Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Sleigh Is On It's Way

Once again I signed up for Chookyblue's Secret Santa Christmas Swap.  This is the 10th year that it has run and the sixth time I've joined in.

Today was the deadline to have your parcels in the mail and I'm happy to say that I made it....just.

I wonder where these are winging their way to?  All will be revealed soon enough.

Thanks Chooky for organising us once again.  The fun of an international gift swap is always a highlight of Christmas.

Friday, 18 November 2016

In Our Own Backyard - Part 7 - The Finishing Touches

After visiting the open gardens at the end of last month there was a final push to finish off the yard around the shed, as there was still just a dirt path down to the house and the area between the house and the shed was a bit of a waste land.

Initially, it was planned to pour a concrete path up to the shed, but after the success of the pebbles in the area on the other side of the shed, Mick decided to just make a pebble path.  Easier to do and, more importantly, cream pebbles would not be as stark as concrete.

Firstly, small retaining walls were required.  We don't like the look of treated pine sleepers and the aren't all that durable.  Real sleepers are rather expensive these days.  Concrete blocks are too deep for what we wanted.   We found our solution in Bunnings - concrete sleepers.  They really look the part, but are only quite thin.  Perfect, as we only need low walls.

Now, to keep it real, here is an in progress picture of the side entrance.

There you go, all ready to plant.  Once again, pebbles really finish it off.  The metal plate covers the sprinkler system and a new clothes line has been attached to the shed wall.  

Mick bought a few plants at the recent church fete and there is always a great plant stall at the open gardens.  We bought up big.  We then raided some plants we had brought in from our old out of town garden that have been planted elsewhere and raided my mum's garden.  Plenty of plants to fill up the new garden bed.

All planted.  Now we have to wait for everything to grow.  

One more item is on "The List" for this area.  Where Mick is standing will hopefully have a small garden shed built.  More of a garden "cupboard" than "shed".  It will be no higher than the fence and just be large enough to hold the mower and a few garden tools.  Not a high priority.

So a final look at the back yard.

Before anything was started.

Nearly there - now you see it....

All done - now you don't.

What is gone?  Yes the hills hoist.  Although they are the best for drying the washing, it looks much better now it is gone.

I'm also surprised, comparing the before and after photos for the first time today, how much the garden has grown along the back fence.  Amazing what a good season does.

The yard certainly looks smaller than when we purchased, but there is still a nice area of lawn and the finished product will certainly meet our needs. Having the established garden around the fence was wonderful and we are really enjoying seeing it wake up during the spring. 

Mick is just so happy that there is no dirt on show now.

We are thrilled with how it has all turned out.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

In our Own Back Yard Part 6 - The Theme of Rust and Rustic

As you saw, there was quite a bit of "Rust" and "Rustic" in Mick's shed garden.

This photo was taken a couple of months ago, so it has changed since then (flowers, rocks etc.)

We seem to have accumulated interesting bits and bobs over the years that have ended up in our garden, some at our old garden out of town and some in this garden for the first time.

The old plough has been with us for quite some years.  The garden is already starting to grow over it, so some pruning will soon be required.

The curly old iron piece on the left has been with us for about 30 years.  It was one of our first "Tip Finds" when we started renovations on our first home.  We liked the look of it and popped it in the garden.  One day, not long afterwards, I was up at the base hospital, which was being renovated and restored.  I noticed the balcony railings.  They alternated between one identical to our bit of rust and a thinner, obviously more modern one.  So, I'm pretty sure our rusty curls originated on the Bathurst Hospital.

The old forge on the right had languished in the shed with the anvil and vice.  Mick decided it would make a great bird bath.  Add a  plastic terracotta plant saucer and the job was done.  It is nice seeing it in use.  

The little bird feeder on the right is new and just sitting there temporarily.

Our lovely birdbath fitted in this spot perfectly when we moved here.

Now for Mick's latest addition.......

At the Bathurst Swap Meet back in February he found the cross bar of an old telegraph pole, complete with all its insulators.  Just recently, he visited a mate's place which has hundreds of acres of scrub and came home with a sapling trunk.  Add a rustic bird feeder, made by another mate.

Ta Da!

And yes, there have been birds visit, but only sparrows that we have seen so far.

More soon.

Monday, 14 November 2016

In Our Own Back Yard - Part 5 - Vege Gardens.

Anyone who knows us is aware we like to have a little vege garden.  Out of town it was a rather large vege garden that got rather neglected, so smaller is better.

When we moved into town into our little in between house we installed a couple of raised vege beds.  They were fantastic.  No bending and you saw the weeds easily.  So easy to care for.

In our new garden we wanted some more raised vege beds in the area just out the back of the house.

Once again Mick got out his notebook and scribbled away.  Firstly, as soon as we moved in, Mick placed a big bit of flat steel on the lawn and placed our fire pit on it......just temporarily.  You can see it here when they started to build the shed.

And again here one foggy morning.

The plan evolved into the idea of having L-shaped beds with a built in seat around the fire pit.  Behind the raised beds would be two long beds for the raspberries with an arch between them to climb beans up.  It was undecided as to whether the whole area would be paved, or left as lawn.  Measurements were taken to facilitate either option.

Time was marching on, and if we were going to get our veges in this season something needed to be done.  We were also going to be away at the end of September for a week, so it would be ideal to get something planted before we left.

It is handy having a metal worker in the family.  Also, it is handy having a LARGE SHED.  Happy dance.  They say "All Australian Boys Need a Shed".  Whether that is true or not, this Australian Boy certainly needs a shed. 

Starting to get an idea on how they will look.

Now with the raspberry beds in behind and some sheeting in place. While this was taking place, I was at the Bathurst Blog Meet.  It was rather exciting to go home and see how things had progressed.

Now we're getting somewhere.

The arch was a great use of what was laying around.  Mick had some steel stashed behind Mum's garden shed, including these lengths of pipe.  He remembered them when he was scheming on the arch.  Perfect.  It took a couple of big trailer loads of dirt to fill all the beds, but now they were ready to plant.

One little extra was added before the soil.  The white pipes sticking out are worm tubes.  The theory is that you put your kitchen scraps down the tubes and have worm farm worms in there as well.  They are supposed to come to the tubes to feed and then disburse all the goodness throughout the garden beds.  Who knows how they will go, but as our little worm farm often does not require all the scraps we generate, this will be another way of composting them.  Worth a try.

Look at that!  The first early planting before we headed off to collect our caravan.

Once we returned from our little trip, we planted our tomatoes, followed by the other frost tender plants.  Unlike last year, when we had no frosts after September, this year we have had more frosts since the beginning of October than we did all winter.  

We have been diligently covering the veges every night until this last week.  Hopefully that will be the last of it, but we aren't out of the woods yet in this part of the world.

The next project was to make frames for the raspberry canes.  We were lucky to have been given a dozen plants last year.  They are all doing well and we should have plenty of raspberries for Christmas.  Now we just have to plant a red current bush to complement them.  As raspberries can get rather unruly, Mick has made steel T-pieces at each end of the beds and run wires to the arch.  This should keep them in check.

So that is everything planted.  Now we just wait for the soil temperature to increase for things to get a wriggle on.

Doesn't it look lovely with the sprinkler on in the sunshine.

Finally, earlier this month Mick put on the finishing touch.  The timber on the seats.  I think he deserves a well earned rest after all that.  

The jury is still out on whether the area will be paved or not.  At this stage Mick will probably pave just under the seats out to the edge of the garden bed, to make it easier to mow and keep your feet dry.  We'll just wait and see whether the rest is paved......but it certainly isn't a priority.  That one is on the bottom of "The List".

Oh, there is still more to come.....

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Weekend Away in our Caravan

We had a wonderful weekend away this weekend.  It was our first go at using our new caravan to camp "off grid".

We left home relatively early on Saturday and headed north, travelling through the village of Wattle Flat, with its rustic store.

Our first stop was at Sofala, just to see how everything was travelling.

As it was a glorious sunny morning we took a stroll up and down the main street.  Don't you love the rusty roof.

Everything looked lovely and fresh as we had experienced a rather severe storm the night before and over an inch of rain fell.  Surprisingly, it was needed.  It doesn't take long for things to start to dry out.

Sofala is a wonderful old mining village with loads of character and a rather iconic old pub.

The shops over the road have been in disrepair for many years.  Last time I was in the two storey shop would be over 20 years ago and you wondered what was holding it up.  In more recent times it looked like it would fall over with a puff of wind.

It certainly is great to see the row of shops being restored, as it would have been a shame to lose them. By the way, see the down pipe tops.....they are the same as the one Mick has planted with a petunia in his shed garden.

I thought the child minding service was novel.

As well as the old timber buildings there are some lovely brick ones

The streetscape has been made famous by the artist Russell Drysdale.

Finally we continued on our way.  

We noticed that all the little creeks along the way were running really well.  It turns out that they received about two inches of rain on Friday night.

As we travelled along we noticed a sign advertising the Rylstone Artisan and Produce Markets, so, as we had time, we made a detour to the popular small town.  It was getting on towards morning tea time, so a good excuse.

Rylstone is always a bustling little place.  This store had some lovely bits and bobs.  I could have brought quite a few home if I had more time to browse.

The town is always a popular spot for motorcyclists to stop for a cuppa and Saturday morning was no exception.  There were a few groups of bikes.  We were rather taken with this little collection of Moto Guzzis, not that we are biased.

We made a couple of purchases at the markets.  We bought some yummy  Mint Jelly and Pina Colada Marmalade from Wild Produce Portland.  We also bought some little cakes from a Swiss lady.  They were so good and reasonably priced.  I wish I had remembered to take  a photo.  I would have liked to try one of everything.

So where was our destination?  Gulgong.

They were holding their annual Swap Meet at the Showground.  We've not attended this one before, so it was a good excuse for a weekend away in the van and to try camping without power, which went really well.  It was a great little gathering.  We caught up with lots of people who come over to the Bathurst Swap.  We continued with our decluttering and are happy to say that we came home with less than we took.

We did come home with just one thing.  We bought a cutlery canteen on Queen Anne legs for a steal.  We have half heartedly been looking for a canteen to house my grandparents' cutlery set, so hopefully it will fit......or we'll just sell it again.

All in all we had a great weekend away.  We didn't have to travel too far, had good weather, met nice people and ate well.  What more could you ask for.  Now we think we will have to scheme on returning to Gulgong on another occasion just to have a proper look around the interesting old town, as it is one we usually just pass through on the way somewhere else.