Sunny Winchelsea Gardens, staircase retrofitting, making a garden water feature

Philosopher has a big birthday coming up on Monday. He is not at all keen on the idea so I won’t go on about it, but we’ve got a busy time coming up. This is an update post until I have time for more.
    Last weekend we took our friends Bob and Alison, keen gardeners, to the ever-lovely Winchelsea Open Gardens.  It was  a gorgeous day. We have been round those gardens many times but never tire of them – different ones are open at different times of year. It was a bit crowded, but manageable.
    Beautiful though it is, I would not want to live in Winchelsea – the pressure to keep your house and garden looking sufficiently perfect would be awful. I’d be tempted to fill my patch with gnomes, with a strategically positioned old mattress in the front garden, ideal for lounging with a can of Special Brew, soaking up the sun.
    Most of the gardens are behind old stone walls, to protect against the sea wind, and I particularly love climbing roses against the mellow stone. Here are a few pictures. Some of the borders were not yet at their best – the weather has been sunny, but unseasonably cool and windy.

Nice pot arrangement
Pretty pink corner
White wisteria
Roses on a wall
Dramatic topiary

      Back at chez Battleaxe, we’re into home improvements.. This weekend, a man is coming to restore our staircase to its original 1970’s appearance. Currently, we have 1980’s bannisters, which we don’t like. A couple of houses here still have their original ‘ranch-style’ open staircases. Fabulous, you could have a retro telephone table underneath, and perch there, phone receiver tucked against your shoulder, drying your nails, wearing fluffy mules and a hostess gown. However, we are not going that far. We don’t want to sacrifice our under-stairs cupboard, but are getting back the wooden slatted stair rails.  The carpenter clearly thinks we are a bit mad.

Our current bannisters – too 80’s
Neighbour’s original open staircase, from rather an odd angle.

      I’d call what we are doing real ‘retrofitting’. Yes, I know the term actually refers to upgrading existing fittings to conform with modern requirements, e.g energy efficiency, creating ‘lifetime’ homes etc. When I was on a housing association board, I used to make silly jokes about equipping homes with lava lamps etc whenever retrofitting was mentioned. The senior staff couldn’t be rude to me, a board member, but I could see them rolling their eyes and clenching their jaws in irritation. Thank goodness I don’t have to do anything like that any more. It was absolutely no fun at all.
     Next, we’ve made a garden water feature. We did it from scratch, buying the pump and the pebble pool base, making a gravel-filled enclosure for it to sit in, and collecting loads of rocks. This morning I took the big rock to have a hole drilled through it, and now it’s finished and bubbling away. I’d recommend anyone to do the same – we went to a monumental mason, and they were happy to drill the rock – makes a change from tombstones. The whole thing was far cheaper than buying a water feature from a garden centre. We are pleased with the result.

New water feature


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