Friday, 30 April 2010

Springing up

The much needed dose of spring rain has come late to Banceithin, but that made it all the more welcome when it finally arrived, which isn’t something I ever thought I’d find myself saying. The newly laid turf was starting to curl up at the edges like a patchwork of expensive day old slices of bread. I was on the cusp of placing an ad in the Cambrian Trader seeking a watering slave as tending to a polytunnel, veg plot, fruit patch, rockery, three gardens and two lawns was becoming a full time job.

The rain has brought a burst of colour to the front garden, with the vibrant yellow-green marjoram fighting for centre stage with the approaching tide of forget-me-nots.


The showery weather was the boost our purple sprouting broccoli needed too. This plant wins the prize for longest journey from plot to plate. Seeds sown on 14th June 2009, transplanted into raised bed on 11th July 2009, lost a few to cabbage root fly, decimated by slug attacks, weathered the autumn storms, survived the big freeze and being buried under a foot of snow, first harvest on 29th April 2010 – steamed, sprinkled with vinaigrette & freshly grated parmesan, yummy.

The cuckoos are singing, the pheasants are courting, the rhubarb is rampant, the cats are torturing the baby mice …. spring is well and truly sprung.

Alas the rain also means the return of my nemesis. Yes, the slugs are back.Much to my disappointment the chickens are fussy eaters and turn their beaks up at slugs in favour of worms. I toss the slugs into the run thinking the tasty morsels are a ready meal for chooks, but Aphrodite and Co. prefer to slurp up worms like spaghetti. We’ve taken to letting them spend a few hours a day roaming free out of their run, which seems to have given the girls a bit of an attitude. They cluster at the gate like prisoners on day release. At first they were timid, sticking together without straying too far from the run, and even allowed Stevie “I think I may be a dog not a cat but I’m not quite sure” Pickworth to round them up and send them home. Now they’re far too self-assured, wandering off to scratch and poop on the new turf, strutting along the stone wall, heading off into the orchard. By next week Athena will be running a table tennis tournament in the Games Room, while Hera heads off in the truck to get some beers from the shop!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

We’re on the Map

So after the umpteenth delivery guy, without any map or sense of direction, struggled to find us with the limited power of satellite navigation, we decided  to get some signs put up at the front entrance. Being a rural location, the postcode for our property covers the whole 1 mile of lane that we’re on, and even Google used to think that Banceithin was 500 metres up the road (I have now fixed this, I didn’t know that you could actually edit Google Maps…very clever).

Squaddie Dad had put us in contact with the company Ashford Golf Club uses for it’s signs, and yesterday we received two shiny new signs.


After a team effort (cats getting in the way!), we positioned one on either side of the drive, so now no one can make the excuse of not being able to find us!

Navigational tools now available.

  1. Two big white signs
  2. Banceithin is actually named on OS Explorer Map
  3. Banceithin can be found on Google Maps
  4. Full written directions and meticulously hand drawn maps available to download from our web site
  5. Did I mention 2* big white signs?

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dave’s got his shorts on!

Like much of the country, we have had three weeks of glorious weather, but tinged with a cooling breeze from the North. Today the wind shifted to the South, and it was time for me to bare the flesh! Shorts and ‘T’ Shirt with my white little pinkies in flip flops. We had a day in the garden, mulching the raspberry canes and chopping off the dead canes. We planted out all our tomatoes, courgettes and squash in the poly, as the evening temperatures are going to be much higher with the shift in wind direction. I have learnt that no matter how lovely it is in the day, if the temperature drops below 5 deg at night, the plants  in the poly just stop growing.

Also the turf has been laid so the outside gardens of the properties are starting to come together.


September 2008 Cwt Mochyn




Today….Philippa wasn’t as brave as me in regards to shorts!



11th December 2008 Hen Ffermdy





Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Hung, drawn … and looking fabulous

Home economics was not my strongest subject at school. In my very first sewing lesson I laboured over my cross stitch and chain stitch sampler, only to have the teacher unpick it all when, on standing up from my chair, it became apparent that I’d sewn the sampler to my trousers. I fared no better in secondary school. When others had graduated to knitting jumpers, I was still doing the “learn to knit” coat hanger cover, and even then I had to admit defeat and stretch my pathetic attempt over the smallest coat hanger I could find. Clearly my genetic inheritance did not include my mother’s seamstress gene. She might argue that she learned to sew through necessity. I would counter-argue that necessity is learning to darn socks or repair a hem, and that there is more than a little flair and skill involved in producing beautiful lined curtains, knocking up some cushion covers, antimacassars, table runners, mats and plaited tie-backs out of the left over material, and then, just for the hell of it, crocheting a matching cushion cover. I don’t know about you, but I think the results are fabulous. But I’m biased because my mum made the lot.

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Friday, 16 April 2010

Fort Knox

Sing along with me:

“Ten green bean shoots growing in the ground. Ten green bean shoots growing in the ground. And if one green bean shoot should get eaten by a mouse, there’ll be nine green bean shoots growing in the ground.” 

The mouse is now in the number one spot on my hit list of garden pests. When my precious little broad bean shoots first began to disappear overnight, we set up traps along the row. One mouse down, but so were the bean shoots. All we’d done was provide a tasty sweet jam dessert for an “all you can eat” buffet consisting of bean shoots, bean shoots and more bean shoots.

By this point I was singing “One green bean shoot growing in the ground”. Time to declare war on mice. I had to protect my last bean shoot and stop the twitchy nosed furry ******* from snaffling the neighbouring pea shoots next.

I dragged Dave and Ali up the lane, into a quarry and up a hill to collect gorse. According to Carol of Gardener’s World fame, gorse is natures barbed wire, so I was going to put that to the test.

The surviving bean shoot is fenced in by gorse, flanked by traps and covered with chicken wire. The pea shoots have spiky pea sticks as armed guards and more gorse wire fencing.

Come and get it mousey!



Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Indoor sports arena approaches completion

Sebastian Coe has nothing to fear about the British table tennis and dart team’s summer training camp not being finished in time for the 2012 Olympics. The inside of the former garage has been transformed into a state of the art indoor sports arena. Facilities include:

  1. Full size Butterfly table tennis table (with bats and balls included)
  2. British Darts Organisation Winmau dart board with high intensity spot light (two sets of darts included)
  3. Seating capacity for 10 people right up close to the action.
  4. Built in communication device so Seb can keep in contact with the team (Payphone situated at rear)
  5. Hi-fidelity music system to pump up the troops (Dave will provide some suitable mix tapes!)
  6. Wall art provided by Philippa Pickworth (aged 16 GCSE art project)
  7. Large scale map wall at the rear for competitors to easily find their way to local attractions
  8. Lockable storage zone
  9. Fantastic on-site accommodation for up to 8 competitors :-)



Thursday, 8 April 2010

The devil’s in the detail

While the rain fell, and fell, and fell, it was time to turn our attention to the post-decorating clean up. That’s two days spent scraping paint splatters off floors, windows, and sockets, dusting dust of just about everything, chipping plaster off walls and grout off tiles, and filling any cracks and holes that have so far escaped the eagle eyes of the Chief Decorator.  Like Scarlet O’Hara in the cotton fields, I could no longer pass myself off as a lady. The hands would give me away. The soft office workers hands are gone forever.

Meanwhile, spring is peaking out and the valley around us resonates with the bleating of lambs. If the gate is left open the occasional ewe and lamb come looking for tasty morsels. 


I learned my lesson the hard way during last years growing season (see “The Killing Fields”, 5 July 2009), so any sheep heading up the drive gets chased back down the way she came!


I’m still a softie inside though as if I hear a lamb bleating once too often and a little too plaintively, I convince myself that the little one is trapped down a hole, drowning in the stream or caught in a bear trap. So far there’s been nothing more dramatic than Dad finding a sheep with her head stuck in our gate, too stupid to work out that she only had to turn her head to one side to get out.

Anyway, I’ve got far more important things to think about, like the arrival of a batch of mum-made curtains and cushions. Farewell painting, hello soft furnishings.

Monday, 5 April 2010


This has become one of the most used terms during this project. As we are working with 200 year old buildings, it isn’t always possible to obtain that ‘perfect’ finish, and in a way we want to retain the buildings original character. We then use the term to describe the result. “The wall is a bit curved”……its idiosyncratic. This term has now been used to describe our first attempt at fencing. Bearing in mind the amount of large rocks just nestling under the surface waiting to deflect any attempt at driving in a post, the main uprights have been modelled on that famous tower in Pisa.



The hard landscaping is carrying on at a pace. The cottage garden now needs the turf laying and the various plants planted.

I have trained Phil in the art of welsh stone edging and there’s no stopping her now!


The Pickworth family after a hard day in the garden. Note my mums revulsion at the impending contact of Stevie (she’s allergic to the little critters!)