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.