Monday, September 17, 2007


Long overdue for an update, folks, so here it is...

No changes within the house, at least none worth discussing in detail. Bathroom mirrors and their lights turned up in August (from memory) and were carefully nailed to the walls, so two more electric cables that had been peeping out of their respective holes finally disappeared. A few new bits of furniture materialised, and a few more were formally declared casualties to the cause... they might have been super in whatever nook or cranny they squatted in at our last place, but there's no place for them in our Huf Haus. Oh no. Not really a Huf Haus issue, as that's something that happens to yer any time there's a house move. Oh and Claudia figured out a sneaky way of putting up some curtains (yawn) in the kid's bedroom, which saved us a lot of playing up during those long daylight hours of summer. And that's it.

More goings on outside the house...

The wooden decking was completed sometime in late June, just in time for 2007's summer that wasn't. Within a couple of weeks of the final screw being tightened the usual paraphernalia appeared on it; table and chairs, sun loungers, whopping big parasols and some big pots with plants in 'em to make it cosy. Oh, and lord knows how many multi-coloured plastic toys, buckets and spades, a sand pit filled with wet sand and pebbles, and a limp faded paddling pool containing rainwater, bits of grass and dozens of dead flies.

One can only imagine that the proud owners of those designer homes that appear in House & Garden are typically childless.

The two parasols we bought are worth a brief plug: they're a cantilevered design (generally more wind-resistant that yer normal parasol) called the Sunwing C+ and manufactured by a pure, mountain-bred Swiss company called Glatz. The concrete bases weigh 90kg a pop, so they're as safe as houses against strong gusts; although you'd still want to leg over and close 'em up sharpish. I have a horror of parasols falling over and impaling the kids - seen far too many close shaves over the years.

I finally persuaded the landscaping chaps to cut that shed-sized paved area into the slope behind the house and shore up the walls against landslides. Once completed, father-in-law and I assembled the metal shed during one of the few sunny weekends of the summer. Claudia was greatly relieved as the plethora of gardening tools, lawnmower, plant pots, and lots and lots of outdoorsy stuff finally disappeared from their customary clumps and piles around the house - and I have to say that I'd become so used to seeing the mess that I was pleasantly shocked as to how nice the outside suddenly became.

A real transformation.

In 20-20 hindsight, I'd have done something about the shed from the start.

Again, the shed's worth a plug. It's an all alloy wonder called the Avantgarde manufactured by an Austrian company called Biohort. The coolest shed I've ever seen, and puts yer traditional wooden model to shame as it's essentially maintenance free, and should last decades. Pricy of course, but I couldn't bring myself to plonk the garden tools into some green plastic disaster that wobbles when yer shut the door. If the door can be shut at all.

And the garden itself?

First the good news: the lawn has grown up all nice and strong, and gets thicker and stronger every time we cut it. Even better, the meadow beyond our lawn has regrown, so there's a continuous stretch of grass from our wooden decking to the horizon. The dark swathes of soil left over from construction is a faded memory: it's amazing how quickly yer can make a garden superficially straight enough not to drive you nuts simply by chucking a few grass seeds around.

Final plug of the day: the lawn mower's from an American company called Toro, and its the lightest petrol mower currently available - 20 kg for a 40cm width. It has a mulching widget for those days when yer want to feed the lawn - oh alright, for when yer garden waste container's full to the brim. Light weight is good for us, as we have some slopy bits to negotiate.

Claudia's done a fine job of starting up the flower beds around our entrance are. There's a lot to be said for her 'instant gratification' approach; lavender, herbs (especially mint) and a few other bits and bobs which soon filled up the space. We also planted some of those japanesy maple saplings as per yer standard Huf Haus specification.

Erm, what else?

Oh, we planted two containers with various herbs and stuff and added water regularly. Two of 'em delivered big time: the basil and, amazingly, the chilli plant. We had big green basil leaves all summer, which is a first for me as all basil plants within ten feet of me normally peg it within days. But it was the chilli plant that was the revelation: over the last month or so, we've had dozens of fat red chillis. Well chuffed. Next year we'll plant only basil and chillis and see what happens. I'm all up for farming the buggahs.

The hedge along the parking area's slooooowly thickening up. Still transparent, but showing some promise of opaqueness for next year. Hmm, must buy myself a hedge trimmer.

Over the next week the safety fence for the parking area should be completed. We've been 'legal' since we moved in courtesy of a make-shift wooden post and rope affair. It's been looking a bit rough of late, with the rope between posts sagging sadly and the odd post leaning over due to fatigue. The fence itself'll be there to stop people/children/livestock from falling the three metres to the concrete path below. But there's a short stretch near the entrance corner that we've opted to properly armco to deter any wayward SUV from plunging downwards and thence through the kitchen window.

And the bad news?

Well, the long steep slope behind the house is a long, steep slope of weeds.

The ground cover plants have been struggling to compete with the local flora since they went in during late May, but in spite of a centimetre by centimetre weeding session by yours truly in early July, they're simply swamped with the fastest growing weeds I've ever seen in my life. A bloody triffid would be left in the starting blocks compared to these buggahs. Claudia's decided that we should go with the flow and simply call the entire slope an 'alpine flower meadow' (Bluemli-wiese). Not a bad idea, as yer bona fide alpine flower meadow is a mixture of grass, alpine flowers and, erm, alpine weeds.

Just need to add grass and flowers.

One shall post up a bevy of piccys again as soon as the rain stops for long enough to take a snap or six. Until then, sayonara...

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