January 2017 in photos

January started with a ceilidh in the village hall and then the wedding of two very good friends of mine – which was a two day festivity of happiness and love! In the mean time, there was also plenty going on back at the ranch…



The lovely wedding favours from the wedding: vanilla flavoured vodka provided by Phil’s dad, a handmade heart from Phil’s mum, and a wooden coaster from Signe’s sister



The stump of the cherry plum which fell over between us first seeing the house last year and moving in. Although severely pruned, we’re hoping it’ll take again (and given the whole tree managed to get leaves last year while on the ground, we’re thinking a less encumbered tree may also do well)


The uprighted cherry plum stump with it’s former branches in the background


January is the month of snowdrops: from their first peekings through at the beginning of the month to veritable carpets at the end of the month. We’re also beginning to see bluebell shoots – which we’re delighted by as we didn’t think we had any


With winter upon us, Solli moved from a room with a chimney that smokes (and is therefore unusable) into the room which has variously been the tool room and guest room. Curtains and furniture was transferred rather later than the initial move (this room has a burner so for a while Solli got to enjoy a double bed) but resulted in both front rooms feeling more “liveable”


Solli’s room as was, now set up with a rather pathetic electric fire. It was mainly set up like this with a view to being a summer guest room but it’s first visitor (a WWOOFer) arrives in about a week and it’s also got a booking for March. Thankfully some local friends have mentioned some electric oil heaters they don’t really use so we may well try to borrow one of those , if only to take the edge off the cold


Two reasons for this photo: this small stand of spruce is the last of a tranche of spruce, many of which were felled several years before we arrived and left scattered around. One of last year’s first jobs was clearing the felled wood, salvaging what we could for fires and put the rest of the rotten bits in habitat piles. These will be coming down at some point – just not quite sure when. The second reason is to demonstrate how much light they were keeping out of this patch – I was working on clearing brambles in their shade and was looking forward to the day I could be working in that area with full sun on my back / face / being!


As mentioned, these are the brambles at the bottom of the spruce I was clearing. The bramble roots themselves are still in, but the years-worth of tangled shoots are now free (and burnt, in the main) and it’s really opened up this area which last year just about managed a path through the middle but not much more


Obligatory cat photo. This was Jason on the church wall after he’d come on a walk with us


Second obligatory cat photo. There’s something of this shot which makes me think “outdoor gear catalogue” – except he’s a cat, so he’s really just showing off his own fur coat, which isn’t exactly for sale…


Up next to our boundary with the church there are some incredible trees with these huge burrs on. I believe the burrs are some kind of “tree cancer” – they make for incredible shapes and, I’ve been told, beautiful wood to carve. These trees, however, are still very much alive and we have no designs on taking them down any time soon


What’s so interesting about this? It’s just a fence stobb leaning against a tree… Ah, but it’s not. It’s a stobb that was lent against this tree so long ago the tree has actually grown around it!


One of the earliest snowdrops to flower


The new bird feeder is going down a treat with the birds – and has a nifty little pulley system for when it needs refilling


Hole & moved thing. The hole in the foreground used to contain a rhodie bush – which is now just down from the end fence post where Chris is standing. Now I think of it, I may well have included the moving of this bush in last month’s activities – but hey ho. It was mainly moved as it was completely in the way of the beautiful seaview from what was the sitting room (and is now the workshop) but it also makes a much more open lawn


I’ve included some general shots as references for how the land changes: this is on the bank looking up towards the church


…and this one is looking across the lawn just in front of the house up the track towards the village


This is from the bird-feeder-filling-spot looking down at the southerly most part of our garden (where you see the view to the Irish sea)


And this is the back garden


Looking down the bank across the field (with the pile of elm that still needs processing on the back left)


This is also on the bank, but this time looking towards out neighbours’ houses, rather than the church


We have visions for this bank up towards the church, mainly involving sea buckthorn: whether we get any in this year on not remains to be seen


The view up towards the house with less fence than we started with


This was my growing pile of rotten wood that was extracted from under the bramble tangle under the spruce trees. It grew considerably from this point


These were some of the funky looking fungi I found while moving the rotten wood


I just really liked this shot of the house – we haven’t had huge amounts of sunshine but we’ve had some and the quality of the light really is glorious


Can you spot ’em? We may not have any in flower in the garden yet, but the multitude of daffodil shoots are certainly making a good start (foreground: background is a patch of veg=growing space which has had lots of compost added for the worms to do their thing with)


More snowdrops – this time under the washing line, looking up the track


In November we made a bundle of Christmas puddings. This, as far as we know, was the last one to be consumed. I think we got to it mid-Jan: we were both feeling rather full on rich Christmas foods! And I believe we still have a stollen somewhere…


No, not matchsticks: stobbs. This is the rough layout of our new veg beds on what originally was the front lawn. The soil is fairly thin (not much more than a spade’s depth before you hit stones) so we’re looking at options to build it up


More snowdrops, you say?


We have a lovely carpet of snowdrops at the bottom of the bank, just by the row of ash (which are also being pruned this year). On the right you can see the cherry plum before it was cut up


Processing the elm is an ongoing job: this is the last of the big branchy bits that were littering the ground around where the tree was felled. I knew there was going to be a fair few, but didn’t quite expect a pile this size


View down the southern bank towards the ash coppice after the brambles were cleared: looks rather different


Chris has started taking down some more of the tall ash from the row at the bottom of the hill. We had thought we’d be taking out all of them this year but given our current wood situation (much better than we’d really hoped it would be) we may well leave some of them standing to keep growing. Even with the two or three he’s taken down so far it’s continuing to change the space, both from the bottom and the top of the bank. It’ll be great to give some of the smaller shrubs (holly & hawthorn primarily) a chance to get plenty of light


The digging got well underway for the new veg beds


More snowdrops – I didn’t even really remember seeing these last year. They’re in the middle of the front lawn and may not last there forever, but are giving a lovely show at the moment


They really do get everywhere: these ones are under the rhodie bushes on the grassy knoll

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