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Saturday, 28 June 2008

Wimbledon for Cats

Tigger has discovered Wimbledon. She started off by watching from the floor but it all became too tempting and... She had to get up for a closer look. Here she awaits Hawkeye's verdict on a line call!
What's that little blue thing that just ran on and stole the ball I was after?
Give it back! Oops, squashed Federer by mistake.
Maybe if I get right inside I'll be able to get the ball to play with. If Mum would get one of those new fangled, large, flat-screen tellies I'd be much better at tennis, and maybe golf too.
Cheers Gillian and Tigger

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Oh What A Lovely Camera!

This new camera lets me do photos of ME! What you do is set it all up on a pile of books to match your face level. Programme it to do delayed shot, which gives you 10 seconds, then rush around to the chair you've set up.....and POSE.

It took quite a few poses to get one as nice as this. I'm still searching the menu for the delete button for the rest!
While I wiled away the day visiting and shopping, Simon continued with his assault against the weeds.He has continued around the base of the white lilac and the ground is now awaiting planting. Money involved here but I'm happy to spend it on heritage.

I shall wait to see how well the books go at the auction at Tennants tomorrow before I buy up big in the plants division.

I bought a grand old mirror on ebay and we managed to mount it last week. I must admit that we didn't have any screws suitable but a quick trip to Focus, a mere 6 miles away and back, got us what we needed as you can see in the next pic.

It's Victorian rather than Georgian but is set on porcelain bun feet and suits the size of the room and mantle piece

There is a lovely mock Wernicke bookcase and the fire surrounds are a mixture of copper and brass. I shall get the fender out from the laundry tomorrow and finish off the "look".

We hung lots of pictures and arranged lots of furniture and got rid of wood-wormed prints.

There is no doubt that the front room has rising damp but a careful arrangement of furniture and prints will obscure that for a while. Luckily it is a "ready mixed" Dulux colour so I can just keep re-painting the bits that need it.

Cheers to all


Monday, 23 June 2008

New Camera Brings Delays While Learning New Software

Of course the first thing to find its way into the viewfinder of the new camera was the cat. She is happily curled up on her personal, hand-knitted rug, with bits of glitter in it. Fit for a Princess!!! The rug was originally in a patch of sunbeam but she has not noticed its passing. She is also keen on the piles of books which proliferate about the place. She jumps from one to the other and only knocks a few down. These piles are in preparation for the Tynemouth Station Bookfair this Sunday. I am hoping to take some prints and pictures and frames as well because Ylana has allocated me a "Wall Stall". I can use the wall behind me to display stuff.

The baby thrushes are doing well and Tigger has abandoned her efforts to climb up and inspect them because I have bagged the trunks of the two espaliered trees which provide access to the nest. Most cats will not climb through the rattle of the bags because they can't tell what is beneath the plastic. I've just wrapped them round the trunks and held them there with masking tape which can be removed in a couple of weeks when the nestlings have flown. It does the tree no harm but I doubt that the thrushes will nest there next year, after their alarm this year.

I found to my delight that there are a couple of peonies to the north of the summer house. Flamboyant and short lived, but I love the splash of colour and the splendour of them. They and the lupins were badly damaged at the weekend by the downpour followed by the strong winds.

This is the "rockery" that Simon has cleared. He has weed-sprayed it and I have snail-baited it so we have had a happy time killing a few things. When it has settled back to normal I will be off to Eggleston to select some plants to enhance the area. What grows really quickly and fills a bare area in a week or so? Apart from weeds!

I just went out for a perambulation and in the neglected jungle down the back are some fennel, black currants , pumpkin/squash looking things and a baby blackbird which I nearly trod on.

My sister and her husband came to stay last week and fell in love with the place. BIL is full of wonderful ideas to make me stay here as long as I can. "Craft in the Garden" sounds good. And I still like the idea of using wild foods. Last year I made Sweet Cicely and Lemon Cordial and also Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam. This year on my walks I have located many lovely wild foods I could use....Wild cherries, gooseberries, crab apples, blackberries, elderflowers and berries and even wild strawberries. I just have to remember where they all are at harvest time! I also spotted some lovely lichens for dyeing my spun wool.

While they were here there was a lot of climbing up and down step ladders and much drilling, none of which was done by me but I now have the mirror up in the front room, curtain rails in five rooms, curtains in two and pictures up about the place. It took the three of us together to re-hang the bookroom door but at last it is done and any more Jackdaws can be contained more easily. More of these improvements in the next post.

Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Raby Blue

I happily admit to being a vassal of the local earldom so when I was woken on Tuesday morning at 8 am by a couple of paint-spattered overalls with happy and handsome faces on top, saying "it's your turn to have your house painted", I relented immediately and opened all the windows and doors throughout the place so that they could commence.

It has taken a few days. The only colours available for painting on the Raby Estate are black, used usually for barns and roofs; white, used for farmhouses and out buildings; and Raby Blue, for doors, gates and other outdoor bits other than windows.

So, I went for Raby Blue. I have eight doors and gates and they were all painted the "Estate" colour. The rest of the stuff has been painted white and all I have to do now is, hoover up all the bits which were scraped off and fell inside each of the fifteen window sills.

While it was happening today, I took off for a 5 miler to wear-in the new boots. I got lost and the footpath disappeared under a field of rapeseed so I'm now nursing some sore heels. I hope to be repaired enough to do the Seaham geology walk this Sunday. It's an easy one and I'll wear the light weight boots and tons of bandaid stuff.

I hope it rains soon or I shall have to go out and water the new plants. I haven't got a hose yet so it will all take an hour or so.

Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Redumbrella...Having Fun Selling Books!

It was a wonderful June day, weatherwise, and about forty stalls set up at Raby Castle for a Plant, Food and Craft fair. So Redumbrella Books set up a secondhand bookstall in plant, food and craft books. I also added some light hearted "cat" books and some prints.

It was a well attended day with lots of chatting and fun between the stall holders and the visitors. I sold more than I expected and Archer's Jersey Ice Cream set up a kiosk next to me and the queue for the ice cream went past my stall. That provided me with captive browsers!!! The money raised by me will pay Simon for his work in the garden.

I made friends from the craft stalls and look forward to having Karen round for a spinning and dyeing session. When I got home I tried to cut some gum leaves off my own tree, to use for dyeing, but the best ones are growing out in the Wynd so I shall go down there with a step ladder and some shears tomorrow. The leaves will need to be thoroughly dried before use to get the most intense colour. In Australia, gum leaves are at their best for dyeing after a long dry season. This will obviously not happen to the tree at the bottom of my garden.

While I was earning some money at the fair, Simon was digging out the other two triangles. It was hot work and that was all he could do.

Tomorrow I shall buy some more bags of compost so that we can plant up these areas. I shall also buy some slug bait because the slugs are already getting to my precious lupins.

I let Tigger out for the first time tonight and she loved it all so much, she spent a couple of hours exploring before she came in. All the birds were on full cat-alert and the squawking and dive-bombing was spectacular. She is fairly careless of the jackdaws, but more worried by the blackbirds. I shall have to make sure that the slug bait is not to her taste.

She has already been on top of the wall, but has not yet climbed a tree. I think she will find that much to her liking.

Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 5 June 2008


Here's a tentative hello from Tigger. She was hiding under the bedclothes as one does after a trip to the vet. She is having a slow wander and a few Iams to keep her strength up. I thought we were done today but there are to be two more check-ups and no going out for another ten days. Goodness! If it's anything like last year the summer will be over!!!

This, at the moment, is her best side, showing off her lovely silver colouring and rosettes.

This is obviously "not her best side". She seems more indignant than uncomfortable and let me know it by wailing all the way home. She had the temerity to growl at a big dog which got too close to her carry case at the vet and startled everyone and the dog.

Cheers Gillian

Security All Round

The gate on the eastern side of the garden was beginning to disappear. It was as if everyone who walked past helped themselves to a piece as a souvenir. That was easy to do because the wood was so rotten. It made me feel a bit insecure so I asked the estate office if they could nail a plank to it or something!
So today, when Michael turned up I asked if he was going to mend it.

He laughed and revved up the chain saw!

It appears that he had already made a new one and he fitted it this morning. It is mighty strong and easily bolted from the inside. And it is held firmly to the wall on BOTH hinges so it does not swing drunkenly when

I'm impressed and happy with the result. Perhaps, now that my complaints list has been shortened, I can make another visit to the office to ask if they can put a bird shield on the chimney that the jackdaw came down!

The poor thing got down the chimney but couldn't get out again and took two days to tunnel out into the garden room accompanied by copious quantities of soot and rocks. All's well that ends well and it eventually flew out of the window I opened for it, the soot mostly landed on the end cut of loose carpet that was in front of the grate and Tigger the cat decided not to follow it out of the window. I think she was a bit surprised at how large jackdaws are close up.

Today she is at the vet being speyed, microchipped and injected against everything a cat can get. This means that she can stay in a cattery while I go away. I checked out the local one today near Gainford and it is a veritable "Cat's Hilton". She won't want to come home!

At last I have a garden with a lupin in flower. These plants are banned in most areas of Australia because they can carry diseases which may affect the agricultural lupin crop, which would be a financial disaster. Mine is not very showy yet but the others all seem to be catching up fast and soon there should be a bank of them against the wall.
I was also struck today by all the colours of the trees. Once again I've always wanted a "Golden Rain" laburnum and had just planted one in the side garden in Australia before I left. There is a giant here and beside it is my other real favourite...White Lilac. In fact I have a love of white flowers and often choose them before the colours. To the right of the lilac is the dark leaved prunus and below and to its left is the Silver Birch. The very tall tree is the "Gum" tree at the bottom of the garden but I will have to wait till it flowers before I can identify its type and whether it is a eucalypt or a corymbia.

A lovely sunny day here and the doors and windows are open for the first time this summer... mainly because Tigger is not here to make a dash for it over the wall!

Cheers to all