Sunday, 17 February 2008

Hibernation almost over

The normal signal here for end-of-hibernation is the first primrose. The diary over the past eight years shows this to be normally early-to-mid March, and occasionally late February. This year the first primrose was out on December 29th. Did someone say 'climate change?'

Despite what the primroses are doing it has still been determinedly wintry, but the days are lengthening fast now and the trees are jumping with birds. After a raw wet January and a snowy start to February, we have been blessed by a week of dry, bright weather. I have been digging over the ex-raspberry patch, getting the soil ready for (dare I say the word?) spring. Robins chase each other, competing for worms as they turn up on the spade. Early in the morning, they command the tree tops, leaving those long listening pauses between their trills.

The big thrill this week is the installation of a polytunnel. After a last minute change of plan for its site, it will nestle in the shelter of the woods beside the bath and winter bed shed we call 'the lounge'. It's a big job. Carting all the tubes, wood and fittings into position and plotting and staking out the ground took a morning. Then construction could begin. This involved first measuring out and hammering in two lines of five ground tubes. Then the hoops could be made up, complete with their surprisingly complicated complement of bolts and joints. The ridge tube, corner stablisers and cross-bars completed the metalwork. That was yesterday. Today we worked on timber door frames (one for each end) until the drill ran out of battery. I am impatient for completion, but there is still a lot to do: complete the door frames, make doors, dig trenches all around to bury the cover, acquire some suitable flooring. Then we will need a warm, calm day to wrap it in polythene. I can't wait to be Christy.

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