Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cannot believe the rain we have been having followed two seconds later by brilliant warm sunshine! Everything is looking so lush and green and just growing like wild fire.

This weekend saw an old school friend of mine and her mum come to visit. Annabel (Jo’s mother) is a historian on old buildings and, although timber framed are her speciality, it was great to have her here as she gave us so many pointers on where to find stuff out about the history of this place and the village in general.   It was lovely to see Jo too, although I am not totally sure she thinks we are sane.   I guess I have become blind to a lot of things and if I am blatantly honest, housekeeping sort of goes out the window when you think if you dust the cobwebs away, another bit of plaster might come down.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a complete hovel and I do hoover and dust most of the surfaces on a regular basis, but I can’t clean the windows properly for fear of the glass falling out, I can’t hoover or wash the floor tiles in the kitchen for fear of sucking or washing away the bits in between that hold the tiles in place (must be a more technical word for it but I’m a girl), and can’t, however hard I try, make the whole place seem more held together no matter how clean it is.

After Jo and Annabel left on Sunday, Olly and I set to pulling the brambles and ivy away from a section underneath the house. This is difficult to explain but I will do my best. Where the leit (waterway that goes under the house in a mill) goes under the house, there is no roof so essentially it’s a room within the house that has no doors or windows that you can only access by going the same way as the water. Fortunately for us the water is only ankle deep at its highest point so it’s not as treacherous as it sounds, however the brambles and ivy have grown in there over the years, clinging to the brick work on the house and clogging up the leit – it was time to remove it!!    Apart from coming away looking like addictive self harmers with cuts all over our arms, it was a successful day.   Got soaking wet of course, and suddenly really wished we had a bath but the little electric shower did it’s job and we felt satisfied that the best was made of a bad weather day. 

Now that Spring is in full swing we have a name for the biggest field we have.   Buttercup Field is full of, funnily enough, buttercups. I am slightly worried that the names we have for the fields are every so slightly twee!! We have Sunset Field, Buttercup Field, Lara’s Orchard…. I was hoping for more hip names like …… well, I don’t know, if I’d thought of them, I’d have named them.   The point being I don’t want to end up with names like Sunset and Buttercup. Maybe I should look up the latin plant name for Buttercup or call Sunset, Dusk instead. But that seems a little pretentious and too contrived, I feel Park Mill should be purely a ‘what you see is what you get’ place.   Anyway, photos below and suggestions on a postcard please….

Morgan in Buttercup Field

Friday, 15 May 2009

I am just coming to the end of five days off work. I have had a lovely week – just pottering around the house and garden.

The party on Sunday was a huge success. We had about 30 people turn up in the end. Didn’t know half of them, but seemed to go well. The weather was stunning and we were able to have legitimate jugs of Pimms. Always feel that Pimms drunk when it’s cloudy or a little cold is stealing a bit of summer that you shouldn’t have and for that reason, I can never fully enjoy it. Yet when the sun is shining it’s a completely different matter. As we didn’t really know the people we were inviting we decided to put 2 – 4pm on the invites. It’s the first time we have ever put an end time on invites and I was really quite amazed – at 4pm prompt, the garden emptied itself! We are used to parties going on well into the evening – in fact, a friend of mine dropped round for ‘tea’ in the afternoon once and left at 1.30 in the morning after we consumed 7 bottles of wine! Anyway, at 4pm Olly and I found ourselves with a jug or two of Pimms, a hot sunny afternoon and no plans – bliss!
It was lovely to meet so many people and is something we will definitely do again. I would like to think that in the crowd of 30 there were a good number of future friends to enjoy our time here with.

Other news. We are overrun with foxes. It is a common site to see them during the day, skulking around the farm looking for lunch. Last week I saw three in one afternoon and a few days before that the dogs alerted me to look out the window to the garden where a young fox had one of my chickens in it’s mouth. Luckily after much hysterical shouting and frantic waving the fox dropped the chicken who, but for mild trauma, was fine. But I fear for the chickens and ducks and feel that their days might be numbered. We have secured the pen around the chicken house as much as we can, but the foxes know they are there and won’t give up easily. We have a chap from the village who comes up and sits with his gun for them and Olly has gone out once or twice, but nothing yet. Even I am tempted to get my firearms licence so I can have a go – I am not one for killing things generally, but when you see them with your chickens it’s another matter.

Monday, 4 May 2009

My goodness, the days slip into weeks, that slip into months! I can’t believe we are in May already – I have no idea where April went. It came through at lightening speed in a haze of sunshine and left again. Everything at the farm seems to be growing by mile everyday! The grass is a beautiful lush green dotted with the yellow and white of buttercups and daisys. The blossom on the apple trees in the orchards are truly beautiful and the delicate pink contrasts with the blue sky brilliantly.

We have finally finished chopping up the 17 trees we felled from the Mill Pond wall. We now have enough fire wood to last us a good 5 years, maybe more. Its been a long job but the sense of achievement is immense. However, we couldn’t have done it without the help of the rest of the Madge clan. All, bar one, of Ollys brothers and sisters came down this weekend, with their strapping teenage children and made a task force of helpers. When you have 10 fit and healthy bodies to help you it is amazing how much you can get done. The help was topped off with Michael, Jack’s son and our neighbour farmer, coming over with a couple of tractors to help move the huge tree trunks that our chainsaws just couldn’t get through. I asked him to position one of them in the orchard and have plans to sculpt it into a bench – but after 2 minutes with the chainsaw realised that there is probably a bit more of an art to doing that than I first imagined!!

The garden is coming along well. For my birthday my mother took me to a fantastic garden centre in Westonbirt and the flowerbeds are beginning to look reasonably well stocked. The vegetable garden is coming along too and I was able to feed everyone fresh salad straight from the garden over the weekend.

However, there is on thing that I am starting to get a little nervous about. In April, when the sun was shining, we had a brilliant idea to have a drinks party on the lawn for people in the village so we could get to know our neighbours better. I had visions of bunting hanging from the trees, jugs of Pimms and the sound of laughter floating across the garden. After handing out invites with much gusto, it seems very few people are unable to make it and as a result we have around 50 people turning up next weekend! I now have visions of the rain coming at us sideways, everyone crammed into the kitchen with the tiles falling off the walls and a deathly hush blanketing the room as everyone tries to disguise their horror of how much needs doing to the house! I am sure it will be fine and to be honest, don’t really feel the need to portray anything other that what we are. I guess people will find us as they find us.

Another thing I got for my birthday was a beautiful five bar gate for my orchard. As Spring progresses I have come to love the orchard more and more. We have now cut paths through the long grass around the trees and it is a beautiful place to be. In the front orchard, we have mowed the grass more thoroughly and that too is becoming a lovely place. There is a tree there which is shaped in a love heart that is covered in blossom where we’ve put some huge chunks of tree trunk to sit under. It’s yet another good place for sundowners!!

As for the house, the architect is back on Thursday to start drawing up the plans for the house. We hope to submit the plans to the council this month so we can start the whole ball rolling. It is not a quick process and the sooner we submit the sooner we can get going. The structural engineer has confirmed he thinks the house will not need underpinning and that once the land drains around the house are sorted it will just be a case of tying the house to itself to secure it. This will save us an absolute fortune and is the best news we could have hoped for. It means that the windows and floors will stay completely wonky – but I love the fact that Park Mill will retain her legendry features!!