Making a go of the garden

After years of having a smallish patch of grass in my smallish urban garden, I’ve made a start of adding some colour, height and texture. My garden is north-facing and a lot of it is in shade for most of the morning, so finding shrubs that might survive was tricky.

The large Dobbies garden centre nearby had a decent range overall but was disorganised and had few plants that suited the garden. It was also expensive. I trundled off to B&Q instead and, while having a much smaller range, found a few small shrubs there for about £15.

Knowing my limitations, I bought some ground cover fabric and pegs and some bark mulch too. This means less weeding in future, or that’s the plan anyway.

The area I’ve started with is between the path and fence – about 1m wide. My garden fork has a severely bent prong which made digging over the poor grass rather tricky and I swapped to a spade instead. The mower’s grass collection bin made a useful receptacle for grass and roots that were removed.

After a couple of hours’ hard digging and some raking, I had a vaguely level strip of ground to lay the fabric on. With a bit of cutting to size for the narrow strip to overlap under the main roll, I managed a decent coverage and pinned it down.

The shrubs were dug in as best I could, in a logical but not-entirely-planned-fashion. A cross cut in the fabric allowed them into the ground. I gave them a good dousing of water too. Two of them might be a little too close to each other if they survive!

I decided not to use the bark and will get some blue slate chips to cover the ground instead. The amount required though probably needs a bulk bag which I’ll have to order online.

My next plan is to plant some more shrubs at the end of the garden where there is some sun and which can give a bit of height and privacy, as the layout of the houses around me is such that there’s a fair bit of traffic past the waist height fence and gate. It will also make mowing the lawn easier.

New Car Buying Tips for Numpties (By a Numpty)

Many of these tips are based on the premise that, like me, you have decided to follow the path of buying a brand new car on a PCP deal, with PCP being the type of finance deal that means you essentially only pay for the car’s depreciation over a period of 3-4 years and have a large payment at the end if you choose to keep the car. I bought a MINI, but other car brands are available. If you’re used to buying cars this way, these tips from a newbie may be obvious, but if you’re inexperienced or hate haggling (like me) then these tips will hopefully make you feel more confident of getting a good deal.

Continue reading “New Car Buying Tips for Numpties (By a Numpty)”

Buying a New Car – Why is it so Painful? Part 1

About 3 months ago, I received an email from a salesman at the Lloyds MINI dealership in Newcastle informing me that they had a special offer in place for PCP finance – 2.9% APR interest. This was timely, as I’d been thinking about getting a new car anyway – my 3 door MINI hatchback was too small for my needs and my mother was finding it hard to get in and out of. I therefore had my eyes on a Countryman – the not-so-mini crossover/SUV-sized MINI. After a couple of weekends, I braced myself and went to the dealership, taking my friend Craig with me for moral support. Continue reading “Buying a New Car – Why is it so Painful? Part 1”

4 weeks with the iPhone X

After 4 weeks of using the iPhone X, I can safely say that it is far and away the best phone I have ever used, and I have had most of the iPhones released. It is a pleasure to hold, the screen is fantastic and battery life is much better than previous phones I’ve used. Android users may scoff at this, as they’ve had large OLED screens and wireless charging for a while, but for me the mix of software and hardware is a joy to use. Continue reading “4 weeks with the iPhone X”

Travelling the Cumbria Coast Railway: Part 2

The Cumbria Coast Railway is built right on the coastline in many places, such as between Workington & Whitehaven and between Saint Bees & Seascale. It is a pretty wild coastline and the sea wall supporting the railway has often been damaged during storms. At Parton, between Workington & Whitehaven, the track has been reduced to a single line to move trains away from the sea wall and reduce loading on the sea defences. The line is often closed by storms due to the risk to trains. Continue reading “Travelling the Cumbria Coast Railway: Part 2”

Travelling the Cumbria Coast Railway: Part 1

The Cumbria Coast railway line from Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness via Whitehaven is a bit of a hidden gem. Between Workington & Whitehaven, the railway hugs the coastline (in some places the railway forms the coastal defences and has had to be repaired many times). The railway is a mix of double track and single track and has some semaphore signalling south of Workington. Continue reading “Travelling the Cumbria Coast Railway: Part 1”

Rev Christopher Harold Weller MC

25th November 1916 – 101 years ago today:

“His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Military Cross on the undermentioned Officers, in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the field;-

Rev Christopher Harold Weller, temp Chaplain to the forces, 4th Class A Chaplain Department

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He afforded the wounded a magnificent example of coolness and courage, and was instrumental in saving many lives. Later although severely wounded, he continued to carry on his fine work.”

I am Christopher Weller’s very proud grandson. I never knew him, as he had died even before my parents met, but my father and his siblings, and my cousins who did meet him, have talked of him often.

Not long before my father died at the very end of 2012, he travelled to Belgium with a group of friends from his local archives group; they were not far from Ypres. While there, Dad was visiting a chapel and suddenly realised that his father had been to that same chapel some 95 years previously. As you might imagine, this made him very emotional (and is making me emotional as I write this post). It was probably the closest he had felt to his father since his death in 1960. I am so pleased that Dad got to make the trip before he became ill.

Rev Christopher Harold Weller MC