Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lighting up

I'm a regular purchaser of items from The Glow Company - I can't keep track of how many glow in the dark bracelets we go through. The girls use them as night lights, and for a while I had them on the pram for night outings, and of course they were useful for lighting up the gazebo at The Big Chill. I think we must go through a tube of 100 every few months. I was about to order some more when I spied on the website these solar powered garden lights. Excellent idea as we hadn't wired up any lights in the bottom of the garden. This photo doesn't do them justice, they look tiny here whereas in real life they're the size of large grapefruit. About 45 minutes after the sun goes down, these four lights come on and gently phase through the colour spectrum. When we came home in the small hours last weekend I'd forgotten they'd be charged up and it was like walking into a surreal garden disco. Absolutely hypnotic. All four lights come in a pack called "Solar Sphere Stick" and cost £29.99 - which is a bargain when one Mathmos ball costs £40.

On Sunday morning when my drag queen friend Rhys hauled himself out of the spare room I said to the girls "See I told you those magic lights would attract fairies" - Rhys and I fell about laughing while the kids looked completely blank.

Secure garden

The deck was finished before Easter, but for some odd reason I haven't taken a photo of it in it's entirety yet. I did manage to snap our new garden gate though. Not only did Chris-the-chippie install it in record time but he then stained it before heading off, which was really nice of him as I thought that was a job that we'd have to do.

The gate is huge and solid and arrived the day before we were due to dog-sit. Couldn't have been better timing as the dog enjoyed hanging out in our garden, and being a whippet we couldn't have hoped to contain him if there was no gate. Confusingly, the dog is called Marlowe - our eldest daughter is called Marlo - so hanging out in the park and explaining that to the various dog people we made small talk with was fun. I tried to convince people my other kid was called Spot (she was wearing a polka dot dress) but only one chap believed me.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Spring sunshine

A visitor from Bethnal Green supplied this photo of our BBQ lunch a couple of weekends ago, and as it shows the house looking sort of finished it seemed a shame not to use it. (Notice how half the deck is missing). Can't understand how the previous owners of this property just didn't make it easy to get out to the garden. The back door was off a tiny utility room, through two sets of doors from the stairs, and a whole floor below the kitchen. Bonkers.

Even though the garden is east facing, it gets the sun from sun up until the middle of the afternoon. We're hoping that as summer kicks in the sun will last even longer as it'll be higher in the sky and should peep over the rooftops. The neighbours said previous occupants had painted the entire middle floor black. Maybe they just don't like sunlight, and hence didn't see the appeal of a garden? Weirdos.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Fantastic Mr Fox

The Easter weekend meant four days of eating, drinking and more drinking
finishing on Monday with a BBQ. During this time we saw a lot of our
friendly neighbourhood fox. I was about to throw away a chicken carcass
and decided that the fox would benefit from some remnants of the plump
organic bird, so tossed it onto the deck. Sure enough, the fox came back
and disposed of the carcass. Rob had been drinking - a lot - and said he
was going to make the fox "work a bit harder". He tied a length of blue
string to a chicken wing and chucked it onto the deck, holding the other
end of the string. Our dinner guests laughed politely but I could tell
they thought it was a bit odd (one of them is a vegetarian!). We turned
out the lights, and lay in wait, camera poised. I felt a bit like Bill
Oddie bird watching, waiting for the money shot.

The fox came back, and took the wing and unfortunately ran round the
side of the house and not out onto the lawn. The string became taut then
the fox let go, so we reeled the wing back in. A few minutes later, the
fox was back, cautiously peering over the deck. It went for a second
strike and this time ran onto the lawn - hoorah! It tussled with the
string for about a minute, before it succeeded and ran off with its
prize. Strangely satisfying.

The next night, we tried piling some past-their-best sausages onto an
upturned bucket. This wasn't so successful as the deck was covered in
stinky sausies the next morning. We won't be putting out food for the
fox any more.

Postscript. By popular demand here's a video of that first visit, when Mr Fox snaffled the wing, only to run off round the side of the house...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

It's all white

Our downstairs colour scheme was initially fabulous. It was January when the extension became properly habitable, and the short winter days meant that our downstairs space felt spacious and bright, thanks to all the white furniture and white walls. But as the sun's started to feel stronger the glare in the room is just too bright. I spend each morning eating breakfast with sunglasses on. My neighbour thinks I've got a drinking/hangover problem (if you're reading this, those bottles in the recycling bin are from our many visitors!) cos if I'm not wearing the glasses I'm squinting at him.

Luckily (?) the glass splashback is a few months late getting fitted, and there are now lots of grease spots on the wall next to the hob. Rob bought some lime green (chartreuse?) test pots and we're peering at these colour samples throughout the day to see which one's the best fit. Initially I liked the middle one, but now I'm voting for number one. Rob's been cooling his heels at home for the last 20 weeks but starts his new job tomorrow (hooray!) so I'm not entirely sure when the painting is going to be done, or the splashback installed... I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

All hands on deck

The wood/timber/lumber/planks which were despatched last week got lost en route. Apparently they were delivered... but as we couldn't find any evidence of them we think they were sent to the wrong address or something. Fortunately, they showed up today and Teia came round to finish the deck this afternoon. It's dark out there so this is a shot showing the deck with the garden flood lights on, will snap it during daylight hours of course.

The moon is almost full and it's rising right above our glass roof, this photo doesn't do it justice, but it's a real thrill to see stars and a heavy moon on a clear night especially in central London!

Monday, 6 April 2009

First BBQ of the year!

I always enjoy a BBQ. Mainly it means that Rob has to cook which is relatively rare. Case in point, he got made redundant in November (the day we moved in was his last day of paid employment) and for the last four and a half months he's cooked exactly twice. And one of those was heating pasta sauce from a jar when I felt poorly. I was expecting him to get bored and forage for recipes, ingredients and condiments, but it turns out he's able to amuse himself all day long.

Anyway, with the deck half built and friends coming over for lunch it was time to wheel out the Weber. I marinated enough meat to feed a pack of starving wolves, threw together some salads and then kicked back while Rob suffered through the heat and smoke. It was a joy to behold and I look forward to many more BBQs in the coming months.