Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Plant and compost update

The compost is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous !!! Lots of very well rotted leaf mould and compost mixed - whoever the person was that set up the two compost areas knew what they were doing and although I am the very lucky person who is reaping the rewards, I cant help but feel very sad for the prior owner. I have no idea who the person was who loved their garden so, but I have a mental picture of a lovely old man pottering about, cap on his head, old worn terracotta pot in one hand, trowel in his other, looking for just the right place for what ever plant he had lovingly raised in the pot he is holding, having just come out of (the now smashed to bits ) his beloved greenhouse. This mental picture, romantic as it is I carry around in my head as I survey the remains of the gardens each day to see what other little suprises have sprung up over night.

I keep checking the landscape planting plan that has been supplied for the site when it is finished - and it breaks my heart to see that nearly all the shrubs and plants that are here now are not to be kept - they will just be grubbed up and new ones planted in their place. So, as I potter and explore and take cuttings and carefully dig up, I hope that the old man, who ever he was, is happy that somebody cares about his plants the way that he did, and that he doesn't mind too much that some of them will have happy new homes where they will be loved and appreciated as much as he did.

I will take some photos later in the week. For now I am back home for a night and a day, curtesey of the nice AA man with the big truck. Himself's car is now at the car doctors having a new fuel pump fitted.......nothing to do with me Guv, honest, I didnt break it.

Back down to building site later tonight if car is fixed. Yippee !! means I get an unexpected few hours in the greenhouse - much needed as Himself and I couldn't come home this weekend as he had to work all of it. Just a damn shame that my lovely man cant be here too...........

Friday, 20 March 2009

Well, when I told himself what I had found that I wanted, he looked at me as if I had gone daft. You see, I tend to forget at times that his previous wife was one of those women who spend most of their time and money on hairdressers, beauty treatments, manicures, pedicures, new clothes - you get the picture. Me, well I spend most of my life in a pair of scruffs, no makeup and go to the hair dressers when I need to, not when I want to. My idea of HELL is to be taken clothes shopping........my idea of HEAVEN - let me loose in a garden centre or bookshop and you have got me for life.

So for me to tell him the one thing that I had found which had really cheered me up after being so fed up with other peoples lack of respect for his hard earned money was this......

Can you tell what it is?

Or this?

Let me explain. The site that he is building on used to be three old houses and their gardens. Around the perimeter of the site are many beautiful oak trees all with tree preservation orders on them. This means that they have to be sectioned off from any possible damage by the works that are going on. At the bottom of the site when I had a wander around the other evening I found an old greenhouse all smashed up, I'm guessing by the demolition crew when they moved in to clear the site. The glass is lying in bits and the remains of a couple of growbags are still visible. It made me feel really sad to see somebody else's garden treated with such little respect. Anyway as I carried on mooching about, I found treasure like you wouldn't believe ! If I had been given a thousand pounds I couldn't have been more happy

Have you worked out what the two photos are yet? No?

They are two beautifully rotted piles of compost, hidden away at the back of what had been the greenhouse.

After looking at me as though I was crazy and realising that yes, I probably am to him, he agreed that we could bag it up and bring it home for the deep beds. I am in Heaven !!

I looked at the horticultural plans for the finished site this morning as I had also found some plants and shrubs still remaining tucked away in odd places. None of them are mentioned on the finished site plans, which means that when the landscapers come to carry out the planting plan that has been agreed, many of these old plants will be oiked out and gotten rid of. If they are still here by then that is......

The remains of the greenhouse and a forsythia against the fence

We are going home for the weekend and I will be back with lots of black bags for the compost!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The past few days

The weather has been absolutely glorious the past couple of days, more like May than March. Himself and I had a lovely weekend at home, I pottered in the garden and got the greenhouse a little more tidy and he DIY'd a couple of jobs that he had wanted to do for ages, it really felt good to be alive, however by Sunday lunchtime both Himself and Son number 2 were both going downhill with that Sunday 'haven't got my homework done for school tomorrow' feeling and I left one depressed 24 year old at home and drove another 50 something back down to where he is working. The car journey was quite quiet as we were both lost in our thoughts of not wanting to leave home again, and me also with thoughts of the new job that I start in a few weeks time. Then on a Sunday night I might not be travelling back with Himself, but might be setting off in another direction entirely to spend the night in a hotel before work in the morning somewhere between Norwich and Southampton and all points East (only a little area then.....) Ho hum.....

Went to the enormous garden centre near where Himself is working yesterday as a cheer myself up measure. I'd got quite annoyed the night before and was stewing on matters. We have two people close to us that we have lent money to in the recent past, one amount was 1500 pounds (we have managed to get 900 back since last June) and the other is a 600 pound deposit that was put down on a flat for somebody. The person with the flat has now moved out and although the rental agency is ready to return the deposit to us, they are waiting for final meter readings to be sent to them. This doesn't appear to have been done so far, and as such we cant get our deposit back and there is no apparent sense of urgency or thoughtfulness on the part of the borrower as to the fact that we might actually need the money back! Himself is also concerned that maybe the final bills haven't actually been paid, however my comments that the person concerned should concentrate on paying essentials first and not think of things such as holidays abroad and expensive birthday treats for his wife, didn't go down tooooo well, even thought Himself knows that I am speaking the truth.

The final act that pissed me off to the point where my Lovely wonderful Husband handed me the only money he had in his pocket and suggested I go to the garden centre to cheer myself up, was when the borrower of the 1500 pounds phoned him on Monday night for a chat and happened to drop into the conversation that he had bought a new 42 inch tv set for his kitchen / dining room. Now I am not one to begrudge somebody a new TV if they need it, I know that TV is this persons passion, but he already has 4 x 42 inch TVs in the house (1 in each bedroom and 1 in his wife's lounge )and has an even bigger one in his lounge! I was not a happy bunny Monday night let me tell you. How do some people sleep at night, KNOWING they are in debt to friends and family? And seemingly oblivious to the fact and more importantly not seeming to care - I really don't understand it.....

So I went to the Garden Centre yesterday. It was absolutely heaving with people, but what a lovely atmosphere. It was lovely to see so many people out and about enjoying the good weather and being happy and contented doing it ! I bought some fushia's and a six pack of lavender. I didn't use Hubby;s money though as my lovely sons always give me gardening vouchers for xmas and I used one of those. Seeing the last couple of vouchers tucked away on my purse gives me a lovely warm feeling - they are my 'comfort blanket' - I know that I can slip away if life gets too shitty and dream of what I might buy.

When I came back I handed Himself his money back and gave him a big hug for being so thoughtful and unselfish - he knew I was upset and he knew that we cant change the situation without causing additional problems (wont go into that now) so he did the only thing he knew he could do, even though he was upset too.

I wouldn't change this man for all the tea in China !

I have however found something which really did cheer me up. Himself looked at me as if I had lost my marbles totally when I told him what it was.

I'll update you later in the week with photos !

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Library Book sand Reading

I love reading, absolutely adore it. I could read before I went to school (not trying to sound like a smart arse ) I think I just KNEW somehow the delights that books would hold for me. I started school in the January, as my birthday was in November - everybody else had started in the September and had already made their friends, so I felt a little left out of things at first.

I sat there for the first few weeks, pretty quiet in class. It was a lovely old fashioned village school and the head mistress lived in the school house which was attached.

Mrs Davies my teacher seemed a large lady to a little squirt like me and I couldn't understand why she spent every morning going through the alphabet with us all, getting us to repeat the letters and then sing them all together. I stared at the book rack in the corner and wanted to go and explore but that was only allowed on Friday afternoons.

Mrs Davies had given me a book to learn to read, but it was too easy and I put it in my desk and didn't look at it again. She shouted at me one morning and I couldn't understand why? She was cross because I hadn't taken the book home with me to practice reading with my mom. I didn't say anything, just burst into tears and went and hid at break time in the cloakroom behind the coats. When I was eventually found I was told off again and made to sit in the corner, behind Mrs Davies desk. I didn't like sitting there facing all my class mates who were pulling faces at me, so I turned away. On top of a pile of books and papers on the desk was a much more interesting looking book than the baby one I had been give, so I gently edged it over to me and quietly turned the page and started reading to my self. I lost my self in that book and didn't hear Mrs Bloomfield the juniors teacher come into the class. She must have spotted me in the 'naughty 'corner and asked Mrs Davies what I had done, then she saw me reading the book from Mrs Davies desk and she gently asked me if I liked it. I liked her, she was gentle and smelled of lavender. I said I did and she asked me what the book was about. I told her the part of the story that I had already read and she glanced at Mrs Davies. Then Mrs Bloomfield asked me if I would read her the page that I was looking at, so I did.

From that day I was although I stayed in Mrs Davies class for another 2 years, I was allowed to choose books from the Juniors book rack, and not the infants:-)

I have never lost my love of reading, never will do, so the first thing that I do when Himself is sent to a new site, in a new area is join the library. They are such a useful place ! For a book-a-holic its like being let loose in a sweety shop, all these new things to try. Plus as well, I can usually access the internet there, often free of charge if I want to check emails or surf the web. Most libraries will order books for you if there is something you want that they dont have and also there are DVD's to hire.

Another useful thing is the local information, whats on, where to go, doctors, etc. The librarians are always helpful, and if they cant answer a question, you can be sure they will always try and find the answer elsewhere.

So, I would advise anybody to join their local library, it is such a useful resource and its free in most cases!! A godsend in these cash strapped times, especially when a book-a-holic needs a fix.!

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Future Little Addition

This is my 16 week old future grandbaby. Son number 1 is over the moon and he and his partner are SO excited.......takes me back to when he was that size.......bless him !

When he he was born, he was shouting and screaming before even the rest of him was pushed out into the world and he hasn't stopped talking since ! Son, if you are reading this, I have a big smile on my face remembering you as a baby ..........you will come to have as many wonderful times and memories as I have xxx

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Going Home!

Hurrah! its Saturday morning and with luck we should be going home late lunchtime.
It only give us about 24 hours at home before we turn around and come back, but at least its HOME and not more time spent on a damn building site. I might even get an hour in the greenhouse in between, washing, ironing, cooking and just 'being' at home. And I get to give the 'hairy monster' also known as Jock as big cuddle - he's not allowed down here on site with us as for some reason there is a no dogs clause on this build, so sales have to make any prospective purchaser aware of this.

I love my home.......

Friday, 6 March 2009

Cooking away from home

The kitchen facilities in the motorhome are extremely small and basic. I have two gas rings and a small sink, a slow cooker, Oh, and also shoved in a cupboard above my bed is a small grill/oven thing which only has one temperature, which does make for interesting times if I am baking ! Especially as I have to take it out of the cupboard to use it and set it on the sink, or on the bed.

I cook from scratch most days and we don't eat ready meals or take aways. However the limited cooking area does make for thoughtful ways to do some things, particularly when at times we don't have any electric and everything has to be cooked on just two rings maximum. (Storage is also an issue - there isn't any room to store the numerous pots, pans and dishes that might be in the average kitchen - my equipment consists of small saucepan, medium saucepan, steamer baskets, 1 frying pan and an old pan that is used for deep frying. I have a fish slice, slotted spoon, soup ladle and a wooden spoon. A set of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 small plates and 4 mugs makes up my kitchen equipment. Also due to lack of space, most things are smaller than you would find in the average kitchen, small waste bin, small kettle, small saucepans, small storage reused jars. Oh and a small fridge too !

Being a small area means that I have to keep it washed and tidy - I don't have the room or the equipment to leave about and wash up when I am ready. However, as the sink is under part of my work area, this causes its own problems. Currently we don't have the luxury of running water, so all water has collected in bottles from the site standpipe and has to be heated on the stove or if we do have electric, in the electric kettle in advance of being needed i.e. if I am boiling or steaming vegetable.

One piece of kit which Himself came across one bored afternoon when we were out playing tourist in a previous area of residence is my 'worktop'. Its a metal tray with fold up legs and when not in use it lives in the wardrobe. It has been an absolute godsend as it means that 1. I have an extra work area, which is used for anything from holding the washing up while I am actually washing it, 2.it acts as a plating up area for the meals and 3. is also my pastry table if I am baking 4.It means I have somewhere to put hot pans when I take them off the rings to put something else on them.For £2.50 it has to be one of our best recycled bargains I can remember.

One of the ways that I manage to cook from scratch each day is to use the steamer quite often, although it does take some planning. I can cook (steam) chicken, new potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli, along with a small steamed pudding in the base, all on one gas ring. If we have electric I always boil the water in that before putting it in the steamer as the bottled gas never seems to get things as hot as town gas does. This also leaves me a gas ring to make custard on if I need it. The steamer water is used for making gravy, so cooking this way is quite economical too.

This way of cooking isn't just how I cook here, in my small space and with limited resources, its the way I have always cooked at home. Other methods that I use are thermos flasks and hay boxes, but more about those another day.

So although we are limited in some ways as to how and where we eat, we eat well, we eat healthily and we do so with less resources than some people have. We also recycle as much of our waste as we can, the same as we do at home. All cans, milk bottles, paper and cardboard is taken home to be added to our recycling bins - the paper and cardboard goes to the compost bin. Any glass jars tend to be used for jam and pickle making, or if the right size are used in the motorhome to store dry stuff. The two jars by the taps in the photos are used coffee jars and now refilled with tea and coffee. We have a wormery at home, so if I can I take food waste back home too as we have to be careful that we don't attract rats when we are on a site, as usually when building starts there are always rats nest that are found. I have experimented with a small mobile wormery on site with us before, but it wasn't hugely successful, (my fault) but I shall have another go once the motorhome is in its settled place here which should be in the ext few weeks.

Well I'm off to make tea, as Himself will be coming in soon wanting his second breakfast of the day. All builders seem to have two breakfasts, one at 6.00ish and a second one about 10.00ish.......me I'd rather have a cake or a bar of chocolate any day !

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I had my second interview on Monday. I had had to prepare a 30 minute presentation and Monday was also the day that Himself and I had to move our mobile residence (oh alright, small motorhome) to his new site. We were up and 5.00 am and had to move about 35 miles to the new site and when we got there the ground workers had already been at work for several weeks and the concrete slabs that the 20 flats will be built on, had already been laid. But it is an incredibly small site - there is hardly any storage space for materials and all unloading has to be done on the road side. The local residents of the street that the site is situated on must be sick to death of being held up already.

There was no electricity laid on when we got there. As far as getting us settled in, its not a problem. We have gas in the motorhome and wind up lights and others with re chargeable batteries, so I can manage as far as heating, tea making and lighting is concerned However its not particularly useful when you need to use a laptop who's battery life is only abut 40 minutes on a good day.

By 11.00am I had already had to move the motorhome 3 times and I was starting to get a little bit frazzled around the edges as I started to panic that I wasn't going to get the presentation finished. I had gone into the small village where we are to see if they had a library where I could use a computer if necessary - they had a library, but its only open 3 half days a week and Monday wasn't one of them.

An oasis unit turned up for the sub contractors to use - mobile office, canteen and toilets with a gas powered generator. Hurrah ! The driver very very skillfully unloaded this very large metal box, fired up the gas, provided electricity for the unit and then went. I moved the motorhome again, plugged us into the spare socket so that I had electricity for the laptop and sat down to complete the presentation, panickly aware that time was running out to get finished, plus I needed to have a shower, wash my hair and get changed and be out in about 35 minutes tops!

I made it by the skin of my teeth, and somehow managed to get to the interview 10 minutes early. I think I managed to hide how frazzled I was feeling inside as I went through the presentation, answered umpteen questions and then finally left.....to get back to more chaos here on the building site and one very very cheesed off Husband. The gas bottles in the oasis unit had run out and there was no electricity again! Again, not so much a problem for us, but for the guys who need a drying room to get their work gear dry and warm for the next days work. Nobody was answering the phone at Himself's head office, so he couldn't order any more bottles ready for the following day ( they were eventually delivered at 10 minutes to five the following afternoon after Himself had made 4 phone calls trying to get his office to pull their fingers out).

Anyway, I received a phone call on Tuesday to say that they wanted to offer me the position! I was really suprised as I thought I had probably blown it the day before by being so rushed when I put the presentation together. There are so many people who are losing their jobs right now and many many people are seeing their whole lives changing and in many ways I feel guilty because I have this lovely opportunity and if it all goes well and I can keep up with everything (there is a hell of a lot of travelling involved and over nights away from 'home')then we should be able to get much of this damn debt paid off if Himself's job stays OK for the length that this build is supposed to take.

But as I said before is a previous posting, I do have real doubts about taking the job. I think, after much thought and soul searching over the past week, I am being selfish and possibly a bit of a wuss about everything. I know I am lucky to have this opportunity, I am lucky to be getting a job offer when many people are losing their work, but a big part of me is sad that I am leaving the simper life style that we have developed over the past few years and I am back to selling my soul to the devil in order to be part of a lifestyle that I, we, don't want, but have to subscribe to in order to get debt free once and for all.

I have about 5 weeks before I start the new job, I'm hoping that I can spend some time at home - I want to get the freezer filled with home make meals, I want to get the veg and fruit garden underway for this year, and I have some sewing projects that I want to try and get completed, otherwise I will be taking things with me to sew by hand in various hotels around the country.

I'm sure there must be hundreds if not thousands of people who must be wishing that life was simpler right now and money or debt wasn't a big issue in their life. My heart goes out to people who right now aren't as fortunate as I am.....

I have to look positively at this great opportunity and see it for what it is, a great opportunity..