You’re looking at the inside of the bird box in our garden. The so far uninhabited bird box in our garden, but we’re coming up on that time of year when a young bird’s thoughts turn to twigs and trying to impress Bill Oddie, so fingers crossed.
Here’s the outside:
We invested in a bird box with camera and attached it to the side of our garage, and then I painstakingly laid the cable (just visible on the photo). The set up was very easy – plug and play, essentially. There are audio, video and power leads coming off the camera unit (which can be disconnected at the box end mercifully), and thankfully all three cables (bound with a single coating) run the whole 30 metres so the power can be supplied from within the house. The cable snakes along the garage, around the kitchen, into the house next to our patio doors, and around the wall to our DVD recorder.
(Or nearly all the way to our DVD recorder. The 30m cable sounded like a lot, but when you’re hugging the contours of a house it gets eaten up pretty rapidly. At present it has to take a slightly more direct route under our armchair rather than hugging the wall all the way, but I’m sure I can get a bit of extension cable. We thought about wireless ones but internet consensus seems to be that the wireless bird box cams can be a bit flaky, and despite a bit of faffing the only real difficulty I had with this one was getting the cable through the wall and into the house.)
We’re really happy with it. We now have a bird box with a live feed that we can watch on the TV and record from. The camera seems to be in focus, shoots colour in the day and infrared when light levels are too low, and has a built-in microphone which has already picked up bird song and the sound of birds hopping around the exterior of the box looking for insects.
We’ve been meaning to do this for years. We get hordes of birds in our garden and we know they nest all around us in the trees, and even in our rafters. You already get a fantastic view of them feeding from our kitchen window, from where the outside of the new bird box is clearly visible. We just want to go that one step further1.
On the downside it cost us a fair chunk of money. It’s this one as endorsed by Simon King. There are many cheaper ones on the market it has to be said! Ultimately we decided that we may as well buy a decent one rather than risk it being poor quality. It also comes with a bird feeder that the camera can slot into if the little buggers persistently refuse to nest…
*waits expectantly for birds to move in*
To be honest we’ve had three sparrow boxes up on the back of the house for over a year now without any sign of habitation, so I have no illusions about how quickly we might get a lodger. On the other hand the new box is well away from the house and several blue tits and coal tits have shown an interest already while foraging, so I’m quite hopeful. Possibly a “room to let” sign next to the bird table might help.
Progress reports will follow as and when we, y’know, have any progress.
1 Also it gives the cats something to watch on TV. You should have seen Pixie’s ears perk up when the sound of twittering started coming from the speakers.
We’re having a bit of a minor flurry of DIY at the moment (for some unknown reason…), getting things done around the house we’ve been meaning to finish for ages. And by ages I mean years.
One is this little bit of wall tiling in the kitchen. Very modest by most standards, but I’m really pleased with the results. The tiles have a lovely rustic feel, complement the terracotta wall colours in the kitchen perfectly, and (crucially) make the area next to the bin and the cat litter tray a lot more resilient/waterproof. Also this is my first foray into tiling, and it’s gone pretty well. They’re Elios ‘Cotto’ tiles, for what it’s worth.
Also in the above left pic you can see our swanky new spice rack. Made (you may gasp) by sticking three spice racks together and screwing them to the wall. This really is incredibly convenient. These days we use quite a few herbs and spices, and now they’re readily to hand rather than stuffed into any and every bit of space on the window ledge.
Inspired by ajr and my need to impose order on our sprawling Heap o’ Books, as previously detailed here, we went out this week and bought the tallest bookshelves IKEA had to offer, then bought the extra bits that made them taller, then bought extra shelves for them.
This weekend we de-stacked all the books, dismantled the old bookcases, assembled the new ones and (a first for me) attached them to the wall so they can’t fall over and crush us.
Oui, c’est vrai. Our kitchen is very nearly finished.
Okay, there’s still the floor tiles and the wall paint which we haven’t even chosen yet. We’re trying to decide whether vivid walls or nice bland warm walls are the way to go. The floor will probably be some kind of grey slate or slate-effect tiles.
Leaving that aside, the granite is fitted, the hob works, and we can taste the delights of not-microwaved vegetables for the first time in two weeks. It’s a nice place to be, and we’re really happy with the way it looks.
So as I’ve mentioned before we’ve been getting our kitchen redone. It’s one of our long-standing goals to get rid of our cramped and cluttered kitchen but we dithered for so long over whether to get a house extension that we’ve only now got around to doing it.
Once we actually got started (and finally found a builder) it’s gone incredibly quickly. We pulled up the floor about a week and a half ago, and then the contractors came in. Within the next five days we had one window bricked up, one replaced, and the room was stripped clean, wired and fully plastered.
This week they’ve installed the units and the remainder of the electrical wiring and plumbing, leaving just the self-indulgent granite worktops to go before the last touches can go in like the hob and the kitchen tap. Then we just need to paint the walls and tile the floor.
I have to say, even with the walls and floor still bare and the worktops missing we’re over-the-moon with the transformation. There’s now actual space to move around. It feels like a real kitchen for the first time in the five years we’ve lived here. It feels strangely like a kitchen showroom in fact, but once we get stuff in the cupboards and the worktops fitted it’ll be more like ours.
Those averse to before and after pictures should avert their eyes now.
We have this week off on holiday. That’s good.
So far we’ve spent it in backbreaking labour. That’s bad.
The backbreaking labour is Janet’s new Greenhouse. That’s good.
We rewarded ourselves last night with our first fast food order of the year. That’s double plus good. Janet had Chinese. I had Pizza Hut. It was great. The best thing is we have no need to feel guilty because it was low in sugar for Janet, and the fat’s irrelevant due to the aforementioned backbreaking labour.
The greenhouse itself is Janet’s new pride and joy. She already had a 6 foot x 8 foot one, but her carnivorous plants were beginning to complain about the lack of space. By “complain” I mean that several of them were quite grumpy and more than a few were developing into hunchbacks. The danger of them running amok and taking over the City was ever on our minds. Well, it was on my mind. Janet seems very blasé about the idea of her plants ‘pulling a Wyndham’, as it’s almost certainly known.
Getting back to the story: plants big–greenhouse small. Janet’s foolish husband suggested that we could make room in the garden for a bigger greenhouse, and suddenly there was a Janet-shaped cloud of dust dissipating beside him as she rushed to the internets. She ended up ordering a 6 foot x 14 foot one – nearly twice as long, and also the “High Eaves” version (meaning that the walls are taller before the roof starts).
We spent Sunday taking the old greenhouse down, two VERY long days on Monday and Tuesday assembling the new one, and today fitting all the staging and moving the plants back in from the porch (where they were, quite frankly, unnerving the postie). Thankfully the rain mostly held off despite the odd bit of drizzle, and we’ve even had some warm sun for part of it.
We had Janet’s Mum and Dad helping us to put the greenhouse up, for which we can’t thank them enough. Without them whole eons could have passed before we got the darn thing assembled. It’s a lot trickier than it looks, even having built one a few years back.
Inevitably there are pictures, as with all our projects. Look, just be thankful you don’t have before and after photos of me composing this journal entry…
When last we left our struggling hero he was attempting to build a pond. Thwarted at every turn by the evils of pond liner, water, and pretty much all the other things you need to make a pond, not to mention gravity, it would be fair to say that he was making a bit of a meal of it.
Now read on…
So over the last couple of weekends we’ve continued pottering with the pond, on and off. It’s still not finished but now looks a lot more complete.
I must confess there was a stage after I’d done most of the rocks that I felt pretty fed up with it. We don’t have the budget or heavy lifting equipment to throw great slabs of rock into the ground as if a mountain spring had coincidentally thrust its way out of the earth in the corner of our garden. As a result it’s fairly small and stylised, and has an awful lot of cobbles and small rocks in heaps. However since Janet put some plants in I’m feeling much more positive. It looks like what it is: a nice, small garden pond. It’s certainly tranquil.
As mentioned we’re creating a pond at the moment, turning a patch of scrubby garden non-entity into a nice little water feature and, potentially, home to the occasional newts and frogs that visit our garden. So far it’s occupied the best part of the last two weekends and it feels like it’s taking a very long time to come together. There are a number of learning points emerging from this exercise:
1) Pond liner is composed of purest evil and refuses to lie snugly in a hole no matter which way you fold it.
2) Swearing at pond liner accomplishes little but feels good.
3) Pebbles may lie there blinking sweetly at you in a Miyazaki-type way, but no matter how many times you wash them they’ll still turn your water a muddy brown colour.
4) My back still hasn’t recovered from going “oh bugger-aieee-twang!” last year.
5) Water simply can’t take a hint, even when you patiently explain where you need it to go.
6) Ow, my back. This one is worth mentioning twice.
A flurry of Battlestar Galactica to catch up with my backlog.
Various uninteresting life events have got in the way of posting recently; my brother and his girlfriend came up to visit for the Great North Run last week, and since then we’ve been locked in tiling hell after a spur-of-the-moment decision to redo the bathroom floor. I must remember to multiply my estimates of how long DIY will take by a factor of three…
Obviously I haven’t actually seen any of these episodes, but uncannily if you play James Blunt’s top-selling album backwards you can hear the entire soundtrack to all three episodes, plus some extra material mostly concerned with worshipping the devil.