Thursday, 14 August 2014

So tyred!

In order to get my studio built, the next stage in the process is going to be digging out a section of the back garden to lay a concrete slab.  Hopefully by this time next week I'll have a big old pile of lawn-ish and slightly weedy topsoil . . . and I have a plan for that!

Actually this plan has been bubbling under for a year or so, you see I have a section of old railway embankment at the back of my garden.  It's steep and originally it must have been a stone construction, and it's covered with a shallow layer of topsoil and a thick layer of scrubby weeds and brambles.  Aside from some narrow steps, it's nigh on impossible to navigate the slope, and keeping on top of the weeds and brambles has been beyond us for a while.

Then last year I saw a picture of a recycled tyre climbing thingy in a kids playground on Pinterest.  The tyres were painted and piled up, and filled (I think) with bark chippings, and I thought, "I could do that up the side of my slope!".  So the plan is to clear the weeds down to the ground along the bottom edge of the slope, lay down some old cardboard to kill off any remaining roots, and start with a row of spray-painted tyres, bolted together for extra security.  They'll then mostly be filled with the topsoil as it gets dug out, and I'll plant into those tyres.  I've got a big bag of slate chippings from a previous garden re-jig, so some of the tyres will just be filled completely with chippings to make pathways to climb across the slope as the layers of tyres build up, and on dry days they'll be nice spots to sit too.

So . . . on Saturday I picked up my first stack of old tyres from the local garage.  I've been washing them down in a paddling pool, with a trug full of soapy water and an old dustpan brush whose pan got stepped on.  Madam's been enjoying de-gravelling the treads with a screwdriver for me, and once the first lot were dry, they got sprayed pistachio and daffodil.  I can tell already, this is going to look good.

I'll take some pictures soon!

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Since I set out my mission statement (however many months ago) to get myself a studio, life has been a series of hurdles.  Quotes, then more quotes.  Things dependent on other things.  Could we afford this if we also needed that?

We've had unexpected expenses, like needing a new car and dishwasher, and expenses we knew about, but which grew on closer examination, like the mending of the roof.  We've had altogether too many tradespeople come and look at jobs, who then couldn't manage to provide us a price - I thought this was a recession, aren't people supposed to be looking for work?!

But this week we've managed to set one of our lines of dominoes up, and give it a little push!  It starts with one of our "would like to achieve" goals - new windows.  Our windows in the house are currently old, narrow gauge, wooden framed double glazed units.  They have pillars and arches and fiddly gubbins, and a dark wood-stained finish which diminishes the amount of light coming into our rooms.  A couple of them have also lost their integrity and fill up with condensation in the wintertime, and there are draughts from the edges, and cold air rolls off them onto the back of your neck.  They're a job that has never been urgent, but getting them replaced will make the whole house look and feel nicer, especially when it comes time to put the central heating on again.

When the old windows and doors come out however, there will be a reasonably good large window from the kitchen which will work on the side of my studio-shed, and a nice solid lockable door and window combination which will fit on the front.  I'll be able to paint them to match, and they'll be secure and provide a decent amount of insulation for a working environment . . . so my name is down with the shed-building company, and when I have a date confirmed for the windows (4-6 weeks according to the sales guy), the shed company will swing into action and as the windows come out of the house the studio can go up.

In the meantime we have been getting some help in the garden already, and the space for the studio, plus a little extra patio, have been marked out and are starting to get cleared.  Some black bamboo has been causing problems, and we may have to attempt a slow burn to break up the mass at the center of the rootball which is maybe half a square meter of solid bamboo which has grown through a bit of weed-supressing membrane and incorporated some rather attractive blue slate chips too at some point in it's history.  Helpful Tip - if you are planting that stuff, don't put membrane and gravel around it, and Be Sure you won't want to move it.  If anyone needs canes, or wants a bit of more co-operative rooty stuff, please come get some!

So this is it!  The studio is on its way!  It may be a while before I manage to get it all insulated and into a useable state, but the wheels are in motion, and the dominoes are starting to fall!