Monday, May 26, 2008

Tackling the "Way Back"

We have two back yards. The "back" yard and the "way back" yard. The back yard is for everyday stuff: hanging clothes, playing with toys, growing grass to cut so it can grow so you can cut it again. Normal stuff.

At the back of the "back" yard there's a fence. Hastily constructed to allow us to move in, the fence separates us from the wilderness that exists beyond. We had peeked through knotholes, even looked over the top standing precariously on old paint cans. All we saw was green. Tall, spiky green.

Recently we decided to brave the "way back" and open it up. One could hear my heart sinking when the slats of a small section were removed only to reveal that the green we previously witnessed was in fact 4-foot tall stinging nettle plants. The whole thing was nettles; a nettle farm so to say.

The boys and I entered the forbidden domain of the "way back" with weed whackers (strimmers in the UK), saws and intent to do harm. We began at 9am and for the UK it was a hot day, graced by a breeze ever-changing in direction. As we peeled back the layers of nettles we discovered an amazing array of, well... crap. The remains of multiple burn piles, a 55-gallon drum, what could have been a toaster and a large amount of glass and aluminum containers. Please note in the following photo the height of the nettles as they're cleared by our industrial strength trimmer. The fencing section behind the patch is 8-foot if that helps.

By 4pm the entirety of my face was stinging and I had lost most of the feeling on the left side of my tongue. Coated with the juice and remains of many a nettle plant we had beaten the "way back" into submission. We discovered a section of concrete pavers that made the perfect base for a burn pile, as well as some ruined remnants of a Japanese-style garden that once inhabited this place.

Next time we get a decent day we'll work on digging up nettle roots.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Establishing Routines

Now that we're "settled" we're tring to establish some routines in our house. One of these is a walk in the evening. the girls and I walk about 1/4 of a mile to the roundabout and back, passing over the River Wissey and a couple of winter wheat fields. Red deer sightings are pretty regular as are the ever-present rabbits and hares of the Norfolk countryside. Last night we were treated to a fox bounding through the wheat field in pursuit of... well, supper I imagine.

There has been shift in priorities here so I no longer carry my camera with me every waking moment, but I assure you there are images on the way.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Finally... home.

After a very, very busy few weeks I can finally say that we're settled into our new homes. I say homes because while the children and I are enjoying the myriad of duties that come along with getting a new home (and it's oh-so-small yard) in order, Jill is now in Afghanistan getting settled into her (shared) room for the summer. To say this summer will be interesting for our family would be, well... an understatement.

Here, we're concerned with de-nettling the yard and I have the skin rash to prove it! Despite being much smaller that the farmhouse yard, this one has been in a state of neglect for some time. Almost everyday we pull out 2-3 bags of weeds from the beds as well as from the lawn itself. We even have a fenced-off section that was once a Japanese style garden but now is pretty much a refuse crop with a sprinkling of waist high nettles. We'll tackle that beast later in the summer I think.

New images are coming soon. There are just a few more little issues to resolve in the chapel (like telephone, television, fuel oil leaks, etc.) and then I can swing my full attention to working through the Scotland images as well as completing the Altered States series of books that have been promised ages ago.

Thanks for your support AND your patience. Should you have a message you want me to forward to Jill please pass it on to me at here.