thetrevproject Independence day Update

I am going to start with the weather again. I think my obsession with weather is partly due to the fact I am a farmer’s son. Much of my childhood school holiday life was determined by the weather as my Dad’s daily activity was dictated by the weather and so our activity was also dependent on the weather.  The last 12 months have been very interesting weather-wise so for a weather anorak like me there is a lot to talk about. We have so many good sunsets it as almost boring.

The weather continues to be lovely in this part of Cornwall depending on your point of view. The weather has been warm and dry for most of June which is great for holiday makers and leisure time however if you are a farmer or a grower it means more work. You need to be watering your plants far more in this kind of weather. For me it has meant a little creativity. I have placed two water containers totally about 150 litres near the poly tunnel so I can water a bit easier. I fill them with a hose every 2 – 3 days. The water butt which is collecting shed roof water near the tunnel has long since dried up. You can follow my polytunnel efforts on Instagram at ollys_poly. It’s a long way from paying off its cost at the moment but if I could save 30% of its cost by providing “free” vegs but we have had 3 cherry tomatoes and a cabbage so far.

There is a potential cloud on the horizon with the long dry spell and that is that we only have water from a borehole. It was said by the previous resident that one summer they did run out of water. Speaking to a local farmer though he says he can’t remember the spring at the bottom of the hill running dry so let’s hope we don’t run out of water. Some people are starting to say it looks like 1976 again. We are starting to collect washing machine water to water the hydrangeas and some other plants as a minor nod to water conservation. We use Ecover washing products so there are not many nasties in the washing machine effluent.

We took advantage of the good weather to go to a wedding in Herefordshire and stayed in the wonderfully named Symonds Yat. I have never been to Herefordshire apart from for work and it is a wonderful place. We had time to have a long chat to RSPB lady about the Peregrine Falcons nesting near the rock at Symonds Yat, we saw the nest site but  didn’t see the birds until they flew over the hotel later.

We stopped off at Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire on the way back. How did they manage to build this in 1268 an the middle of the countryside.

There was even time to hug a tree and ask for help with our car whose engine management light ad come on. It worked and the light was not on when we re-started the car.

There are no big projects going on here at the moment and I have no job so I have been pottering about in the garden a lot. Not much to show there but the foundations of a good garden are being laid, a little more rain would be good though as the lawns are starting to look a bit parched. I think it is sort of sacrilege to not be outside when the weather is so good.  None of those “I will do that in the summer” jobs have been done yet. And now of course Wimbledon has started so there are plenty of easy procrastination excuses all afternoon.

The bad news is that Louise finishes work today for the summer so we are planning a trip to Exeter next week … to go to the new Ikea. To be fair we do need some wardrobes and a few other things and I think Ikea are good at inexpensive but good quality furniture so we will see how we get on

I have upped my rowing to twice a week now.  In fact on Monday I rowed twice in a day including once with the elite men (including 2 of the world champion team), I survived reasonably well but my technique needs to improve a bit.

We have new addition to the household now – a kitten called Monty. He is sort of dark brown/black with white socks and a white flash on his nose. He was a farm cat of dubious, possibly in bred, parentage but he is quite a little character and Fred has accepted him quickly.  He did arrive with a few minor health issues (cat flu, conjunctivitis and fleas) which is expensive but is now very much on the mend now and very energetic in between sleeps. He has an annoying habit of running up your legs regardless of whether you have bare legs or not to sit on you shoulder.

 

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June at thetrevproject

We are well into a proper summer here is Cornwall so there is not much going on inside the house. All the activity is outside with the exception of the fact that Esme is home and is painting her bedroom walls.  She has discovered that painting can be a dull experience but she is doing a great job (photos to follow).

We have hit a very significant milestone this week. The electrician came and fitted the last outside light so we have reached technical completion of the building works so I need to arrange for a final inspection by the architect and then pay half of the retention.

We are in a very rural location so we get a fair amount of wildlife here. During last week in the field in front of our house we saw a fox and two cubs playing in the field for about half an hour, roe deer on two occasions once in broad daylight and a badger. Of course there are lots of rabbits but the numbers have declined probably due to the presence of the foxes. We also have loads of birds despite the face that we have large open areas. In addition to the sparrows, tits, robins, wagtails etc. we have a cock pheasant with a sore leg that hops every where on one foot, a crow’s nest at the top of a very tall tree, a jackdaw nest in the old aga chimney and loads of swallows. Apparently swallow numbers are down this year but we seem to have our full complement and they arrived quite early. The problem with all this wildlife is that it is very difficult to get decent pictures with a mobile phone and I don’t have a DSLR.

Another big issue is that I am now jobless. My contract as a quality controller for legionella risk assessments has run its course so I am looking for paid employment ( I have some voluntary and unpaid jobs). It has meant that I am able to spend long hours in the garden developing a good T shirt tan and remodelling various things. I have built a flower bed in the front garden. Ridiculously I had to buy in top soil as the area where the flower bed is has very little soil and the tree roots are only a few centimetres below the surface (there is rock just below the surface so trees roots go out radially rather than going downwards).  We are gradually stocking that up.

I have also been mowing the lawn and strimming around the place to neaten things up.Talking of strimming the local farmer has said to me several times that the tenants in the 80 ‘s and  90’s used to keep the front of the house and the island across the road very neat. I know this to be true because we found a photo of me standing in front of the Trevelyan sign in 1992 and the verge was immaculate. I have started strimming the island and the verge!

The polytunnel is also doing great things and my seedling collection is doing well. So far I have sweet potatoes, potatoes, aubergine, courgette, cucumber, 3 types of tomato, broad beans, runner beans, peas, mange touts, pumpkin, Sunflower, salad leaves, celery, spring onion, leek, carrots, cabbage, sweet corn, popcorn,  etc. My challenge is how to plant them all out and grow them to be productive. I also have a challenge with water. The water supply to the veg patch was mistakenly cut off by the builders and all the recent dry weather means that all my water butts are completely empty – I see my next project taking shape. We do actually have an underground rain water tank but there is no pump in it or any proper pipe work. Another project to work on.

There has been a minor improvement in the entrance area. We have planted the lavender in the lawn. The lavender  needs to grow a bit but it looks good. It has made the lawn a bit more difficult to mow though.

My project last week was to create a gravel garden in walled garden which is the cottage garden. It was fun but I am not used to doing physical labour 10 hours a day so my legs were a bit stiff afterwards. The granite chips delivered by the brilliantly named Dumpy Bag Man. You sort of need sunglasses to walk round there now as the granite chips are very white when dry. The plan is to grow plants in containers there so we can keep the area weed free and continually  looking fresh.   

Whilst preparing the area I dug an assortment of junk as is normal around here.

My latest project was to create a “cornfield”. Just a bit of ground to plant some sweetcorn. You can see the foreman supervising me and the corn planted out (it got a little windswept on the first day). Since its early summer I am hoping for a crop outside. I also planted some popcorn so that will be interesting, I just took some of Mary’s popping corn and planted it and hey presto it grew quickly and easily.

trigger’s broom @ thetrevproject

Summer officially started today, so guess what is was damp and drizzly. The weather has been fantastic recently which has meant that the grass has been growing well.

I have only got a 330 mm Flymo so it takes me in excess of 6000 steps to mow the main lawn which is approximately 500 square metres. I think I mentioned before that lawn is a bit of  a euphemism. Its meadow grass and weeds predominantly. I daren’t give it lawn food and weedkiller as I haven’t got the time and energy to mow it twice  week.

My mower is about 15 years old so its doing well. Actually is a bit like Trigger’s broom (Only Fools and Horses). I have replaced so many parts over the years it almost all been replaced. Most recently I replaced the impeller this week which was replaced thanks to espares it is now flying like a new mower.

I thought I would be lazy on this post and just upload a couple of videos. I forgot that I have to upload to Youtube first and then insert the url in the blog. The good news is though with my new fibre broadband I can upload almost instantaneously.

News on the BT front. I had a conversation with a lady in the Exeter call centre which was an absolute pleasure, not a phrase I have used about BT before. And… I got money back on my first month’s contract as they gave me a measly 50Mbs the other day when I should get a guaranteed minimum of 100Mbs. I also got £22 back from Vodafone for the time we had no signal due to the local mast being sabotaged.

Anyway here are a couple of videos of part of the garden. Apologies they are not edited, done in one take and not very professional, why would you expect professional on this blog 😆😆

 

 

the changing face of the entrance to thetrevproject

I thought I would do something a little different for this post. I decided I would look at some before and after photos of the approach to our front door to see how much it has changed. Luckily I have a photo from the 1950’s to start the whole thing off. So there is not a lot of text in this post. I can now also upload videos now that we have usable broad band speeds, so that will be coming soon.

I also noticed that I don’t have any photos of the entrance when it was at its most over grown. When we first arrived in 2015 you could barely see any slate, we had to free it from 5 to 10 cm of dirt before we could reveal it. The 2015 pictures shown were taken after the initial clean up.

As you can see the whole area was dug up to allow cables to be buried and pipes to be run underground. Part of the reason for removal of the vegetation is down to practicalities. The more vegetation you have the more damp will be in the walls and certainly the ensuite bathroom which originally had a massive bay tree outside it was very damp – green algae growing on the inside walls. Another good reason is that the less cover there is the less vermin you get (rats and mice) and this house has had severe rat and mice infestations in the past.

One thing we learned this year thanks to our unusually cold weather is that snow doesn’t sit on slate paths very long. I am not sure whether it is that the slippery surface of the slate allows the wind to clear the paths or the fact that slate absorbs a little bit of heat but even though the pipes froze on one occasion the paths were clear.

We really like the clipped grass look as you come in and we plan to plant some lavender beside the path so you will get a waft of scent as you walk down the path. Ideal (Cornish vernacular), especially if we get the hot summer we deserve.

1950’s

2015

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May 2017

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June 2017

June 2107

July 2017

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March 2018

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End of April at thetrevproject

First of all we have moved into the 21st century. We have FTTP (fibre to the premises) superfast broadband now. We can now experience Netflix, catch-up TV, etc. Our speeds are fantastic, in excess of   100 Mbs  download and 20 Mbs upload but very variable at the moment. Having said that we have had BT to site several times recently to deal with slow broad band. We currently have two lines to the premises, one for the main house and one for the cottage. The second line may be discontinued if we can beam a signal to the cottage or run a cable over. Interestingly every engineer seems to diagnose the problem slightly differently but none comes up with the complete solution. I have to say the UK call centres are sooo much better than the Indian call centres and they actually listen to you and then address the issues.

I was very surprised to get FTTP as there are only 3 houses in our road one of which doesn’t have broad band. I wonder if all the letters to our MP and local councillor worked, or, is Superfast Cornwall using up the European money quickly before it is stopped?

It is just as well we have fast broad band as we have no 4g system at the moment. Some idiot has vandalised to local mast or probably more correctly sabotaged it. It’s not an isolated incident several masts nearby have been done. devon and Cornwall constabulary are investigating.

On to the house project what has happened building wise?

The renderers came and finished off around the windows and put a coat on the porch. So now we only need a top coat on the porch and the rendering is finished. I like the natural lime colour which changes with the weather becoming slightly darker when wet.

Inside we have smartened up the little bedroom and the guest bedroom a bit. Appearances can be deceptive and one mustn’t look too closely at the decorations but Louise is a brilliant home designer. We now have somewhere to keep our old lp records as well. I wonder if any of them are collectors’ items.

  

Mainly I have been working outside and mainly on the polytunnel. Most of the work I do myself although I did have help to fit the polythene sheet which need at least 2 people, I had help from Louise and Josh. You also need a calm day. Sods law says that the wind got up just as we pulled the sheet over the frame which was fun. It was gusting so we cracked on and got the sheet on. It was a bit rushed and so not perfect but certainly quite good. The tunnel is up and running and achieved 20 plus degrees very quickly so ventilation is key. I have a cunning plan about that but more in a later post.

The tunnel build was challenging due to the topography of the site. The tunnel is good and functional but if I were to build a second one it would be very much better.

    

I have also installed guttering on the shed and reused an old water butt to get water for the tunnel #sustainablegardening. That project has a long way to go and the installation is quite rough at the moment.

The picture reminds me – no bats in this bat house yet but the swallows have returned so its summer!!!

The tunnel is already in use with several veges planted in the ground and seeds on my seed table. I also have installed a gutter at chest height filled with compost and planted with salad leaves. The idea is easy picking and slug/snail free fresh salad. The tunnel also has its own fledgling instagram account ollys_poly. I aim to keep a photographic record of my produce there.

We had an incident of fly tipping outside the house at the weekend. I went to check the rubbish and being a rural area you find strange things in the rubbish. In this case there was an old gun in the rubbish. I think it was an old bolt action 4:10 shot gun which was very rusty and clearly hadn’t been used for many, many years. I called the police and they took the gun and disposed of it.

Oh I almost got through a post with no mention of the weather. This puddle in the lane behind the house has dried up. It was there constantly from the end of September to mid-April!

thetrevproject April

Sorry to bang on about weather but what a differnce a couple of weeks makes in the weather. When I last wrote I was talking about snow. Now we are experiencing spring. Daffodils are out, primroses are out, some trees are sprouting green and of course the slugs and snails are out.

Snail on Google Android 8.1Snail on Google Android 8.1

Add to that temperatures in double figures and a couple of days of dry weather – happy days.

Well the main news from thetrevproject is the Trevelyan family gathering. We had 21 adults for lunch 2 days in a row. The first day we squeezed 3 tables into the dining room and had a sit down 2 course meal including vege option. Supper was a cheese and biscuit buffet. Day 2 was a barbecue but the weather (there I go again) was not the best so only the barbecuers were outside. At the weekend we had 3 extra house guests and an extra dog. My elderly Mum stayed on a week and then Louise’s Mum came to stay. So the house is starting to fulfil its purpose as a place of hospitality.

So building wise what has happened?

We a major break through in the last couple of days – the missing shutters have arrived and been installed. It would have been great to have them in the cold weather in the 3 windows that they go in to keep in some heat but better late than never. The order for the window maintenance was placed 10 months ago!  Now the most important shutters are the ones in our bedroom. No shutters or curtains was ok in the winter but now the sun rises early so we get woken by the light. (We have no houses or roads visible from our bedroom so no privacy issues but the cows get an eyeful every night.) The bedroom shutters are actually originally from the living room. They could not be reused in the living room as the window profile was changed by the builders. As the shutters were listed we re-used them in the bedroom and put new ones in the living room.

The other development was that my poly tunnel which was delivered in the rain has started to be constructed. Our location is very windy so a standard poly tunnel was not an option so we had to go for a more substantial build. I have loved the construction so far. Of course there were challenges especially with the anchor posts. I think I may have found an old wall under 3 of the posts judging by the way the stones appeared . So digging through 30 cm of stone kept me digging for a while but I got there in the end. Also had to dodge the rain whilst doing the digging and putting in the concrete bases. So far all the construction has been solo but there will be some team work before the end.