Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The smell detectives!

For quite a few days now, we have had a horrible smell emanating from the bathroom. As we have previously had problems with both the drains in the sink and bath, we tackled those first with washing soda crystals and boiling water. No joy! Then bicarbonate of soda and vinegar - again - no joy!

Nowt for it but to dismantle and clean out the pipes - bit of a smell but nothing too drastic. Put back together and sorted out various tiny leaks for a while - no improvement. Toilet brush was old and smelly so that also went.

One morning, DB thought it was coming from the toilet which I didn't believe as we have bleach blocks in the cystern and descaler is regularly applied under the rim and below the water line. Silly me - he was quite right - very odd though that despite those, it should be smelling.

He checked the cistern first to make sure it wasn't the source of the problem, no, it smelled clean. We both stuck our heads down the loo and the smell was most definately there.

Taking a leaf out of Wendy Gower's 'cleaning the toilet post', he donned rubber gloves, and using neat bleach and an old dish sponge, set to scrubbing as hard as he could under the rim. We live in a very hard water area and he could feel loads of limescale stuck under there. The bleach stayed in place for about 10 minutes, before being flushed away. Quite a bit better.

Then he repeated the scrubbing with limescale remover. Again left for 10 minutes before flushing away. Smell gone.

This morning no smell at all so that was the source. Anyway, after the sponge was thrown away, rubber gloves washed, dried and put into a plastic bag for future use, we decided to repeat maybe every month or two.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Well done and garden ...

To Marin Cilic for winning his first ATP 1000 Masters title. Commiserations to Andy who was really struggling all week, with tiredness, shoulder and back injuries and eventually a cold. Onwards and upwards!

Our broad beans, although performing reasonably well, seemed to go from being ready to pick, to being over, in a very short space of time. Coupled with the uber dry conditions, I decided to leave them on the plant to dry.

We podded them between us, laying them on kitchen roll, on a tray to finish drying:
After a few days in the heat of the conservatory, they were inspected for insect holes and have now gone in the jar below for winter use:
Another thing that has struggled this year were the wild mirabelle plums. Hardly any yellow ones to find and very few red. The trees just could not hang onto them due to the dry conditions. These were all we could find after a walk. E., managed to get a similar amount, just about 1 lb each:

We have left them on the windowsill to eat fresh as they finish ripen. We still have several pounds in the freezer from last year. What a contrast!

Friday, 19 August 2016

So then...

Where is all this rain we have been promised. I'm sure the rest of you have had enough but our soil is now bone dry down to around 12" (30cm) and all fruit is dropping off as the trees just cannot cope. We have hardly had any good rain for weeks now, just the odd shower then it stops.

I can't keep watering as we are on a meter and the butts are getting more and more empty:(

On a slightly different note, I think I mentioned a while ago that we are both finding it slightly more difficult to keep on top of the garden, particularly this year with it needing constant attention, weeding, cutting back, watering etc. With that in mind, we have begun to close down small areas.

We have two fruit arches in the back garden, each with many flowers growing under the trees. Here is an example which still has to be finished:
Now, everything has been removed including hopefully all the Spring bulbs, manure added as a thin top layer, weed membrane placed, all watered, then gravel added:

So much better and far less work in future. Bulges may appear next year where we have missed things but hopefully, not too many. The trees will now have to cope with wood ash, blood, fish & bone and liquid feeding!

Down the left hand side where there are more fruit trees, again, nearly all plants have been removed:
A few were left that don't grow too high and fall over the cane fence. We shall now plant this up with Autumn, Winter and possibly Spring heathers. Our soil cannot support the summer ones.

Weather permitting, have a good weekend folks.