10 Jul 2008

I have a garden …

…. of sorts. Well, in the making really, but I’m so pleased that I have some outside space and can potter and grow things again. Eight years in Scotland without a garden … I really missed it.


But a way to go yet.
The outside re-do started off with having to get the painters in to fix the back of the house which was looking decidedly shabby and the side courtyard wall that had had been rough cement rendered at some stage.
It was definitely a professional job – it needed scaffolding and a high pressure spray – way beyond my capabilities…..
Before:
During:
After:
I’ve been busy assembling eight planter boxes (those damn flat packs again….).
A little time-consuming with my little cordless screwdriver and cordless drill. The painter took pity on me one day and went out to his van and loaned me his much more powerful electric screwdriver. That certainly hurried things along a bit!
And filling them with bits and pieces (the fun bit). I’ve actually done a real mix here – there are plants that will be there hopefully permanently and some that definitely won’t - i.e. morning glory creepers for a quick cover, runner beans, rocket and lettuces!
And I’ve made a start on the paving for a path down to the garage. They’re heavy – my first run I had 14 in the car and a couple of bags of soil – yesterday I managed 20 slabs.
I had a bit of a set-back yesterday with the planter boxes. They weigh a ton now that they’re full of wet soil and plants, and I realised that I need to move them forward about 30cm. Well, kindly Robin came over to help today and the first thing that happened was that the back trellis bit parted company with the bottom heavy bit, i.e. the screws pulled out …
So it was at risk of spilling dirt and plants everywhere if we continued. So on yesterday’s trip to pick up more paving stones, I also bought a lot of very long screws to try to reinforce things before trying to move them again.
I made a token effort yesterday afternoon, but it was hot as all hell in the courtyard, so that job’s been put on the back-burner until things [hopefully] cool down a bit…. The other alternative of course is to get out there at sparrows ….. Best laid plans and all that ….
Since moving into the barn, I seem to have a lot more flies indoors and I'm loath to do the Australian thing, and have a can of Mortein (or the French equivalent!) sitting on the kitchen table, at the ready.
Though I have to be honest and say I have been thinking of fly strips on the veranda [yuk] or even worse, a fly trap.
Margaret has bought a rather large flash model over the internet – a big plastic contraption that's hung in the garden but can smell a bit when it gets a few dead 'uns in it.
But I was thinking more of going for my Dad's home-made model, using the same principal. A large glass jar, with holes punched through the tin lid (so that jagged bits of the holes are on the inside), a bit of water and a bit of rotten squid (or the French equivalent!) in the bottom.
They can get in, but can't get out. Voila – cheap fly trap.
So in Albany, we grew up with these contraptions scattered around the garden – Dad was endlessly amused as these flies would get in and not be able to get out. They were revolting to behold, and even more revolting to smell if you got too close.
But – the good news is that I have a handy new gadget! Those who know me know that I love new technology and 'gadgets'. And this one is not only very useful, it's a whole lot of fun. I was at Robin and Ruth's – friends in the village - the other night, and saw theirs and just had to have one.
It's an electronic fly swatter! Runs on two small batteries and zaps them. If you're lucky enough to catch them, that is. I have to say I was a little enthusiastic on my first try and nearly put my arm out trying to swat one. I've learned that a slowly-slowly, more stealthy approach works better.
Interestingly, I did a search on the internet and discovered that they're banned in Australia – I read about several people's experiences of buying them overseas and having them confiscated by Australian Customs at the airport on their return. Apparently they're considered a 'dangerous electric-shock device'.hehe
Not so here, I'm delighted to say …..
Orange = old model, yellow = new.
Given all the stuff I’ve moved in the last year or so, my little car has come up trumps – I’m still amazed at the amount of stuff I can cram into it. This photo is not bad at all, in fact it’s a rather light load!
I recently came back from Narbonne, hoping not to see the gendarmes, with a 3-seater settee hanging out the back (tied down!) and was more than a little nervous. Even the kindly man at the second-hand store who helped me tie the back down, was saying ‘doucement, doucement’ … gently, gently…
But my little Suzuki has been fantastic – whoever would have thought that initially I wanted to buy an automatic diesel Renault, in any colour but grey!
A follow up:

Last month, when Wendy and Steve and Michael were visiting – Steve pointed out that he’d noticed that other villages they’d visited had condom machines outside their pharmacies…. and why didn’t Bize? Well, I didn’t know the answer to that one …..
However, as of a week or so ago, Bize does indeed now have its own brand-new blue condom machine, mounted on the wall outside the pharmacy ….

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