Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spring Bounces Back

Spring Has Returned
Many of you might have noticed that the other day it was the Vernal Equinox. This is one of two occasions when the length of day is equal to the length of night. Many also view this as the official first day of Spring, and there are many celebrations and festivals which have been passed down throughout time. Many have their roots in pagan celebrations, even some of the more religious ones. I am pleased to report that at the moment Baba Marta seems quite happy and content. I have often felt that at this time of year it is almost as if someone throws a switch and says 'OK, that's the end of winter'. Let me put it this way, about a week ago I did my normal cleaning the ash out of the fire duty, and then laid the fire up ready to be lit. Well, it is still there all nicely laid up just in case now. If it doesn't get used between now and Autumn at least the wood will be extra dry. Thankfully we also seem to have finally shaken off whatever bug or virus that we have had for the last few weeks. So we have been catching up on jobs which have needed doing, but up until now we haven't had either the energy or the inclination to actually do them.

Forsythia and Plum blossom
It has often taken all of our energy just to do our usual daily routines, which isn't really like either of us. When Baba Marta has been having words with herself it isn't too bad, as we have had strong winds and the occasional shower thrown in for good measure. So it has been slightly impractical to do outside jobs. We should have realised that Spring was just round the corner when Ladybirds began appearing on the hallway floor. Some were alive but a bit lethargic, others hadn't even fared that well as they seemed a bit dry and shrivelled. Now the ones that are still living I can understand, but how do the dead ex-ladybirds get there? Are we about to be invaded by zombie ladybirds out for blood, remember last year when I reported that they bite. Perhaps there is a ladybird version of Star Trek, and they get transported from one location to another. I can just imagine it, there they are assembled in the transporter room, ready for their new mission and a voice from the back utters those immortal words "Beam me down Spotty". Like I have previously mentioned we are both nearly back to normal, or about as 'normal' as we get, so we have been able to tackle outside jobs.

Garden wall outside
One job that has needed attention is to freshen up the paintwork on the garden walls. The water dripping from the tiles and then splashing back up had made all along the base very grubby looking. I was also surprised at the number of cat paw prints that they have managed to get everywhere. From this photo you can see how far I managed to get, the inside of the wall was also done. Instead of paint I used something that had been recommended to us. I am guessing that most of us have seen the white painted trunks of trees, this is done by using something called Var. You can also use it as a paint. It comes in a 5kg bag, and you mix it with water and some C200 glue (looks like the PVA glue).

Garden Wall Inside
Putting it on I was a bit sceptical as it didn't seem to do much, and all of the marks were showing through, but it has dried to a brilliant white finish. Even going over that horrible grubby bit at the bottom of the wall has come up looking good after a couple of coats. Be warned it is rather a messy job, and I ended up with white freckles and dollops here, there and everywhere. It is also quite beneficial to wear sun glasses if the sun is behind you as it can be quite dazzling. I do have to get some more bags of the stuff, but at 1.60 for a 5kg it is a very cheap option. I shall see how it lasts throughout the year, but so far I am quite impressed, and fortunately I am not the only one which means I get to paint the rest of the walls too.

The Dog's Hideaway Spot
With the fine weather the cats have been outside doing what cats do best (besides eating and sleeping), and that is chasing things. Any butterfly or moth which lazily ventures into the garden is fair game for being stalked and pounced upon. Low flying birds also get sized up as a potential target, and there are also the ever present crickets and grasshoppers. Unfortunately all of the village Tom cats have decided that our little Liszt is the best thing since sliced bread. I have made enquiries at a couple of vets and I get told not until she is a year old, which is quite stupid and no wonder there are so many puppies and kittens about if that is their attitude. The next vet I enquire at Liszt will suddenly have aged a few months. It's bad enough that a very pregnant Splodge, who used to live next door, keeps appearing at meal times, I hope that she has her litter elsewhere.

Already we have heard people pondering how hot it will get this year. Even today it has been 24C in the shade, which isn't too bad for this time of year. I don't know what the forecasters are predicting but the dogs have already starting digging out under the Berberis round the back. When it is in full leaf this provides them with a nice shady spot from where they can observe everything that happens in the garden. Already the  Kamikaze flies are out and about. These are the ones who strap on a crash helmet and deliberately head for your eyes. Some people have seen the Storks, and some are even reporting that the Swallows are already back. So far we haven't seen either but because we have fruit trees in blossom we have taken our Martenitsas off. I have seen my first tree frog of the year, but I'm not sure what that actually signifies.

Round the Back
The lawn mower has also had its first outing since its winter hibernation. Today was only giving the main 'lawns' and round the back an initial trim, mainly so I can check the condition after the winter. We have a few areas that were definitely scorched by the frosts, and a few places where I will need to reseed. At the moment, I don't need to worry too much about the grass banks outside, as yesterday I noticed Emi and Saeed's two goats having a bit of a munch. In front of the house wasn't too bad but round the back is a bit tussocky. I'm sure that I gave all grass areas a final cut at the same time last year, but it seems a lot thicker and taller round the back. One thing I did find lurking in the grass was pebbles from the gravel driveway. These will be from my snow clearing duties during the winter. I had hoped that I'd set the blade high enough to avoid them, but no such luck. If there was a pebble the blade found it, so I have now got a bit of gravel rash round my ankles. I won't mention the few surprises that the dogs had left lurking in the long grass just in case people are eating. So it appears that winter is now a memory, spring is now here and we have summer to look forward to.

Looking Over Part Of The Village
Our Twisted Hazel 


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