Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Another year, another project

Regular readers may recall the clay oven project. Alas, the clay oven project was not one of Dave’s success stories. I’m not expecting to be baking pizzas in it any time soon.


To be fair to Dave, the collapse was not entirely his fault and blame must be shared by me and Mother Nature. Mother Nature’s contribution to its downfall was freezing temperatures and layer upon layer of snow. My contribution, which exacerbated the effects of Mother Nature’s contribution, was to insist that the protective tarpaulin be removed as it offended my aesthetic sensibilities, and besides, who wants to go on holiday and gaze out on a countryside view marred by a bright blue unavoidable plastic mound in their line of sight.

I am assured that the clay oven project has not been abandoned, just delayed while the design is reassessed. It’s just as well that I didn’t part with any cash for this piece of building work, as otherwise a strongly worded letter would be winging its way to the BBC “Rogue Builders” team.

Nevertheless, in true rogue builder form, Dave has already moved onto another job – Project Pond.

Project Pond took me by surprise. I think it took Dave by surprise too as when he popped out that morning he only intended to build a log pile frog sanctuary. It was baking day (also known as heavy bread day) so I was busy throwing flour around in the kitchen, blissfully unaware of the excavations taking place up at the polytunnel. Next thing I know he returns to the kitchen, red of face and sweaty of brow, and declares “I’ve dug a pond”. 

Teri is an enthusiastic pond assistant. Ever since her walk (or rather wade) along our perimeter stream, Teri has been displaying aquatic tendencies. Any body of freshwater (the sea is still a scary salty mystery) is a Teri magnet – in she goes, out she comes, in she goes, getting muddy, dropping her ball in the deepest part. So a Pond Project involving two of favourite activities, digging and splashing, made for a blissful morning of mischief. 

Of course the problem with impromptu pond construction is the lack of appropriate materials. The d.i.y. pond liner was abandoned in favour of a “natural” wildlife pond, which was abandoned in favour of blowing some cash on a proper pond liner when the pond drained of water overnight. Lining a pond with sheet of liner approximately a hundred times bigger than your pond is no easy task on a windy day. That’s the trouble with internet shopping, you never quite know what you’re buying.

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Sometime later, with a bit of snipping, swearing and sweating, the new liner was in place.


Mercifully this time the pond water didn’t drain away overnight, and with some creative use of stones and logs we have a finished product waiting for inhabitants. There’s a big stone for the bees to use as a drinking platform, and a strategically placed log for the frogs to climb in and out. All that’s left to do is steal some plant life from the neighbours pond.



Mind you, I’m not sure how attractive a residence it will be for the local wildlife when the cats use it as a drinking fountain and the dog thinks it’s a canine splash pool.

Needless to say Project Pond has turned out to be slippery slope at the bottom of which is a stockpile of yet more projects. Currently we’re browsing for a new shed because the existing tool shed is about to become a duck house!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Another year, another spring

The Twitterati are busy twittering about the signs of spring and I’m seeing photo after photo of flowering daffodils, nest building birds and trees in full leaf. As usual, our West Wales valley microclimate is at least two weeks behind everyone else. Those daffodils whose heads have not been munched by an as yet unidentified night time beastie, are keeping their flowers tightly wrapped up. The blue tit, star of our “Tit in Residence” short movie, has stolen all the straw out of our best box and disappeared, and is no doubt busy constructing a straw lined palace in someone else’s garden.

Here at Banceithin, you know it’s spring when:

- The first attempts are made to go cold turkey and spend a full 24 hours without thermal long-johns or thermal vest and only one pair of socks.

- The central heating thermostat is knocked down another notch (not by me) on the argument (not mine) that if we open the front door the spring sunshine will warm the house instead.

- The cats are forced to share the windowsills with trays and pots of potting compost and the most asked question of the day switches from “any bookings?” to “any germinations?”.


- The cobwebs, twigs, leaves and bird poo are dusted off Trinny the Tractor because it’s sunny and Dave just can’t wait to bounce around the fields again.

- Froggy goes a-courting, sounds of amphibian loving fill the air, the murky water behind the shed turns to jelly, and the occasional squashed frog turns up on the drive.


But there really is only one sure sign that spring has sprung, that the sap is rising and that winter really is behind us.

Dave starts a new “project”…..