Tuesday 29 November 2022

The importance of a tightly drafted brief

I am just about ready to tell you the sorry tale of my garden bench. I dug out a couple of old photos so that you could get an idea of what it looked like Before. The wood was past its best, but the ends were lovely and smooth with a sort of blue-black look to them.

I wanted to repair it, rather than buy a new one, even though a new one would have been cheaper than buying new wood and new fixings. It's a bog standard cheap bench and quite old, but I hate throwing things away so I got the necessary stuff.

I couldn't remove the old bolts, which were rusted, so I asked the local community repair shop to do it. I gave them the bench and the wood and the new bolts and they assured me it would be no trouble at all to fit the new wood.

I bumped into one or two of the chaps out and about and they hinted that a lovely job was being made of it. The wood would be treated! It would all be magnificent. 

They were also doing up bikes for Ukrainian refugees because they are all in all good eggs, so I waited patiently for weeks, looking forward to having a functional bench again. It was a bit of a treat to be honest, splashing out on the wood. I could picture how nice it would be.

Then the call came. It was done! I could go and get it! 

I rounded up some strong boys and off we went. There was excitement at the shop, they'd gone all out they told me. Not just wood treatment, but they'd given it a coat of paint was well! 

Oh, I said, how nice. Inside I was thinking, paint??? I tried to imagine what colour they had gone for. I guessed green. And I was right. It was indeed green. THICK BRIGHT GREEN GLOSS. WITH ORANGE VARNISH. Oh horror of horrors. 

I was almost lost for words. The lovely smooth patina-ed ends all choked up with hideous gloss paint. Thick, thick, thick gloss paint. It is never coming off, ever. And it will never fade. It might chip, but not to worry, THERE IS MORE UNDERNEATH.

They all looked pleased as punch to have gone above and beyond and delivered such a thing. It was carried out and placed in isolated splendour for me to appreciate it in all its perfection. The orange wood really stood out against the THICK BRIGHT GREEN. I couldn't imagine a more striking combination. 

I paid the money and organised the urchins to carry it off and spent at least two minutes thanking them nicely because I didn't want to hurt the feelings of the person who had had the brilliant idea of green paint and orange varnish and who had made sure I had such a magnificent surprise. But inside, inside I was screaming. 

So here it is, back home in the garden, where I can see it all day from where I work. To be fair, the wood has changed colour slightly, possibly even for the better. But the green paint, no siree, that is as fresh as the day it was painted back in the summer. It has taken me this long to speak about it. 

I suppose you want to see it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Contrast it, if you will, with the other bench, which is blending in nicely and not shouting at all.

I suppose the trick will be to sit on the ghastly orange and green bench and look at the other bench. Although this doesn't solve the problem of me staring out of the window at it all the livelong day. Sigh. I know I am being overly dramatic, but what was supposed to be more of an eco-friendly solution has turned into a gloss paint nightmare. But it's fine. I am almost over it and I am certain that you will come up with a tasteful solution for me, such as covering it with a nice soft padded patchwork throw or rubbing yoghurt into it so that it ages back into beauty. You will come up with a tasteful solution, won't you?

Friday 25 November 2022

Tranquility, and the magnificence that is Patricia


Photos from a glorious day by the canal with the middle boy, who wanted to go fishing. We were out pretty much from sunrise to sunset. He caught a pike while I pottered around taking photos and reading about canal history.

It's fascinating. Take this pill box for example:

It is one of a ring of around 260 pill boxes forming a protective circle, known as Stop Line Green, around Bristol and the port of Avonmouth, to try and prevent German forces from approaching from the east in the Second World War. It was also to defend the factory there, which was a ghost factory, ready to take over munitions production if another factory was bombed. Scary times indeed. The pill box is unusual in that it is two storeys high, rather than just one, and has what is believed to be an anti-aircraft placement on top.

The factory was in an old cloth mill, originating from the late 1400s. Lots of history down on the canal, I'm telling you.

The bit I liked best was called 'The Ocean':

Not exactly ocean-sized, but very pretty. No-one knows exactly why it's called The Ocean - maybe a touch of sarcasm. Or maybe because back in the day it was as near to an ocean as the yokels got.

I also read about how a railway bridge over the canal has just been rebuilt after they drained a stretch of the canal, moving fish and everything. The wildlife has reappeared now the water is back. A kingfisher flew right past me and I saw a buzzard right overhead and a greater spotted woodpecker in a tree. A family of swans spent the day drifting up and down a pretty stretch of the water. All in all a good day out. I even managed to stay calm(ish) when the fish was caught. You will be happy to know it was released again and no-one was bitten.

The old manor house behind the wall with the grass and the bench (ate my sandwiches there) is Stonehouse Court and dates back to 1601. In fact the estate is mentioned in the Domesday book. The church next to it (the photo with the weeping willow) dates back originally to the 1200s, but the building that is there now was started in the 1400s.

Panning out, there was a glorious barge in the canal next to Stonehouse Court called Patricia. I know you'll want to see her...

Magnificent, no? Who knew you could get a JCB boat?

In other news I am ignoring both the World Cup and Christmas. There is almost nothing positive about the former and the latter is just annoying and generally an eco-disaster.

I've been enjoying the early sunsets and the cosy winter feeling. While simultaneously trying to hold back with the heating :) Tricky isn't it. I do so love the countryside in winter. All that cold clean sky and pretty cottages with lighted windows in the dusk. 

Do you think it's time to put sunflower seeds out for the birds? They naturally dispersed in spring so I stopped feeding them, like they do at the wetlands place. But I feel it might be time to start up again.

I'm also contemplating getting a crab apple tree for wildlife. Although I never see birds actually eating crab apples. Maybe that's because I am always walking past the tree at the time. I have pretty much persuaded myself anyway. They are very pretty almost all year round. I would want one with small berry-sized (bird-bite-sized) crab apples for the birds I think. 

I am still waiting for a hedgehog. Well, there could actually be one in the hedgehog house but I don't like to look in case there is and I disturb it. I think the rat is still living under next-door's decking though. Bertie has a good sniff around on a regular basis and he should know with his super-spaniel nose. I am not fussy about wildlife, a rat will do nicely for now. 

All okay at your end? Ignoring anything? Got a hedgehog?