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…..it 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