mEAndering ~ a detour en route to our cottage

On our journey up to Scotland on Thursday we crossed the Scottish border and decided to look for somewhere to pull off the road to have our packed lunch; so we took a detour through Gretna town centre (about 5 shops!) and out on the tourist route (avoiding the busy A75), ending up at Dornock a tiny village about 6 miles down the road. Not to be confused with Dornoch.

We randomly chose a road to turn into to the left of the main village road (Church Road) and stumbled upon this little church.  After eating our sandwiches I went off to explore.DornockDornock ChurchAt first glance it wasn’t obvious that the church was still in use but further investigation told me it probably was (and of course Google helped later).  It is a listed church dedicated to St Marjory and built in 1793 on the site of the initial medieval church that was knocked down and of which there are no remains.

The church forms a T shape, built of sneck harled rubble (I got that off Google – I am no expert on stones!), the porches were added on at a later date. It has round-headed windows and two of them are stained with glass designed by Ballantine and Gardiner of Glasgow (in 1843 they won a competition to design windows for the new Houses of Parliament, although in the event they only provided some windows for the House of Lords).  We couldn’t go in the church to see the windows but they look quite intricate from outside and the windows are covered in that shatter proof plastic sheet so they must be quite important.

The bellcote, also added later in 1855, and which I inadvertently chopped the top off in the photo has no bell as strangely the bell lies in the Sanctuary at the doorway of another church in Bowness on Solway; taken by the English in retaliation for the Scots pinching their bell which now lies in the Solway!  A bit of tit for tat.One of the things that struck me wandering around the graveyard is firstly that it is such a wild yet beautiful graveyard, so peaceful with a view that stretches over to the Solway estuary in the background.  The second thing is the sheer size of all these 18th Century grave stones that are packed into this graveyard and almost towered above me and more resembled one of those large city cemeteries than a tiny parish church. All around the graves the grass was long underfoot and difficult to walk over with mounds and clumps entwined with brambles.These two graves I came across are a sad reminder of how children often died young through infectious diseases that couldn’t be cured back then and how some families lost more than one child at the same time with the same illness.  This was written on the gravestones…

Here lyes
Jannet Turnbull
Daughter of Robert Turn
bull in closhead who Died May
30th 1775 Aged 11 Months
& John Turnbull son of the said
Robert Who Died Janry 11th 1784
Aged 8 years
Also Mary Turnbull Daughter
of the above who Died Janry 28th
1784 Aged 1 year & 6 Months

The stone on the right is simply inscribed:-
Here lyes Thomas
son to John Turn
bull in Longland
Who died young

On the back:-
John Turnbull
who died 1792
Aged 78 years

What a truly peaceful place to sit and ponder on life…

What a shame we couldn’t linger any longer but we will go back as I have read on Google that somewhere amongst all those grave stones are 3 Hogbacked gravestones (carved stones) with Viking links from when the pre-reformation Medieval church was in use and I am curious to see these now.

I also learnt from the internet that there is a Watchnight Service at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve – how I would have loved to be up here to go to that.

From the peace of the countryside we headed back to the A75 calling in at Castle Douglas for a chip butty tea and then on to the sleepy backwater market town of Newton Stewart to buy food from the only Sainsburys for miles.  They had just had their new Christmas lights switched on – my goodness they have really pushed the boat out this year!Newton Stewart Christmas LightsI love that row of stars strung across the main street.  Tomorrow we are going into Stranraer to watch the Christmas parade and switching on of the lights in the town centre and see these Three Wise Men on their camels.  Can’t wait.

Our little village here usually has a Christmas tree but no signs of one yet – perhaps they are growing it still!

dEAr diary ~ upsetting news

Updated post* see below

We have arrived at our little cottage in South West Scotland to find there has been a massive police, air and Coastguard hunt on today to find a missing couple who live in the village.  Their car was found at 7.30am this morning swept up on the beach along the coast road just down the road from us which had been closed yesterday.  The couple had two dogs with them as well.

How lucky were we that we chose to come up today instead of our original plan to come up yesterday – that couple might have been us.  It is a treacherous road coming into the village the sea was battering the coast with 30 foot high waves and the road was closed not only because of flooding but the sea throws up quite large rocks with it – it is known locally as the ‘Car Wash’ but it is no joke and at its worst it can kill.

Our neighbour on the little caravan site has lost a chunk of land again – the sea has moved some huge rocks around that were holding back the banking  – it is frighteningly powerful.

For the moment it is quite calm here – I hope it stays like this and I pray the couple will be found safe but it is looking like they may have been swept out to sea.

*Update

We woke this morning to calm…at least down here in the dip near the sea – it is still blustery on the road above us as we were to find out soon enough on our walk into the village.The incident with the missing couple happened around the other side of this bit of headland, to the left of the photo, in the next bay to us at Kilstay. The hill blocks our view so we cannot see this part of the beach but there was plenty of activity this morning – we watched the coastguard police from our window walking the beach below us here at low tide looking for any evidence that might give them clues.  They came into our garden to check our burn that runs down to the sea in case anything had washed up there. (Of course we had already checked ourselves and also looked in the wood just in case).

All the local lifeboats were here including the one from the Isle of Man and across from Port William, and we had helicopters circling for a while.  All has gone quiet again now but as far as I know nothing was found and as each hour passes it is looking less likely the couple will be found safe and well.      A chilling thought.

Whilst it was such a sunny start we took the opportunity to walk to the village – of course we could not go along the beach so took the main road into the village which runs above us… it was a freezing wind up on top so we decided to turn off when we got to the point where the low road joins and is now a car free footpath only and drops down to run alongside the beach and is quite sheltered.The low road is now famous for the collection of painted stones that appear overnight and can be found dotted in and amongst the hedgerow along the edge of the path.  Such treasures…rumour has it the fairies are responsible for them.

Eventually the path meets the end of  a little row of cottages known as Shore Street and this leads to one of the 3 pubs in this tiny village.We bought a paper, some fresh morning rolls and a box of chocolate teacakes from the village shop, then drew out some cash from the Post Office counter which is now in the same tiny shop but two steps to the left.  We checked the local noticeboard for upcoming events – noted that the Stranraer lights are to be switched on tomorrow in town after the parade headed up by 3 Wise Men on camels (really? – I must see this!), then briskly walked back to our cottage following our footsteps in reverse – no way were we going to attempt to walk along the high road today.

As I write this update sitting snuggly in our caravan with the heat blasting away drinking a hot cup of tea and munching on chocolate teacakes we have suddenly been plunged into dark skies and icy lashing rain.

 

 

crEAting Christmas ~ crafting the Advent days

I have been pondering over the ‘Advent’ part of Christmas in my head for a while now.  Over the years I have done various things including these tiny old-fashioned advent calendars that contained no sweets at all just a different little Christmas picture each day when the window was opened.  Advent CalendarsIt was opening this Advent calendar that reminded me most of the anticipation I felt as a child and the delight of revealing a glowing candle or a decorated Christmas tree picture on peeling back the little doors – I thought they were the most wonderful and magical part of Christmas and I could hardly wait each day to see what the Christmas picture was going to be.

A truly simple pleasure.

Then one sleepless night recently I thought about all I wanted to do in the days before Christmas;  all the things that generated the same excitement for me – which ideally is a mixture of simple Christmas pleasures, a few trips out and about to one or two festive towns and villages, and of course lots of crafts.  To pace myself I hit upon the idea of using the daily advent as a way to ‘timetable’ the things that are both important and pleasurable for me to do.

For the calendar itself I decided upon some simple craft card (from a tiny pad I bought from The Range for £1) and stamped numbers on them in white or gold from 1 to 25.  On the back I stuck a little ‘surprise’ activity of something pleasurable and Christmassy to do or make that day.  Then placed them all on my photo stand. Of course the activities couldn’t be a complete random surprise as I have had to work around days when we are in Scotland and my mum visits and other commitments – I also had to make sure I had all the bits ready to make the crafts – so a little planning had to be done. And so DH doesn’t feel left out I have individually wrapped some Amoretti biscuits as a little daily treat in some greaseproof paper decorated with a gold pen.

With all that in place, but not actually posted on my blog, imagine my surprise when I got home late last night and read Gillian’s post from Tales from a happy house (see my blog list at the side) where she has had an almost identical idea – and her little envelopes are so lovely.  (If you are reading this Gillian I have left you a comment).

We are heading off to Scotland tomorrow and my Advent trail will begin from there on Saturday (I hope we have an internet connection) and each day I will do a quick post revealing the activity for the day and a few photos.

I hope you will join in and let me know of your pleasurable Christmas activities as we go along.  Of course there is a chance that ‘events’ might steer me off course a little – you know how it is with the Christmas build up –  but fingers crossed.

Welcome to my recent new followers – I try to post most days – apologies for lack of post and comments yesterday I went out to the pub last night!  A lovely pre-Christmas gathering of old friends round a warm log fire.

fEAsible ~ a little baking and a lot more planning

Christmas cake Christmas cakeA nice quiet Sunday spent baking my Christmas cake whilst singing along to my favourite CD of Christmas Carols to get me in the mood.  DH had gone to the final concert in town and I had the afternoon to myself so once the cake was parcelled up and in the oven I had another go at my Christmas card.  I have so many varying Robins now but none are quite right and I am in two minds as to whether to ditch the idea and do something else.

On Saturday morning DH finished the shelving in the shed and today I remembered to take some pictures.  Garden shed Garden shedHe has done a fantastic job – plenty of hooks and shelving and the melamine from the old wardrobe will make the shelves easy to wipe down (and I am so pleased we could repurpose the wood and we didn’t have to take it to the landfill).  All I have to do now is put the contents back – but that will be another day – as will painting the outside as it is still too damp for the paint to stick.

We can however tackle the next maintenance job on the list – re-staining the front door surround and painting the door as it is well protected under the porch roof.   DH made a start this morning while it was both sunny and dry.

It was also completely still; no wind at all – the towels I hung on the line did not move an inch and came back in almost as damp as when I hung them out.I spent the day taking stock of what I have done and what I still have to do.  After a few hectic days I needed to check up on our finances and other bits and pieces and generally have a little time to think.

I added a few more tasks to my list as they came to mind – this time of year there are so many little jobs to remember – picking things up, dropping things off, and plenty of decisions to make – trying not to overlook anything.

Following on from my previous list of initial preparations I have a further list (no surprises there!) that is more about cleaning and preparing the house ready to decorate with the Christmas trimmings and also to make sure I have stocked up with all the basics so I don’t find myself running out to the shops on Christmas Eve for batteries or loo rolls.

One of the first things I do is to check the basic stocks in cupboards and drawers of non food items such as toiletries and household items – shampoo, toilet rolls, greaseproof paper, kitchen foil, batteries etc.  I have a reminder list of these items and I generally make a note to stock up with these things well before Christmas so I don’t run out or have to think about them when I am too busy doing other Christmas shopping.

I will then plan to eat up any of those odd bits from the freezer and clean it out.  Once this is done I can prepare some meals like the Nut loaf for our Christmas dinner and restock with the basics like peas, frozen chips and bread.

This is also a good time to have a quick check to see that any evening wear / party outfits are in good order and drop them off for dry cleaning (though I normally only buy washable clothes these days).

Finally I have a quick check over the Christmas lights to see they are in working order.

Cleaning plans

I do like my home to be relatively clean for Christmas especially before all the decorations go up and it gets difficult to clean.  I make a note of tasks that need to be done in each room and anything outside.

I like to give the downstairs rooms a good clean, knocking the dust off the lampshades!  I find that adding a bit of polish to the white goods and small appliances gives them a bit of a sparkle and of course I include giving the oven a good clean.  Once the main rooms look passable I can bring out the Christmas bits and pieces like my cute knitted Christmas pudding tea cosy and robin napkins that my daughter printed and made, my little Christmas china mug and plate and the Christmas candles and holders; by this time adding a few little finishing touches to the house it is beginning to look quite festive but not over done.  The tree and staircase garland are not installed until much nearer Christmas.

During November I will have been clipping away looking for some fresh ideas for the Christmas trimmings.  I have on the list to buy the tree and make a wreath and this I find is getting earlier each year.

DH usually decides where the outside lights are going to go – I leave this job to him and how many lights we have will depend on how much time he has to put them up and how much enthusiasm.  We lost our tree in the front garden a few years ago but still have a number of large shrubs and a climber that we fix lights to but also two tall metal cones made of sturdy chicken wire that look like Christmas trees when decorated.  I have made a note for DH to do the lights in November (thanks to Sadie from Notes from an ordinary life) in readiness for the switch on in December.

If we are having guests to stay over Christmas I will clean and prepare the guest room and check the bedding and also make a note of any specific dietary needs for any fussy visitors.

I have been doing quite a bit of the cleaning as I have decluttered recently so I feel I am well ahead but that could all change.  On a blustery day I might even wash the cushion covers and throws too so they smell fresh.

Well those are the plans so I had better get started now – lots still to do.  You would think after years of practice I must be getting better at this – but somehow it can still fee a bit of a rush to be ready on time.

 

%d bloggers like this: