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/

 

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.

HPIM4138
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.

TIT BOX
Nesting Blue Tits

 

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

A Bit Like Writing A Novel?

So, I’ve been warbling on and on about this chicken shed that is no longer a chicken shed but now a craft shed and a few readers have queried what I’m actually doing in there. Some of my antics I can speak of – some not.

I’m joking.

If you remember I started by making plaques and hearts? I still have these in my ‘portfolio’ but I’m pretty sure I won’t be making many more of these. They were a tad like a rough copy and as I progressed I edited them a few times, finally deciding that as a stand-alone item they are fine but a sequel will not follow.

I can totally relate this ‘craft’ thing to writing a novel . . . or at least to the way I write a novel. I start at the beginning with an idea and then see what happens. Usually, my characters write the novel for me and at times I have to rein them back with a firm hand. The same can be said of my ‘crafting.’ I start with an idea and see what happens. Quite often, like the novel, I end up with something that surprises even me – and not always in a good way.

I have days where everything I touch is utter crap and I  sit there staring at the debris, listening to Ken Bruce on the radio and watching Chea cleaning her bottom, stretched out across my work area. I don’t mind because frankly I’m not using it.

Then there are days when things go well and for a while I’m chuffed with what I’ve produced. Unfortunately, I have always been my own worst enemy and critic and usually, by the next day, I’m back to thinking it could be better.

I am fortunate that we have a log burner in the lounge. This is my plan B for the wooden failures. See, I am practical.

I’m liking the direction in which I appear to be going . . . large, chunky fairy houses and embossed pictures. It’s a bit like starting out writing romance and ending up in the horror genre. I like using rough wood, recycled and brought back to life. I love the way each piece is different and responds uniquely to sanding and painting etc.

Apologies, I’m wittering as usual. I only popped on here to post some pictures of what I’ve recently produced. The pics’ aren’t great but I think it gives the general impression. See, if I blame the images you’ll believe the items are better than they look. Sneaky, hey?

So, for Malla, Elaine, Evelyn etc. here you go . . .

items-craft-2items-craft