Friday, 25 April 2014

March and April have just flown by

I don't know what happened to March and here we are nearing the end of April. In the middle of March as the weather improved we were out of the door like race horses out of the starting stalls. We are feeling that if we really crack on this year, as far as the garden is concerned at least we will have achieved our goal, and can lead a more leisurely lifestyle.

There is hardly a day goes by, when I don't write a blog post in my head while I am working, then by the time we come indoors and have prepared  and eaten a meal, I am too tired to put it down on paper. So apologies to all of you who enjoy reading our blog, but in fairness I have never pretended to be the most consistent writer!

What have we been up to? Well, the garden of course. We have built the first raised bed in the second half of our courtyard garden, filled it and planted some flowers to add a bit of colour. David has started to build the barbecue and the outdoor oven. The foundations are done and he has started to build the block support walls. However, this has been abandoned at the moment as we need to re-grout the pool this year and he is busy on that job at the moment. So far we have emptied it, acid cleaned it and now David is preparing the tiles for re-grouting.

The pool looking blue again instead of murky green but still some work to go before I can swim

Whilst David is busy with the pool, I have been working in the garden. I raised a lot of plants from seed and have been planting them out. I have dug over the entire top garden and have added some of the copious amounts of the horse manure we got in an effort to improve our heavy clay soil. I have divided it into raised beds and have laid membrane between and as I de-stone they are going on top to make rough paths around the beds. This should hopefully mean goodbye muddy feet all over the place forever and the garden should be more effective for growing the veggies too.

My newly organised vegetable garden ready for planting

So far I have planted runner beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and peppers and have sown seed for lettuce, radish, carrots, parsley, rocket, cress, mustard, coriander and okra. We had sown seed for peas and broad beans before Christmas and it is definitely our best crop yet. The peas are around 6 feet tall and laden with pods which are close to being ready. I shall be pleased now when they are in as I need the soil for summer planting now.

We don't have much money for plants for the new courtyard garden, especially whilst we are still buying building materials. But I have bought some bamboo, a couple of grasses, an orange tree, kiwi a passion flower and a couple of other bits and pieces. I also raided the tubs from last year on the off chance that they would survive over winter and a lot of them have. They seem to really like our new Hugelkultur beds that I tried last year. I have also sown lots of flower seeds which hopefully will germinate and look pretty until we can afford more permanent plants. It is wonderful to see some colour back around us.

Hooray - colour back in the garden

We realise that while we are working outside, we get carried away and stay out in the heat and really don't drink enough. So we were delighted to at last find a second hand water cooler within our price range. Never having had one before and in our ignorance we asked a friend to pick us up a bottle of water from Kipa. Duly delivered we couldn't wait to get it on the machine and try it out. First of all we had an almighty row about which bits to take off the bottle. I said only the plastic cover. David in his wisdom insisted on removing the side of the lid. Yes you've guessed when we tipped it upside down onto the machine it poured all over the floor! Was I smug! We tried to wrap cling film around it to make the best of a bad job. That didn't work. So we bought another bottle and left the side of the cap on. All over the floor again!!! I now had to eat humble pie as I too had been wrong. Not something that comes easily to me. By now we must have the cleanest floor in Uzumlu and we are beginning to think that the machine has a problem somewhere. Then a friend came to stay and said that there were different sized bottles and to try the other size. So off we go out to buy yet another bottle. This one went straight on no problems and we are at last drinking lovely cold water and it is encouraging us to drink more. Plus we are now not clogging the fridge up with endless bottles of water. Much much better.

Another second hand purchase we have made is a vacuum cleaner. We have an arrangement that I do all the cooking and David does a lot of the housework. I empty the bins, sort the dishwasher and keep the kitchen clean and tidy. David does all the hoovering and mopping of the floors which with four dogs is an every day job. The main reason for this is because I am renowned for breaking vacuum cleaners. I had a brand new Dyson and it only lasted for three weeks. I don't know why, but for some reason I am utterly useless with them. Recently David caught the early bus down to town and I did the housework. Of course I broke the hoover, although by now it was already battered and stuck together with glue and sticky tape. So when we saw that the people selling the water cooler also had a hoover for sale it was a must have. Although it was second hand it had never actually been used. It is more robust, more powerful and generally a lot better quality than our hoover. David says it is like having a Rolls Royce after a mini! I of course am not allowed to use it. A bit upsetting but there you go (haha!).

We have also bought an electric welder and we have bought the metal to build a fence between the new courtyard garden and the vegetable garden. After that we want to make a framework to go over the outdoor sofa for plants to grow up, and eventually the base of the kosk for the front garden, So it will enable us to get on with all those jobs too. Work, work, work! Who said retiring to live in the sun was going to be easy!

Another job I have done is to put screening on the railings around the front garden. This is for multiple reasons. To provide privacy around the pool now that they have built houses in front of us, as an attempt to stop so much debris blowing into the pool, to cut down on the wind that we get from the front, an effort to discourage the dogs from barking so much on the basis that they won't be able to see so much going on outside to bark at and to keep the passing goats from eating our roses. An added and unexpected bonus is that our roses look better with it as a back drop too.

Screening on the railings is a big improvement for a lot of reasons.

The dogs are well but naughty. The puppies have now destroyed almost everything in the sitting room. Unfortunately our cat Thomas was hit by a car last week and is a very poorly boy. He has a broken hip and internal injuries, but we are hoping that he will eventually make a full recovery.

I recently enjoyed a day out on a Thai and Korean cooking day and have the certificate to prove it of which I am inordinately proud. We will both be going out this weekend because the Uzumlu mushroom Festival began today. It runs for three days and we intend going to have a look tomorrow and Sunday. Today is work as usual, but tonight we will be able to hear the concert music floating up the hill and we are looking forward to that. Sunday is also car boot day. The last one before the autumn when they will restart boo hoo!
But more of all of that later on..........

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