The Pig Yard

July - Its a hackneyed phrase but hours turn to days, days to weeks and weeks to months. That's how we find ourselves over 6 months through the year in the time it takes to blink. There's a theory that time goes faster as you get older because there's less of it left - at our age what lies ahead is certainly less than what has already gone, unless of course we live to be over 108.

Compared to last month July has been a little quieter with fewer activities.

Last month we bought a new garden seat but we didn't have an appropriate place to put it so we removed some of the concrete in front of the twisted willow hedge and re-laid the cobbles that were underneath. The effect is very pleasing provided we can keep the weeds down.

The area to the right of the seat is the only part of the garden that we haven't worked on. In time, possibly next year, Jane will have used the stone to build a wall between us and our neighbours next to their extension. Steve has refused to get involved in this project in the belief that it will drag on and not be completed before the winter sets in.

Jane is an expert at using old "stuff" in an imaginative way and as Steve gets older so she has to use her imagination more and more.

We decided to park the balloon trailer at the back of the neighbours new extension. Early on a Saturday morning we were going flying and had the devil's own job to shift the trailer from this spot because it had buried itself into the drive. Jane thought Steve was going to have a heart attack with the effort and stress he experienced. We vowed to place some slabs down so that it would be easier to move.

This task, as with everything in this garden, took more effort than expected and after five hours of hard labour we'd levelled the area sufficiently to get two rows of slabs down and the trailer neatly parked. The next time we came to shift it, it was certainly a lot easier.

Sometime before next year we are planning to get some balloon pictures onto the sides of the trailer - another task for Jane's design skills.

The garden has occupied a lot of our time this month and not always with hard work. There have been times when Steve particularly has spent a warm afternoon reading, reclined on the decking whilst Jane is busy cycling the byways of the local villages. Jane has two states, either full on life -100% or asleep and her attempts to live at least two lives in parallel means she doesn't like to stop.

Much of the wonderful garden creations are the result of Jane's perpetual motion and she loves to try new ideas like red sunflowers, courtesy of friend Kate.

The greenhouse has been a great success. There have been a few failures but the majority of seeds sown have produced great vegetables and salad plants so many in fact that Jane has been giving them away because there were just too many of us to eat. Steve does not realise that part of the joy of growing plants is giving them away.

The shelves are full of plants so Jane has resorted to the floor to give additional space. Realising her limitations she has specialised in rocket and lettuce with a smattering of melons and cucumbers although there is little evidence of the latter's fruits they have very healthy greenery. In the extremely hot temperatures we had this month Jane has been a slave to watering the greenhouse, good job we have three water butts.

One weekend we had our friends Susie & John come to stay. They wanted to sleep in their caravan in the yard but we persuaded them to use our spare bedroom. Now they have taken early retirement the caravan has become like their "snail's shell". They roam the country stopping wherever and whenever enjoying their freedom.

The life sounds very attractive but we are resisting wishing away our lives until retirement. I think if we travelled as much as our friends, Jane would miss our animals, Murphy and Milly (the cats) as well as the ever swelling multitude of frogs and toads we share our life / garden with.

We have both been relaxing by reading a lot more than we used to. Jane has just finished reading Alan Titchmarsh's autobiography and he turns out to be an all round nice person.

Steve is reading Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy because it was highly recommended by Jane.

Thankfully the weather in the past month has been better for ballooning and we managed to get two flights, both early morning slots as they tend to be cooler and more enjoyable.

The first flight we flew was rather faster than hoped and at one point Steve was travelling at 17 knots however as he approached the field for the final landing the wind dropped to 4 knots. He could see Dave flying half a mile away landing at close to 10 knots. It  gives us so much pleasure sharing this wonderful experience with friends and acquaintances. There is a definite bond with the pilot on landing, well they have placed their lives in Steve's hands for the last hour!

Despite the warm summer evenings we managed to get to see Spiderman 2 this month. It was equal to the previous film and the reputation for sequels not to be as good as the original film didn't hold true in this case. It's a blockbuster - why? because we had to queue but not quite beyond the end of the block.

For action, comedy and romance it would be hard to find a better film on the cinema circuit at the moment. Despite all of this, at one of the noisiest points in the film Jane was fast asleep but as always she did wake up to enjoy the majority of it.