Rose Pat Austin 002 Wm

Rose ‘Pat Austin’


Today rusty duck has reached the grand old age of four. Doesn’t time fly!

I think it’s fair to say I totally underestimated the challenge of establishing a garden in the middle of an old English wood.Β  The ever encroaching trees casting their shade, abundant rain and the relatively mild Devon climate providing the perfect breeding ground for slugs. The roses knocked back by blackspot and devoured by rabbits and deer. The neighbour’s sheep, and cows, blundering their way across the lawn. The almost total absence of any plant that grows from a bulb. Thanks for that, Mr Mouse. And the army of squirrels, poring over their map table underneath the rhododendron bush, plotting their next move.

Β Should we retreat inside the cottage for some respite perhaps? Um..


Bedroom 005 Wm


The acrow prop prevents the main beam, and consequently the roof, from collapsing whilst the structure underneath is reinforced. The dark brown area near the ceiling, new lime mortar, marks the spot.


Bedroom 004 Wm


Cob blocks on stand-by


The upper part of the house is constructed mainly from cob (clay soil, sand, water and straw). In modern times the mixture is compressed into blocks to make building work easier. As it turned out the current repair could be confined to the chimney stack, requiring stone rather than cob. The builder used bits of rock we’ve accumulated from the garden over the last few years, the exact same approach as would have been taken hundreds of years ago. What goes around comes around, eh?


Β As regular readers will know, not every project goes smoothly. Remember last year and Mike’s foot poking through the cavernous hole that had been the hall ceiling just a few moments before? And the plumber who turned tail and legged it in the middle of a job? Sometimes it’s hard to see the funny side. But in the end you have to laugh. Or else you’d cry.

It’s been an interesting four years. For your continued support of rusty duck, I can’t thank you enough. It really wouldn’t be the same without you. I suppose I should also offer thanks to the wildlife. For without them half of the tales wouldn’t be there to be told. No need to imagine what their reaction might be..

Squirrel 018b Wm

‘Till next time..

J x