dear diary :: moments of joy and a moan…

My, it has been a bit breezy here – the caravan rocking away each time a forceful gust hit us from the side, but at least the new felt on the kitchen roof of the cottage has stayed in place.  It was too windy to be outside so I snipped off a piece of Hypericum and settled down indoors to a bit more sketching and painting until the light became too dim.

Eventually a little sunshine broke through the heavy clouds and a rainbow appeared.

I also used the time to make more fresh soup, mushroom is one of my favourites and today DH made celery – one of Master Freddie’s favourites. It is very rare now that we don’t have homemade soup for lunch and it is a good way to get those five a day in one meal and leaving in some big chunks means we have the benefit of added fibre too.  It is one of my areas for improving; both trying new recipes and, rather than having bread with the soup, I aim to try out a few different garnishes like roasted chick peas.

In the evenings we have been watching Channel 4 catch up via the internet as we don’t have a TV here.  At home we had started watching the Danish program (with subtitles) ‘Seaside Hotel’ and we are addicted, we just had to continue through the series and tonight it is the last one – does anyone else watch it?  Such a shame it is a fictional hotel because I would dearly like to stay there.

I just love the bleak winter landscape up here – so many beautiful colours on the grey and blue spectrum, the most colourful object being the yellow buoy out at sea.  Being winter we are quite alone here nestled in our little hollow, the caravan site next door is as empty as the farmer’s field on the other side of us.  Only a handful of locals frequent the pub at the top of the lane, and then only the ones who are brave enough to face the weather and walk along to the outskirts of the village when there are two other pubs much nearer in the centre.

We have dark skies too as there are no lights nearby and the stars on a clear night are spectacular; you feel you could almost reach out and pick one.

The snowdrops are nodding away on the floor of the woodland walk in the lower wood and spreading nicely –the rabbits do not seem to have uprooted them like many of the new bulbs I planted in November, tulips and narcissus and nearly all have been dug up and eaten, only the hole remains as evidence that I did in fact spend a whole day planting out.

All the daffodils dotted around the garden will be next in line to burst into flower This time of year when everything is bleak and sleepy having these little pockets of new life and colour is magical.

Our joy at coming up here was short lived though.  Our new neighbour who has bought the caravan site, pub and restaurant had taken it upon himself to hack away at our Rosa Rugosa hedge and the ivy that grows alongside the lane down to our cottage.  This is the hedge in the summer in full bloom and many of the birds like to nest in it.

Rather than just taking off any overhanging branches along the lane (which he owns but we have right of access over it) he has chopped the plants back far beyond the boundary line which is to the edge of the tarmac.

We have been left with some rather short stumps which may or may not regrow as it is way below any new buds.

The ivy was even worse – he has chopped this right back into old wood and we know from experience this will not regenerate.

Worse still this part has no hedge left at all just a big gap.

The tragedy is that pruning the hedge was on our list for this visit as normally every two or three years we prune it down to about two feet tall and to a good strong bud and during the year it will make up its height once more but be much healthier and stronger and less liable to flopping over with the weight of the branches; then in the summer I go along the hedge and with a bit of light pruning make sure all the branches are well within our boundary and not liable to scratch any vehicles going down the lane.  It is a few years now since it had a major prune because of the lockdowns and then last year by the time we were allowed up here we had so many nesting birds in the hedge I could not do it.  We tried to say nicely that we were not happy that he had not, even out of politeness, told us it was a problem (which I am not sure it was) and allowed us the option to cut it ourselves.  What will the poor birds do now that their nesting place has been wrecked?

I could weep and did so.

If that wasn’t enough the little strip of land below us beyond the trellis border that once housed the 3 static caravans belonging to Eric, Joe and Les, our summertime neighbours, is now almost empty and only Joe’s caravan remains.  This has greatly changed the climate for our plants along this border which have been snug in the shelter of Eric’s old van.  The owners have decided to leave for one reason or another and we will miss them and so will our plants.  We had clematis growing through and over the trellis and this too has been hacked away.  Will any of it recover – I have no idea?  The new owner obviously wants every last millimetre of his land. 

Asking him to let us know in the future if the hedge is a problem did not go down well with him and ended in an argument, as did the previous conversations we have had with him about the bright yellow barrier he intends to put at the top of the lane and keep locked to which we have objected. He informs us he is running a business and he is entitled to do what he wants, he is not prepared to leave the hedge until an appropriate time just because I like birds. 

He also informed us indirectly in conversation that his new CCTV cameras that he installed on the outside of the pub look right across our woodland garden as he claims he has seen rats coming from the burn (and he might well have – rats are not far away from anyone and they will undoubtedly be heading towards his large commercial bins full of food waste).  I am not sure he should have cameras directly looking across our garden but I do know he seems rather paranoid and has an alert on his phone if we or anyone else drives up and down the lane.

On our last visit I am certain he sent someone down to check on us whilst he was away in Glasgow.  No matter how much we tell him we are just a neighbour and not part of his business he will have none of it.  Are we being unreasonable?  He says we are always complaining but in our defence it is not only us that finds him difficult – the lady and her daughter who sold the business to him agreed to carry on working for him but after only a few months they walked out on him and a lot of the caravaners have now left the site.

He has saddened me so much and with the added worry of the changing weather patterns we will have to rethink our future here.  Going to all the trouble and expense to reinstate the cottage back to liveable could be a pointless exercise if we are going to be so unhappy living here.

On a brighter note we are relishing the quietness and being able to work outdoors in the fresh sea air – up till today it has been cold but sunny.  Our intentions are to carry out a number of maintenance jobs around the wood and garden that are best done at this time of year and hopefully finish the boarding on the banking ready for plant for the spring. As for the hedge we can only leave it alone for now and see what regrows.

22 thoughts on “dear diary :: moments of joy and a moan…

  1. You have my sympathy re. the hedge. We went through a similar experience last September. Part of our garden boundary is a 6ft wall, which over 30 years we have grown ivy, honeysuckle, etc so as to 1. hide the concrete and 2. obscure the view over it – which is the back of a few buildings set quite a way back from our wall. A new owner of one of the buildings (former TSB bank) decided to send 2 unskilled labourers to hack down all the overhanging shrubbery in which birds nest every spring. A big argument ensued, the new chap apologised – but it was too late by then. He had no idea what the plants were and obviously prefers to look at concrete instead of greenery.

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    1. It is so sad for the birds when their homes are destroyed. We have an ivy covered fence at home – both fence and ivy actually put in by the original neighbour a long time ago but the ivy has over time grown through the fence for the light so there is more on our side than theirs and the birds love hiding their nests in it. Since then we have had two lots of ne w neighbours. The first lot wanted to chop it all away but left before they had time to do it. I did mention to them that if they got rid of the ivy the fence would collapse as it is only the ivy holding it in place now. The second lot of new neighbours have so far left it alone.

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  2. Oh gosh … I really feel for you. I can only imagine how your hearts must have dropped when you saw your hedge. I would have cried too … I cried when our neighbours cut down their conifers. It just made such a difference to the privacy in our garden. Neighbours can make such a difference… both good and bad. I hope you manage to build some kind of relationship with them that enables you to co-exist. It would be so sad for you to have to rethink your dream 😟

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    1. Unfortunately the new neighbour at our cottage in Scotland does not like plants. At his home in Glasgow he lives in a gated community of expensive houses and his garden is all concrete flags front and back not even a pot of plants so our garden and wood will seem very messy to him as we leave it quite wild in places. I think he has a tendancy to OCD, especially the outdoor area – he took away all the hanging baskets and pots around the pub. Looks a bit bleak now.

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  3. It is heartbreaking about the hedge. The rose may grow back. It’s amazing how nature can find a way. I think the ivy will be different though. When the trees across the street got hacked back it made a real difference to the birds. The trees are regrowing and I’m keeping it all crossed that your hedge comes back in some form. Doesn’t the landlord realise that setting the backs up of everyone is bad business?

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  4. I am so sorry to hear about your new neighbour he sounds like a rather difficult person. It doesn’t sound like he will have much of a business if he carries on like he is. I hope you can work out what your want to do with your house, I agree it is doesn’t sound like it will be the relaxing place you need it to be.

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    1. He can lay on the charm but it is short lived if we question him or disagree to some of his changes. I think he feels if he is nice to us we will just let him do anything and of course he can do anything he wants to his own business on his own land but where it affects us directly or he is trespassing on ours then that is different but he doesn’t see it that way, he wants to treat us like one of his caravaners and make us part of his rules and regulations. I wouldn’t put it past him to want us to sign in and out when we come up to the cottage. I feel like we are being stalked!

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  5. Ugh. As someone who has a couple of witless neighbors, I can only commiserate with you. Had to put up 2m tall opaque screens along two sides of our second story backyard deck because otherwise the guy next door sets a chair right on the property line and stares at us (creepy, yes?) or he deliberately comes out and makes noise so you cannot enjoy any peace and quiet. Then there was a day last summer when he burned a massive pile of dried pine needles and other debris when there was a burn ban on due to v. high winds and dry conditions–blowing heavy smoke and cinders across the neighborhood. The fire department had to come twice within two hours because after they hosed it down and left the first time he went back out and threw a gallon of gasoline (petrol) on the pile and used a leaf blower to get it going again (4.5m flames). FD threatened to arrest him. Another neighbor to the rear of our property decided to cut down a 18m tree—at 10pm on a dark night. Of course, It fell onto our property taking out a couple of our 15m cypresses (which were in the middle of a row of eleven tall cypresses that blocked the view of his messy property). So, yes, I feel for you. My refrain when it comes to these individuals is that you can’t fix stupid.

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    1. Oh my, how awful to be surrounded by unpredictable neighbours. It seems from some of my comments that there are a number of people having problems. It is all down to a lack of respect and not having a conversation beforehand about any problems. I can understand that our new neighbour does not want any of the cars or boats scratched that go down the lane but we don’t want our car scratched either so we use that as a benchmark and keep it pruned back sufficiently so it is not a problem, but the difference is in the word pruned and not hacked as he has done.

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about the massacre of your hedge, as that is what it is. That would have had me in tears too. Perhaps you could ask the police or a solicitor, if he is entitled to have a camera looking into your garden. Seems like a breach of your privacy to me. Like another commenter, I think that with his attitude, he might find building his business harder than he thinks.

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    1. I looked into the camera business and found it is against the Human Rights Act to have it looking across anyones back or front garden, but as usual the police probably wouldn’t want to know and if we did involve them it might inflame matters further at the moment. We will mention it to our solicitor though when we are next in touch over the barrier issue. We have not heard back from the new owner since we told him that our solicitor had advised that a locked gate was not thought reasonable by a recent Scottish Court case as you can’t give out a key to everyone that might visit our property, especially anyone just popping in or workmen coming to do a job – we would be forever sending out keys to people and our friends up here could not just pop in unannounced. The new owners reply was ‘well I can get a 1,000 keys cut for you’!!!

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  7. I hate to see such a decimated hedge, I do hope most of it can recover. But it seems this new owner is determined to create bad feeling wherever he goes, which coincidentally is exactly what has happened to the caravan park my Van was on. New owners, new rules and money making coming before the family atmosphere it used to have. It’s had 5 different managers since I left last year.

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    1. Caravan sites seem to be a bit of a target at the moment and the old sites with that family feel will be a thing of the past as new owners seek to improve them. Of course with a new van going on a site the bigger and more expensive means a whopping commission for them as they take a cut on the price paid. When we bought ours which is only a modest 28′ we got a £7,000 reduction on the asking price as that £7,000 would not have to be paid to a site owner by the caravan dealer. It is all becoming a bit of a racket like a lot of things these days.

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  8. Oh Viv, my heart is breaking for you, and for your hedge. I suspect that the increase in holidaying in the UK has led to people like your new neighbour just seeing £££-signs and nothing else, but he does sound like a bit of a so-and-so. It’s the same with the ludicrous price of motorhomes & campervans at present. I suppose you are already worrying about what else he might do when you are not there?

    In light of all the problems your poor cottage has had over the past few years, no-one would think any less of you if it was decided ‘enough is enough’ and you put the place up for sale.

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  9. I am sorry. But I do know, in the end, nature triumphs.

    I also know that if a business man intends to do business in a community, he might well want to rethink his attitude. What he’s doing is surely not good for the future of his business.

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    1. He has a lot of boating mates come down from Glasgow to fish and stay in the rented out caravans, but he also needs the locals onside as they will be the ones drinking in his pub and eating in his restaurant during the long winter months.

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  10. So very sorry for you. It is dreadfully upsetting to have a neighbour like that. We had trouble with a garage across the disused railway line from us which excavated part of the old railway embankment against our garden wall and piled up the earth high against our wall, and in another place removed the earth altogether so that there was very little for the foundations to rest on. This was so that they had a very wide turning circle for cars, instead of doing a 3 point turn. Lazy or what? Formal letters were exchanged, but happily his business didn’t flourish and he has now sold it to another business which just seems to be using the garage to park some of their vehicles. We also had an opposite neighbour break up his concrete patio and chuck all the concrete onto our embankment, which my husband keeps strimmed in summer. I discovered this when picking daffodils on the embankment and set about returning all the concrete pieces to him in a pile outside his garden gate! In a previous house our next door neighbour put up a very tall fence bordering our garden which made us feel hemmed in. We got used to it, but it stopped me being to accommodating to them for anything in the future. I guess you have to weigh up whether the ongoing aggravation is worth staying, or whether you would be better looking for somewhere else, perhaps where you had less renovation to do as well?

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  11. I can understand your feelings about the hedge, my neighbours hacked away at the lilac tree in between our properties and it’s an absolute sight now. It was beautiful in summer with deep lilac blooms, not sure what they didn’t like about it, but I held my tongue for the sake of not falling out with neighbours. It sounds as though your new neighbour is determined to fall out with all in the vicinity, it’s not a very nice atmosphere to have to live in so I hope you can come to a decision which works out for you.

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    1. How sad about your lilac they are so lovely in Maytime. It seems there is a preference now for paved gardens especially front gardens – they can seem very bleak with no flowers or trees to soften the hardness.

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