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6 months update

Hi everyone, it's been over 6 months since we moved to Wales therefore it's about time I produced an update; given today, we are having the same weather as the rest of Britain, that is, it's cold, wet and miserable, it seems like an ideal opportunity to do the blog.

I must say, in general the weather has been good to us, not at all what the locals threatened we could expect, hence, I thought I could steal a march on the vegetable garden by setting my seeds away early and planting them out in the greenhouse, wrong, two weeks ago we had a dreadful frost – it caught not only so many of my early plants, but also established shrubs in the garden; it was so unexpected it also caught out the local farmers and garden centres.

I suppose I'd best start to try and bring you all up to speed with what's been happening, but, oh my, where to start, there's been so much. Time flies etc. I can't believe its been 6 months, since we moved here, also that I've now been retired for over a year; I have to say, I'm loving it.

When I left you at my last update, 3 months had passed since our move and we had already started to do work on our house. Since then we've had the new bathroom installed, moved the en-suite from the second bedroom to our master bedroom, taken the fitted wardrobes out of all three bedrooms, replaced the old fireplace with a new log-burner and replaced the pine staircase with a wonderful new oak one. We have also replaced the front door and all of the internal doors downstairs with solid wood Dourdoigne Oak. All of the windows and fascias have been replaced in UPVC imitation Irish Oak and the back door too, has been replaced. You could say the house is coming together beautifully. It has been great to watch all of the tradesmen doing the work and transforming the house, instead of us DIYing.

Outside, the foundations were laid and a new green house has been erected on the site, it's now looking good after having the frost setback previously mentioned (Fig 1,2,3). Foundations were also laid and Jans studio has been erected, it's soon to be insulated and electricity installed in order to accommodate the potters wheel and kiln which are to be installed (Fig4).

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

We did get some snow (Fig 5), but it was not as bad as we expected, spring gave us a wonderful display of daffodils (Fig 6), along with other spring flowers which seemed to compensate for any inclement weather we had, but I have to say, we seem to be about 3 to 4 weeks behind England for blossom etc..

The vegetable garden is progressing well, with an abundance of onions, shallots and garlic growing (Fig 7). My one row of potatoes are now up and running (Fig 8) having only been slightly damaged by the frost.

Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure 8

 

Broad beans are starting to flower, I have my carrots in and the Parsnips are up through the soil now. I've set some runner beans into a pyramid (Fig 9) and have three more pyramids to plant up shortly with different varieties of French climbing beans. The Beetroot, Lettuce and Radishes are also doing well. I've also set some Cardoon, Globe Artichoke, Foxglove and Meadow Sweet, the next paragraph will explain why. The Apple, Pear, Plumb and Cherry trees I planted have all taken, but the Walnut Tree is proving a little slow to start. The neighbouring farmer's wife and I seem to have got into a plant exchange system with us trading excess plants, this is very helpful and seems to be part of the sharing approach taken around here.

The big news in our garden is the Bees have arrived, I installed them in their hives 3 weeks ago (Fig 10) and they are doing well. They have been enjoying the Dandelions and are now starting to enjoy the Blackthorn blossom; until the frost they were feasting on the blossom of a neighbours 3 Apple trees too, he is now expecting a bumper crop, I did mention it would be courtesy of my bees, therefore a few apples would be welcome.

The neighbours have been very accepting of the Bees and seem quite excited to have them at the bottom of our garden; they stop and look at the hives as they walk by and always ask how they are doing.

Along the bank of the stream and our hedgerow I have sown not only some Bee friendly garden flowers, but also a large variety of wild flowers and wild garlic, this is in keeping with my intention to ensure there is a wild section in the garden.

Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure 11 Figure 12

 

In other news, just to keep my hand in, I've made some soft cheese which was wonderful (Fig 11&12) a couple of our friends enjoyed it too.

We've had several friends visiting us which has been wonderful, all of them seem to like the place; oh, I almost forgot, I twisted my ankle badly about 6 weeks ago, it caused me a great deal of pain and resulted in me limping badly up until a few days ago, thankfully I am now almost recovered. It was during this period of pain that we went on a short canal holiday with some friends; now, I can't say whether it was the pain of my ankle or not, but, it wasn't my kind of holiday I'm afraid.

Jan too has been so busy, as an active member of the WI, she has been involved in all sorts of things, she recently made a doll for one of their competitions (Fig 13), also she has been attending a sugar craft course; I have to say, the things she makes are so impressive. Jan recently informed me she is now the wardrobe mistress for the local Pantomime group, that should be interesting and no, I will not be treading the boards.

Jan loves her flower gardening, therefore, most of the planning and sowing of flowers in the garden has been down to her; that's fine, it leaves me to get on with the Vegetables.

The community has been so inclusive, we get invited to all sorts of things, weddings, meetings about Parish decisions, neighbourhood social groups etc. it just goes on and on, it's so good to be involved in such a vibrant community.

I'm aware, that I've been a little remiss with keeping up with my correspondence and communication with friends, perhaps, after reading this, they will understand why.

Well that's enough of me prattling on for now, next time we catch up, Jan and I will have been to Italy again – we are looking forward to that, especially sitting on the terrace on a warm summer evening, drinking Brecon Beacon Gin with our friend Riccardo.

Catch up soon, Doug

PS The Bluebells are out alongside the stream in the wild part of the garden, they smell divine. Fig14.

PPS And here are the beehives in situ. Fig 15.

Figure 13 fig14 Figure 15

The Big Move

Well, here we are, three months on!

As some of you will be aware, we moved to Wales in October 2016. It was primarily as a result of both Jan and I retiring from our full time jobs and not needing to live in an urban environment any more, after looking around, Wales seemed to offer an attractive proposition to settle in a rural idyll. We had discussed that it would be a lifestyle change, but retirement was going to be that anyway. Jan had lost her mother in the March of 2016, I retired in April 2016 and Jan retired in October 2016, so happy days were on the cards; however, we were becoming more intolerant of all of the traffic in the area, so why would we stay in an ever increasing urban sprawl when our hearts were in the countryside.

Read more: The Big Move

Garden Update

So far, 2016 has been an out of the ordinary year for us, with even more still to come.

After spending the first 4 months of the year looking forward to retirement, part of which was because I hoped that retirement would allow extra time for my allotments, I found that wet weather early in the year delayed my best efforts to get an early start; however, eventually the yearned for day arrived and I was a "pensioner".

Before retirement, the weather didn't play ball, so I had been snatching time in the garden when I could; still eventually, better late than never, I managed to get the bulk of the gardens planted before we went on holiday in June (see Travels in Italy 2016).

Read more: Garden Update

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