Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Bodyguard

I’m a hoarder. I have draws full of egg boxes, jars & margarine tubs, bags full of bags, and boxes full of wrappings, ribbons & bows pilfered from other people’s Christmas presents (after they were opened, I hasten to add). Afterall, you never know when something might come in handy for those “if only I had” moments in life. My stash of DVD newspaper freebies, however, had yet to be pressed into service - “The Thatcher Years” never was that perfect last minute gift and there never was a giant dripping tap in need of a washer in the form of a dodgy remake of “Dr Zhivago”.

In an ideal world either money would grow on trees or birds would eat chocolate. If the former, I could buy a 20 metre x 12 metre x 2 metre fruit cage without having to sell my soul to Harrods Horticultural. If the latter, I wouldn’t need a 20 metre x 12 metre x 2 metre fruit cage, and there’d be the added bonus of less chocolate in the world to tempt me and make me fat. Alas, Coca Cola Enterprises has yet to come up with a recipe for the ideal world, so I need to find an alternative solution if I’m to protect the fattening buds on my fruit bushes from the beaks of hungry birds.

This is where the DVD stash comes into its own. The perimeter of my soft fruit patch is now heavily guarded by Hollywood A-listers past and present, interspersed with the occasional ex-Prime Minister and aging rock star – the great (but mainly the not so great) works of John Wayne, Ingrid Bergman, John Mills & Kiera Knightley dangle menacingly by the blueberries, Churchill’s bodyguards and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers glint in the sun ready to blind the bullfinches as they swoop in for a gooseberry bud snack.

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Now I just need to find a way to stop the cats s******g in the mulch!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Bird boxes

At Banceithin we are blessed with loads of birds, and following the success of the barn owl nest boxes last year, I decided to put up a few more for the smaller species. Having plenty of old plywood from the building, and with a plan from the RSPB web site, I set about building three new boxes.


The size of hole depends on the type of bird they will attract. Having only a 25mm and 28 mm drill bit, they will mainly be for tits, but I do have a soft spot for tits!

We have blue, marsh and great tits here, but we also have tree sparrows, pied flycatchers and nuthatches which could set up home in one of the new houses.


After a couple of days there has already been some interest from some blue tits, but there won’t be any nesting activity until February time.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Banceithin Brainteaser

The traditional media end one year and begin a new one with a proliferation of lists charting the best, worst and most annoying and quizzes to test just how much attention we were all paying as we battled our way through the year. I’m all for traditions, so here you have my review of a year at Banceithin in Top 3 and quiz format.

Best New Experiences

1. Eating our own home reared pork in all its forms – big fat finger licking chops, jerk baked ham (that’s the rub not the cook), juicy roast joint with crispy crackling, streaky bacon sandwiched between layers of buttered bread.

2. Plucking a freshly laid egg from its bed of straw (and chicken poo) in the hen house.

3. Sharing Banceithin at its best on a beautiful sunny day with happy, smiling, holidaying guests.

Worst New Experiences

1. Putting my hand inside a pheasant to remove the guts.

2. Clearing up sloppy puppy poo at 6:30 a.m. in the morning.

3. The slaughterhouse.

Most Pleasing Successes

1. Opening for business on target, under budget and still talking to each other.

2. Getting a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme & fixing the shiny new plaque on the gatepost.

3. Acceptance for listing on Alistair Sawday’s Special Escapes web site & being called “an inspiration” by their inspector.

Most Disappointing Failures

1. Growing sweetcorn cobs without kernels.

2. Not getting to bake a pizza in the clay oven before it became a clay cow pat.

3. Losing my only two cauliflowers to the slimy devil’s munchers called slugs.

And your starter for ten …

1. January: Who were the first new arrivals of the year, what are their names & who are they named after?

2. February: What troublemaker was nicknamed “the big green monster”?

3. March: What went “live” for the first time?

4. April: What took over from the slug as the number one garden pest and why?

5. May: What “gateway to another world” was installed?

6. June: A month of new arrivals – who was living in a box in the shed, who moved into the ark and what were their names, and what special new box was built in the orchard field?

7. July: Why did things get “boring”?

8. August: What project did Dave start but not finish?

9. September: Another new arrival – who was it and where did she come from?

10. October: Who did I nearly accidentally starve to death?

11. November: What new fashion items did Phil acquire and why?

12. December: Who lost his head (and legs, and wings, and feathers and just about everything else)?


Dave got 6 out of 12. Where was he for the other 6 months of the year.

How did you do?