dEAr diary ~ reappraisal…the next steps

As you might have realised by the sudden gap in transmission we are now back home in Yorkshire and I am back at work.

Back at work wondering why on earth I didn’t put my final day to leave work as June 30th when I handed in my notice – so now I am stuck with 31st July (I gave them two months notice) and to be honest this was a mistake.  The break from work for our two-week holiday has meant it has been so hard to return to fulfil these remaining days of which I have now only 7 to go (not that I am counting), but it suddenly seems an eternity.

It is a bit scary leaving but now I just want to get it done.

Overwith.

Start my new life…whatever shape that will be.

Today is my first day off this week.  We arrived back quite late last Sunday, unloaded the car, watered our devastated and thirsty garden with endless watering cans of water (as we didn’t know if a hose pipe ban was in place) then fell into bed.

So now my home looks like it has had an attack of some kind with the contents of all the bags from our holiday dispersed around the rooms waiting for some action.  So my task for today will be to CLEAR IT ALL UP.

I have washing to sort, unpacking to finish, menus to plan and a shopping list to write.  I actually feel a bit disoriented and exhausted.  Maybe that is just age, maybe just me but somehow as they say my get up and go has got up and gone.

I have a new follower, Cathy from Still Waters – welcome Cathy.  I noticed her most recent post was about insomnia.  I can relate to this –  I did not sleep well the last three nights and it was not the heat but the pressures of work, or should I say the pressures of leaving work.  There is still much unrest in the office – speculation as to where the new directors are taking us, the new imposed restrictions, the never-ending meeting and setting targets to bring in more money.  It is all about more money – never about client satisfaction and care or even the employees satisfaction and care.  I can’t continue to work in that world.  So I won’t be.

Well I don’t wish to moan anymore I just have to sit out my last seven days over the next three weeks – my replacement starts on Monday – and then I can turn my focus to my new life.

What am I going to do with my new life?  It is a bit like having a blank page or the start of a new year.  I need a plan.

But that will be another post another day – I have to get moving on the tidying and shopping.

Quick update – whilst out shopping this afternoon I picked up a few things in Sainsbury’s – the rope coil basket was £6 and will be useful to keep our laptop chargers and cables in, the gardening gloves are reduced to £2.25 and are great for gardening – I had a pair recently at the cottage so I have bought 2 more.

Lastly, I got a copy of Mollie Makes – I hope it is the right edition –  No 94 as it should have the feature in of Gillian’s home from the blog ‘Tales from a happy house.’

Back soon x

mEAndering ~ a trip to the Isle of Whithorn

We had planned a day out on Wednesday as a change from gardening (and after all it is our holidays!) –  but decided that a long drive up through Ayrshire to Largs for a trip on the Waverley steam boat was not a good idea for me in this heat.  DH is as tough as old boots but I am too delicate in this hot weather!

So instead we opted for a run out along the coast road that takes us round to the other side of Luce Bay and down to the Isle of Whithorn, a picturesque village centered around the natural little harbour.

It is one of my favourite places – I could easily live here though it is some 22 miles to the nearest town of Newton Stewart where there are larger (but not huge) supermarkets and a range of independant shops.  Down on the Isle there is only a community shop run in the visitor centre that closes at 4pm and no petrol station for miles.

It has some fascinating buildings – the Isle of Whithorn Church (a former Free church) is situated on the foreshore of the harbour just along the main street and is very much in use doubling up as an exhibition area when there are no services taking place.

The windows are clear not stained but an old repair here shows someone has added a patterned glass in one of them at some time which is rather cute.

This row of houses  also built on the shoreline jut out into the harbour.  The end house / houses (I am never quite sure if there are three or four houses in the row) are being completely renovated at the moment.

The larger house in the cluster with the blue painted windows has just been renovated and brought back to its former glory.  The garden wall is decorated with black paint to represent castle walls.  Look closely at the end of the terrace of houses and you can see a rather picturesque balcony.

I am curious to know what the three stones are for that jut out of the corner of this house!

This is the old Tower House just off the main street by the river with its tiny turrets on the corners.

I loved this little find  – down one of the side streets.  I thought I had found a use for DH’s old leaky wellies – DH just informed me that he had put his old wellies in the bin and that the bin men had emptied it this morning!

Either of these two cottages would suit me if ever they come on the market.  they look out across the harbour and are quite sheltered.

I think that this might have been the former post office which is now located in the new lottery funded visitor centre.

It was too hot to venture over to the old ruins of St Ninian’s Chapel but here are a few pictures from a previous visit.  St Ninian was the founder of the Whithorn Priory said to be the most holy place in Scotland.  He is acknowledged as Scotland’s first Saint.

At one time the Chapel (which dates back to about 1300 and built on the site of an earlier chapel) was actually situated on an Island just off the mainland but after the redevelopment of the village and harbour the gap was closed and it is now part of the mainland just beyond the harbour.

The pilgrims to St Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn some 3 miles away would have landed on the beach just below the Chapel and then given thanks for surviving the treacherous sea journey before setting off on foot to visit the shrine where it is said that many miracle cures and healing took place.

There is such a rich history in the area of early settlements and Whithorn’s development as a Christian centre.  There has been many archaeological excavations and a lot of interesting finds.

With the hot weather and very little shade (there are not many trees on the Isle of Whithorn) we could not go exploring far but it was good to get out and about for a while.

 

 

 

 

bEAching ~ more good weather – more gardening

Garden Notebook

  White Foxglove

I hope I am not boring you with all this gardening but I have to take advantage of the good weather whilst I can even if I feel I will never straighten up again and my gardening boots are welded to my feet.

Talking of feet, what was I thinking – to come on holiday and not bring some cool open sandals?  Trainers and Sketchers are a bit warm this weather and my feet feel two sizes bigger – nothing to it but to plunge them into a bath of cool water.  I suppose with the sea only a few yards away I could go and have a paddle this evening but I think the thought of dodging the midges out there puts me off.  I will stick to a bowl of water.

It is unlike me not to be in the mood for gardening but today I did feel a bit ‘off’ but I think that is more to do with the weather being so unusually hot for days on end and having to continually move about the garden with the shade and not really getting any border fully completed.

Frustrating.

I finally settled for sorting out under the apple tree and clear around the base.  The gardening books all tell me that apples do best when the ground around the trees are kept free of grass and weeds.  The grass doesn’t grow there anyway (far too shady for it to be bothered) but obviously the weeds don’t read the same books and will insist on gathering around the trunk on mass!

After spending the morning crawling around underneath this and the adjacent Corkscrew Hazel I have cleared the spot once again and will spread some manure around in the hope it will help preserve some moisture and feed the tree at the same time.  This dry weather might make all the apples fall off while still tiny – fingers crossed they stay on the tree long enough to swell and ripen.

Of course the apple tree should have received a hefty pruning last winter to cut it down to a more manageable size but if you remember the visit when this was planned the country was taken over by the Beast from the East and we retreated to the warmth of the caravan all week.

Apple tree therefore did not get a good ‘going over’ and as a consequence is now another four feet higher.  Not sure why anyone would want to plant a half standard apple tree that grows up to 5 metres in height and doesn’t own a cherry picker.  Needless to say we inherited this tree with the garden but it does produce the most wonderful Bramley’s – but only at the top of the tree!

We went into town after lunch as we had to do another tip run with all the bags of weeds that I have generated –  they accumulate quickly and filled the trailer.  I also had a shopping list that went something like this:-

  • 1 large bag Compost
  • 3 bags Farmyard Manure
  • 3 bales Bark chippings
  • 2 pints milk

The milk being for us of course!

I would normally make my own chippings by shredding the pruned branches but there just isn’t time on this visit. So nothing for it we decided to buy some – it would be worth the money at the moment to keep on top of the bits of garden we have cleared.

There is not a lot of choice up here and the prices are more expensive than at home – there are no chain stores like B&Q only independently owned shops.  We did manage to find some 3 for 2 on both the manure and bark at the local garden centre which is easy parking when you have a trailer on the back and they do a good cup of tea and the most deliciously moist fruit loaf sliced and buttered.

Bobtail bunny is bobbing around the garden tonight  – his curiosity is leading him to investigate our pile of bonfire prunings.  A good job it is too hot to light it or one more ‘bob’ and he would be a roast bunny.

Back soon x

 

bEAching ~ down on the beach and down the garden

We’ve got Rag, Tag and Bobtail in our garden tonight chasing each other around in circles then stopping to eye up my plants.

The white one we named ‘Bunny No Mates’ (he seems to be an escaped domestic rabbit and the brown ones won’t play with him) has reappeared suddenly from behind the log shed – we thought he was definitely a goner and had perished during the freezing winter months.  I am quite glad he made it – I was a bit sad thinking he had come to an abrupt end.

Gentle HermioneChamomileIn between the weeding I went down to the beach.  Since the flood took away the little wooden bridge that went across the stream our neighbour has made these little steps to get down the banking.  I think they fit in very well and I love the Daisies growing on the treads.

Today I was in the garden at 9 o’clock to weed in the trellis border whilst it was in the shade and before the sun moved round – this is the very dry border as from ten o’clock it has the sun all day and is far too hot for me.

At the end of the summer last year we visited the Elizabeth MacGregor Garden and Nursery (click to link through to her website) in Kirkudbright and she gave me a whole tray of Valerian for my garden that she was getting rid of and for which I am so grateful.  Her nursery has some wonderful cottage garden plants all grown at Ellenbank and you can order them on the internet from her extensive catalogue.

I really like the look of the Valerian against the grey stony ground in the patch facing out to sea and hope it will seed around the sea-side garden.  I dug over a small patch and then had to accept defeat and move to a shadier part of the garden down in the jungle.  I will try again tomorrow and show you the results another post.

It is actually all looking a bit of a jungle at present – the result of going away to Italy at the exact time when we would normally be spending a lot of time in the garden before the summer.  But we wouldn’t have missed the wedding for anything even though we are struggling to get the garden back into shape now.   I have pulled out Campions that are 7 feet tall today.  I swear I can hear them growing as soon as I turn my back.

After lunch there was a welcome mass of cloud appeared in the sky– I haven’t seen clouds for days…and a breeze.  It certainly helped cool the air temperature down a degree but the patch I was doing before lunch now had midges circling ready for attack – so I had to move yet again.

This time over to the Pine tree border.  There is a slab of concrete just under the largest Pine tree which is the base for the old greenhouse (before the gales of 2010 demolished it).   We really must break it up one day and remove it – the tree roots have lifted and cracked the slab and the pine needles collect into a suitable compost that the Campion love to seed in.

It may look pretty but believe me I have learnt that in this garden you cannot leave Campion as pretty as it might be it will seed everywhere and then it chokes out the plants I have bought and planted.  I do have some wild areas but this border is not meant to be one of them.

This is after the clean up –  I had almost forgotten there is a path there.  I filled eight bags with weeds and sweepings for the tip just from this patch which is no more than about eight feet square!

The Foxgloves are allowed to stay – in my eyes Foxgloves are like the cows in India – sacred.  No matter where in the garden they decide to grow it is OK with me as they are one of my favourite flowers.

And (just for my follower Mary) these pictures below are older ones so you can see what it used to be like when we had a greenhouse.  To the left is the border with the three Olearia shrubs, newly planted, in front of the wind break – now the masss of Olearia is the wind break!

I remember this white patio table  – it was last seen in 2014 floating out to sea after the flood!!

 

 

 

 

mEAndering ~ out and about at my favourite gardens

Another scorcher yesterday – I have spent everyday this week and last with so much suncream plastered onto my skin in an attempt not to burn.

We decided to ditch the gardening and go and visit someone elses!  We went up the road to my favourite gardens on the Stair Estates at Castle Kennedy.   DH’s granddad used to be the head gardener here for the late Lord Stair from the late 20’s to early 60’s and DH lived here for a while with his mum, dad, granny and granddad in the head gardeners house.

The old castle is a ruin but quite atmospheric and stands in the most beautifully kept gardens between the White and Black Lochs.  We visit often when in Scotland and have seen many changes over the years but overall it is much the same now as it was years ago.   It is such a favourite place that my elder daughter held her wedding reception here in 2016.

We put up a marquee beside the old castle (which was built before the 14th century) and of course the equally old tea room.

It looked really pretty at night with the rows of candles in jam jars and fairy lights  placed along the open window ledges and in the bushes.

 

It was a really magical place to be even though that marquee took some decorating – looking back I am not sure how we managed to do it all.

The quaint tea room in particular holds fond memories for us.  We have photos of it through the many years we have visited.  It is no more than a rickety old pavilion style hut similar to the ones found on a cricket pitch.  At one time painted dark green but more recently was given a fresh coat of National Trust cream.

Tea Room

The floor inside tended to slope a bit more with each passing year and if you looked closely the legs on the tables had been expertly adjusted to keep the top level mainly by fitting different sized wooden blocks to the underside of the legs or even sawing bits off.  I always enjoyed my afternoon teas there on a slant.

So this dear little ‘tea hut’ had to be part of the wedding – we thought of it as an old friend and so was guest of honour. We decorated the outside with bunting and our guests had afternoon tea served on the picnic tables outside.

We heard from various staff that the new Lord Stair keeps threatening to pull it down and build a Visitor Centre – if he does I will cry.   I am always nervous on our first visit of the year and wonder if it has had the chop so what a surprise we had today when we found it has had a makeover during the winter months and very subtly done too.  They have managed to keep all of its old charm whilst giving it a new lease of life and a disability ramp.  And more importantly a reprieve.  Notice too it has now got a smart new litter bin!

Tea Room

Inside the floor has been levelled and the old Lino replaced with new wooden flooring.  The side entrance has been blocked up and the painted benches round the walls removed – but all in all I approve even if I miss the wobbliness.

Tea Room inside

Castle Kennedy is famous for its rhododendrons, the round Water Lily pond (which covers an area of 2 acres), the Monkey Puzzle Avenue and the beautiful walled garden.

Lily Pond

The Stairs now live in the ‘new’ castle built in the mid 19th century at the lower end of the gardens you can walk as far as their own private lawns surrounding the castle and get a good view of this magnificent stately home complete with fairytale turrets.  With its modern Victorian plumbing it must have been quite something in its day.

 

For all the grandeur of the place one of my favourite ‘hidden from view’ places is this abandoned old potting shed – it is round the back of what was the old greenhouse just inside the rusty iron gate marked private.  I must have a photo from 2009 which looks exactly the same – maybe just a bit more on the lean now!

Potting Shed

Walled Garden

The walled garden is spectacular in summer and it is here that we go to do some sketching – I tend to draw and paint the flowers – DH will often attempt the castle – but then an architect cannot go wrong with a building to draw.

We had the initial drinks reception in the walled garden – a place where we have many pictures of the girls in earlier years with the same backdrop!

This is a glimpse of me from a previous year sat sketching on my little stool like the garden gnome!

mmm…a bit rusty…certainly need more practice but I enjoyed myself and it was pleasant to be immersed in something for a while that is non too strenuous.

And for one time only I will leave you with a picture of me (with my brother and sister at my daughter’s wedding) – I’m on the right in my posh frock and bonnet!

Back soon x