Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

Building a pond

It has taken over 18 month to build, punctuated by physical injury (my back is not the strongest) and, of course, the seasons. But it is now full of water. It measures 2.5m x 4.5m and at its deepest, 1.4m. That is a lot of digging. That is a lot of stuff from a hole, mostly gravel and stones.

When one looks at the tutorial videos on Youtube, they are always very geometric, dug into rigid soils (clays) and not as deep. The process of lining seemed very simple. In our case, not so easy. The gravel is not so stable and in the digging – easily collapsing in the hole that had been dug. The topsoil in the west of Munich is not very deep, around 10-20cms only.

OK, so then wet sand is used to deal with the gravel and stones. That is quite a task, rather like plastering a wall (right). Fortunately, the temperature was about 8 degrees Celsius and there was little wind. This meant that it did not dry out too much and blow away. Overall a good couple of hours devoted to that task. We did not have enough sand (125kg), so we raided the grandson’s sandpit to finish the job. Hence the contrasting colours.

We bought the lining and underlay last summer – a little too optimistically. But they were there to extract from the garage when ready. The underlay came in three strips. It is made of a very light textile; it looks like blotting paper, but was surprisingly strong. It gave some shape to the hole that I had dug. Stepped on one side (where the most rigid soil was) and sheer on the remaining three.

And then the big one, the lining. This is a very heavy PVC and, naturally, comes in a single piece. We first had to unfurl it and essentially drag it over the hole like one of those enormous sheets they use in swimming pools to keep in the heat overnight (right). And then we had to entice it down into the hole. It was robust enough to take our weight, though we changed our shoes into something more slipper like, just in case. It took about an hour to fold the lining in the right places. We created pleats around corners. We gave it a lot of slack (below left).

And then the moment of truth. A pond is still only a hole until it has water. We have calculated it holds about 9000 litres. We trust that is enough weight to hold the whole thing together. We attached the hose to the tap and then turned it on. Slowly it filled.

Obviously now this is just a hole with some water in it. We need plants, additional rocks around the edge and for nature really to contribute. We know there are frogs and newts in the vicinity. We also know the local birds are excited about having a large water source. Though we need to make some perches for them as it would be easy to fall in and drown. We are also going to get some native fish. They are primarily the reason for the depth. Winters can be punishing and water readily freezes. Though I challenge nature to freeze water to 1.4m!


Keeping cats at bay

2014-05-26 12.24.43Since moving into our new house we have been plagued by cat bowel movements. There are at least five culprits. Some are sweeter than others. However, they use the yard as a toilet. Cat poo is not pleasant. We decided to act.

The solution we investigated might be a sonic device that emits a sound frequency that they simply cannot bear. Apparently.

So, here it is (left). It is branded as Rentokil and made in the UK. It worked for the first two days. However, the cat poo returned.

We are currently procuring a new weapon against them:

Funeral of my father

Order of serviceHe died suddenly on 2 April. I was on my way to see him when he died. I heard the news from my sister at a motorway service area on the A1 south-north road in England.

The administration of a death is unrewarding. One has to make an appointment to register a death. Seemingly, not all doctors – post killer-doctor, Harold Shipman – are qualified and/or able to write the necessary death certificate. No death certificate, no registration. No registration, no funeral.

The choice of undertaker, Annison and Boddy (part of the Dignity group), my father already made. They were excellent. We allowed the undertaker to manage the process for us. I even accepted the door of the car to be opened for me. We allowed the undertaker to appoint a skilled celebrant, Paul Hamby. He did us a fine ceremony. God was absent.

We entered the Haltemprice Crematorium in the northwest of Hull on 11 April to the music of Reginald Dixon, a fine (Wurlizter) organist. His music was a feature of my childhood. The most emotion came from a piece of music from Daniel O’Donnell. ‘Forever You’ll be Mine’ which best captured my father’s devotion to my mother. The tears were impossible to hold Coffinback.

We departed to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, part of the finale for each year’s BBC Proms concerts, which we always had to endure as children. Only for me to be a regular Prommer in later life. There is much to reflect upon.

Dead seagulls

Source: Andreas Trepte

I live on the seafront road. It is dangerous. If you are a furry or feathery creature, particularly so. So it was not surprising to see a dead adult Herring Gull on the pavement adjacent to the house when I arrived home last night. I assume that it had been hit by a large truck and deposited there by the impact.

It disturbed quite a few people. I know that the local council pick up road casualties as a matter of course on a daily basis. And so it was with this creature, I assume, as it disppeared somewhere between 2200 and midnight. Or was it the Council? I say this because, whilst ironing a pair of trousers last night, I heard some talking outside the window. I took a moment out to look. There was an elderly woman with a small terrier dog, stroking it and talking to it (the dead gull, not the dog). It was difficult to decipher exactly what she was saying, but I sense there was disbelief that it was dead. She then stood back and looked at it and the surroundings unsure about what to do. The dog was no help. Maybe she took it home to nurse back to health?