We bought the Old Mushroom farm site in October 2010 and I devoted myself full-time to the site from late July 2011. Six acres of wilderness that had accrued twenty years of neglect.
And it's been full-on ever since.
In this new life I am used to: having every waking hour committed to our new project; being constantly baffled by the conversations of those in the building trade I now spend my time with; waking up feeling tired; aching .. and standing up very slooowly.
I'm used to not: taking holidays; going birdwatching; going to the gym; going shopping in town. I'm getting used to having almost no money left.
But I never tire of the delights of this new life.
We are moving to the final phase of work on our new bungalow 'Waxwings' now that plasterboarding has finished. Next week plastering begins and then we can follow on with second fix electrics and plumbing and begin painting. There is still so much work to do, but there is such tremendous satisfaction every time I walk around our new home-to-be.
And there are equal satisfactions outside as we begin to reap the rewards of our efforts creating gardens.
On Monday we were tidying the Woodland Garden and I was weeding through the dense and glossy 'elephants ears' leaves of low growing bergenias we had planted when a bird shot out. I discovered a robin's nest on the ground with five mottled brown eggs within a tightly woven cup of grass and moss. What boyish pleasure I derived from this.
And as a small, funnyossity of a child, I was frequently engrossed in my bird books. One of my books had a lovely, soft illustrtaion of a tree sparrow (passer sylvestris) with its deep chocolate crown and white cheek patch. On Tuesday I had a tree sparrow inspecting one of my nesting boxes!! This will sound trivial for most readers, but to have an iconic bird whose numbers are in such decline visiting a nesting box that I have sited was almost overwhelming....
I am blessed to have dad's company each week although he does have the ability to unwittingly make me smile. During garden tidying we'd removed the lovely, soft golden fronds of the golden grass stipa tenuissima and I'd suggested dad use the grass to replenish the hens' nesting boxes in what he calls 'The Eggery'. When I checked the nest boxes for eggs the following day he'd packed the boxes tight with grass, believing I think that our hens are a rare strain of burrowing bantams.
the 'mother patch' of violets used to fill the Cedar Walk
Then, as the weather and the sun brightened, I was working in the Cedar Walk. A little over a year ago this was a dark and impenetrable corner of the site. We removed dominating sycamores and then cleared chest high brambles and nettles. It is now many peoples favourite part of the site, being a temporary home to a motley collection of shrubs and trees. To combat weeds we planted lots of insect-friendly geraniums, tiarellas and symphytums. We had discovered a patch of violets in the Woodland Garden and planted patches of these along the Cedar Walk. As I hoed, I became aware for the first time in my life of the sweet and delicate scent of violets.