Friday, 31 December 2010

Wildlife in December

As with the rest of the country, December was a cold, snowy month. The first snow fell on 27th November and continued on and off until 9th Dec. We had about a week of green fields before the next lot started on 16th December and lasted beyond Christmas.
Highlights in the garden this month have been a brief visit from a Mistle Thrush, and the return of a Brambling - although we have only had one visit from him so far. We are hopeful that he will become a daily visitor; as they were last winter. Further afield a Little Owl was spotted just out of the village and Roe Deer have been seen on a number of occasions both from the house, and on walks.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Grocery Shopping (with Apologies to Richard!)

You will no doubt all know that I hate shopping. Husband hates shopping too, we make a good pair. Shopping for anything in the week leading up to Christmas would normally send shivers down our spines. But with this to entertain you....
Blencathra through the windscreen (no, I wasn't driving!) on the way to Keswick

Causey Pike through the windscreen as we drove through Keswick

Skiddaw from Booths carpark

Blencathra from the other side, on the way home.

All that and no more than 15 cars in Booths carpark. No queue at the check out, and home by 10.30am!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Mobbed By Partridges

Did I say four?

Try getting 15 in one shot (no pun intended!). Maybe it was because The Estate were shooting today. they certainly didn't hang around for long. The Pheasies are a bit jumpy too!

It's all well and good getting up there, but how do you take off when your wing is trapped by a pole? Like this......

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Shooting Season

It would appear that we have become a bit of a game bird sanctuary of late. Four Partridge and four Hen Pheasant regularly spend hour after hour, feeding themselves on the overspill.

Getting them all in shot is apparently, impossible. Getting pheasant and partridge in the same shot is also pretty difficult.

Those with a sharp eye will notice a subtle difference in the ground conditions of these two shots. The first was taken a couple of days ago, the second at lunchtime today. By then the snow had stopped falling - but more is forecast for later........

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Hen's Teeth (aka Sparkies)

It's a bit of a Cumbrian phenomenon. Electricians 'round here disappear without any trace for weeks on end. The last words before this happens are usually: 'See you tomorrow'
We have friends who have experienced this too; in West Cumbria (t'other side of Skiddaw for those with local knowledge). Their sparky turned up only a few days ago. It must be catching, ours phoned last night and they were here today. Whoopee! We can use the airing cupboard at last, and the bathroom is finished bar the flooring. AND the first fix is done in the wet room.

Meanwhile, Gordon has been making great strides with the tiling........

All we need now is for another set of Hen's teeth to appear tomorrow (that'll be the plumbers then). Oh and can you send that Brambling over please Bilbo, ours still haven't arrived!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Jim'll Fix It?

Just when you think it can't get any worse............

The house has gone from complete chaos to something worse than that in the last two days. Partly due to the freezing conditions, and the fact that there is temporarily no heating in the wet room; it has one outside wall and one against a very cold garage - this meant that the cement for the floor former didn't go off over the weekend, so when Nigel and Mike came to continue with the plumbing on Monday morning (yes we were surprised to see them too!), they had to put plan B into action and relay the former. Bugger. That'll be another day or two for it to go off - this time with a heater in there.
Ho, Hum. Gordon has been today and made a start on the tiling in the other half of the room, so all is not lost. Anyway, now you get a better view of the former. I bet you're thrilled about that!!

That's not the end of it though. We have had a worrying smell of woodsmoke in our bedroom for the last few days. The chimney passes through our room, and our worst fears are that the liner has cracked.
On recommendation from neighbours and Nigel, we got in touch with a local Chimney Sweep/Wood Burner Installer/Fireman - Jim - who, bless his little cotton socks promptly arrived this morning.
This of course means that having the house trashed already, we had to completely strip the front room down in anticipation of lots of soot. Curtains, pictures, ornaments, lamps. You name it, they had to come out of there and go with all our other misplaced possessions around the habitable bits of the house.

To cut a very long story only slightly shorter; It appears that the stove was not installed particularly well and Jim has put in a fix which - if we cross our fingers - appears so far to have cured the problem. If it doesn't - then it means our worst fears were probably correct.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sunset #5

There has been a bit of a lull in sunset photos. Not because we haven't had any good ones, but because photographing them proved difficult through the summer. At the shortest day, the sun sets directly behind the house. By the longest day, it sets directly to the side of the house. 90' difference. And I thought the sun set in the west: I don't recall being taught that it set somewhere between South West and North West. Come to think of it, I don't recall being taught much really. Perhaps I wasn't listening!

-10.9'c last night, and heading that way again tonight.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Slowly but maybe surely

The wintry conditions have meant that everyone's heating is breaking down and plumbers are a bit like Rocking Horse Pooh. Consequently, progress on the wetroom has been painfully slow. However. We do have a little bit of progress - much of it hidden pipework, but something to see all the same.
For those with an interest in the obscure; this is a wetroom floor former. The slit is not, apparently for posting letters.

The slit is for the drainage channel (cover leaning against the wall) which is under the box of tiles, which are, crucially, holding the whole thing in place whilst the concrete goes off over the weekend.

In the mean time, Husband has been busy removing the remainder of the tiles, adhesive and PVAing the walls in preparation for tiling.

The 'promise' is of much activity this week. However, looking at the temperature tonight (currently -8.8'c), we suspect the activity may be elsewhere!

Friday, 3 December 2010

'Baby It's Cold Outside'

-12.6'c at about 8am this morning. Cold, but beautiful.

Some of us were taking no chances....

No more snow overnight for a change, but more is forecast for this afternoon

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Mr and Mrs

We haven't seen either of them for quite a while, so what a treat we have had today. A brief visit form Mr AND Mrs Bullfinch.

You will have to look closely to see her - she is hiding under the bird table, and infact you'll have to take my word for it that it is a bullfinch under there (you can only see her bum!). Fingers crossed that we get more visits soon.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow again

More of the same today. About 3" more snow overnight, and it didn't get above freezing all day again.
The birds are very happy we live here at the moment. Current amusement is often cause by fighting Robins. We get none in the back garden all summer, but now the immigrants are here looking for their winter territory, we had 5 all at once the other day! We also had 4 hen pheasants all at once one day this week, as well as 4 partridges. It seems like multiples are the order of the day (until I get the camera out of course).

Wildlife in November

One of the highlights of November was seeing a Peregrine Falcon at very close range as we walked back from the local shop in the snow. It was on the ground, no more than 20 yards in front of us, and then took off and flew across our path to adjacent woodland.
The freezing conditions have brought other visitors into the garden who we haven't seen much of for months. Namely Robins, Blackbirds, a wren and two different partridge families. A family of four pictured here and another, larger family - at least seven, who have been furtling about early in the morning.

Monday, 29 November 2010

I Should've Looked Out The Window

Chatting to Sally on the phone tonight, Our Old Patch has about an inch of snow currently - although temperatures over there went down really low last night. A different source tells us -17'c at Navenby Lowfields. Trina in the Borders tells me they have about a foot of snow, which they have had since Thursday and it keeps on snowing on and off.
Merrily I tell them that it's not bad here. 3 or 4 inches, although we seem to get topped up over night each night and it has been bitterly cold - not having gone above freezing for days. However, it's really dry powdery snow, so it's not really causing too much problems.

Then, I let the dog out..............

We seem to have had at least an inch since I last looked out, and it's a white out at the moment.
We'll have to see what the morning brings!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Global Warming

Like much of the country these last couple of days, we woke to an eerie silence this morning. It's normally very quiet here, but you know that feeling: That this is a different sort of quiet? Without opening my eyes, I had knew that today's plans were about to change.

The temperature got down to a low of -5.8'c overnight, with a high today of -1.8'c. Mind you I've no idea when that was, as it was below -3'c every time I looked at the thermometre.

Some of us couldn't contain our excitement at the prospect of going out to play in the snow.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Chaos Reigns

Having got the bathroom nearly finished, it's time to start on the wetroom. This is what it used to be like.....

and this is what it looks like tonight.

I would love to be able to say that we are now getting straight upstairs, but as the sparkies haven't managed to get here to finish off the extractor fan and some switching in the airing cupboard, we haven't been able to give the bathroom it's final clean down prior to putting everything back in there, and the airing cupboard is still empty. It sounds ridiculous, but every room in the house is currently a bit upside down, either because stuff is in there that shouldn't be, but it's got nowhere else to go at present; or, there are dustsheets about because the sparkies need to be getting in/out of the loft to do the extractor.

Never mind, it will all be worth it in the long run. I don't like housework anyway, and this is a really good excuse for not doing any :-)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Year Later

It hardly seems possible but it is a year since we moved here. Today we woke to a frosty morning with a few flakes of snow littering the ground. This time last year it was WET, WET, WET; with much of the county trying to recover from the recent floods. How much has changed in 12 months!

We're off out to celebrate tonight. A 'Majestic' wine tasting followed by an Indian meal - with our 'new' neighbours - who have now become very good friends.

It just goes to prove that good things do come to those who wait. It just doesn't feel very likely when you are doing the waiting!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Collecting the Christmas Tree

No, we haven't degenerated into Urbanised Christmasaholics, playing Carols in October and Decking the Halls in November. This tree is a Christmas present, not the Spruce type of tree at all. As now is the ideal time to be planting it seemed a bit silly to delay getting the tree for another month just for the sake of it. A trip to a fairly local tree nurseries this morning gave us a beautiful afternoon in which to get it in the ground.

The package as collected. The observant of you will notice that there is a smaller shrub lurking in the bag too.

Duly planted and staked. The Cotoneaster 'Hybridus Pendulus' will hopefully look good and help feed the birds for a long time to come. Thank you Mum and Dad!
Whilst we were ordering the tree, it seemed like a good opportunity to get another shrub we were wanting to fill an awkward space. This time cover as well as food for the birds is the long term aim. This one is Cotoneaster 'Wardii'.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Christmas Comes Early

The local Blue Tits seem to think it's Christmas (more of that later). They have been eating coconut for many months, but suddenly they are far more interested in it. It's quite satisfying, sitting less than a couple of yards from a Bluey hanging upside down.

Meanwhile, those that can't get on the coconuts (they are not keen on sharing them) or the seed feeders and peanuts (for all the other birds) have decided that now is a good time to demolish the sunflower heads that have been left standing, for precisely that reason. It's lovely to see them going to good use.

Christmas has also come early for us today. We thought we'd try something a bit different this year. Having grown new Potatoes in tubs as opposed to in the ground this year and found it to be incredibly successful; we thought we'd have a go at growing some for Christmas. One of the tubs has developed a drainage problem in the last week or two, so rather than let them rot (if indeed there was anything in there), we decided to have a dig about and see what was what.

The variety is Kestrel, and I am hoping they will taste as good as they look. I wonder if any of the other tubs will still be intact by December 25th?