garden bits

Sunny and mild today, which makes a change. The buds on the Worcester Black Pear (always the first) are opening.

Elsewhere, I’ve finally wrestled the oak tub that Mum gave me for Christmas into position. The seasoned oak is extremely tough: I didn’t manage to drill a single drainage hole using the 32mm flatbit before the cordless drill ran out of charge! Try again, using a smaller bit … the 25mm flatbit managed two holes per charge. Then fill with the contents of two old growbags and assorted pots, used last year for the tomatoes, liberally laced with fish, blood and bone fertiliser, and topped up with the last of last year’s bag of general-purpose compost. It’s all horribly squelchy at the moment, so will need to dry out for a week or two before planting.

It’s destined to have dwarf (patio-style) raspberries in it, but they’re perfectly happy on the windowsill in the spare room for the time being. Sadly, my large raspberries have failed to crop decently for two years, due to insect depradations – sawfly, I think. I’m determined to break the cycle, and the reason for going for dwarf raspberries this year is so that they’re a manageable size to spray with whatever organic pestkillers come to hand … milk, vinegar, and suchlike.

Also, because it was such a mild day, I gave the bedroom a thorough going over with flea powder – there’s been a problem for a couple of weeks. Applied at 11am, hoovered up around 3pm, and window in bedroom, bathroom and spare room all fully opened to ensure a decent through draft. Windows closed at dusk … there’s still a bit of a smell, but the flea powder does say it has a pleasing scent that lingers …. I think that’s all it is, as sleeping in an insecticide-laden atmosphere is not a good idea.

eurghhh !

There’s been an increasing buildup of ice in the fridge part of my fridge/freezer. I can’t really see any reason for it: the setting is much as it’s always been, the freezer is fine, but there’s some three inches of ice halfway up on the left-hand side! Having run down fridge stocks, it’s out with bowls of steaming water … and I’d better clean the fridge inside properly while I’m at it.

If it happens again, I suppose I’ll have to pull the thing out and clean behind it: possibly the fins are obstructed by cobwebs and crap.. Not an easy job, as there’s a bare two inches of clearance at the sides …

And as part of today’s fridge clear-out: the very last square of the membrillo (quince cheese) I made last autumn. Yum!

bathroom things

The first flower-spike on the “amaryllis” on the bathroom windowsill has now opened (the 9th year running), and there’s a second spike on its way. Next to it, the dendrobium is also in flower … it makes the bathroom a joyous place at the moment!

forsythia opening

Having been at Green Mount for a couple of days, I returned to find that the forsythia brought in on New year’s Day has burst into blossom.

I wasn’t actually feeling up to going over there, but Jane was away and while Mium managed the first night on her own, two nights was thought to be too much. I was pretty much dizzy and breathless after I arrived, but after sleeping for a couple of hours managed the rest of Sunday OK. Monday was OK while I was there, but by the time I arrive home I was completely done for. The thing about post-covid is that after rather few hours of feeling fine and doing things, I abruptly crash completely with little warning, so I’m very reluctant to push my limits in any way.

getting more active

Yesterday was over to Birmingham, to Synexus for the RSV trial: they wanted to de-briefme after I’d had covid. A train strike day, and as usual for West Midland there were no trains between Worcester and Brum. Fortunately, when Synexus made the appointment, I’d asked them to organise a cab in the absence of trains, which duly happened.

The afternoon was a call to Faithfull Alarms, as there’s been a problem with mu alarm since the day after I got covid. Nothing serious, but it bleeped annoyingly every five minutes, unless I pressed “disarm”, which silenced it for four hours. A quick five minutes of replacing the battery fixed it – obviously a dud battery, as it was done late November and should have lasted two years plus.

Also yesterday, a belated discussion with Clare about the “Blue Best” – my old electric bike. We agreed a price, and I got an email this morning to say that she and Ian will come round for coffee and to collect it tomorrow (Thursday). This rather inspired me to catch up on some of the housework I haven’t been up to for nearly three weeks, due to covid fatigue / laziness.

New Year

For the last three and a half decades (over half my lifetime!), and three houses, I’ve had a personal tradition of bringing in forsythia on New Year’s Day. Starting as bare twigs, over the next couple of weeks they’ll open into full glorious yellow blossom, as a reminder that the days are lengthening and we’re heading for Spring.

Christmas Day

Only the second time I’ve spent Christmas Day on my own. The last time was a dozen years ago, in London. I’m not feeling as covid-ed as I was, though this morning’s test was still firmly positive. In fact, halfway through waiting for the test to finish I got a phone call from Clare, asking me to go to the front window. She and Ian were outside on the pavement, so there was much cheerful waving and exchanges of “Merry Christmas”.

I’d been asked to set up a Zoom with those at Green Mount, which was timed for 1600h. It started off with Mum on her ipad, plus Theo / Chloe / Jane in the kitchen. Mum had actually managed to make it downstairs to the sitting room – her first trip downstairs for a couple of months. The kitchen mob disconnected after a bit, as the internet connection at Green Mount isn’t really up to two Zooms: it’s the “upload” side that’s so bad, as there’s no problem with several people watching different things simultaneously.

I’m now having a sit-down before tackling preparing Christmas Dinner. The duck (which has been gently unfreezing for the last two days) is out of the fridge and unwrapped, to come to room temperature. Sadly, I have no sprouts (ASDA was out, and substituted broccoli in yesterday’s delivery), but with planned roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots and broccoli I think I’m OK! No Christmas Pudding either, though I do have mince pies … perhaps best left for tomorrow.

ouchies !

I was due a delivery of “wood” (eco-friendly compressed sawdust reconstituted logs) on Thursday, which didn’t arrive. This afternoon, someone from several houses away rang my doorbell to say that they’d been dumped on his front path (fortunately, with a delivery note giving my address) – he’d been away and only just got back.

The effort of shifting this load was very not good for my dodgy back, even wearing a back brace … a normal delivery to my front path, to be moved just inside and dealt with a leisure is about at my limit. So, a hot bath, a couple of tramadol, and hoping to knock myself out for twelve hours. Fortunately, I don’t have anything to do tomorrow, as I doubt whether I’ll be able to walk more than a dozen yards for a day or two.

brrrr – cost!

September gas and electricity bills = £41.
December gas and electricity bills = £242.
Thank goodness the cold snap is forecast to let up tomorrow! I’m coping OK with the cost (through having overpaid during the summer), but it must be nightmarish for people on tight incomes and benefits