There can’t be anything nicer than being able to go out into our gardens in the height of summer and sit by a nice wall with a flower border along it. The smell of roses in the morning haze or perhaps during the evening twilight cannot be over estimated. To achieve this idyll we need several things. A garden is helpful, of course. To make it useable we have to clear the space, getting rid of weeds and debris left from anyone else’s efforts. The laying of a patio is not as easy as folk think. The land must be cleared well and made as even as possible. The paving slabs or ornamental stone needs to be placed carefully and sell cemented into position. Using the old fashioned 5 blobs isn’t cutting it these days as it allows all sorts of weeds grimness to grow underneath. Then we need to have a space to put our tables and chairs – some shadebe big enough for the max number likely to be sitting at one time but not so huge that it takes up too much space. A folding set is useful of course but on any patio area that is even minisculey uneven, this might cause difficulties – spilt pims on ice, not so good!
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There are many problems throughout this vast world of ours – industrial strife and factories shutting down through lack of orders . . . . Youngsters starting to worry about what kind of planet they are inheriting. It’s very true that our generation has managed to wreck much of the planet in only a hundred years or so, after it had housed so many for a couple of thousand. How we manage the world’s resources is coming much more sharply into focus for everyone now. In the developing world, there is much destruction of rain forests and other former areas that had trees at the root of their cultivation. We all want furniture but we have to decide if the way we achieve that is fair on the rest of the world. Sustainable sources are words banded about frequently – oak furniture will be sustainable in that for every tree used, there can be hundreds of baby trees replacing it. But it does take hundreds of years to get to maturiry. Balancing and compromise are two more important words for us to contemplate.
At the start of spring, when the more awful of the winter weather has finally swanned off elsewhere, it can be very tempting to whizz out and buy up any old patio set for the garden. There are so many mismatched suites gumming up the space that should be as neat and elegant as the front of house styling. There are many suppliers of the cheaper plastic sets – these are fine for everyday when the children are haring about knocking things over but if you want to entertain in a more upmarket manner, cocktails at the yardarm and all that, then the better sets of seating are called for. One is judged by guests if the wrong set up is visible. There are a couple of truly awesome online sites that supply all manner of patio corner suites and table sets – they come in cane, teak, polypropelene – being unbreakable, they can withstand some fairly hefty treatment too.
We have had some truly extraordinary weather this last couple of seasons. Normally when winter has gone and we get the spring rush of brisk winds and sharp showers, we can then rely on the summer to be mostly dry and sunny. If last summer is an indication of what’s to become the norm, then we could well do with taking better care of our outdoor furniture and effects. Bright sun is fab – in moderation. It does have a destructive side to it though and we need to check the seating on plastic or upvc chairs and benches. The sun can literally destroy them but you may not realise until sitting down – with a crashing bump sometimes as it gives way. Folding or stacking chairs after use, out of wind, rain and sun will help preserve them. Wiping off residue of sun oil and drying them if rained on will also stop problem areas forming.
I was helping out at a local heritage property recently – stewarding teh main ballroom area. The bigger of two ballrooms. . . . It struck me for the firt time that the ceiling had downlights and as the house had been completed in the 1700s, there wouldn’t have been any lighting beyond oil lamps and candles. I was looking up to see how these had been installed as the ceiling still looked as complete as the room next door. It turns out that the previous ceiling had been damaged by a devastating mishap with a bathroom above it and the water ingress had brought down a great deal of the original. The lights themselves don’t jump out or down so they are very effective – particularly for the weddings that are carried out in the room – giving just the right amount of soft warm lighting to complement the natural light from the floor to ceiling windows that look out over the expansive grounds. In all, the need for new lighting was well designed and does the job well!
Gosh we need to get a bit warmer before too long. This cold damp weather is having an effect on my limbs. Nothing feels particularly comfortable when we’re very cold and very wet. It’s always worth checking out various maintenance jobs in these adverse conditoins, lest we come downstairs to find something ghastly has occured overniht. As I did pretty recently. I paddled down stairs towards the kettle and looking out to the garden, noticed immediately that my enourmous back fence had blown town. It was a dreadful sight – fence panels flipped all over the place. The fascia boards snapped and buckling had occured. I had to call the fencing contractors. Because of high demand, he couldn’t come out that day to inspect but the next. This was good. The actual fence now looks fab. I asked for the medium priced alternative to include 3 trellis panels too. The professionalism was excellent. A first class job all round.
We need our outdoor spaces – badly. When the second world war was finally over, the government of the day had a massive rebuild programme on heir hands – moving families ou of war ravaged areas, into suburban council estates. Although the houses were very utilitarian, built as quickly and cheaply as could be allowed, they did almost all have decent sized gardens. The plan was for families to grow as much of their own veg as possible – following the hardships over the war, with so much rationing. Well, these days houses hardly come with even a postage stamp of room for kiddies to play, or parents to relexa with a bar-b-que. What space there is needs to be cared for and enjoyed. Neatly designed furniture with a small efficient lighting scheme will enhance the family use of this space for longer months of the year. Having oak furniture inside and out helps to to think the relaxing countryside is nearer.
There are many things about modern living that differ greatly from when I was growing up. In those days we were expected to eek out Dad’s income by growing all our own fruit and vegestables. This was quite normal for many families anyway – there being far less shops available, we would have gone pretty hungry without the home grown produce. We had a nice grassy patch to play on and a few paving slabs arranged outside the back door. My parents would put out their deck chairs on high days and hiolidays. The patio table was in fact an upturned orange or potato box with a tea towel over it. My how much more sophisticated things are today. With really lovely patio sets and to set off a warm autumnal evening, we can have lighting schemes to enhance the shrubbery. Professional installation is critical to ensure safety – cutting corners is never a good idea.
When anyone moves into the houses in my area, it seems that the first thing to be done is always rip out the existing kitchen and replace it within a massiveextension, all shiny white mirror like tiles . . . . then the finishing touch is a massive bi fold patio door arrangement across the width of the room. Eveyrthing is so much easier to get hold of these days. These bi fold triple glazed patio doors for example are so carefully measured and manufactured, there’s no likelihood of breaking building regs. Whereas one house I tried buying years ago, the previous owner had taken out most of the back wall of the lounge and replaced it with a massive aluminium framed, single glazed sliding door – he’d done it himself and had not checked any of the safety aspects. My mortgage was refused – the surveyor was so unimpressed with his work, he condemed the installation and reported the owner to the local council!
Some things about home ownership can be inspiring and a welcome boost to the ego. Then there are the times when it can just be jolly frustrating. Take for example this week – I’ve had need to open the up and over garage door a few times. I don’t like to leave the door up – there are lots of nice tools and garden implements to see and grab. However, the general change in weather conditions has made the door stick and being a huge double affair, it’s hard to unstick – I have to really slam it hard towards the left side when I’m inside the garage. It shifts a minute bit and unsticks from the wooden batten . . . . How much nicer would it be to have a brand new electric up and over door that can be operated remotely from the car as I approach the drive – this is my new year’s treat to myself.