big ideas from a little garden

tales and stories of how we make the most of our garden and our terraced house.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Intrepid adventures into the living room.

The Tinyholding has been home and hearth to DD for around 10 years.  He has lived here, and worked here with moderate success.  I say moderate because when the rest of the team moved in the dining room looked like a building site.  The oven and the washing machine were out of service.  The children's room(s) were being used as a storage area and DD lived between the rooms he needed to function. These rooms, that he has lovingly decorated and restored are a testament to his creativity, tastful eye and perfectionist nature. I don't think he has been too shell shocked by the difference a whole family can make.  Indeed, I think he shares my belief that a family can make a house into a home.
There have, however, been one of two problems arising from our installation. How exactly we thought we would fit two households full of STUFF into one (smaller) house is beyond me.  We are still tackling these issues one at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. We are both fully aware you cannot fit the contents of a transit van into a shoe box. Sacrifices have been made and we will continue to do so.  DD has removed all defunct items from the storage (oops I mean children's) room(s).  We can now look to making them into two separate rooms on a more permanent basis. Instead of partitions we can aspire to walls, and doors!

The thing that has spurred us on to get things done is the imminent arrival of some spanking new dining room furniture. Soon it will be the season of goodwill and good food.  We are having a house full and do not wish to have to seat them around our picnic table that currently serves us as our dining suite. As I'm sure you can appreciate, we do not wish to place our lovely new furniture into a building site. The subsequent decoration involves DD having access to his tools without the aid of a mountaineering pick and crampons.  So operation declutter has commenced.

So far between us we have cleaned and reorganised child burrows (ew ew ewwwwwwww) This involved the discovery of many micro bacteria growing on pants and in cups. Making a certain Nesty Boglin's burrow look less like a reject pile from a Sally Army Shop. Donning a bio hazard suit and slicing through the teen fug of  Teen Beasts Lair.  Removing long dead DD technical gubbins and a general spit and polish. I am pleased to report that the Boglin Burrow has remained tidy and she has even folded her Pjs. The Teen Beast's lair has remained minimal in it's fallout. And DD's nerves are calm.
The chest of draws that will go toward housing my extensive wardrobe have been emptied and are in the process of being restyled with an eclectic collection of ceramic knobs.
The office has once again become a haven of gizmos and tranquility.
My task for the day was to excavate the living room. I have a vivid memory of it being a light and airy room of grainy wooden furniture and thriving plants. A place where DD and I could entertain guests, or sit and relax of an evening. A room to indulge our joint love of music and TV dramas.
Our haven of tranquility has turned into a youth club. Indeed, I am considering installing a revolving door to accommodate the teen population of the village. Our adult, peaceful living room has turned into a gaming den for Teen Beasts. It is the home of xbox, wii, Ds's and laptops. The terrain littered with empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers, juice glasses and other child detritus. The sweet, scent of the household flora is masked by the general child odor of sweaty feet and biscuits.
Well, no more! I have primped and polished. I have trimmed the plants into happy foliage. I have swept and dusted. I have reorganised wires and put away controllers. The room now smells of beeswax and lilies.
The lamps shed a cozy glow over our tranquil family room once again.
Or at least the did at 3.30pm. Since then there has been a steady stream of marauding children, three cats and a dog in there.
Woe betide them if it is not left as it was found!

Dog School!

The brainless wonder, how we love her!
I am currently sat at the laptop composing a few blog posts for my own entertainment. If, readers, you are also amused, then that is a wonderful bonus.
I am having a bit of a rest after being an intrepid living room explorer (more about that later). Even though I only whispered to DD about my back not hurting, it clearly heard me. I, as always, thought "yay, no pain. Time to clean the house for all I am worth".  I see you shaking your head, reader.  I hear you tut tutting, but no, I will never learn. I do have a shiny, clean, beautiful living room out of it though.
During my short sabbatical I am listening to The Tinyholding going on around me. I can hear DD, chatting on the blower to a client. Little tweets making their musical selves known as they flood into his machine via tweetdeck. (How long until they gets old? Ooh about five minutes ago I should think)
The high pitched whine of the essential life machine cleaning daily grind out of the laundry.
The occasional shuffle of a Teen Beast hard wired into his gaming essentials.
Best of all, and certainly most entertaining, is listening to Nesty Boglin "Training" the Uber Ginge that is Porge(Georgie aka Georgianna aka Chestnut Cherub aka Pooch).
Bless her, She is the sweetest beast (the dog that is) There is not a mean, snappy bone in her body. She love cuddles, people food, running and her ball. She fears cats, chickens, geckos, sprongy cat, boxes, sock puppets, any toy that makes a noise, and pretty much everything else.  She has the IQ of a gnat. The memory of a goldfish and the learning ability of a log.  In short, dear reader, she is thick.  Lovable, but thick.  Eager to please, but thick.  Giving and eternally affectionate, but thick.
Frankly, I adore her!
As you can imagine from this description, she isn't the most trainable of dogs.  I consider it a boon that she knows sit, lay down and stay (not that she remembers them and which command is which)  Due to this I do feel Nesty Boglin may be fighting a loosing battle.
Armed with a bag of "treats" ie cheese and dog biccies.  She is attempting to lead the happy, yet dozy thicky through a home made agility course.  Expecting her to keep her nose at the right level and complete said course in police dog style.  Not stopping to investigate her own feet or the shadow she has just passed.  She does not want her to walk backwards or sideways.  She would like her to weave through the obstacles and not just knock them over to sniff them.
Just yesterday she put on such a performance.
SHOCK! She has, in fact taught her to SIT, LAY DOWN, ROLL OVER, BEG, REACH FOR THE STARS and BOW.
What poor Ms Boglin has, in the past, failed to take into account is the memory of the pooch in her new found genius.  She did not factor in another person entering the room to watch.  I sat down ready for the grand unveiling.  Nesty Boglin grinning in anticipation of hers and Porge's great success.  The starlight of their glittering future at dog shows, country shows, village fetes and, hell why not, even the West End, flashing before her eyes.  She talked me through the whole show.  Explained the principles behind each trick. Discussed the merits of her training methods. Then...
Drum roll please.....
Georgie decided she would much rather run around in circles, have her belly scratched and play the fool.
Poor Nesty, dreams of the West End dashed.  She did manage to get some sort of performance out of her beloved Pooch.  But best of all she was showered in love from the adoring Ginge.
It's a good job we don't have anything that needs herding on the tiny holding, eh?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pockety Trews.

Poor DD has had to spend the autumn, thus far in shorts. He's not adverse to baring his knees for the girls. They are, indeed, very nice knees. I do, however, think he would rather have a choice.
Nearly two years ago a certain someone offered to make him some trews with many, many pockets. He does like a variety of pockets to stash half the contents of the house in. I think it is a male version of a handbag. I have been assured many pockets = a happy boy. The more pockets the happier. It's a strange old world when pockets equate to happiness but there it is. This certain person (it may have been me) has completely failed to come up with the goods. Not really much of a surprise when you consider the fact that sewing makes my wrists hurt.
Poor DD has gone with out. He has patches on his patches and some of his old trews are positively indecent. It has become a far cry from fashionable wear and tear and now is in the realm of looking like a tramp. Not to mention frost bite of the unmentionables.
This morning saw the delivery of two brand new, shiny, pocket laden pairs of trews. Never has there been a happier boy! He spent a good 15 minutes counting his pockets with a big childlike grin on his delectable mush.
I may have failed in the creation department but I have made up for it with sheer volume of pockets.
I know how to keep a man happy!


Nesty Boglin
The latest tinyholding venture is to get the childerlings cooking. Not such a problem with the Nesty Boglin, as she has always loved to cook. She adores making cakes and, to be honest is rather good at it. One of her ambitions for a future career (and there are many) is to become a Chef. Of course, in true Boglin Style she does not want to be a boring, ordinary Chef.  She will be a TV Chef, with a chain of cake shops that will make her wealthy.  The idea being to fund her life style of rescuing the worlds neglected hounds, pooches and mutts. She also wants to be a zoo vet, a singer, an actress, a teacher, and a world renowned eccentric. That's my girl! She's clearly going to be busy.
Well, to encourage (or exploit) this desire it has been decided that the Boglins will cook once a week. As you probably know already, dear reader, we are nothing if not meticulous about the provenance of our food. We are fussy about our ingredients and we cook from scratch. Not for us is the world of ping food. Y'know, into the microwave (popty ping) for two minutes and you get an unappealing bowl of slop with all it's phytonutrients zapped out of existence. In fact we do not own a microwave, and we will not in the future. (Being a bit of a phytonutrient fanatic that I am)
Last nights fare was a heap of Spaghetti bolognaise. Delicious, it was too. I had planned on cooking it myself. But Nesty Boglin had asked "when is tea?"  The unanimous answer was "when you cook it, madam".  This rather sarcastic remark was greeted by a very excited Boglin, who then insisted she was to cook.
So, armed with the statutory, onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and the left over homemade tomato and basil soup as a sauce, she set too. We had one or two worrying questions from her, such as  "do I use a whole garlic or just one clove?"  I thank my lucky stars she asked.  She made a sterling effort. She also seemed amazed at the amount of mince required to feed four.  Good quality mince, procured from our local butcher, Simon/Jason (one day I'll get his name right)  A jolly and chirpy chap who now greets me with "Shw mae". A wonderful addition to an otherwise typical Derbyshire village, The farm Gate.
Of course, in an ideal world we would have a freezer full of meat from Rob Rose, but we can't always have everything we want, and Simon/Jason is a wonderful local business. With first class service and products.
Upon my casual saunter into the kitchen, just to look you see, not to interfere. I was sent with my tail between my legs from HER KITCHEN!  I see she is practicing the stroppy chef persona already.
She even laid the table. Napkins and pepper mills at the ready.  With a chorus of "compliments to the chef" and "cheers", a fine meal was had. Even Huck Boglin couldn't find a reason to complain. And lets face it, if the 12 year old boy can find a way to torment his 11 year old sister than it is good evening!
It's his turn sometime this week. Frankly, I'm a little more worried about that meal!  As for Nesty Boglin practicing her chef skills once a week. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Harry is heading for a hiding!

Dear Harry,
I do love you with all my heart. I know you are an old man and think this gives you impunity to act as you wish. Your cuddles are the business and your giant fat belly is adorable. I love your cute black ears and the way you flick your bottle brush tail when you walk.
However, listen up buster. Your fluff and old age will not see you through another night like last night. The office is not your own personal palace. It is a work place for myself and DD. It is not a chill out room for overweight, has been, thespian cats! Scratching at the door is unacceptable at the best of times. Damaging the paintwork on the door frame will not gain you friends or sympathy. Pulling threads free of the carpet will only make us, your people, cross. But, remember well my dear boy. Doing it at 3am will, I promise, earn you such displeasure you will find yourself living your twilight years OUTSIDE! I care little for the rain and wind! You are wearing your very own exclusive range of fur coats. I WILL test it's weatherproof merits. Those bowls of delicious meaty morsels (by the way, the four of them are not all for you!) will cease in their abundance. You will have to find a new love of juicy meeces, as they will no longer be a tasty snack but the mainstay of your diet.
All in all, my furry friend, THINK ON!
your loving human
MD x

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Mould Master!

DD has become the Zen master of mould destruction. Since adding seven more sets of lungs and 300% more laundry to the house the condensation created has become a huge problem. It is an old 19th century terrace and has very little ventilation. It was originally built as a two up two down colliers terrace. I love to sit and imagine the state of the art closed range that would have been in the chimney breast of the kitchen (now our dining room) and the open coal fire in the "good parlour". The windows would not have been double glazed, and the need for ventilation would have been minimal. Modern central heating and glazing has rendered the house a sort of warm sealed unit. Imagine putting a warm damp cloth into a biscuit tin and leaving it in a cold damp field. No doubt within a couple of days you would have a furry friend to call your very own.
Our bedroom is suffering the worst of it, as that is where the laundry is dried. We live in every spare inch of this house and there is simply nowhere else to place it. Therefore our bedroom has started to resemble a Victorian laundry.
The wall has a creeping black mould that is working it's insidious way upwards. Soon we will be sleeping in a dark, dank hole that looks like a set piece from the film se7en. I will have to start looking for emaciated corpses in the cupboards at this rate.
At least it did until DD saved the day (and myself from nightmares) Yesterday saw him on his knees scrubbing the wall with a solution of warm water, biological washing powder and a squeeze of bleach. He has done a splendid job. The bleach removed most of the staining and the washing powder killd the spores. Unfortunately it also thinned the paint, but hey ho, you couldn't see past the black mould anyway.
Half a dozen sturdy holes drilled through the walls, has provided some seriously need air flow and now we watch and wait.
Of course, being a Sunday evening all this was achieved with a cool glass of C&F to hand.  Power tools and wine?  Safety first ;)
Dear reader, I will not fool you into thinking I merely sat around watching DD's sultry form handle power tools in a manly way.  I, for my own part tackled the festering hole that had become my bathroom. It had got to the point where you would emerge from the shower feeling somewhat more soiled than when you went in.
Armed with a determined stare and a large bottle of bleach I whipped the mould into submission. Once again the tile grout is white and the floor does not contain botulism.
Being a vile chewed bubblegum pink with the most heinous flower pattern. Not to mention the matching pink suite. It cannot be called a nice bathroom. It is high priority to have it transformed into a haven of ablution. I can, however say it is clean! And that dear reader, is something to be proud of, in our eternal fight against the damp.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hen Party

DD's kind folks have some grand old fruit trees in their garden. They generously share their bounty with us at this time of year. The intention is to make mountains of yummy apple sauce and other products for the freezer. A few remain as eaters and perhaps some could become cider.
The reality is that they end up fermenting in the bag in the larder. We become alerted to the process by the tiny black fruit flies taking up residence.
Darcy the Cad!
Personally I cannot stomach the scent of reasting fruit or veg. It makes me heave. Due to the warm autumn we have had, the shelf life of the fruit has not been very long, and at the first whiff of suppurating apples I was on to DD to dispose of the offending items.
Now, we both know how the egg laying committee love an over ripe pear. There would be Chicken crimes perpetrated in the garden for the possession of such a treat. Indeed, I believe if I only put one out we would see the beady, psychotic gaze of a pear crazed Pecky on Crime Watch. So the obvious answer, in DD's opinion was to give them to the girls (and the boys)
The problem was the advanced fermentation of the apples.
Happy reader, lend me your imagination for just a wee moment.
We have all been witness to the stereotypical image of teens on the loose in clubbing central. The intoxicated image of a rowdy crowd of otherwise sensible and responsible twenty somethings. Not to mention the WI on the sherry!
Now transfer that imagining to the hen house. Olly and Darcey with their wings flung about each other. All prior competition forgotten. The words slurring from their slackened beaks, "you're my best friend, you are". "I'll never have another friend like you. Let's never let the girls come between our friendship again"
Rosy and Pecky meanwhile, have climbed on top of the coop. Lifted their frilly leg feathers and are treating the others to their interpretation of the Folville Follies.  Meanwhile Snowbell looks on with disdain. Listing precariously towards a comatose Gwinn. "See, I always said that Pecky was a slut!"
Off in the distance we can just see the frilly, feathered knickers above the spallyed legs of Violet as she lays, hiccoughing with her nose in the dirt.
The following morning they come staggering out of the coop. Little chicken shades over their reddened eyes. Heaving at the sight of copious amounts of poultry corn. If you listen closely you can hear the whisper from Violet "I will never drink again!"

In truth, however, they wouldn't touch the apples and they have since dissolved into the veg bed! But, let's face it. That is nowhere near as funny :)