the wash basket, and lo and behold – the alopecia had spread. More moss had been taken. I do know wrens make their nests with moss and I do know we’ve had nesting wrens in the garden most years so . . . Jenny Wren is the main suspect as I write. Today I will repair the missing moss.

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Wren Wreckage?

Another new item – the Weathered Wood Succulents. These are made with the same kind of wood as the Hanging Fat Ball Feeders. I particularly like these and having recently removed a spider plant – that would look more at home in the jungle – from my kitchen window sill, I’m planning on nicking a couple for myself.

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Weathered Wood Succulents

So, that’s me for now. I’m off to repair the wren’s wreckage and see if I can come up with a better idea for the staging. I probably won’t. The thing is I have so much staging and backboards etc. that last time we had to take the trailer. This goes down like an arrowed balloon with Richard but, as he is from Derbyshire and knows where he is going, I’d better try to keep him sweet. Yes, it’s a hard call and quite a novelty to be honest but perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks . . . possibly . . . or not!

Wish me luck? Mainly – NOT to come home with twelve cats!!

Find me at https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

A Wood For All Seasons

It’s been almost a year now since we bought the small woodland and I have to say that it has been hard work. It probably wouldn’t have been such hard work if I was not of the ‘everything has to be done immediately’ mentality. But I am and so that’s that.

Initially, our time was spent clearing the border alongside the track. Heavy machinery had cleared a way through the wood and had pushed everything from wispy branches to massive old tree roots on to the border. This was a massive task and most of it was performed around late spring and summer last year. The hot sun combined with a raging bonfire was exhausting to say the least.

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Uprooted Tree

After that came the clearing of the fallen wood, then the wood that was attempting to fall – but hanging on by the skin of its bark, then the diseased wood. Most of this was harvested for the wood burner, leaving the rotting and smaller branches for me to make into wildlife hides and retreats. I got a little carried away with this exercise and we now have a dozen or more.

BARRIERS
Stacks For Insects
WREN RETREAT
Wren Retreat
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Frogs And Toads Live Here
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Cover

I may not have made it perfectly clear but this woodland was in a horrendous state having been neglected for years and years . . . and probably even years more. The whole wood was covered in a tangle of masochistic blackberry stems. These tripped you up at every available opportunity. Richard managed to fall bottom-over-bonce carrying a petrol strimmer. It wasn’t a pretty sight but it was hilarious, if that kind of thing – a rather large, tall bloke, rigged out like Rambo, landing in a blackberry bramble patch, with a strimmer round his neck, tickled your fancy. Obviously I didn’t guffaw too loudly until I’d ran an experienced eye over him and had a quick mental check to confirm that he still had two of everything that he should have had two of and ditto, one of everything that he should have had one of.

We chain harrowed narrow paths through and around the wood, digging out the tangle of brambles where necessary. I was constantly being told that it was a woodland and NOT a garden and it didn’t need to be neat and tidy. This I understood, but I still wanted tidy mayhem.

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Preparing To Chain Harrow

I also haven’t yet mentioned that the wood had no heart. It was rare to see any form of wildlife within the boundary. No birdsong. No sign of much at all. Then we hung bird feeders and bird tables. Within no time we had a troupe of delinquent squirrels visiting. They chewed through the metal feeders, removed screws, munched on plastic and ate every peanut. They even took down, and removed, a whole jar of peanut butter that had been placed in a peanut butter jar feeder. To this day we haven’t found the empty jar.

Initially the mad troupe amused us – initially. Then it became personal. I made it my life’s work to outwit them. This, you probably think is as easy as falling off a log, something that I have also done, but it isn’t. They are smart. And savvy. And slightly adorable in their naughtiness. Feeders were wired shut, top and bottom. Adjustments were made to everything that hung and contained seed etc. We congratulated ourselves on our achievements – only to return the next time to find chewed-through wire, missing screws and every peanut and seed scoffed. Around this time we moved our base camp. We were now able to move into the middle of the wood and that is still our base today.

As summer turned to autumn and autumn gave way to winter we watched as leaves turned colour and fell, carpeting the woodland floor in a tapestry of brown and golden hues. We could now see through the wood and to the field of rape beyond. The wind howled across that field and ripped through the wood . . . still we held our ground. This was our wood, for all seasons, and we would see and enjoy it in all seasons. We made great use of a small fire thingy – we certainly had the wood to burn and there was, to us, nothing nicer than sitting in front of it warming our bones and drinking hot soup and munching custard creams.

FIRESo, almost a year since we took it on. The bird feeders have been rehung around our base camp and the once, quiet as a grave wood, is full of twittering and feeding birds, a friendly old pheasant, mice in the compost heap, buzzards soaring overhead in the up-drafts, and a couple of muntjac. I haven’t seen the delinquent squirrels for some time BUT, the homemade peanut feeder has to be repaired on every other visit and the second peanut feeder is also licked clean. I have learnt to accept them, I had little choice really, but it makes me sound like a nicer person! There are ten feeders and two bird tables. These need restocking every three days and, yes, it costs me a small fortune.

 

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Constantly Under Repair

There are blue tits nesting in one of our home-made boxes and coal tits in a holey tree, within a metre from our ‘sitting’ area. A robin has chosen to nest in the base of a close-by tree. It looks a little unsafe to me but hopefully she will be successful. I realise that if these bird numbers increase I shall have to buy even more food! At the moment the feeding frenzy has calmed. The birds have achieved what they were attempting to achieve, they are fat and healthy and up to their breeding weight. Now they are building, laying and sitting.

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Nesting Blue Tits

 

And that’s that. Here’s to the next year – if the Heavens allow it.

Life Can Change In A Heartbeat . . .

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we mostly take everything in our lives for granted? I don’t mean to and many a day I stop and stand and stare and appreciate everything that’s before and around me. The garden – its heartbeat quickening now as days lengthen. The wood – still with bare-leafed trees, their upper branches clacking against each other in the wind. Oh yes, I know how to stand and stare and appreciate things but . . . it takes an episode in one’s life to bring you up by the braces and recently I had, what I consider to be, an episode. There has been a legitimate reason why I haven’t been here, tapping out silly blogs and it is this . . .

I’d been poorly for quite some time, my digestive system in total spasm every day, so much so that I could barely leave the house unless there was a loo within trotting distance. After many weeks of this, and several G.P appointments, I was referred for a C.T scan. I’m no fool, I knew they were looking for the Big C.

Waiting for the appointment was difficult, I’ve always been an impatient type. Surprisingly, or maybe not considering the urgency, I only had to wait just over a week.

During this time I became totally introverted. Bowel cancer was the last thought on my mind as I drifted off into spasmodic sleep. It was the first thing on my mind when I woke.

I cried about the possibility of not seeing my newly seeded patch of woodland flowers and grass come to fruition. I stressed about not seeing my newly planted climbing rose in flower this summer, not being able to sit by the pond and watch . . . well, nothing really, just life buzzing around it.

The scan was awful. They inserted gas into my bowel and abdomen and I thought I would cry like a pathetic baby – but I didn’t. Then came the worst bit of all – waiting for the results.

I tried moving on from the worry but it was impossible. I had visions of my grandchildren, Grace 6, and Jake 11, asking why grandma was always too ill to have them over for the day. Who would my son turn to when only a mother would do? And Richard, dear Richard, what would he do without me? As you can see I was totally pathetic, my mind running free like a rabid dog.

On the morning of the results being available at the doctors, Richard was out working with my son. This was good because I needed to be alone. They both had instructions NOT to ring me. I would need time to run it all through my brain, time alone.

I could barely breathe as I sat in the waiting room. I considered bolting out of the door and never stopping. I was on the verge of a panic attack. I was no longer me.

I was called through and all I could think was . . . ‘keep breathing.’

I cannot described how I felt standing before the consulting room door. The doctor was scanning the PC screen as I walked in. He announced that the results weren’t in yet BUT he had looked on the hospital’s site and the scan was clear.

I felt nothing, except disbelief.

‘Are you sure?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘No bowel cancer?’

‘No.’

‘No stomach cancer?’

‘No.’

‘Have you got my name right? You ARE looking at MY results.’

‘Yes, you are clear, nothing abnormal detected.’

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation. I walked out of there like a zombie. The fear had been with me for around 6/7 weeks and it refused to allow me to feel anything.

I think I shed a little tear on the way home. Was I really going to see the meadow in the wood blossom? See that bloody rose bloom? Not have to explain to my grandchildren why their normally bonkers grandma was suddenly not bonkers, but always poorly?

I didn’t feel anything until the following day.

I had three days grace and then I went down with a virus that flattened me and I was bedridden for over a week. It’s now been 4 weeks and the virus has moved to my head, Labyrinthitis – apparently. Do I care? Not on your bloody life!

I have now address my health issues and besides being vegetarian (30 + years now) I have gone gluten-free and dairy free and my ‘health’ has improved by 95%.

The biggest thing I learned was this . . . I now understand how other people in this situation feel. I can relate. I feel for them with every ounce of my being. I handled my ‘situation’ by going ‘inward.’ I didn’t discuss it. I took it deep into my very soul and lived with it. That is the downside of being a strong, independent person.

I haven’t become dulled to the experience yet. I hope I never do. I need to feel grateful for the things and people around me – sometimes I’m guilty of forgetting that, or at least I was. Our lives can change in a heartbeat – and do. I’m just so grateful that, on this occasion, my didn’t.

This isn’t my normal blog, as you know, and I won’t be continuing in this vein. I simply wanted to explain my absence.

Love to you all x

Newly seeded woodland flower and grass patch

Memories Are Made Of This . . .

In the past I have often found that some things just aren’t worth the effort. However, when the snow came, just after Christmas, and the outside world was transformed from muddy greys and browns to perfect white I knew in my heart that driving the twenty-six miles to the wood in a snow storm would be.

With warnings on the early morning news of ‘Don’t venture out unless you have to,’ we joyously loaded up the old Land Rover with essentials – Jammy Dodgers, Cup a Soup, cheese sandwiches and the makings for tea and coffee for us and buckets of fat balls, mixed corn and everything else that a snow-bound woodland bird might require.

It was still dark as we set off, with the ancient headlights blearily focusing on the driving snow. We can do the trip to the wood in forty minutes on a good day, with a tail wind and in the car. In the Land Rover it takes longer, much longer, and that’s on a good day.

As we chugged round bends with the snow still falling, and now no way of knowing where the road ended and the verge began, we came across a car attempting to climb what, under normal conditions, could be classed as an insignificant rise in the road but today mirrored Everest. It appeared to be moving – and we were moving behind it when suddenly it spun into the centre of the road. Richard, with the reactions of a sleeping dormouse, swung the Land Rover hard to avoid hitting the car. This resulted in the dear thing losing its grip (literally) and jack-knifing to the right. Richard over-steered attempting to miss the car that was now stuck back-to-front in the middle of the road. This resulted in us spinning off to the left, sideways-on, to a wall that got closer and closer.

I don’t know if I stopped breathing and I won’t say my life flashed in front of me but I gritted my teeth, grimaced and waited for us to take-out someone’s front wall, all the while wondering how much it was going to cost to replace.

Fortunately we stopped with a coat of paint between the Land Rover and the wall. At this point Richard emitted a loud, ‘RIGHT!’ and clambered out of the Land Rover into a snow drift. I saw him disappear below the headlights as he fiddled with something, before returning, looking like he’d been iced. He growled his way into the Land Rover and spat, ‘that’s it! I’ve put it into four-wheel drive!’

Now, call me a woman driver if you like but I thought the whole purpose of having the benefit of four-wheel drive was to actually use it when conditions dictated? I didn’t query this, I didn’t need to because I knew he was still feeling monumentally embarrassed for over-steering in the first place (he’s a self-proclaimed super-duper driver you see) and it almost resulting in the bill for rebuilding a wall.

We continued for another half mile or so until we approached a large roundabout. There was a car about to enter the roundabout and we all know the rule – give way to traffic from the right. This we did, only to see the car enter the roundabout, lose its grip, and sail off sideways down the first exit. At this we laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Nervous tension you see.

We reached the wood without further incident and as we pulled up at the gate and saw the beauty of what lay before us we knew the journey had been well worth it. The whole wood was cloaked in white. Snow fell silently. As we drove along the track to our little copse a buzzard took-up before us and flew on silent wings into the falling snow.

The birds were beyond excited to see us as we trudged through the snow, to the shed, laden with their supplies and swooped and fed hungrily as soon as I’d replenished the 8 feeders and 2 bird tables. We have a growing collection of birds now, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, nuthatches, woodpeckers, robins, blackbirds, tree creepers – and we even have a visiting pheasant. I won’t mention the gang (or gangs) of squirrels! They are the bad boys and girls of the wood, chomping their way through everything edible and inedible. They have ruined 4 feeders to date.

Once the wildlife was sorted we put the kettle on and sat and watched the wood. That’s it. We sat and watched the wood. I can’t describe the feeling. Other than the beating of birds’ wings the whole wood was silent. No sound came from the distant road. It was perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

Some may say that it was stupid driving all that way to feed birds and sit and stare at snow-covered trees but I don’t care. We haven’t yet had the wood for a full year and I wanted to see it in snow for the first time. I didn’t want to miss that and I didn’t. Sometimes, to make a lasting memory you have to put in a little effort.

Now I’m waiting to see if the area of meadow grass that I planted in the autumn comes up in the spring. Or, if the daffodils I planted along one of the banks can out-fox the squirrels and pop-up and bloom without the little monsters realising they are there. And will the wild garlic I took from the garden and planted in a shady spot grow?

I am, now, at last, understanding the full meaning of the changing of the seasons. It is happening before my very eyes and I couldn’t be more content or happier.

https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

Just When You Thought I’d Gone Forever!

Gosh! To say I haven’t been around is blatantly stating the flipping obvious. In fact, I wasn’t sure WordPress would let me back in. I had to enter all my details again – after I’d hunted down the notebook that I keep all the details in! Yes, I know, I should assign them to memory. Fat chance equalled only by no chance. So, I hear you ask (well, I can hear one person ask – possibly) I’ve been to the wood.

Shortly before I  departed I told you that I’d bought a couple of acres of traumatised woodland? Very old, neglected, partly rotten, woodland? Yes? Good. Well, that’s where I’ve been mainly. Couldn’t possibly divulge other activities.

The wood, named Griddies Copse (grand kiddies = griddies) seemed like an instant joy back in May when we became legal owners of said wood. Unfortunately we also became the legal owners of a rabid swarm of female mosquitoes. Blood sucking little shits that brought everyone out in a boiling, itchy rash. Being the smart arse that I am I soon sourced Jungle Spray and the equivalent by the lorry load, and sprayed . . .  and sprayed as soon as my feet exited the car. Great idea. Except the Jungle Spray brought on migraine.

We battled with the little darlings all summer and then breathed sighs of relief when September dawned and they disappeared.

This ran hand-in-hand with a plaque of frogs. They have also taken to the undergrowth now.

Then came the squirrels.

These were no ordinary squirrels. Oh, there might have been the odd one with a normal squirrels I.Q. but the leader of the pack was, and is, a clever little critter. He can remove, take down and sod off with, a whole jar of peanut butter. No jar was ever found. He is also a mechanic and can under screws (again with no sign of the missing screws) and free a whole feeder, full of peanuts. He can bite through feeding tubes as easily as he can gnaw through chain. This is no ordinary squirrel. This is super squirrel with a Philips screw driver.

I swear that I won’t be outwitted by a squirrel, but for this to be true I will have to up my game.

I thought I would love the wood in summer but now that the leaves are on the ground, the morning air is crisp and frosty and the wood smoke drifts lazily, I think I love the autumn/winter more? We will see. We haven’t had it for a whole year yet. We haven’t seen it in every season. The wildlife IS returning. There are tits, nuthatches, woodpeckers, robins – and even a visiting pheasant. We sometimes see a flash of brown in the undergrowth as the muntjac visits.

I’m loving the experience. I’m loving the wildlife. I’m loving the peace and tranquillity. I love the wood. I hear its heartbeat.

Sooooo, when I’m not there I’m sourcing wood for my Woodland Crafts. What, I hear you ask? Woodland Crafts I said. And here’s the thing. I have even figured out how to concoct a Woodland Crafts page on Facebook. Obviously I’m going to give you the link (it might work but I won’t hold my breath) and if you like you could pop over there and take a look. Leave a ‘like’ if you do. Say nothing if you don’t. I’m sensitive – I’ll cry.

Here’s a picture of the ‘winter’ wood with the smoke drifting. It is also the banner for my Woodland Crafts page. OK, enough. I won’t say the words again – for now.

 

https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

 

Frogs And A Muntjac To Date

So, I can now confirm that the two acre wood is ours. The deeds have been signed, the monies paid, and the fat lady has sung.

It also has a name. Follow this . . . grand children = grand kiddies = griddies. That’s it. Griddies Copse.

We spent last weekend getting our bearings, avoiding rotten tree branches that swayed precariously and threatened to fall with less than the slightest touch, and trying to avoid squashing baby frogs – lots and lots of baby frogs!

There’s masses of work to be done.

The first job, and of paramount importance obviously, was to erect the two bird tables, the bug box and the seed feeder. Weirdly, nothing had found any of them by Sunday. I think the wood is so old and unattended that the birds don’t even bother looking for food in it, and seriously, why should fat balls, niger and sunflower seeds etc. suddenly appear out of nowhere?

I’ve heard a woodpecker in the distance and I understand that an owl is nesting in another part of the forest. At least one muntjac lives in the main wood because as the Land Rover crept along the path, last Sunday morning, we saw him/her dash across the track, and with a flick of a white under-tail, disappear into the thicket. I also want him/her in my little patch.

We will have left it a whole week since we were last there so I’m hoping that the tables and feeders have been found by then and everything scoffed and little ‘thank you’ notes left.

The main change has occurred in the form of crap-heap, oil-spewing Betsy Land Rover. As some of you know the old girl was off the road. Grounded for bad behaviour. She’d decided to lose her clutch . . . this is similar to a human being losing their grip, I think. She was immovable and quite proud of it sitting out there in front of the lounge window, blocking out light, dripping oil, not earning her keep. She must have really ground her nuts when her rotten, frayed, holey soft top was removed and a hard top screwed on? And then, to add insult to injury, the old wreck had to stand swaying on her tyres as a roof rack was added.

This having been said, she did succumb to Richard tickling her clutch and other bits and she did pass her M.O.T with flying colours, so the old girl is officially back on the road.

I think she quite likes being the vehicle of choice for our woodland visits. I can almost sense her fluffing up her bonnet and adding an extra little spin to her wheels as she majestically tootles down the track and through the trees.

This coming weekend is planned for clearing brambles and felling dead and spindly trees. I want to allow more light in so that it encourages ground flora to grow. Lots to do – lots of planning – but that’s fine. I like being busy and I like planning. Win. Win.

So I’m toddling off now to source a peanut feeder . . .

P.S. I’m wondering what muntjac eat? downloadHPIM4021

 

HPIM4030

Just Call Me Robin – Without The Hood – But With A Merry Man

Well . . . the last blog hinted that I might have something to tell you on the next blog – and I have. I mean, I’m always telling you something, be it rubbish or just plain nonsense. But this time I have something quite exciting to tell you, though I’m happy to accept that not everyone will share this excitement, each to their own, as they say.

Drum roll . . .

I’m buying two acres of woodland!

I can imagine heels of hands smacking foreheads, puzzled expressions and gentle tittering because I’ve probably just confirmed what many of you have suspected all along that I am a tad bonkers.

Can’t really argue that point or justify it.

To be honest trees scare me a bit. I’ve seen Lord of the Rings and know exactly what they are capable of. I think it’s the way they wave old, wizened branches in the wind and threaten to release an arm or two like a bolt from the blue. I always imagine being crushed to death. So, why am I buying two acres of woodland? Haven’t got a clue.

I guess it just spoke to me. “O.K. You’re pretty ancient and I can see why you might be more interested in a wooden rocking chair than a couple of acres of oak etc. but get off your fast-spreading butt and boldly go into your next adventure.”

Is excitement, adventure and something new only for the young? I think not dear friends.

I’m going to buy my little copse. I’ve already spent all day Saturday designing and instructing Richard how to assemble a two-acre-size bird table. It’s rather large – but I figure it needs to be. I mean, how many birds do you get to the acre? I’ll need to pick out a nasty old hawthorn and chop off its head to leave a natural stand on which to screw it. It’s way too heavy to hang – it would bring down the tallest sycamore. See! I’m already into the terminology – oak, sycamore, hawthorn! I’m beginning to think I was born for this? I’ll be wearing ‘The Green’ next and humming, ‘Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen . . .dum de dum . . .’ 

Betsy, the pile-of-crap Land Rover, is now undergoing repairs, an M.O.T, and a new roof. We are going to need her to bring the logs back for the wood burner. It’ll take us half a day to get there in the old girl, she has a top speed of forty miles an hour – and that’s downhill with a strong tail wind and a prayer to Him upstairs.

Richard was a little surprised when I announced that we were buying a wood but he soon got over the shock (he’s had so many over the years –living with me) and now he’s quite excited too. We’ve already started researching fence poles and stock wire to fence our north border and that’ll be huge fun – driving in fence poles through twisted roots and rambling vegetation!

The grand kiddies were most impressed, well, Jake more so than Grace, but Grace is a girl and wasn’t too sure about the toilet arrangements. Weeing wasn’t too much of an imagined horror but when I told them that they would have to dig a hole and poo in it, and then cover it up, it was met with wide-eyes and a side-ways grin from Jake. When I added that was what Bear Grylls did it all seemed rather cool and they can’t wait.

So that’s my news. What do you think? A mad, impetuous fool, an idiot, or something else?

Take care all xx

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Photo – freepix.com