Renovating a lovely, old (ex) park bench…

When we moved to Wales nearly 13 years ago we brought a park bench that had “arrived” several years before, maybe in the 80s, at the flat TOWPCOE had bought off a friend of ours. I had lived there too, in the past, so the bench had been part of our lives for a while.

bench 10

It has sat in the garden looking lovely and being used in the dry, summer months… The surface had become covered in lichen, really beautiful and a fabulous little eco system, however the lichen made it uninviting to sit on when damp, and lets face it that was almost all of the time! (We do live in Wales after all!)

I’ve been trying to take it a little bit easier in the garden, sitting down and enjoying it sometimes, not always rushing about, (as is my wont!) So I decided that it would be good to have a bench that was more inviting to actually sit on. I started with scraping off the lichen, feeling very guilty about it. However we do have a lot of lichen on the trees around the garden so there is still plenty of all the varieties that I scraped off.

bench 6

bench 7

I then found that the grain of the wood was looking very lovely, and felt that it would really look good with a bit of work.

bench 8

So I decided to take the bench into the polytunnel over the winter, I could then keep it dry and work on it whenever I had the time.

bench 5

I started with sandpaper, but found that I wasn’t getting into the grain enough so I went backwards in the process and used a wire “brick brush” to lift as much of the lichen and algae and whatever other wildlife was existing in the wood. I finished it off again with sandpaper. I used the brick brush on the metal, and removed most of the loose rust, although it was too tricky to get into some of the gaps between the metal. Both of these processes took quite a few hours, I’ve no idea how many!

bench 4

bench 3.5

I put one full coat, and a second in some places, of Hammerite rust busting paint on the metal, getting a bit on parts of the wood, unfortunately. Then I treated the wood with Osmo WR basecoat, which is supposed to stop blue stain and mildew, then 2 coats of Osmo UV protection oil, satin finish.

bench 2

bench 3

The colour is a little darker than I would have hoped, I have no idea what kind of wood it is, it certainly doesn’t look like oak, TOWPCOE says it might be elm… It looks ever so inviting, I had to hold myself back from sitting on it as it was still wet!

bench 1

Now we have a very posh looking bench that should be drier, or at least able to be dried, so that I can sit in the garden and enjoy the products of my labours.
Let’s hope the weather is good this year!

A view from above…

Last September we eventually had the fascias and witches peaks on the house painted. Looking at old photos we can’t imagine that they have been painted since the railway closed down in 1964! It was an expensive business we hired a cherry picker and on the last day I went up in it to look down… What a view!

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To compare, 2 pictures from ground level… (not taken at the same time)

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colour around the garden

Feeling a little glum last week through two days of grey and rain, the sun came out so I decided to look for some colour in the garden to cheer me up. It worked for a little while at least, in between trying to get my head around my newly discovered menopause symptoms and lamenting the rude health of teachers these days! (Hence little supply work) Here is a sample of what I saw, from porch to porch again!

The photos I have shrunk very small for speed, if anyone is interested I’ll happily send proper full size ones by email, just comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of the post.

our climbing hydrangea has been in the ground ages, on a north facing wall, but only just coming into it's own since we cut down the pussy/goat willow that was cramping it

our climbing hydrangea has been in the ground ages, on a north facing wall, but only just coming into it’s own since we cut down the pussy/goat willow that was cramping it

more cosmos and my "house" plants relegated to the porch in winter getting their summer sun, as soon as the first frosts are likely they go in, though there is a massive hole in the porch roof so it's only just frost free!

cosmos and my “house” plants relegated to the porch in winter getting their summer sun, as soon as the first frosts are likely they go in, though there is a massive hole in the porch roof so it’s only just frost free!

sweet peas, sown this spring and doing well, I gave some to a friend she put them against a fence in a very unpromising slither of ground and they are still flowering and ten feet tall

sweet peas, sown this spring and doing well, I gave some to a friend she put them against a fence in a very unpromising slither of ground in a small back yard and they are still flowering and ten feet tall

these troughs have had pansies in since last november, they were getting a bit ragged so I cut them back and put in some lobelia and allysum in July or August, the pansies are still there under the canopy of blue and white

these troughs have had pansies in since last November, they were getting a bit ragged so I cut them back and put in some trailing lobelia and alyssum in July or August, the pansies are still there under the canopy of blue and white

annual linaria I sowed this late and thought nothing would happen then all of a sudden purple

annual linaria I sowed this late and thought nothing would happen then all of a sudden purple

along a fence, hazel and forsythia mainly wow what a pink

along a fence, hazel and forsythia mainly, wow what a pink

these tubs have bedding plants left over from last year and still going (though maybe not strong!)

these tubs have bedding plants left over from last year and still going (though maybe not strong!) overwintered in the poly tunnel, I open the doors to save the brassicas going mouldy but to keep the worst of the weather off, some very tender things get a wrap of fleece in the very cold weeks

cosmos hanging on, I've seen a lot of cosmos around this year, unfortunately mine are all on the pale pink side this year, oh well next year more bright pinks I hope, lobelia still hanging on too

cosmos hanging on, I’ve seen a lot of cosmos around this year, unfortunately mine are all on the pale pink side, oh well next year more bright pinks I hope, a lighter blue lobelia still hanging on too

berries galore on the cotoneaster horizontalis growing on a steep sandy west facing bank

berries galore on the cotoneaster horizontalis growing on a steep sandy west facing bank

rosehips on the long hedge, see earlier post on pruning this monster!

rosehips on the long hedge, see earlier post on pruning this monster!

and a close up of the red oak, I have laminated the leaves for Christmas cards, the colour lasts wonderfully

a close up of the red oak (also below) not fully scarlet yet, I have laminated the leaves for Christmas cards in previous years, the colour lasts wonderfully

a pair of ashes one has lost nearly all and the other hardly any of it's leaves, massive hazel on the left and a small red oak on the right

looking over what we laughingly call our wildflower meadow, a pair of massive ashes one has lost nearly all and the other hardly any of it’s leaves, massive hazel on the left and a small red oak on the right

lime green feverfew still flowering, how does it do it? One of our two hens, bronze, they always follow me around the garden when I'm outside, waiting to massacre the worms I disturb

lime green feverfew still flowering, how does it do it? With one of our current “flock” of two hens, bronze, they always follow me around the garden when I’m outside, waiting to massacre the worms I disturb

I'd forgotten I planted these asters (I presume) years ago hadn't noticed any flowers before, but the dogwood has kind of taken over as it does

I’d forgotten I planted these asters (I presume) years ago hadn’t noticed any flowers before, but the dogwood has kind of taken over as it does

weird, winter jasmine usually flowers in January... alongside a mallow, flowering very late indeed

weird, winter jasmine usually flowers in January… alongside a mallow, flowering very late indeed

dogwood's berries are not often mentioned but the large bunches are easy to see from a distance

dogwood’s berries are not often mentioned but the large bunches are easy to see from a distance before the leaves fall and you see the red stems

the one lovely pink hollyhock fell over onto the grass, careful with the lawnmower

the one lovely pink hollyhock fell over onto the grass, careful with the lawnmower

weird, honesty flowering very late alongside some seed pods from this summers flowers!

weird, honesty flowering very late alongside some seed pods from this summers flowers!

evening primrose and white hollyhocks

evening primrose and white hollyhocks lovely tall things next to our border with the “highways” yard

runner beans still flowering and producing lovely beans, we keep waiting for them to run out, but no! a carrier bag full every other day since mid August, as you can imagine I've given loads away, any tips on how to freeze well I have in previous years tried blanching or not but always soggy and grey when defrosted.

runner beans still flowering and producing lovely beans, we keep waiting for them to run out, but no! a carrier bag full every other day since mid August, as you can imagine I’ve given loads away, any tips on how to freeze them well? I have in previous years tried blanching or not but they are always soggy and grey when defrosted.

elderberries, the pigeons have usually finished them by now, in previous years TOPCOE has made elderberry and clove cordial, yummy

elderberries, the pigeons have usually finished them by now, in previous years TOWPCOE has made elderberry and clove cordial, yummy

the hawthorn has gone mad this year, never seen so many berries

the hawthorn has gone mad this year, never seen so many berries

honeysuckle has been flowering for so long, started early, finishing late, we have loads of lovely berries on it too

honeysuckle, planted next to an old hawthorn stump, it has been flowering for so long, it started early, finishing late, we have loads of lovely berries on it too, the stump collapsed earlier this year, the honeysuckle doesn’t seem to be bothered though it’s big enough to support itself in a large mound

our apples are often all green, with the long warm summer we have a hint of red, anyone got a cure for the black blotches... calcium? magnesium? iron?

our apples are often all green, with the long warm summer we have a hint of red, anyone got a cure for the black blotches… calcium? magnesium? iron?

cayenne peppers ripening in the poly tunnel

cayenne peppers ripening in the poly tunnel

a hardy fuscia, planted just in front of the poly tunnel door

a hardy fuscia, planted just in front of the poly tunnel door

seed head from a cranesbill (native geranium)

seed head from a cranesbill (native geranium)

Cheating I moved this into the porch the other day, the white stuff (a common bedding plant) survived from last year

Cheating I moved this pelagonium into the porch the other day it and the white stuff (a common bedding plant – Bacopa I think) survived from last year