Greenhouse Base Installed

When I left off in my last post on greenhouses the make, size and style of greenhouse had been decided, we chose the 6’8″x10’5″ Kingfisher. The next thing was to order it, this I did and paid a 25% deposit. Next day the manufacturer phoned me and asked if the base had been installed, it hadn’t, then told me that they made all greenhouses to order, they don’t keep stock as it tends to get damaged, that’s fair enough especially as they are delivered pre-glazed so storing them would be problematical. I phoned my earthworks man Dave and asked him to get the base organised and sent him the very helpful plan that Swallow GB Ltd, the manufacturer, emailed to me. Dave said Saturday 18 January and I said go ahead. He duly turned up with his men at 7:30 am last Saturday, a cold and blustery day, and set to work. It’s amazing what can be achieved in four and a half hours if you know what you’re doing, just after noon the job was done and I was both relieved and pleased.

7’x11′ greenhouse base

Yesterday I called Swallow and told them the base was ready and they offered to install it – they do the install themselves, on Saturday 30/1/15, I’m mightily pleased, that’s just three weeks from ordering. I’ve started looking at online seed catalogues, well catalogue, so far I’ve had a look and started a wish list on Sutton’s Seeds website, the choice is dazzling to a newbie, any tips on what to start off with will be welcome. I’d like to grow vegetables and flowers from seed but don’t want to try to do too much in my first year in case that leads to a disheartening failure. I’ll update my greenhouse story a week on Friday after it has been installed.

A Gardener’s Grief

An amazing post  for a garden blog from It’s a frank and open consideration of The Patient Gardener’s reaction to her father’s death, the grief and how she copes with it. Starting from the “what can’t be changed must be endured” standpoint Helen explores her initial puzzlement, through the discovery of what had triggered her grief, then the acceptance and how she managed to move on, but not away, from it. Such patent honesty disarms the reader, I’d be amazed if any of us wasn’t moved by such a beautiful post.

A new greenhouse

I’ve been out shopping today with The Divine Cook (TDC), we’re looking for a greenhouse for me but we’re looking for different things. TDC is after something aesthetically pleasing, preferably in cedar, yours truly lusts for space at a reasonable price, I suspect I see a compromise coming on. We went to what we think is our nearest greenhouse shop, Superior Garden Buildings in a little town called Tasburgh on the A140, here’s their website They have a good range of greenhouses on display from the less, to the very, expensive. We wandered around in a cold blustery wind checking out the houses, I looked at aluminium, less expensive,

from Vitavia Garden Products Ltd

TDC looked at cedar, much more expensive,

from Alton Greenhouses

the compromise is tanalised redwood pine.

from Swallow (GB) Ltd

Next came the size debate, I looked at small, say 6 by 6 feet, TDC seemed to think something larger was appropriate, “you’ll have so much more space”, here we eventually agreed on around 7 by 10 feet. Something like this perhaps,

Swallow Kingfisher 6’8″ by 10’5″

So, here’s the question, does anyone have knowledge or opinions on the Swallow Kingfisher range of greenhouses and/or of Superior Garden Buildings in Tasburgh, Norfolk UK? Any help will be much welcomed, as will any comments on this post.

Bird Watching

We’ve had three days of sun in Glasgow for this time of year that’s good in these parts. At the weekend I had Sandy out with me whilst I worked in the garden, after a couple of hours of tidying I took a break for coffee, rest & rumination.

Looking a bit snooty.

Sitting on the deck I’m watching Sandy following scents round my flower beds, a big pigeon lands on the grass about ten feet from him and begins nonchalantly nibbling on insects, Sandy spots it immediately and plans his attack. Dropping low to the ground he gets behind the bird, he’s quivering with excitement, judging when to launch himself at this barefaced intruder. Sandy leaps up and throws himself forward, the pigeon rises into the air, ages before Sandy reaches the spot where it used to be, looking up at it Sandy growls and his hackles rise.

Disdainful pigeon
Strutting around on Sandy’s patch

“No luck there Sandy”.
“I’ll probably catch him next time”.
“Not too sure about that, I’ve been watching you and you’ve tried to grab him quite a few times but, honestly, you never get close”.
“I will next time”.
“Can’t you see that it’s not going to happen, the bird is too quick for you”.
“I’ll get him, one time he’ll be too slow or too old & slow then I’ll have him”.
“I doubt it Sandy”.
“Don’t you believe in persistence Dad”?
“Of course I do but it has to be tempered by common sense, some things are just too unlikely and persistence is just wasted effort then”.
“But you humans can see that way before us dumb dogs, right”?
“Now Sandy you know I treat you as an equal, don’t try to dig me up like that, but yes, mostly we humans are smarter than dogs”.
“It’s true that you do much more complicated things than us dogs”.
“Yes, that’s true”. There’s no point in denying the obvious.
“You can drive cars, run businesses, fly aeroplanes and even go to the moon”.
“All true but don’t feel bad about it, that’s just natural selection”.
“I suppose so, but tell me Dad, how is business these days”?
“Not so good, what with the recession and all”.
“It must be tough trying to  make a profit”.
“It’s very difficult just now & has been for some time”.
“Why do you do it Dad”?
“Because I honestly believe that one day, with hard work and a bit of luck, I can make good money at it”.
He looked at me with those big brown eyes, wide open and innocent, immediately I had  a sense of foreboding.
“How long have you thought that Dad””
“A long time Sandy, it takes real sticking power to succeed in business”. Foreboding was turning to dread, the wee devil was in manipulative mode again.
Sandy’s face rearranged itself into the semblance of a smile, though not a pretty one.
“Forgive a dumb question Dad, but is sticking power similar to persistence”?
I felt a little nauseous.
“Ehhh, similar, yes”.
“A bit like chasing birds when there seems no hope of catching them perhaps”?
I felt a pressing need to return to gardening, there was something not quite right about the border by the hut and it needed my immediate attention.
“Sorry Sandy, there’s a complex question of the arrangement of plants in the hut border that demands instant action. We can talk more later.”
“Carry on Dad, you’ll get it right yet.”
I felt curiously deflated as I headed over to the hut, surely he hadn’t bested me again?

Watching me, distrustfully I fear.

High wind, big things & small dogs.

On the sofa in the TV room

We went for our usual wander up the road last night but it was a strange one, the wind was high and blustery, bumping into us when it was strong. The noises it makes are fascinating to me but, to Sandy, disconcerting. Enjoying the sound of the wind in the big beech tree further up our road is a highlight of our walk, but not for Sandy. He hears but doesn’t understand,
“What’s that Dad?”
“You look really startled Sandy, what’s wrong?”
“That noise Dad, what is it & where does it come from, is it dangerous, is something coming for us? I can’t tell, there’s no smell to tell me.”
“It’s the wind Sandy, very rarely dangerous here.”
“Wind? What is that?”
“It’s the movement of the air around us, when it moves noticeably we call it wind.”
“Where’s it from, whose is it?”
“Tonight it’s from the north & that’s why it’s so cold. It doesn’t belong to anyone or anything. It’s naturally occurring, part of the world’s weather patterns.”
“Sounds to me like something very big, breathing hard and probably angry. It’s not good to annoy big, angry things especially when you’re as small as me.”
“Don’t get worked up by it, just accept it and trust me when I say it won’t harm you.”
“We dogs don’t do too much thinking Dad, mostly we react. A big noise like that makes me want to go home, get away from it.”
“We can go home if you want.”
“I think that’s a  good idea Dad, let’s do it.”
When we get back to the house I decide to take him around the lawn and beds of the front garden, he’s never been there before although he spends most of his day sitting on the window seat looking out over it.
In summer
“Recognise this Sandy?”
“No Dad I don’t, where are we?”
“We’re at the house in the front garden, you should recognise it, you spend most of the day looking at it. It’s the place outside the front window.”
“Oh, you really don’t get dogs Dad, we don’t recognise by sight but by smell & I can’t smell anything from my guard post inside the double glazed windows, so it’s new territory to me.”
“Do you like it?”
“I’m not sure, that big noisy thing is still around.”
“I told you, that’s the wind, ignore it.”
“Can’t do that, it’s all over the place.”
“Maybe we should go inside now, you’re obviously uncomfortable here.”
“OK Dad, if you want to go in let’s go, no problem to me.”
So off we go into the house where Sandy’s confidence magically returns the moment the front door is closed behind him.

Coats & Jackets


As the walking hour of 8 o’clock was approaching I headed downstairs to get dressed for our walk, Sandy was lying on the rug at the bottom of the stairs, eyes trained on the landing waiting for my appearance. As soon as he sees me he’s up on all four legs, tail wagging, ears pricked up and a look of feverish excitement in his eyes.
“Hi Sandy, you about ready to go?”
“Sure am Dad.”
“I’ll get my outdoor clothes on then we’re off.”
“Don’t be long Dad.”
In the cloakroom I start by putting on my winter boots, these are a bit fiddly to get on but are well worth it for their non slip soles and their ability to keep my, now aging, feet warm. Then my ski jacket, it really does the trick against the Scottish winter wind which slices through normal jackets. About this time Sandy starts whimpering, this loudens to squeaks and small barks – he’s getting fair excited at the prospect of a walk. I put on my gloves take up his lead and go out to catch him, yes catch him. The wee devil wants to go out but won’t stand still long enough for me to attach his lead, so we do a nightly dance round the hall with me trying to grab his collar and him running about like a daft thing. Eventually I get hold of him, put on his lead and with a parting “Back soon love.” we’re away.
When we get to the outside front door he’s literally bouncing up and down on his four paws, I open the door and out he lunges – not the best trained dog on the Drive, he’s a bit excitable. It takes a couple of minutes for him to calm down once we’re on the road but soon we’re walking along in amicable silence, until he says
“Dad, what takes you so long getting ready every night?”
I explain the need for winter weather gear but this puzzles him.
“I know you need it but why do you take so long?”
 “Because it’s a small room and getting boots and a big jacket on isn’t easy.”
“I have to say Dad that to me you look a bit silly in all that gear.”
“I do, do I?”
“Yes you do.”
“You should be careful what you say, maybe I’ll get you a doggie coat.”
“Now Dad there’s no need for that kind of talk.”
“You mean you don’t want one?”
“You may look a bit silly in all your gear but nothing like as silly as those dogs that go about with coats on.”
“But it keeps them warm.”
“Dogs are warm, they don’t need extra padding, it just slows us down and, besides, makes us look dumb.”
“What about a bandanna for round your neck, just as a fashion accessory.”
“Aw come on Dad, every dog in the neighborhood would be laughing at me.”
“You shouldn’t care what other dogs think, you should follow your own sense of what’s right.”
“I do Dad and there’s a ban on any idea of a bandanna.”
We’re about half way in our ramble and start to head for home. Now we walk into the bitter wind, I hunch my shoulders while Sandy flattens his ears to his head and in this condition we soon arrive home. The routine is that when we get in, after I get changed again, for ours is a warm house, Sandy gets a few doggie treats in his yellow submarine – a yellow plastic contraption with a couple of holes in it. In this goes the treats then Sandy spends time trying to get them out of there and into his mouth, a game he enjoys hugely.
Coming out of the cloakroom we go through to the kitchen where I fill the submarine and give it to him. About an hour later I come down and Sandy is sound asleep in his bed.
“Hey lazy bones, what are you doing asleep this early?”
“I’m too warm Dad, so lay down for a nap.”
“It’s not that warm.”
“Maybe not to you but you’re walking about with almost nothing on, I’m wearing a fur coat.”
“I’m not sure I like the implication there Sandy, it seems to me you’re saying that everything is set up for us humans and that dogs are ignored.”
“No Dad, I’m saying you’re a selfish lot you humans.”
I was gobsmacked, “How did you get to that outlandish conclusion?”
“Well, let’s take tonight. You come down to take me out when it suits you, I get no say about whether the time is good for me, then you spend 5 minutes getting ready before going out and another 5 before I get my treats when we get home. When out you hold the lead and control where we go, how fast we walk and when to come home. I’m disenfranchised – there’s no vote for dogs is there? What’s more, when we are home the temperature is too high for me in a fur coat, everything is organised around you humans who wear next to nothing inside the house and ridiculous amounts of clothes outside. To cap it all you threaten to put me in some stupid doggie coat and make smart remarks when I fall asleep because I’m knocked out by the heat in here. It’s just another day to me Dad.”
Well …..he may have a point, I’ve never known him so tetchy but, no ready riposte coming to me, I maintain my dignity, pat him on the head and wander off for a glass of wine.
Looking disdainful

A Road Too Far?

Set off with Sandy dog but this time went down our drive and turned right along the main road then first right again, he was scared on the busy main road but seemed happier when we left it, that is till we covered about two hundred yards where he stopped dead. Knowing that he’s a bit shy about his fear, especially where girls are concerned, I picked him up & whispered,
“You scared, puppy dog?”
“You bet Dad.”
“What’s eating you?”
“I’m too far from home and I’ve lost my bearings, I want to go back.”
Well thought I, this is no good, I’ve got to get him past this. So, still carrying him, I head on up the road. He doesn’t seem to be a heavy dog when you pick him up but by the time I reached the top of the road I was feeling his weight, I turned right and after a few yards I put him back on his four paws. He stood looking around for a moment then, with ears flat and belly low to the ground, headed home.
As we headed down our road his nervousness decreased a bit, I was glad ’cause I wasn’t sure how much further I could’ve carried the wee devil. He was still moving fast but not pulling and in this condition we reached home.
We stopped in the vestibule for a quick word before going in,
“Was that OK young fella?”
“I’m not so sure Dad, it was a bit frightening  but you carrying me up that other road sure helped a lot.”
“That’s good, will we try again tomorrow?”
“OK, let’s give it a go, I’m not promising but there are some real good smells round that corner.”
I started to open the door when he pulled me back,
“Not a word to Mum though, please?”
“Mum’s the word.”

Sandy Goes Sunbathing

I wandered into the TV room this early afternoon as I hadn’t seen Sandy for a while and he often snatches a wee snooze there during the day. Sure enough there he was sleeping on the sofa with the warm rays of the sun wrapped round him.

“Hey Sandy, what’s the news?”
“Not much Dad but, considering it’s only half way through February in Glasgow, Scotland, I sure am enjoying these rays.”
“You look comfortable but why lying down, why aren’t you sitting on the window seat guarding the house?”
“I was but the sun made me drowsy and it’s low in the sky so it makes being on lookout difficult,can I have a pair of those dark glasses that Mum always wears? I think that would keep me on lookout much longer”.
“Would it help with the drowsiness”?
“Now Dad you know it wouldn’t but if I could see better then I wouldn’t get so bored and boredom brings on tiredness in a dog”.
“So, if I buy you sunglasses you’ll remain on guard duty longer?”
“Well Dad I can’t guarantee that but it might help a whole lot”.
“Sandy, are you sure this is not another of the new gadgets which I get for you, you play with for a couple of days, then gradually ignore”?
“What do you mean, was that a pointed comment”?
“I’ve bought you lots of toys, most of them end up under your bed in less than two days, why should sunglasses be different”?
“You sure are developing a suspicious nature Dad, I need sunglasses to help me see better on sentry duty when it’s sunny”.
“I think you just want a new toy and that you’ll be bored with it in no time”.

“What did you buy today Dad”?
“Oh I got a new laptop, it’s fantastic, Windows 8 with 6 Gigabytes of RAM, wonderful, I’m in love”.
“You sure spent a lot of time on it today, I was amazed. Normally you’re only on it for half an hour or so”.
“That’s true Sandy but this new one is so exciting that I couldn’t leave it alone”.
“How much time will you spend on it tomorrow”?
“Probably not so much, I’ve more or less mastered it”.
“Why did you change laptops”?
“Oh, the other one was old, it needed changing”.
“Had it stopped working”?
“No but it was time for a change”.
“Is it like a new toy to you”?
“Yes it’s a bit like that”.
“Did it cost more than sunglasses for me”?
Damned dog then rolled himself into a ball in the sun, closed his eyes and went back to sleep. What was that all about? Sometimes I think he’s a bit bad tempered, especially when tired.

A Wee Donner

I’m just back from taking Sandy for “a wee Donner” up the road, (who knew we had kebabs in Scotland when slang was invented?) . An odd walk, about half way up Colquhoun he was spooked by something, stopped dead & refused to move forward, insisting on going back. “Come on Dad I’m spooked, don’t know what it is, some scent I caught on the breeze or from the ground, I really want to go home”.

I was surprised, lately he’d been getting to the top of the road and looked interested in exploring further but now a volte-face, “What’s up young fella?” He looked up at me with those big eyes of his & said quietly “I think it’s a big fox, please let’s go home”. So that’s what we did, turned around & headed home, his ears flat to his head, body low to the ground and stopping every few yards to look back.

When we got inside the storm doors he shook himself, gave me a friendly lick on the leg and said “Thanks Dad, I was a wee bit worried there, no need to let on to Mum tho’, OK?” So he was back to himself already, “Sure, let’s go in” Bouncing in to the TV room, tail wagging he headed for his favourite spot on the sofa, gave me a conspiratorial wink & fell asleep.

Sandy Gets Ready

Sandy preparing for a gig.

When he’s getting ready he is focused, his whole being zoomed in on the job, nothing: except food, other dogs, Liz, a postman or other delivery person,  someone parking their car, a few other vital doggie things or an itchy paw is allowed to intrude. A consummate professional, he gives his all to his art.

We were chatting just the other day about a donkey that, Sandy claims, walks up and down our road during the day when he’s alone. That’s the whole thing, it only happens when he’s alone, never when we’re around to keep him company, so should we believe him or not? He’s usually very truthful but is a bit of a romantic and so you’re never too sure about his stories. The alleged donkey walks up the middle of the road, unaccompanied, wears a large straw hat with holes for his ears and always stops to talk to Sandy for a minute or two. I decide to test him – “what do you talk about?”
“Mostly the weather, scents and other things of interest to poor dumb animals”
“What language do you use?”
“A mixture of English, canine and equine”
“Do you understand each other?”
“Of course, otherwise why would we talk, that’s a stupid question.”
“Does he pass by every day?”
“No, only days when I’m alone.”
“I wonder how he knows you’re alone?”
“You must think all animals are stupid, we can communicate in ways you can’t imagine.”
“Like what”
“We can post messages, don’t look so incredulous, we can and do.”
“Where do you post them.”
“In the dogosphere or the donkosphere, some times both if you’re not sure who’ll be around that day.”
“Where are these sphere’s, I don’t see them.”
“I don’t see these emails and blogs you’re forever talking about, so there’s nothing surprising in you not being able to access other spheres that are outside your reach.”
“And you send posts there?”
“Yeah, for the whole animosphere community to read”
“I’m not sure I understand”
“Nobody’s asking you to, I don’t understand your universe and you don’t get mine, that’s fine from my perspective.”
“I need to think about this.”
“OK, you do that and come back to me when you have.”

I was glad to bring that conversation to a close, I felt Sandy was getting the edge over me, clearly impossible as he’s just a dog and I’m human but he can undermine my confidence sometimes so I thought I’d let it rest for the day.