Monday, 30 June 2008

Finally, We have Spuds!

Yes at long last we have finally got some potatoes from our monstrous spud bed and may I just say they made excellent mash!

We are also eating our way through the wonderful peas, the onions don't seems to be a huge success this year, last year they were enormous, but this year they seem tiny, not quite sure what I did wrong there, I think I'll leave them in a bit long and keep my fingers crossed.

The rest of the fruit and veg is coming along nicely, the apples are still small but showing promise, I'm pretty sure we'll lose half of them in the June drop like we did last year but I'd rather that that have the branches break under the load.

Apart from vigorous weeding and watering we haven't really done much (not that was knackering enough!) I'm just letting the plants get on with it, most of our evenings at the moment are spent scrubbing tiles (the neighbours think we're mentals!)
The marmalade like glue is seriously fighting back and I'm refusing to let poor Rich run out and buy heavy duty chemicals, mainly because I don't want the horrible stuff leaching into our garden and killing the plants, the best stuff we've found so far to use is boiling hot water, ordinary Fairy Liquid and a handful of wire wool (we did try eco washing up liquid but it was total crap and would have taken 100 years to get them clean!). We're pretty sure its some sort of lips and hooves animal glue so wash up liquid that cuts through grease seems to work best.

So far we've done about 100 tiles, we recon we've probably got about another 150 to go, I think me right arm may fall off! This had better be one hell of a floor!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

New Blogs

Phew, am still working away like a mad thing but sadly stuck inside today, this is just a quick post to let anyone who's interested know I now have 2 new blogs up and running (finally!):

Kat Whelan Illustrations

my on-line portfolio of work from the last 5 years, this will be updated as my work is published or goes on sale in my on-line shop (coming soon hopefully!)

Under The Stair Studios

My day to day art blog about life as a freelance artist, jobs I get, projects I'm working on and eventually my on-line shop, although that may take a little time!

That's it for now, am off to have 5 minuets in the sun while it lasts.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Sunshine Means Working Your Arse Off

God I am so knackered, its not easy this redundancy lark, being at home all the time I find the garden calls to me (especially when I should be doing other things!)

So far this week, we've cut the waist high grass down in the orchard (Rich was made to carefully cut around the pretty flowers like the Poppies and Anemones that have come up), I've weeded the veg patch (even though I cant get at most of it because it has been over taken by the potatoes who are having a stab at world domination), I've re-stacked the tomatoes (which have lots of fruit but it is all stubbornly refusing to turn red), planted the few plants we got from Morrison's and cleaned millions of tiles (ok, about 20!). How the hell did I fit in a full time job?!

Sorry, would be more pics of the veg patch but the camera decided to run out of battery, never mind here's some other shots of the rest of the garden, its all looking very lovely right now!

And now a quick up date of the tiles front...

Ok in case you lot have forgotten Rich and myself were attempting to find roughly about 1300 old Victorian quarry tiles to replace our crappy faded carpet throughout the ground floor of our cottage. We wanted reclaimed tiles as we felt they would fit the period of our cottage and they look so wonderful (plus I hated the idea of buying tiles imported all the way from Italy!), so we had resolved to find old ones using ebay, freecycle and salvoweb, oh how they laugh when we told people!

Well here we are, somewhere in the region of 1200 tiles later...

Ok I'm not entirely sure how many are there, it's definitely around 1200, it was hard to keep count as they were being loaded into the back of the van.
All of these were sourced from ebay or salvoweb, it did involve a lot of driving round the country and the renting of a transit van for a day to collect the larger loads but I worked out that for the same amount of tiles brought from the local reclamation yard, at £1.75 per tile we would of had to have spent £2,100, we actually spent £450 and £50 for the van hire!

The only slight draw back being they need cleaning up, some need the old grout knocking off and about 150 of them have lino stuck to them with, what I can only describe as marmalade?!
So we saved money but they will require some man hours, but that's ok, I like to think we rescued these tiles from landfill which is were they were heading and just think of the sense of achievement we'll get when there down and look great!

So in conclusion, we're knackered but a bit smug!

Friday, 20 June 2008


Finally, finally we can actually eat something from our garden! I love this time of year, when so many things are suddenly, over night it seems, edible.

As I planted my peas out quite early, we've been able to have some small early pods off them, I have also introduced Rich to Nasturtium flowers, he was pretty sceptical at first ("I not eating bloody flowers!") but as he loves hot and pepper food, watercress being a favourite, he was impressed with the peppery punch they have! The Radishes have also gone down well for the same reason, although its a race against the slugs to get any.

I was checking over the Strawberry patch at the weekend, only to realize loads of them had suddenly gone all lovely and red, we had bloody tons of them, despite many attempts by the local black bird population, even the presence of Stella isn't putting them off!
We had my parents staying over night and we managed to pick enough for a piggy portion for 4 people, not bad for freecycled plants!

Hopefully we'll get some more this weekend, along with some early golden raspberry's that are ripening nicely!


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

A Grand Day Out

We took the opportunity while we were in Shropshire to have a few days out and about, one of the place's I managed to get to see was Bodnant Gardens in Wales, the last time I was there was over 10 years ago but I always remember it being a really beautiful garden (even back then when I couldn't have care less about gardens!)

I wish my Chives looked this good!

This valley bit of the gardens is really amazing, its like a little micro climate down there so they get some great plants growing in it.

The little stream running through the valley is the old mill race, it was so peaceful down there and the fact that it was a sunny day helped to!

The old mill has been restored and is used by the National Trust as offices and tool storage now, its a really gorgeous building , I'd be happy to live it in!

As you come up out of the valley and away from the mill, you walk towards the formal gardens, these are really manicured and pretty traditional for a large old country manor.

I love these trellises, I wish this was my garden (although if it was it would be under 6 ft of weeds!)

I also really, really love these paths, they all seemed to be done in different patterns....hmmmm this is giving my ideas, Rich better watch himself, he'll be laying more bricks before he knows it!!

Ok that's enough brick paths.

God this is turning in to a monster post, sorry I got a bit carried away with the camera, it was all so lovely (and did I mention the sun, actually sunshine, in Wales no less!)
It really was a brilliant day out, I highly recommend anyone to go see for yourself, this time of year is great as so many plants are in flower.

Ok I'll stop boring you with plant photos now, tomorrow I might bore you with tile photos lucky buggers!

Monday, 9 June 2008

2 Weeks Off

We've been up in Shropshire for the last 2 weeks, spending some time with our parents and having a bit of a break after the bad news about my job. Hopefully I will soon be starting another blog containing bits of my artwork, and news of what I'll be working on, again hopefully I'll be able to sell some of it on-line shortly, but more news on that as it happens, now back to the garden...

... I don't know, you turn your back for 2 weeks and the whole place goes mad (especially at this time of year!), i returned home to chest high potatoes and hundreds of little pea pods waiting to ripen!

The Tomatoes are also doing well, they have been looked after by our neighbour who has kindly been watering them in this heat wave we're enjoying, they are getting pretty big and the first green tomatoes are showing, I cant wait for them to turn red!

The Honeysuckle and the Passion Flower we planted to grow up our little porch has suddenly decided it really likes the idea or growing up this little sunny wall and we came back to find it has now reached the roof, so this weekend I really need to put some more wires up for it.

We have had our first Strawberries of the summer from under the bird netting (which seems to have been a success so far!), unfortunately I forgot to recharge the camera so no pics! The 2 Blueberries are also starting to fruit, the berries are pretty small and green so far but we'll be excitedly waiting for them to go blue (well I will, Rich will get excited when their in a pie or a smoothie!)

And last but by no means least, I did promise a little bit of nice news on my last post so here it is:

Rich asked me to marry him!!!!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Hello...I'm Still Here

Sorry for the lack of posts, we've been having a well earned break with our families, some quite time to get our heads together and be pampered by our Mums a bit.

I will hopefully start regular updates again as of next week, with plenty of pics and news of plans and schemes to come, an update on the Tile Count and also a little bit of happy news as well but I shall wait till Monday to elaborate!

Hope you'll all stick with me till then, see you soon!