dEAr diary ~ times they are a changing

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day – too nice to be travelling – but that is the British weather for you– when I needed a nice warm day to dry the washing… rained.

There seemed to be more packing than usual.  We had to fit the old water-butt into the car – we have bought a smaller one for home and will use the larger one at the cottage – good job we hung on to the estate car as it is most useful for ferrying things up and down.

I also had a box of old papers to take for the bonfire and a bag of items to drop off at one of the charity shops in Stranraer.  The two Christmas trees will have to wait until our next visit.

As there is less room in the caravan and less storage space I am not able to keep as much stuff like gardening clothes, towels and bedding and I forget what we have up at the caravan when we are down at home.  We keep a few extras but nothing like we had in the cottage.  So I really need to work out a better packing plan – one that takes me less time to get it all together.  When we were both working and set off for Scotland on Friday tea time I could get the car packed inside an hour – now I seem to take well over two hours and I cannot put my finger on why.

As it was such a lovely day we pulled off the motorway for lunch at the South Lancaster junction.  We had packed a flask of homemade tomato soup which is far nicer than anything you can get at the services.  The area to the right of the M6 is one of outstanding national beauty within the boundaries of the Forest of Bowland and has a wealth of delightful little villages with pretty cottages and those quaint country village churches.  But it is an area we have never explored before.  We drove through Hornby and stopped for lunch on a quiet country lane just outside Gressingham (famous for its ducks) to admire the view.  The flatter plains of farmland are enclosed by the surrounding hills  – not hills like the Pennines at home but a gentle rolling landscape and so green.  We felt like we had driven into another world – no busy roads – just a few sheep grazing and an occasional tractor.  It was so peaceful you could have heard a pin drop.   We will be back on another visit to have a better look around but yesterday we had to press on and reluctantly head back to the motorway.  We made it to the cottage by nightfall but as is often the case it was too dark to see the garden – that is usually a surprise for the morning.

We awoke to more sunshine streaming through the caravan windows today and the temperature was warm too, so after a meeting with a lovely man from highways this morning over a wee problem that affects our woodland we set to in the garden.

A day working in our cottage garden is far more punishing than any Yoga class and we have to be very careful on the first day not to overdo things.  So after lunch we had a walk along the beach and into the village, bought an ice cream (a rather lavish £3.80 for 2 Magnums) and sauntered back. On our first walk to the village after the winter it is surprising how much has changed.  When we first bought our cottage in 2004 it seemed like life down here on the Mull never changed; but increasingly year on year brings more.

This flight of steps that take you from the beach up onto Shore Street at the bottom end of the village by the little harbour used to be fully hidden  by willow bushes that have now been chopped down.  It is actually someones garden but they do not mind you using them – I preferred it when it was a secret entrance hidden by the bushes.At the far end of Shore street you can just about see the Ship Inn – once a thriving little pub but has suddenly closed and up for sale again.  It has been sold on two or three times in recent years and each of the new owners just cannot make a go of it.

The Queens Hotel in the middle of the village is looking so very run down now this could be next.  The notice in their window is supposed to be a joke – but might well be true – either way I am not sure it is helping them draw in more custom!The pub at the top of our lane might end up being the only watering hole in the village soon.

We also noticed that the door of the old corn store down by the harbour that used to be locked with the aid of an old shovel and has been like that for all the time we can remember… has now had the broken windows  boarded up properly, a proper padlock put in place and a notice pinned to the door. …but I thought the little wicker heart a very cute touch.Wards garage in the village now looks very forlorn; the forecourt has been stripped of the petrol pumps as under new laws the owner is no longer allowed to have petrol pumps within 2 metres of the road (he is allowed a Palm tree however!) and without the sale of petrol has been forced to close – such a shame this business had served this man and the community for years and now we all have to drive over 15 miles to the nearest petrol station in Stranraer.  This is a picture we took before the recent closure – such a sad end. On the way back to our cottage we passed the community garden – the person who looked after it is not able to carry on and the local community council are appealing for another volunteer.  Sadly it cannot be us as we are not here permanently.  This might end up being yet another casualty.

So many changes each year – they may only be little but sometimes are quite significant and are just another example of our ever-changing world even in backwaters like this.  I am sure that even in the Forest of Bowland that looks as if it never changes those who live there will see plenty.

A day of contemplating change and munching mouthwatering Magnums. x

21 Replies to “dEAr diary ~ times they are a changing”

    1. The post office went too a couple of years back but thankfully has been incorporated into the little General Store – which is now the only shop left. The only other businesses are the two pubs, a coffee shop and the Information Centre run by volunteers – if or when they go there will be nothing for miles.


    1. Thank you Chris – I am sure we will be spotting more changes over the week. At the moment we have Scottish Power here up a pole in the farmers field renewing some very old transformers for the electricity so the power doesn’t go down in the future – but that is a welcome change!


  1. Such a shame, I think this is happening everywhere, more and more people rely on online shopping for everything. When will you be able to get back into your cottage?


  2. An interesting post. I took a walk with the dog yesterday and noticed some shop closures in our area that I’d never noticed before. To be honest I sometimes wonder how any small high street business makes a good living these days. Enjoy your time at the cottage.


    1. Most of the little shops that are left, not just in the village, but the main town of Stranraer are struggling – their stock is well reduced now and each time we come up another of the ‘oldies’ has had to close. Most of these businesses have been family run for years and a good living was often made for them but back then most shop owners were content with just a living and not to make a quick fortune. The couple who ran the Post Office retired – they like many others owned their property and continue to live their. Luckily the guy who runs the General Store stepped in and trained to be a post master.


  3. Seems the same is happening all over the world – it is very noticeable in small settlements like the one you are connected with, has more of an effect on that community than those that happen in larger ones.
    Not good news on you cottage front – sounds like a little bit of deep yoga breathing and some relaxation are in order. Did you pull up ok after your recent first class?


    1. Yes – everything recovered very quickly and I have felt some benefit from just the one class – I need to make sure I heed the teachers words and only stretch to a comfort point. It seems at the time you are not doing much but in fact you are.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Online shopping has caused a vicious cycle for retail in small and large places. Retail stores have had to reduce stock so much that it is hard to find things one needs sometimes. But the more they reduce stock, the less likely they will survive. You can see where @m@zon has started to raise prices and extend delivery times using all sorts of verbal shenanagins…now they say one day delivery–or likely more–, but only “after it ships” and who knows when things will ship. Like too many monopolies and/or drug dealers, they get people hooked on a cheaper product and then increase the prices and now people have fewer or no options to buy things. Meanwhile people have closed businesses and there are fewer jobs. I try not to use them. Helps that I don’t really need much these days.

    Try not to overdo things in the garden. Glad you had a tasty Magnum for your walk. A little splurge can be good for the soul. Enjoy your time.


  5. Even on a much smaller basis, we have a mall we use each week, in the next suburb. And our high street shops battle to survive then drift away. I almost never shop online, I want to see and / or feel what I am about to buy.


  6. It’s such a shame to see the gradual decline of these lovely village communities but it is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to trade in the current climate.
    Have a lovely time at the cottage. X


  7. The first part of this post had such a beautiful feel – such that I can’t wait for my 3 months in 2021 to explore up north. All the closures, especially pubs and petrol stations, are so sad. Besides the need for petrol, petrol stations are always a place to pass on local news, gossip and advice.


    1. It is sad – not sure what we are changing too – the younger generation seem to stay in and watch TV more than we ever did and other than clubbing don’t really go in to pubs. With electric cars on the scene now Petrol Stations will be unwanted places too.


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