Mid July @ thetrevproject

Bastille day has passed and the World cup is over and Wimbledon is finished – not a single significant rain delay – but the sun continues to beat down most days and it’s great to be sitting outside in the evening watching the dozen or so swallows swooping round the garden catching insects, or just sitting on the roof. When I take Fred out at night he gets very wound up by the bats flying around the garden (still none in the bat house). So that tells me we have a lot of insects around particularly the flying kind around here.

I have also noticed a lot of butterflies in the farm track behind the house. Mostly they seem to be ringlets and gatekeepers with a few cabbage whites and speckled woods thrown in. Around the buddleia there are also red admirals. What I can’t really see is what the butterflies are feeding on as there are very few flowers around in the hedgerows.

The problem with all those insects is that they like vegetables. We recently picked a cauliflower which had dozens of caterpillars in it. I am sure the caterpillars were also instrumental in my cabbages rotting as they opened up the cabbage to the mould.

The dryness has had a marked effect on the lawn. The main lawn is dry and crispy except for the weeds. The weeds have adapted and are flowering at very low height. The entrance lawn is much more patchy. In fact the lawn on the left is still green whereas the right hand side is partly green and partly parched.

The well is still giving plenty of water. It is a slight worry as we were told it might not cope with a very dry summer and we have had no meaningful rain for three months. Plus we have two households and a polytunnel using water constantly. The school holidays are about to start so I predict rain in a week or so.

We have had a bit of produce from the vegetable patch and polytunnel. Probably about 0.001% of the cost is paid off. It will be a while before we get a return on our investment but I think I have learned a lot so I think it will be more productive as time goes on.

Talking of produce we know the summer is coming to an end because the combines are out.

I have been working a bit in the garden and I have had two little helpers.

House wise there has been a little bit of painting going on in Esme’s room.  I have been painting the inside of the outer wall with special breathable clay paint. Earthborn (gosh it’s a long time since I used a hyperlink in my blog) is the brand and white is the colour but it is not quite the same shade as pure brilliant white that you normally get. The breathability is important in a house like this to allow any damp which gets into the wall to escape. The room is looking a lot better now.

Plus we had a trip to Ikea in Exeter and we got some stuff for her room and a rug for the snug, oh and a coconut palm for our bathroom as you would expect. We actually went to choose wardrobes for the main bedroom, we haven’t actually purchased them yet but we know what we want. I think I have mentioned before that one thing about this house is that there is a lot of space but not that much storage. So we are going for a semi built in wardrobe, two thirds for Louise and one third for me. I always think that Ikea is inexpensive but not cheap, the quality is usually very good for the price. We went into the centre of Exeter as well which was a first for me; I really like the city so far as I have seen it.

When Esme’s friend Jess came to stay we went to the fabulous Jubilee pool in Penzance. Well worth a visit and I believe this winter it will be kept warm with Geothermal Energy.

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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.

 

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 😆😆

 

 

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.

thetrevproject at the end of March

We managed a short trip to west Cornwall in March. We visited the Lizard and Lands End Britains’s most southerly and most westerly points, staying in St Keverne overnight. Well at Lands End it was absolutely persisting down and the place was mostly closed and deserted. We went to Sennen Cove and the sun came out and we had a lovely afternoon driving from there to St Ives.

Well we passed the one year anniversary of thetrevproject on the 21st of March, or should I say the anniversary of the builders being on site. All that time ago they started building the bat house. I have to say I am a lot more chilled out about bats now but, I still think they are a pain. I am all for conservation but I am sure we have particularly cussed bats. They always turn up the day you want to do some work and then go away when no work is going on. It was raining quite a lot this time last year a well but the difference was that the rain followed a long dry spell. Also it has been a bit cold this year and it snowed here for the first time in 10 years then snowed again a fortnight later.

Back to thetrevproject. Not much going on in terms of building. We have had our joiner back to look at some leaking windows. The sash windows were thoroughly tested with a spell of torrential rain and easterly gales blowing straight on to them. They didn’t pass with flying colours. We had water coming through the windows in places so we had to call Dave back to seal the windows but I feel we are dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause. I think the windows are a losing cause and I don’t think we will ever be 100% happy with the windows. We will have to be content with keeping most of the wind and rain out for a few years.

We have had another go at treating the roof timbers for wood worm. Guess what, the flipping bat was there. I went up the day before with a spot light and couldn’t find a bat. When Old Tom and Young Tom the wood worm guys arrived the bat was fast asleep on the first A frame that needed treating. We only have about 2 hours work required but we can’t do it because the bat keeps turning up. The bat is a brown Long Eared Bat and you can see the woodworm holes behind him.

So we called the Bat Conservation Trust and they sent round a volunteer called Paul Diamond. He inspected the loft and concluded that there was an occasional visitor. The solution is to try again and if the bat is present call the volunteers if he is present to remove him.

In the house the progress is now very slow. Since the last blog I have scrubbed the walls in bedroom 5 and given them a coat of white paint. I have also removed the sink put down a 6mm ply wood and some floor tiles. Then re installed the sink and even managed to get it almost exactly level in all directions. The sink will have to come out again as the plaster on the outside wall has come away from the wall and needs to be re-applied.

The big news is that my Polytunnel has arrived. It is a lot more work to erect it than I thought. One of the issues is that it needs to be level from side to side. Living where we live the site of the Polytunnel is not remotely level in any direction. So there is a lot of fiddling about to get the anchor posts in. So far I have installed 6 of the 12 anchors in between the rain and snow.


The tunnel came from First Tunnels. We had a minor hitch in that it was delivered when we were out and when I counted only 21 of the 22 packages were present. I rang First Tunnels and they already knew and were chasing the courier for a delivery date. It duly turned up the next day. More about the tunnel another time.

I have also covered two thirds of my hard-core path (approximately 25 metres) around the veg patch with 20mm granite chips. It reminded me of doing fatigues at school – basically when you were naughty you had to spend Saturday morning pushing barrow loads of soil around at speed. It is very difficult to walk on the hard core path. The granite is a lot easier to walk on. The hard-core path is supposed to inhibit slugs from coming into the garden to eat our veg and the granite will hopefully do the same as they don’t like the roughness allegedly.

Any way happy Easter we are having a family gathering at the weekend – 21 adults and 2 toddlers to a sit down meal on Saturday. It will be a squash but that is what a lovely house like this enables.

Beginning of March at thetrevproject

This post was written on the 2nd of March so it is slightly out of date as I am posting it on 12th – nearly time for the next update already! I will however start with a before and after photo of the entrance to our house. This is the first of the promised before and after shots. The trouble is that we have a myriad of photos and the right one often cannot be located, or, we didn’t take the photo we thought we had taken.

Ha – just wanted to get Fred into a post May 2015 to July 2017 saw a bit of a change.

This the change in our entrance, before (May 2015);

Although technically that is not before because we had already done quite a lot of work clearing up. This is what it looks like now February 2017

Not a lot to report on the building side at the moment. The One great thing that did happen ws that we had some dry weather so the mud dried up (mind you the “Beast from the East” may have reversed that now). Anecdotal evidence suggests this is one of the wettest winters on record in Cornwall. I just hope that means a drier summer this year, but not too dry. Some pictures below of the track by our back gate shows how the weather has dried up.

Whilst on the weather we did get about 10cm of snow but it was dry and powdery so it blew around a lot. We have an old wooden sledge which we couldn’t really use as the runners just cut through the snow to the ground and didn’t slide well. We did get the twins on it for a ride round the garden being towed by Daddy. The biting wind meant that we didn’t stay out long. As it was Louise’s birthday we went back inside for birthday cake quite quickly. Later we walked down the hill to the river for a cup of tea with a neighbour. The walk down was easy but the walk up was harder than usual because of the snow.

The biting cold highlighted an issue with our house. The heating struggles in cold weather so we have had to use fires all day and I haven’t sawed enough logs so we are going to run out unless I brave the cold and sharpen the chainsaw and cut some more. Part of the reason the heating struggles is a total lack of loft insulation in much of the house. We are also still without 3 sets of shutters which would have helped keep the heat in.

Another issue is the lack of loft insulation in much of the house. This is partly down to bats. We were having the loft sprayed for woodworm when the contractor spotted a bat. Well bats are like asbestos – as soon as you see a bat you have to down tools and contact the specialist. Our bat consultant said we could continue to spray with bat friendly spray but only on very cold days when the bat would be hibernating and therefore not present in our roof. We have had cold weather recently but our contractor can only fit us in when he hasn’t got other jobs planned.

Work wise I have almost finished the painting in the bathroom and toilet. I still need to do some grouting and I have give half the walls in bedroom 5 a wash and a coat of white emulsion. Technically this is not quite right as emulsion has very low breathability and the walls are lime/mud but, the walls outside are bare, it is upstairs and the walls already had emulsion on them. This room needs to be made liveable by the end of the month for our “Trevster” event.

I purchased a chain saw saw horse for cutting logs into decent sizes. I have a lot of logs in the shed but they are all about 40 – 50 cm long so not suitable for a woodburner.  I now regret having gone for 12 inch blade rather than a 14 inch blade as the 12 inch blade is only just long enough to fit in the clamp and cut through the logs. The other thing with a 12 inch blade is the teeth on the chain are very small and difficult to sharpen well. They need sharpening every hour or so of cutting.

I have cut down some trees for burning in 2 years time. They are basically a hedge that has been neglected and turned into quite mature trees. They are shading an area of the veg patch which could have a poly tunnel installed on it. The wood is for 2 years time as I am allowing it to dry out naturally. Dry wood burns easier and has a much higher calorific value as you are not using part of your heat to evaporate the water in the wood.