Undiscovered treasures

I try and keep one day a week free so that I don’t have to do any teaching – that’s not always as easy as it sounds! Though I only teach between two and seven hours a day, I like to have a day off. It’s not so much as a day off, though, as Day of Sweat.  The reason for this is fairly simple: whilst most of my teaching is in the evening, I still don’t like to work myself up into a full sweat because then I’m exhausted and I don’t feel like I’m at my best.

Usually, Tuesday is my day off, but my Monday evening clients swapped til today, so I spent yesterday doing my Tuesday tasks. It might be stinky and sweaty, but it leaves me feeling virtuous. Yesterday was Day of Sweat via Vicious Pruning.

What I’m most pleased with though is the fact I’ve finally cleared out the potting shed. I say potting shed and what I really mean is this kind of old pig-sty place (literally) with a big space for straw and what-have-you at the top, which then has two walls sticking out from it which has then been roofed with something that may or may not be asbestos. Oh well.

When I signed the paperwork, the dark and dingy space looked a little like this:

Obviously, it’s not snowing right now! It seems to have been a bit of a work space, but I’ve no idea if the old couple here before me ever kept animals in the little rooms at the back. I’m half-sold on a couple of goats or a couple of sheep and they could sleep in there. Or some geese. It’s too small for cows or horses and generally a bit gloomy and dark back there. A pig would be pretty useless. Me and pigs are like Charlotte and Wilbur. There’s no way I could eat a piggie I’d raised myself. Likewise goats and sheep. Really, they’d just be pets, and I have enough of those, which is why I’m thinking ducks or geese. Not like I don’t have enough eggs from the chickens, though.

Now who lives in a house like this?

You can even see my tidy pea canes and my little pitchfork. Every country girl needs a pitch fork.

Anyway, it’s always been the wood shop, and will continue to be – so one half has all the wood stuff in – the saw horse and the chainsaw, the saws and the axes. And the other side, I have cleaned up and is now my potting station!

Now, don’t laugh.

And don’t write a comment asking me when I plan on tidying it. This is it. For now.

Despite the fact it’s south-facing, it’s very gloomy because the big barn blocks out all the light. I don’t mind. I’m never in it long. But now, all my pots are in the right places, all the sawdust has been swept up, all the tools and nets and things are tidied up and put away. It’s not like this dreamy House to Home version:

But it will do, right?

No, it’s not cute, but it’s clean and it’s practical. And that’s fine with me.

I’ve also done a little more on the ‘hedge’ outside Maddie’s Cabinet. Two more full wheel-barrows. I was going to post a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture, but they both still look like ‘before’ pictures. I don’t know why. It looks pretty different to me already. It’s a ‘hedge’ in inverted commas (or Dr Evil Air Quotes as one of my favourite students used to call them) because it really was more in keeping with … hmmm… I’d say jungle, but you can hack through those with a machete, and this was beyond that.

I stopped when I thought about getting a spirit level out. You know you’ve gone too far when you’re thinking about spirit levels. It does look pretty good though. Well, compared to what I know it looked like before…

And before you ask, this is ‘after’ as well. I’m too embarrassed to show you before. Plus, I can’t guarantee I could have stopped my mum coming over on the plane with some secateurs. And we all know that secateurs aren’t Ryanair’s idea of carry on luggage. For one thing, they poke out of overhead lockers.

See… that’s almost straight, isn’t it?!

The so-called hedge was mainly some kind of hedging shrub, two great big hollies growing out of them, and then a whole load of brambles. Next on my chop list are the conifers at the end. I can’t decide whether to go for the ‘wall’ effect (when I’ll be wanting my spirit level again!) or something a bit more natural.

Then, once that’s clear, I’ll be scraping off the paint, giving the shutters, windows and doors a coat of fire-engine red gloss, painting the exterior white and removing all the rotten wood that means it’s a death trap. Well, not exactly death trap on account of there are only two steps, but it might cause death if you sprained your ankle, fell on the holly I’ve abandoned, got tetanus and then died.

What I love most is that autumn gives you time to catch up. Spring is manic. Summer is crazy. Autumn is time to prepare and to catch up with everything Nature’s given you in the last six months, and time to nest for winter. It’s completely at odds with school life, where we gear up in autumn and slow down in the summer. That long autumn term is always an uphill slog. In real life, it’s a lazier, downhill recuperation – the polar opposite of my previous Septembers.

Speaking of nesting, I found a little nest in the hedge today. I love birds’ nests. They’re always so well-made. I put it back in the hedge just in case anyone decides they want to use it again. I don’t want some little bird to come back in the spring and wonder what the bloody hell happened to their house.

I love my busy days. They make me feel so productive. And there’s nothing like a few aching muscles to make you feel virtuous.


2 thoughts on “Undiscovered treasures

  1. Your ‘some kind of hedging plant’ looks like box. Stick some of your clippings in the ground – more than half of them will shoot and then you’ve got the makings of a new hedge somewhere else, or gifts for non-gardening friends – especially if you are willing to wait a couple of years to pot them on and topiarise them.

    1. I think I just might do that. I have a whole, long line of chicken wire along about 100 metres of the property, and whilst it only looks on to fields, it’s a bit exposed. On the other hand, I like seeing the open fields and harbouring the odd wild boar that gets in! I’ll plant some in today.

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