Well, here’s the fairy garden.. it’s a nice little plot with a temporary dwelling to the rear of the garden and there is planning permission for a more suitable fairy property in the future. It’s currently vacant and the asking price is some help in the Kitchen Garden (mainly to keep the slug population in check and pull a few weeds as they pop up)… ooh, and some magical frost protection would give them free house insurance.
The kittens have been making me laugh so much. Two crab apple trees arrived in the post and before I could dispose of the box they decided to hijack it and make it their own. They’ve realised it’s great for sleeping in, hiding in, peeping out of and unexpectedly swiping at things that pass by! It’s quite a long, thin box so it doesn’t fit in the utility room very easily so it’s currently in the garden room where they use it as a hide to watch the rabbits.
When the cats weren’t playing in their box they were outside chasing insects. They’ve tried stalking the local pheasants but get scared once the birds turn and look them in the eye.
If you would like to see two fairy gardens that are fully occupied and full of fun then I recommend that you visit lovely Alys who inspired me to make a fairy garden. You can then hop over to Boomdee’s Gnome Home and have a look at her vintage vibe… I hope my fairy garden will have good occupants soon :-)
Brrrrrr. It remains cold out there so there’s not a lot of change to see in the garden. However, the days are certainly getting lighter and the Spring flowers are starting to put on a show. The wind has damaged quite a few plants and the covers keep blowing off but it has simply taught me to choose hardier plants this year.
The kittens are now 6 months old and this weekend they went outside for the first time. They have bells on their collars to give the birds fair warning that they’re around and after much encouragement they slowly made their way to the Kitchen Garden. Milo may be the bigger cat but he’s a scaredy cat! I haven’t got any clear photos of him as he kept close to the hedge line and darted everywhere – the best I could manage was the wet paw prints he left behind. He loved playing on the walls and was particularly interested in the hessian covering the asparagus. Bella who is not so reserved, happily climbed, sniffed and explored. The fur on her side is growing back now – they’ve both recovered really well (in fact it was me who was traumatised!).
We’ve not introduced them to the cat flap yet as I want them to get used to being outside first. We have four days off work at Easter in so it will probably happen then when we can give them lots of time and attention.
I’ve sown the first seeds at last – carrots, beetroot, chard, kale, broad beans and spinach all directly in the beds. Others such as tomatoes, aubergine, squash, sweetcorn and chillies have been brought indoors where they can get a cosier start. The only problem is where to keep the plant pots as the cats love soil and plants and the utility room is now their bedroom. I decided to put them on top of the oak beams in the garden room… I just hope they don’t fall on anyone’s head!
The snow is lovely but the wildlife is certainly suffering a bit. The birds seem to strip the feeders as fast as we can fill them up and it’s a job to stop the drinking water from freezing. I’m giving them left over scraps and fruit cake so they’ve now invited their mates over too!
Goosey sadly died in the week. This was not unexpected as she’d not been herself for quite a few days, looked tired and frail. We gave her some extra vitamins and checked her over but at six years old she’d had a good life. She looked like she had died peacefully in her sleep and I’m so relieved that she didn’t have to put up with the snow! The other chickens seemed a bit quieter than usual – I’m not sure if chickens feel loss but it wouldn’t surprise me as Goosey was their boss for a long time and it must have seemed strange to them. We built a little SnowChicken in the enclosure… Goosey would have pecked those little sunflowers seed eyes out in a jiffy!
We spent some time today in the chicken enclosure and cleared some paths for them to make it easier to walk around. They don’t seem too bothered about the snow although I’m worried about them getting hypothermia. The only one who doesn’t venture very far is Bluebell, one of the new girls, who has decided to have her first moult and looks perished… I’m tempted to knit her a little jacket but I know that she wouldn’t want to be seen in it unless she had the shoes to match!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Bella and Milo so here’s a bit of a catch up. They’ve both really made themselves at home and it feels as though they’ve been a part of our lives forever. They get on really well together and if they’re separated for any reason start mewling until they find one another. I can’t believe that they’re four months old already.
They both seem to have a mild obsession with water – dripping taps, water bowls, rain on the window panes. Milo especially loves to flick the water out of his bowl and even stands with his paws in it! They don’t bother with the sink in the kitchen but they love to sit in the utility room sink and poddle little wet footprints everywhere!
I’m not sure why Milo looks a little cross-eyed in the photo above… he’s not normally!
There are certain years when I go mad with the decorations and every spare surface in the house is festooned with sparkly delights. Other years I am quite restrained and understated in my approach… and I never have a plan before I begin. I obviously channel Dolly Parton in my more colourful years (oooh, and I do love a bit of Dolly) but this year was more subdued like Grace Kelly so most of the bling has gone back to the attic.
The Christmas tree and hearth are pretty traditional but the rest of the house is decorated with muted gold and silver.
The Garden Room has neutral furnishings so it’s easy to decorate it with any colour scheme possible. This year it’s simply twinkle lights and a seasonal display on the sideboard. The tree is situated at the other end of the room and I’ll post some more photos of that next weekend.
The kittens are doing really well and are so cute. There are little paw prints everywhere… and I don’t mind a bit! I’ve registered them with a vet and have booked them in for their vaccinations next week. We’ve finally decided to KEEP the names that they were given at birth – mainly because we couldn’t agree on any other names (what’s wrong with Arthur??).
So, finally (drum roll please….) the brown tabby boy is called Milo which means soldier.
… and the beautiful little grey tabby girl is appropriately called Bella.
They play really well together and curl up entwined, all paws and whiskers, to go to sleep. So this really is the start of another happy chapter but there is one thing that I need to get off my chest. My little sister visited last weekend and fussed over the kittens. She thought the names were great and said that they really suited them…. especially as they were obviously named after two of The Tweenies! Aaarrggghhh!!! LOL!
The first weekend of December is usually when we fetch Christmas tree from the local farm shop… and we also would probably win the award for fastest chosen tree! We seem to have a talent for quickly spotting and buying a good tree within a minute and leaving the other customers to argue over the type of tree to buy! It’s all part of our Christmas traditions now…
When we arrive home the cheesy christmas music is turned on and I eagerly look forward to unwrapping the decorations and smiling at the happy memories that emerge with each one. There’s no colour scheme or fancy theme for the tree but simply the familiar act of pinning little tokens of happiness to the branches that remind us of Christmas Past.
For some reason this year has been especially busy and the Christmas cake, which is usually made shortly after Halloween, just hasn’t been made so I decided to try a different recipe. I wanted something simple and quick to make and found a great Christmas Cake Recipe on the BBC Good Food website. As much as I love all-things-Delia I felt like a bit of a change in 2012 and I hope that the final proof will be in the pudding :-)
The fruit, butter, sugar, zest, spices and roasted macadamia nuts were slowly heated in a large pan on the stove until combined. The flour was then sifted and gently mixed into the batter until no further trace of flour could be seen. The trickiest part of this process was lining the cake tin!
As the cake slowly baked the house filled with the delicious smell of Christmas…
It’s going to be an extra special christmas this year as we have two special furry friends to share it with. They make us smile each day and are so adorable! This morning they were curled up in the egg basket… and had even removed the inner tray to make it more comfortable. Luckily the eggs are no longer stored in the utility room!
I love this time of the year when the sun sits low in the sky and the last of the Autumn leaves fall to the ground like confetti – this makes any walk seem more like a parade (I must remember to play some brass band music on my iPod next time)! Our very favourite walk actually starts at the gate… we simply turn left and walk. When we reach the red postbox (below) it always makes me smile. When I first moved into this area I tried to post a letter and was surprised to find that I could see daylight through the slot. The front of the decommissioned postbox was retained by the owners as an attractive feature but I often wonder if they ever find any errant letters or unpaid bills fluttering around in the garden!
The circular walk is only five miles long but there are a couple of good climbs that make your legs realise that they need to get out more! It’s great to take deep breaths of fresh air and enjoy the beautiful countryside, especially knowing that there’ll be a hot cup of coffee on return.
It’s hard to believe that we started the year with an official drought due to a cold but very dry Winter last year. Ironically, there are now flood warnings in place and thousands of homes throughout the country have been flooded and emergency evacuations are occurring. The ground is so saturated that any small amount of rain makes the situation worse. We’re lucky as the house is not near a river and it’s not in the valley, yet despite this, we still need to put on our Wellies to open and close the gate. My thoughts are with those who aren’t so lucky and who will be cleaning up and paying the price of flood damage for a long time.
About half a mile down the Lane there is a tricky bend that often becomes flooded… I’ve noticed that I can guauge if this bend is passable or not by looking at our driveway… if the flood water is all the way across the gateway then the lane is not passable!
I’ll end with happier news – the kittens have settled in beautifully, they’re outgoing, used to being handled and very playful. I can add “an armful of kittens” to the list of things that make me very happy! I’m also on holiday this week from work… another thing that’s on my happy list :-)
Under the kitchen sink there is a cupboard where the dusters and cleaning products belong. It’s also where the magical ever-lasting can of furniture polish lives (even though I use the can at least twice a year it never seems to empty for some reason). Anyway, it was in this cupboard that I discovered a path of confetti made from lots of chewed scouring pads, dishwasher tablets and plastic bottles. All the evidence pointed towards a late night Mouse Party.
Now whilst most normal people are hard wired to think “dirty, smelly little vermin” I automatically conjures up Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca from the Tales of Beatrix Potter! If you don’t know the story it’s about two bad mice who wreaked havoc on a beautiful doll’s house and completely vandalised it. And they look so adorable!!!
Back to reality – I know that mice are dirty, disease carrying pests and need to be dealt with swiftly but the idea of poisons and violent traps do not sit easily with me… so as my poor, exasperated husband looked on with despair (not for the first time unfortunately) as I came up with Plan A:
1. Block as as many holes as possible in which mice could fit through. In such an old house their seems to be more holes than skirting boards! As they can apparently squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil I’m not holding my breath with this one.
2. Remove available food sources, make sure there are no crumbs anywhere and put the rubbish in a lockable bin. There’s no combination lock yet but that’s not to say it won’t happen ;-)
3. Put up a sign in the party cupboard to tell the mice to keep out. It worked for the rabbits but I’m not sure if mice can read?? If they can read, but persist anyway, they will realise that an eviction notice has been served.
4. Peppermint oil to be sprinkled around the perimeter. The house smells like toothpaste but it’s better than the fusty smell of mouse!
5. The humane traps are waiting in the wings.
6. If the above doesn’t work then my Evil Husband (cue villainous laughter… mwaa, haa, hhaa!) will implement Plan B which I’m sure most of you sensible guys would actually use as Plan A!!!.
Don’t shout at me, I know that I need to toughen up and change the cute and fluffy pictures in my head to something a little scarier…. how about the scary Vampire Mouse below??
By the way, another option that came up in Plan A and Plan B was getting a cat. Up until a couple of years ago we’d always had cats and never seemed to have a mouse problem. Our little cat died a couple of years ago and neither of us wanted to rush out and get another one as it was all too sad. The exciting news is that we’re both finally ready to have a couple of cats again (I’m currently doing my happy dance!).
I’m just a little concerned that the kittens will be cornered by a Vampire Mouse that dwells behind the kitchen sink!! Maybe I need to scrub that image too…………