Monday, 28 December 2015


All in all we have escaped (so far) from the devastating floods affecting so many towns, villages, even cities in the north of England. Res the garden has been wet - but not washed away. The weather remains mild and damp with regular storms blowing in from the Atlantic.
I have just received the catalogue from Burncoose Nurseries and there are now or two very tempting plants in there - not cheap - but high quality.
We have been away for Christmas in Herefordshire with family - the first not spent at home for, I guess, thirty-five years? It was very special.

We have a few roses left and there are plants all over the place like some bergenias in full flower I saw the other day. One of the the teasels has not died back but after having last year's stems removed is coming into bud again.

The (am I losing it? Can't remember its name) hellebore by the magnolia is in flower as is one of the brachyglottis. More to be expected, the winter flowering honeysuckle is also coming into bloom.

In the garden jobs mount up - the main path is badly mossed now and will need something radical done to it - unless I decide I like moss of course.

A mole decided to dig by the house and got a shock as there is only a shallow layer of soil over hardcore. This is a hardcore mole hill.

C's duck has received a companion - well I did - from B for Christmas. 

I think it is a sort of heron with two young in the nest. Anyway the duck has company now.

I also got a hanging bird table (not that that will make the slightest difference to the squirrels - acrobats of the animal world) and that is also in place waiting for the diners.

And so to the artistry of, I think, my grandson on his parent's car - nuff said.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Past the darkest and dreariest and so on day. Now we have the morning closing in for a while and then . . .
We have snowdrops and a few are showing white petals! It is still in the teens Centigrade in the daytime. (Oh! and wet.) Talking strange events - snowdrops thinking it is spring before the New Year - our Liquidambar, the small tree with the October glory of redness, is still largely green - it has not found its autumn. 

We also have roses still out - we took some to church when we did the flowers and it went down well. They were put on the piano as part of an arrangement with variegated mint (still in leaf) and winter flowering viburnum. 

This is the view where the tree was, over one of the sheds to the back field. The blue box in the window is empty but was used to transport some Sci-fi books when we moved house. I sold many of them to a bookshop in Wigtown, the Scottish book town.

The tree now looks like this stacked against the wall, ends open so the wood can dry out but with a cover to stop the worst of our wet weather penetrating.

The grasses still have some green in but are looking ragged and messy especially this miscanthus and the Stipa gigantea.  They have had no real frost on them to look beautiful but will have to wait a little longer before the are cut back.

The pots outside the kitchen REALLY ought to be done but have now been put back till the New Year - lazy old s*d can't be bothered. 

Gales come and go and one is coming, called Eva, and the windmill has gone. This is not a little Eva but a good sized one and the air is full of locomotion.

(Ha! Ha!) When it stops raining I shall go into the garden in search of its vanes. The pond liner is up again - a quick run down in the rain, a twiddle of the alkathene piping and water running out again. It is definitely coming in around the inflow pipe but under the liner. Time to dig out the pipe and scrap it, fill in the settling pond except for the stream at the back.

And then there is the question of burglary at this time of year. R and I caught this suspicious fellow trying to climb in (or out) of a window near Cartmel.

So my blog reader, perhaps both of you, may I wish you a hot, dry, prosperous New Year when you have recovered from the madness that is the commercial winter festival. Once it was a pagan celebration, then the Christians adopted it, now it is the property, by and large, of capitalism and the big buck (or over here pound).

And I leave you with a panorama shot on the shortest day from our kitchen door looking over Morecambe Bay not long after dawn.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


In the beginning there were bacteria and then there developed a whole host of plants including - algae, liverworts, mosses, horsetails, ferns, gingkoes, conifers, magnolias, other trees, flowering plants etc etc.

All of these are in our garden and other things like quillworts and clubhouses can be found within twenty miles.
Mind you we could do without the proliferation of some in less desirable locations - liverworts on the paths, moss on the drive, algae in the pond, horsetails anywhere.

Harts-tongue fern

Moss on wall

Green algae


So to the garden otherwise know as the bog, marsh, quagmire - take your pick. More alkathene pipe up it and the pond drains again until it blocks again then more alkathene . . . etc etc. The moorhen is back though - great to see it at first light paddling about.

And I trimmed off the lower new shoots off the damson trees. You wouldn't think they had thorns like this but they do - painful! Suppose there is something very blackthorn about them - very sloe. Perhaps a natural sort of protection from predators such as moi! However they do taste better than sloes though gin made with both is delicious.
Picked our first sprouts as we had a frost yesterday - to be eaten tonight with some roast chicken.
They were delicious and tasted of something unlike many bought and served in restaurants.

I watched the last part of Monty Don's history of British gardening and it gave me ideas. Perhaps the stream can be modified to give a succession of little pools? This is not a super controlled like the big gardens but something very minor. It would put more sound of running water into the garden - as if we do not have enough at the moment. (Rain forecast for the next few days.)(Again)

I have covered the top of the new log stack with some plastic sheeting but left the side open so the wind can try and dry it out. It is all ash wood so good to burn.
So am I in the garden labouring away? Well today, Tuesday I think, I slept long, got up, ate breakfast, had a nap, went out for lunch, came in, had a nap and am now feeling tired!! And the Blogger site is centring everything no matter what I do. Cannot get the words to left justify.  Like this dog in Cark I can't wait to get out - ha, ha!
Enough is enough - I need a rest.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


Tree down, windmill broken, dog has lost its head but other wise we have got off relatively unscathed. You can see the man up the tree on the right. Now we have a lot of logs for the burner. It has changed the whole aspect at the rear of the house and now we must think of a good evergreen hedge to grow in poor soil - perhaps laurel. 

Bay might have been an option but the winds come from the north over the field and bay's hardiness might be suspect.  

The windmill has been partially repaired and sprayed gold from an old can I found in the shed. I have not yet got one of the vanes to turn without undoing the nuts on the end so it keeps falling off. 

Then there is the tragedy of our nodding dog.  Fortunately I can pop his head back on quite easily.

First there is a liner, then there is no liner, then there is - apologies to Donovan. I seemed to have temporarily sorted pond with drainpipe between liner and matting.

(Film of floods on my Facebook site.)

So back to gardening which is mainly to clear stuff and pick up sticks, stay off the grass and kneel by the pond in the mud praying. The alchemilla is still a mess as seen here - this gives you an idea of what I need to do - work that should have been done earlier in the autumn.

The winter spinach is doing well - the mild wet weather seems to suit it. We still have roses in the garden - a few - I have always managed a small vase on the table at Christmas.

I have not yet cleaned out and planted up the various pots and containers so that is another thing to do.

It is strange to be here in December with the tops of the first daffodils showing, buds greening on the flowering currant and azaleas and the rambling roses still growing (as is the grass). (Cannot mow though - too wet.)

I see Mr Badhairday in USA decided to go a little more bonkers. I might worry about Vlad in Russia but the thought of Don in America - in charge - fall down in hysterics - as a certain tennis player has said - "You cannot be serious!" I am glad I am not a Mexican moslem.

Now for a mug of Yorkshire Gold tea.

And I leave you with a image of the view from the house on a lovely sunny day -

Sunday, 6 December 2015


Before I start these images are from Facebook and posted by Loz Taylor.

It is Desmond - the weather bods have started naming the storms like hurricanes and cyclones - actually just gales and a lot a lot a lot of rain - again! I am glad they did not  all it Duncan? 
Then it rained and rained, Keswick cut off, Appleby under water, etc etc. It happened a few years ago and they said it was an event that only occurred every hundred years!!!

Perhaps hibernation might be a good idea - or migration - New Zealand for the winter? At least the shortest day approaches - nearly there - but then though it starts to get lighter in the evening it goes on getting worse in the morning for a couple of weeks - something to do with a wobbly earth.

Ah! Well, every feeder has its squirrel.

Yesterday tried to drain the pond under the liner and failed. Water is gushing out of the field and down the steep banking - saw the sun yesterday - at least I think it was the sun as it seems so long since it was last seen. Gone again today anyway.

Now next morning and towns under water, up to 350mm (over a foot) of rain on fells in 36 hours! This is a record - roads are washed away - by Thirlmere and at Patterdale.  I have put some shared pics on my Facebook page.

(Pond liner on surface.)
Further adventures of a pond liner man - have found that the water is between the liner and the underlay protecting it so tried to get a drain between the two - partially successful. R now says we need a clay bottom to the pond - big job. A drain along the bottom of the pond under the liner but above the underlay would do it plus control of the inflow where a lot of the water is getting in.

This seems so petty when people have their homes under water just before Christmas. We have been lucky being a bit away from the mountains and some distance from a major water course.

How can I talk of gardening. GG slept in his van on the A590, J and D could not get to Manchester Airport to fly to Thailand and thank anygod that no one has lost their lives. I think that is due to the response to the last floods at least giving the emergency services time to evacuate people etc.

Sunday and the sun has been out but more rain forecast for tonight and more Monday/Tuesday!

The tree man cometh tomorrow as he cannot get to his designated job because of the water.

Friday, 4 December 2015


The heavens have got to be empty!
The small plank bridges are washed away, the banks of the stream are under water.
The pond is a mess.

The squirrels are bedraggled.
The birds are sodden.
I am not going out there.
I shall light the wood burner.
I shall make a hot cuppa and sit by the fire and do some Christmas cards.
We are awash.
A gale is blowing.
The trees are shedding twigs and small branches.

So, one muddy pond, bleached heron to the right - needs a repaint - (The bush is a winter flowering Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn") and diggings to try and sort the liner problem at the back left.

The view from the living room outside door window through rain spattered glass. Note the great white cherry still has it's autumn leaves but the rest is dreary.

Finally it stopped but the water has got under the pond liner so I went out, diverted streams (boy stuff) unblocked things where overflowing was happening, raked the remains of leaves off paths and then tried to drain the pond - failed. The moorhen does not mind though. It sits on the raised liner using it as a small island.

Next day - woke to pouring rain AGAIN!!

So let's skip yesterday. Now it is Wednesday and outside it is very windy and, believe it or not (a Ripley moment) it is, you've guessed it, raining!

Yesterday we turned off the Aga for  service man but he got swamped in a flood twenty miles away. It is still off - we wait - and meanwhile I hear nothing. 
I ought to be out in the garden doing something but -
Nothing from the Aga man so it is relit.
Have quote from tree surgeon and have accepted so chop chop.

The orchid in the kitchen is suddenly losing flowers which it does - 3 months dormant, 3 months flowering - just in time for Christmas.

Today it is Thursday and when I woke it was - you guessed it - raining!!

So I made some shortbread at the suggestion of R as we have run out of biscuits.

Recipe - Mrs Tyson's Shortbread.

12oz plain flour, 8 oz softened butter
Rub together till soft crumb then add -
4oz ground rice (rice flour) and 4 oz caster sugar
Knead well and put in greased tin. about one inch thick.
Cook on low heat till golden brown.

Cut into fingers whilst still slightly warm but leave in tin until cold.

The squirrels have eaten all the sunflower seed so I go out and brave the weather to fill up the feeders - and get wet.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Looking into things, well, not myself personally, has been the theme of today (Friday) having just been to have a gastroscopy without sedation. Quite interesting but then I would say that!

Trouble brewing over the Ulverston annual Dickensian Festival when the streets are lined with stalls and 40,000 people come for the two days. The organisers have used the hashtag dickfest on twitter - Oh-Oh!
Mind you we do have a large monument on the hill above the town . . .

So this morning - 3 squirrels. One managed to demolish a seed feeder yesterday. Rain - have I mentioned rain before this autumn (now winter?) - is forecast for the next 5 days with little relief. It does get a bit monotonous and depressing. Another tree surgeon coming this morning to quote - hope it is a bit cheaper or we could have the tree for longer.

Still some leaves on trees, especially the Magnolia stellata, and almost December. The great white cherry has finally turned, the gale stripping the tree.

Sometimes thinking of the garden can keep me awake - ideas, plans, tasks to do (lots of those) and I am awake.
Last night at 1 am the moon was just past full and shining over Morecambe Bay. So out with the camera and mess about a bit -

This was taken from the living room window.

So, what to do when it rains so much?
It is best to keep off much of the garden as feet only damage soggy turf. It is time to make some more plum jam, start on Christmas cards etc etc.

And it is almost December - two months of darkness before the snowdrops lighten the world and fill it with hope of a spring and summer to come.

Actually, I think it has stopped raining. This means that, when R returns from church we will be off to the Dickensian Festival to get shoved around in the crowds. When it is really busy one needs to be a Tyson Fury!
(6 ft 9 ins (2.057 metres) new World heavyweight boxing champion)(not that I like boxing)(but you get what I mean.)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Saturday - there was a light frost last night and the nasturtiums are much the worse for wear. However the skies are clear and the gales have stopped. They brought down a lot of twigs in the wood.

I have been out and dug up the pink Japanese anemone - two wheelbarrows full - and still have not got it all out where its roots are intertwined with other plants. Planted six agapanthus in its place - three white and three blue to add to the ones we already have. They remind me of Auckland in NZ. Then two loads of well rotted horse manure to top up the soil.

The thingy I hang my bird feeders on outside the kitchen window has rusted through and fallen over. I have taken it down and must think what to do. There are still plenty of other feeders around the house.

R is out doing her church craft fair to raise a bit of dosh and I forgot to prepare some plants for sale. After we had got the room ready I came back and potted up 5 rosemarys and a couple of eleagnus x ebbingei "Limelight". The latter take ages to root well from cuttings. Then I popped back with them. They had a few jars of the Summer Fruits and Blackcurrant jam too. The latter is good but the former seems, surprisingly, to nor taste much other than sweetness.

R always laughs when I say pop over here, up there etc. A doctor thing - "Just pop up on the couch . . ." 

It is now Sunday and the sun is out and so are there rabbits - three sitting, fat and lazy, on the upper banking grooming themselves.

We are steadily clearing away a year's growth gone over. This involves the odd wheel barrow full of stuff. I would use the sit-on mower and trailer but the garden is far to wet.

However some plants are thriving. This is the smaller of two Fatsias we have, both flowering abundantly as winter approaches. The big one will have to be cut back.

There are still roses in the garden like this one given to us by A and P. It clambers over my shed and flowers almost all the time. I just have to keep dead-heading it. We will have roses for Christmas unless we get a severe cold spell before then.

The winter spinach is looking good - goes a bit limp when frosted but recovers. It does wonders for regularity if you know what I mean.

I have another go at the pond and a bit drained out from under the liner. I am sure that the problem, atlas in part, stems from water getting in under the liner from by the inlet pipe above it. I have cut off the water flow and redirected it all down the stream. We will see if it does any good.

My friend S is in Spain - Mijas - and the pics make it look so warm and sunny. He will get a shock when he comes back to our balmy barmy climate as will N from California.

Monday - it is raining again, the grey squirrel is eating the peanuts, the moorhen is back, is gone, is back, the pond liner has sunk a bit again, it is cold and there was a sharp frost this morning, still waiting for my manure.

Friday, 20 November 2015


The tree surgeon has just been and will give me a quote on removing the ash near the house, logging it and taking away the chipped smaller stuff.
He says the dreaded ash dieback is only ten miles or so away in Witherslack. If we get it we will be left with some rhododendrons a young horse chestnut and some sycamores - with the odd holly and hazel in the under layer.
Dieback is caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungus and in three years has spread across the UK. The veins of leaves, usually pale, turn brown. There are blackened dead leaves and in more mature trees death of branches in the crown. Diamond dark lesions appear around the base of dead shoots and where a branch meets the trunk.
The Woodland Trust, of which I am a member are seeking a fighting fund to help deal with the future. 
Their website is

Of course there are other diseases of trees that affect larch, oak and, still, elm.

I do not remember such a wet November. We had a wonderful September/October but now! Gales and downpours, floods and soggy everywhere. Even the overflow carpark at the Swan Hotel at Newby Bridge was under water.
This pic is of the road below the house.

As far as the garden goes digging out the drain from under the pond in the rain is the sum of my labours. I would like to tidy things up but it will have to wait.



You can see the liner in the top image. After my digging it has gone down again - but not completely. There is still a substantial chunk with water underneath. Needs thought and action I think.
By Friday the liner had reappeared on the surface and all my work in the rain and mud looks like it was to no avail.

The peanuts in the bird feeders are wet and mouldy. I have had to clear them out and clean them.
Now I can understand why swallows go south for the winter - but why do redwings and fieldfares and geese come here? They should keep on going.
Even our dog has succumbed to the gale and taken it lying down.

So here are more floody pictures and then we can move on.

And though it is dark as I type, gusts of wind batter the house - some up to 60 to 70 mph according to the weather forecasters.

So now it is Thursday afternoon and we have seen a little sunshine. I have cleared away the dead stuff from the hostas and pruned the hydrangea Annabelle. Then it went dark and wet again.

R is off to a piano lesson with A so I am typing the blog.

Time for a wet cuppa decaf tea.