We have taken advantage of the recent brilliant weather to get a few jobs done in the garden. Julie has been clearing some cotoneaster which has been allowed to run rampage near to the back kitchen door.

It’s the usual scenario when everything here is on such a grander scale than we were used to in England. A little cotoneaster doesn’t sound like a big challenge. But it has spread and rooted all over and grown very big. Cutting the tops down is hard enough. But digging up the roots is really difficult

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We both had a go with spades and saws to cut through roots and stems. Eventually I also got an axe. At the end of the day we knew we had done some work.

It was a lovely bonus for us that Julie discovered a fire Salamander hibernating in a mouse hole in the bank. A bonus for us, but perhaps he was still a bit sleepy so we found a safe place for him to nod off again.

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He was an attractive chap, but as you can see from his yellow and black skin they are toxic. So a safe place in which he could nod off was a safe place to hide him away from the cats. Apparently if you lick their skin it can be hallucinogenic. Colin is already crackers, all we need is for him to be tripping out too!

While Julie concentrated on the cotoneaster, I devoted my attention to a large bay tree which had grown up at the far corner of the big barn. It was far too close and some cracks have appeared in the end wall. So it had to go. Besides which we would have to eat curry every day for the next millennium to use all those bay leaves. So I set out to cut it down.

Unfortunately my chainsaw picked now to seize up. I bought it second hand a while ago and it wasn’t a good purchase. I decided to get my hand saw out.

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It was a multi stem tree and some of the stems were 8 inches diameter. It was a bit daunting with a spear and Jackson general purpose saw in hand. But the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.

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We had started a bonfire earlier and it is an excellent way of ridding ourselves of garden waste and of sterilising the soil.

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We burnt absolutely loads, but even more remains. Another fire soon will help to sterilise our vegetable garden.