Author Archives: thehurksontour

There is two Butts…….

The vegetable patch project in the garden continued this weekend and I’m so happy as I’m nearly ready to plant in the new patch.

By the side of the greenhouse I used to have a water butt, but over the years it developed a slight tilt and I often ran out of water.

So I decided it was time to upgrade to two butts. One of which will in time have an irrigation system fitted to water the new patch.

However a Laurel root was in the way and this had to be levelled before the butt could be installed. This proved to be quite a task and finally after two weekends and some help the root was finally removed and the crater it left filled.

Next the slabs needed laying and they had to be level so that we wouldn’t have a tilt problem in the future. This took quite some time due to working in a small space.

Once the base was down and the area tidied we could move on the the exciting bit. The installation went relatively smoothly and fingers crossed when it rains the first butt should then fill the second once full.

This part of the garden is secured by fencing because mummies little helper does like to explore and try to catch the cats on the greenhouse roof, but due to the second butt it now needs to be more excess-able. With my new found woodwork skills I managed to transform the little fence into a gate so the water tap can be easily accessed.

A great result for the patch which I couldn’t have done without the advice and help from my friends. X x

Two butts.
The new gate.

The cold frame also benefited from an upgrade this weekend to add more light. I happened to have some small squares of Perspex so with a little woodwork I redesigned the frame. It now has an extra two windows in the front. All we need now is some warmer weather 😎

And sow it begins……..

Do not worry. I haven’t stopped or slowed down in fact I’ve been the opposite.

You may remember a while back Bubble Bev and I relaid some of the slabs in the greenhouse and grouted the gaps. This is all in preparation for this seasons growing. However one of my staging was in poor shape. I purchased some new however the quality was no where near what I’d had before. So with my new found wood work skills I took on the challenge of building a new framework recycling the previous shelf’s. Two of the sections of wood I needed were slightly to short and not wanting to go and purchase new wood I managed to fix them together. I’m surprised at myself as this has worked very well and is nice and strong.

Now I needed to make round holes in the wood to hold the metal supports and it just so happened that in the workshop was dads table top drill. It looked easy to use and with a little guidance I soon got going and all the holes were drilled. Loving woodwork.

On to constructing the frame which went well once I’d bought the right screws.

Fittings suitable as feet to just raise the wood from the floor.

The wood was painted to protect it from water and voila. A new stage was set.

The weekend saw Bubble Bev and I complete laying the slabs by the new veg beds. Girl power we are getting good at this stuff.

The design was planned with cardboard cutouts to visualise the space.
Mummies little helper.
Between the beds.

The next phase is to remove the Laurel root and lay a flat base to install a second water butt and irrigation system that will supply the veg patch during the hot weather.

We removed the original water butt as over the years it had sunk a little on one side and needed levelling out. This was like a school science challenge using a water pump, two hoses and a piece of guttering.

After a few hours of digging and sawing we had to admit defeat (partly also due to the blade coming out of the electric saw and not knowing how to fix it straight away, I now have the instruction manual 😉)

There is always another day and the next weekend will see that day.

It is now March and I’ve been so excited to start sowing this years seeds and trust me there is a lot. I aim to grow lots more veg and flowers this year.

On my new potting bench made last year, 5 varieties of tomatoes have been started along with scabious, sunflowers, lobelia, Rudbeckia amongst others. The greenhouse is coming to life, spring has begun.

It just goes to show that despite a year of uncertainty and the world fighting this awful pandemic we can start again. Just like the flowers in the garden and the buds on the trees. Together we get though this and I am so fortunate to have received my first Covid vaccination last week. It wasn’t without side effects but it’s a small price to pay for freedom.

What a difference!

The last few days, weeks even have pretty much been non stop rain. Well I guess it’s winter but what with lock down as well it’s really getting on my nerves now. I’m sure many of you want to see the sunshine as well as friends and family. Just to be able to spend a few hours in the garden would be heaven.

Well today was to be the day. With snow predicted for Sunday (really? I feel a Michael Fish moment coming on) a grey start soon cleared to be bright blue skies and some warmth from the yellow dot in the sky. Anything that needed to be done indoors today could wait, Suzy and I are getting a share of that sunshine.

The greenhouse last week had a couple of slabs relaid and grouting between them, (thanks to bubble Bev x ) This has taken quite a few days to set due to the low temperatures but it’s getting there now. Next the whole space needed washing down to prevent and nasties effecting the new plants that are soon to be sown. What a difference washing the roof, walls and windows makes. So much fresher and brighter. My staging had started to break down so I made good what I could and gave that all a good wash down in the sunshine, ready to go back in the greenhouse. I also have had some new staging delivered but it’s far to nice to be inside today. So after a well deserved cup of tea whilst sitting in the sun and spending some time with mummies little helper it seemed a good day to wash the rest of the pots and trays in preparation for the new plants.

Mummies little helper enjoying the warmth of the winter sun.
No coat or jumper required today.

It’s hard to believe heavy snow is predicted for two days time.

Time for lunch after a good job jobbed. But first a check on how my little irises were getting along outside the snug window. They are so close to blooming.

I had no idea how close as whilst I ate my lunch and glanced out of the window one of the flowers had opened. Wow that was quick. The first photo I had taken at 12.30 and the photo below at 13.40, just over an hour after. Nature really is incredible. During the next few hours they continued to open and reach out for the sunshine.

Just stunning.

By 14.20 eight of the iris had opened. I shall sit and enjoy them whilst in the snug this afternoon.

So if your feeling a little down, stressed or generally worn out, just remember, days are getting longer (last night it didn’t start getting dark until 5.16) the sun will shine again and we will get through this together.

Veg beds, done……

Not being one to sit down, especially as the sun was shining this week I decided to crack on with the veg beds.

The first one was roughly put in late last year with scraps of wood so it was time to tidy it up, design the path and move on to veg bed two.

Last years quickly thrown together bed.
New wood, weeded and tidied.

Today I had a little help with my bubble Bev. Quite a bit of turf removal was required here and this is something that’s a bit to much for me still. We set to work marking out where to place the wood and where to dig. It was quite chilly but nice and bright out.

It was my neighbours birthday the day before and she kindly gave us some cakes to have with our tea break which we throughly enjoyed whilst the robin came down to enjoy the worms.

Back to work and the grass was all dug out and we could place in the frame. We covered the patch over for now as I will soon get some manure and dig it through,then warm ready for planting. Now just to work out what and how to shape the new path.

Looking good.

We emptied the old grow bag compost from the greenhouse into the plot and found these interesting looking eggs in the soil. Any ideas what they may be?

Mystery eggs.

All that remained to do was to take the bags of turf to the front for disposal. Ben came to the rescue as there is no way I can move those yet. He came up with the ingenious way of moving them through the house. He put each bag on his skate board and wheeled it through. Fabulous, well done Ben.

So tomorrow I shall enjoy a nice restful day catching up with my Suzy sewing. This I hope to finish soon as I stated it last February.

So I hope your all doing ok and trying to get out and enjoy the sunshine. It certainly makes you feel so much better x x

It’s all hinged……..

What a challenge. The whole cold frame project has been a massive learning curve. From learning new power tools, different techniques, drilling holes in Perspex and hinges!! The thing of nightmares lol. I couldn’t have completed this without the help of many friends and advice from Facebook.

When I decided I needed a cold frame which was summer 2020 it would have been very easy to go out and purchase one. However I had envisaged it as a project that dad would help me with. I hope that wherever he is now he is looking down and saying “she did good and it’s just like something I would make. Built to last!”

The start to finish has cost £60, and taken just over two weeks. (I can only do work involving a drill in small amounts as you’d be surprised how much of your back you use for this) It would have been more but I was gifted a sheet of Perspex for the roof, thank you Ian, and I already had a selection of screws and wood paint. To buy a basic cold frame they start at about £80 but I don’t think it would be as sturdy as I hope mine is. There would not be the huge sense of achievement that I feel now either.

So in the last blog the lid had been made along with the main frame. It was time to work out how to attach hinges. I’d purchased two different types and spent many an hour with some scrap pieces of wood putting the hinges on and off trying to work out how to do it, but no matter what I tried it wasn’t right.

Had I bought the wrong hinges? More time spent on YouTube and quite a few photos and questions asked on face book, video calls and a few days away from the cold frame was required.

Today I woke feeling extremely positive and clear about what was to do with thanks to some information one of my friends had found. The suggestion was to place hinge spacers between the lid frame and the hinge itself. (Well done Stephen) after a few attempts we had a huge eureka moment. It only works. Now just to pretty it up and paint the new bits of wood.

The last bits needed was a catch to hold the lid closed incase of high winds, a strut to hold the frame open a little for ventilation and some kind of strap to stop the lid opening all the way. I had contemplated purchasing some chain for this, but that’s no challenge. Whilst in the loft recently I’d spotted the slings Rich and I used to use to climbing and if they held our weight they would work here. So I started to attach the first one realising that I’d got the strap in place where you can see where we had marked the slings as ours. Thanks for being here to Rich. ❤️

So finally the cold frame is complete, just to move it into position later in the week

Let’s hope the weather brightens up soon and we can all spend some much needed time outside x x

So close…….

The cold frame project has been continuing slowly. The last you saw of it was that I had cut all the wood in readiness to be assembled. This week I set to work making the frame. Most of this was straight forward.

Feeling pretty pleased with myself and how solid the frame was and how square it was I now had the challenging task of cutting the two angled sides. Many youtube videos have been watched in the making of this project as there as so many various skills required. The two sides were drawn out, double checked and then I cut each one separately with the jigsaw, but only after a practice cut on another piece of wood. The practice went so much better than the sides. One had a bit of a dip and once the balanced on top I discovered that they were not equal. Mmmm I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I wasn’t happy. Only one thing for it. Start on the side sections again but this time I would clamp the two pieces together and jigsaw them at the same time. It was hard going but a success. Screwed on it was looking great.

Another day saw another part of the project. This time to make the frame for the roof. Again I was amazed at myself how sturdy and square it turned out.

The cold frame needed painting as I wanted to protect the wood. I learnt from dad, build to last lol. The shed has quite a few tins of part used fence paint so the green was picked. Due to the cold weather it took two days though for the paint to dry.

Next was to attached the Perspex to the roof. Lots of friends have been advising me on certain aspects of the project and this was one of them. Not wanting to get this part wrong I practiced on a small square of Perspex first. This went well so I added masking tape and marking where I wanted the holes then drilled starting with a small drill bit working up to the size I needed. Phew. No disasters. The Perspex was then glued and screwed to the frame.

Glued and clamped in place.

Today I hoped to complete the cold frame, however I’m not quite there yet. I did add some little feet to the bottom posts to just raise the wood from the floor. But then it was on to the hinges. I’d purchased two different types and decided to use two other pieces of wood to work out which way round they would need to be and to ensure the lid opened how I need it to. Quite some time was spent attaching, trying and changing the position. I’ve even taught myself how to chisel out and counter sink the hinges. Something still isn’t quite right so the best thing to do was put it all down and leave it for another day.

Next week I hope to show you the finished cold frame and the start of the new veg beds. That and they may be a little painting involved indoors just to keep me busy x x

Morning Suzy stroll.

We can do this……

So, lockdown part two, three, four??? I’m lost with where we are. I think we can all agree we have had enough and things can be quite a challenge at the moment. I know I certainly had a moment this week when thinking about how many people this pandemic is effecting I became quite overwhelmed. So with my Mrs Hurcombe hat on, I pulled my socks up so to speak. I turned off the news and had a light bulb moment.

As some of you know I like to keep busy and on Monday I was hit with the thought that my list of things to do at home was coming to an end. What on earth would I do with myself? I can’t sit still! I got so short of things to do I resulted to steam cleaning the kitchen!! (although I have to say it looks so much brighter lol)

This sparked a new idea, whilst looking out onto the garden through the newly cleaned window I wanted to be outside. Gardening is so good for the mind and body but it’s way to cold and the ground is frozen solid. However earlier on the year I had wanted to build a cold frame to harden the new plants off from the greenhouse. Bingo, the new project was to begin.

My dad was always the carpenter, well in fact builder, electrician, decorator, mathematician and anything else he turned his hand to, with the exception of grouting, he hated that and couldn’t understand why I didn’t mind it. I knew that cake decorating course would come in handy, it’s the same right?

I started to look online at what wood I would need to order. Dad always did this bit so I wasn’t entirely sure of what the names or sizes of materials were that I would need. A phone call to the timber yard later and I submitted my order. Fingers crossed. Whilst ordering the wood for the cold frame I made the most of the delivery by ordering the wood for the new veg patches to.

I’d spent quite a bit of time drawing my plan and working out measurements. I would always get quite confused at this stage as maths is not my strong point, but dad could just see it all in his mind, write it down and voilà. Perseverance and some scratching my head later I knew what size each side was to be and how many lengths I could fit from each piece of wood.

Next was to work out how to use Rich’s table top saw. It probably has a technical name but that is what I’ve named it. It looks quite a manly piece of equipment and could cause serious injury’s if I got anything wrong so I phoned a friend and got a socially distanced lesson in safety and how to use it.

Rich’s table top saw.

A few mornings later the timber was delivered. Oh my goodness! What have I done? Why didn’t I just purchase a cold frame on line? Well that’s just no fun. Also what else have we got to do at the moment when we can’t go out? Also what better way to remember the two top men in my life then using their tools and hearing their voices in my head. “No you don’t do it like that, what on Earth are you building now, measure twice cut once!” All good advice and I’m listening chaps x x ❤️

Part of the timber delivery.

Let’s get to work or we won’t get in the food cupboard later today. Some of the wood was so long it ran the entire length of my utility room. I had all my measurements so armed with pencil, tape measure and square I began.

The first cut was a little scary but then quite exciting. I could do this. Ben helped me manoeuvre the wood and we were doing so well, until…..

The saw stopped. Had it overheated? Nope after phoning a friend again we discovered the saw had had enough and basically broken! Love a challenge.

However I am so fortunate to have good neighbours and within half an hour I had been loaned another saw. This one had even more functions and made cutting even easier. I am quite enjoying this diy lark. Way better than ordering within minutes on the internet.

A bit of a mess.

My cutting complete and tidying done, I felt very pleased with myself. The majority of the cold frame has been cut along with the veg patch wood. But it would all have to wait another few days as I don’t allow myself yet to do to much physical work all on one go. Also it gives you something to look forward to.

Cold frame wood cut.
Veg wood prepared.

Sunday we woke to a very white frosty start to the day. As I’d promised myself an easier day I decided some baking was in order as I’m missing my monthly cook off days with friends. Also baking is very good for your mind, maybe not so good for your hips. But hey, I’ve been very good this week.

The fridge had many lemons and as last weekend we had made a lemon drizzle (healthy option) I decided to attempt a lemon meringue pie with pastry made by yours truly. I don’t think I have made pastry from scratch since home economics at school. Everything went to plan and there was enough pastry left over to make a few mince pies and jam tarts. Ben said the kitchen smelt delicious and we couldn’t wait for dinner tonight. Which was also a homemade Shepard’s pie.

Now that’s what you call meringue……
I’m impressed!

So, if your feeling down, fed up and overwhelmed. Turn the news off. Make a plan, a project. It doesn’t have to be anything as technical as a cold frame. Bake some fairy cakes, take some time out with a good book, chair by the window, cup of tea and one of those bakes. You will feel so much stronger and relaxed for doing so x x

Picture perfect……

Well that’s Christmas and New year passed. Ben and I managed to get a few things done and I even managed to get him out before midday one day for a winter Suzy walk. Let’s start there….

First a little history:

The Thames and Medway canal is a disused canal in Kent, also known as the Gravesend and Rochester canal. It was originally 11km long and cut along the Hoo Peninsula, linking the river Thames at Gravesend with the river Medway at Strood. The canal was first mooted in 1778 as a short cut for military craft from Deptford and Woolwich dockyard on the Thames to Chatham dockyard on the Medway avoiding the 74km journey around the peninsula and through the Thames estuary. The canal was also intended to take commercial traffic between the two rivers.

We both have fond memories here as dad would tell us stories of how he used to play around here and the nearby fort when he was young and he introduced us to the area as somewhere to ride our bikes. Dad would drop us off at the Gravesend basin and then meet us in Higham. When Ben and I reached him we would often find him sitting in the camper, windows down with either the newspaper or on one of his phones for work.

The day we chose for our walk was bright and sunny with a bit of a nip in the air but after a while the sun warmed us up and we could take of our hat and gloves. Suzy was sporting her hoody for today’s adventure.

Suzy had just planted a kiss on me!

Back home to continue with my latest project. Rich and I had planned to put together a photo wall last winter but it was something we didn’t get around to. I was determined to get this done. So after purchasing lots of new matching frames and ordering some more photos I began the next project.

The wall as was.

The wall in the living room looked good but I wanted to change it to really show of the pictures. It’s quite a dark room but I knew if this wall was painted a dark colour the contrast with the new frames would still be bright. I managed to remove the wallpaper and prepare the wall.

Although the wall was in fairly good condition as it was newer than the original part of the house, it still wasn’t good enough to just paint. Fortunately I had some lining paper in the loft so Bev came over to help me wallpaper it before painting.

The wall nicely lined, ready for painting.

After a day or so I began to paint. I had intended to use a roller but with such a bold colour I stuck with the brush. The end result was a lovely smooth matt finish.

Now for the fun part. I marked out the space of the wall in masking tape on the floor and placed the pictures hoping to find a good layout. It took quite a bit of moving around before I was happy.

Now to get them on the wall. This was to be more of a challenge. Getting the hooks in the wall was easy. Getting the pictures on the hooks however was not. The frames are deep and even with a loop of wire it took 20 minutes to hang the first picture. This wouldn’t do. I rang my friends Dean and Yvonne and they suggested putting a wire across the back of each frame with small eyelets.

I set out finding all the eyelets I could muster and began. A few hours and lots of banging later the frames were up. All I need now is a few more of the photos I’ve ordered to arrive.

I forgot to mention this was New Year’s Eve. Quite fitting as I’d promised myself I would get the wall done in 2020. Completed with 3 hours to spare!

Today was a sort of relaxing day. I took down and packed away the Christmas tree, cleaned through the new look lounge and did some baking.

The first bake of the day was Rosemary and walnut soda bread which was enjoyed with a baked Camembert at lunch. Then tonight we had a beef and ale slow cooked stew with the soda bread. When I’ve finished this blog we will enjoy a home made lemon drizzle with custard. All made with healthy low fat recipes.

Happy New year everyone x x

Painting and crafting

It’s been a while since the last blog but I certainly have not been idol. Whilst parts of the country has gone into yet another severe lockdown and Christmas has been altered I’ve been busy refreshing the porch and utility room. you may think they didn’t need any attention however I disagree. The porch has a new outer door a few years ago and the paintwork never did get finished. So here goes.

A bright red door used to greet our visitors but it had faded and along with the paintwork in the porch needed some TLC. You may remember a few blogs back I’d visited Henley and spent a lot of time checking out different colour front doors and this was why. I wanted the colour to be more modern, suit the red tiles on the outside of the house and be light and bright from inside the hallway. After also watching a vlog on YouTube I chose the colour sage green, a colour used by the national trust.

Choosing the colour.

Before I could paint everything needed, some parts needed preparation. I don’t like this bit particularly but it’s a necessity. Door sanded, hole in wall cemented and filled, the white rendering was first to be painted followed by the wooden door frame. Now time to start the door.

The unpainted bit of porch.
The faded red door.

First the primer which was a very similar colour to the final bit. Thank goodness I was liking it. Painting round the glass was very time consuming.

Primed.

Next came two coats of the main colour. It took quite a time but I’m so pleased with the final outcome.

So porch completed, what next?

Dad was a fantastic craftsman. He planned and built some of our extensions, made cupboards, designed rooms but what he didn’t do was ever finish a room 100%. This makes me chuckle as I’m sure he did this to give me something to do now and remember him by. I often chat to him whilst I’m doing these things, even if I know some of them he would be saying “why are you doing that like that” and “your painting it that colour!”

The utility room is full of cupboards and very practical but needed some prettying up. It was a pale yellow colour. Now I didn’t want to spend any money here and as we had lots of light grey paint left from Bens bedroom, this was chosen. I knew it wouldn’t be dark as all the cupboards are white.

Dads home made coat hooks

Once everything was prepared it didn’t take long to paint as there isn’t much wall to paint. Two coats later and it was already looking so much better.

The coat hook area I removed and sprayed in Dark grey gloss which was surprisingly good.

The final coat of paint had glitter added to give the walls a sparkling effect. It’s subtle but catches your eye when you walk in. After the skirting boards had been painted (another thing dad had never gotten around to when he fitted them, love you dad.) lights are added to the top of the cupboards and some small plants for a block of colour.

Sparkly paint

So transformation complete and with minimal cost.

Along with the decorations I have also been paper crafting some Christmas cards, gifts and flowers. I can’t share all these here with you as people won’t have received them yet.

Wreath made with burlap.
Wreath made with spare baubles and a wire coat hanger.

Lastly I discovered an antique silver teapot in the attic which I decided to polish up and make into a flower arrangement for Christmas. I’m very pleased with the result but would love to know it’s history.

Polishing up the teapot was by no means an easy job. It took three attempts but I hope you agree with me the end results were worth it.

So there we have my last few weeks activities. It’s been slow going but Ben and I are so pleased with the completed look.

I hope you all manage to stay well and safe and enjoy Christmas as best you can in these strange times x x

The living room transformation……

Well the final piece of the puzzle or should I say the living room has been completed today.

For some time I’ve been working on lightening up the fireplace as the wood was extremely dark. This took some doing and has probably been the toughest bit I’ve worked on. With advice from some friends I set about taking back the varnish on the wooden fireplace. Dad built and designed the fireplace when we moved into this house back in 1982. The fire place has a lovely piece of wood on the top and sides and the bottom was completed with a bit of skirting and scaffold board.

The original fireplace.

I carefully taped all around the sides and coated the wood in the varnish remover. The instructions said it may take two coats and lots of scrapping. Yeah right, five coats and lots of scraping later and the next morning some sanding back I finally had some good looking wood.

Mummies little helper.

However on carefully removing the tape I discovered not only had the product removed the varnish but some of the paint and wallpaper. Well that’s another trip to B&Q then to get some paint to now repaint the whole chimney breast. Just before this though I treated the wood with a wax and I’m really pleased to say the grain looks great and it’s so smooth when you run your hand along it now.

Bugger.

Bev kindly offered to paint the wall for me as this isn’t an easy manoeuvre for me just yet.

The end result looks better than I could have hoped for. Just some lights and ivy to put up to soften the look and give it a beautiful warm feeling.

The doors into the next room were also very dark but I really didn’t fancy stripping all the varnish from them. To my surprise when Bev arrived she came along with a curtain pole and some teal colour fabric, which happened to match the lampshades perfectly. What a difference this makes to the door, whilst still letting light in from the next room. Well done Bev, great idea.

Before.
After.

So there we have it. After a few weeks work in lockdown two, three repainted units, two repainted tables, three painted lamp stands with new shades and a completely new look to the fireplace we have a transformed room. So much brighter, more modern and at a very small cost. Also it has given me something to work on over the last few weeks when we can not go anywhere we want again or meet up with groups of friends. A few well earned days off I feel now to catch up on some of my Suzy cross-stitch before I start the next project on the list. Have a great weekend everyone.

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