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Our epic half tonne pizza oven installation saga

Our epic half tonne pizza oven installation saga

by Clare Mansell

Over the summer Jim turned forty and I decided to treat him to something he’s wanted for nearly decade… a brick outdoor oven. We first started looking at ovens like this when we lived in Cyprus in 2009 where they were known as Kleftiko ovens, but living in a military quarter meant they weren’t a very practical purchase and we’d almost certainly have had to leave it behind when we got posted. We were keen enough that we visited a few shops that sold them though and there’s a picture of us from the time with Jim looking wistfully at one*

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A quick July garden update

A quick July garden update

by Clare Mansell

July though the best of month’s for gardens is also often one of the busiest of months for bloggers. As the school holidays start and a round of summer activities begins it’s easy to let the momentum slip. So today’s update is a brief one, more than anything to serve as a record of our progress for me next year.

This summer we’ve had the biggest success yet with growing veges in our garden. Our first attempt (3 years ago) met with disaster when all my seedlings were eaten in one night by the local rabbits. We sat one summer out completely, then last year we tried planting stuff higher up and successfully grew lettuces in window boxes.

A few months ago we took elevated growing to a whole other level with the purchase of our first vegtrug. Theses raised planters come in several sizes and I have a feeling we’ll be adding a second next year.

The plants in this have been very much Theo’s domain. Earlier in the summer we grew salad leaves, but as they bolted and our pumpkin plant grew we did a little stock rotation. The pumpkin and the courgette behind it now take up about half the space, but we have managed to plant some patty pan and Swizz chard seeds at the other end (where the lettuce is in this photo)

Theo has nurtured the plants in this vegtrug obsessively. Several times a week the cry of “Theo leave your vegetables alone” has rung out across our garden and if he had his way he’d water it about half a dozen times a day. He also has runner beans, blueberries and strawberries all in pots and he couldn’t have been prouder than when he was able to gift some of his produce to his class teacher.

This month we also planted another tree in our garden. A very significant and well researched tree. It’s a red maple, a tenth wedding anniversary gift from Jim and also planted to mark the 150th birthday of Canada. We of course spent the first two years of our married life living there.

mapletree

It should turn an amazing shade of red in the autumn, which I can’t wait to see.

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Patio resurface – before and after photos

Those who follow me over on Instagram will know that a few months ago we finally got enough savings together to do one of the big remaining makeover projects on our house… the back patio! For the last 4 years we’ve had to live with a very uneven and unattractive crazy paved patio we inherited and its been a constant source of frustration for me.

Patios, even when you are just resurfacing them, are not cheap things to do and in addition to the large bill we were expecting, ours went over budget as we had to switch contractors halfway through the job, but and it is a really big BUT, it’s done at long last and it’s made a huge difference to the garden and our lives in general.

I have been hesitating showing before and afters because there are still things to do, the grass we have seeded needs to grow and we have another quite significant garden project which is tagging on to this next month and is a a present for Jim’s 40th, but here are the befores and afters so far….

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Our garden in June (not how it was supposed to look)

Last year I did a series of updates on our garden over the summer months, though they might not have been the best ratings winner, they did force me to take photos and became a useful record of how things we planted have grown. This year I’ve been slacking a bit and it’s largely down to a setback in our long awaited patio overhaul. For the last four years we’ve been living with a broken, uneven and unsightly patio and a few months ago we decide to throw all our savings at getting it sorted in time for our tenth wedding anniversary.

I will spare you the details, but things didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. We have had to switch contractors and have spent several weeks living with a building site outside the kitchen door. Hopefully by the time I write next month’s update it’ll be fixed, but it does mean that nearly everything else in the garden is also on hold waiting for the patio to be finished.

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Our garden in April – A year’s progress

Last April I started documenting the development of our garden. Looking back on the posts from last year has given me a great opportunity to see real evidence of how far things have come. Comparing photos twelve months on, I can see how our work is slowly paying off and plants are growing. We are currently debating getting in some outside help for a big project and so I thought it would be a good time to start keeping a record again.

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