dear diary :: weeding, sketching, worrying

It has been very pleasant the last couple of days here at Beach Cottage but today we awoke to frost, a rarity in these parts.  We have been in the garden and the calmer warmer weather was quite welcome, though windier, colder weather is forecast for the next few days.  This picture was taken yesterday when the sea turned a very strange colour of green against the blue sky.

I have been working mainly in the pine tree border, removing a vast quantity of weeds and uncovering the perennials that are buried under a mound of leaves and pine needles.  There are tiny shoots everywhere and plenty of self-sown seedlings of foxgloves and valerian growing which I transplant to other more suitable parts of the borders.

I have a few shrubs and plants that need moving too; ones that are becoming a little overshadowed and I need to get these done before we go home.  The compost bin has produced some wonderful rich compost which I am using to mulch the beds.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, I really need to prune the new apple tree as this was one of the things that didn’t get done because of the lockdowns.  I keep putting it off this week mainly because I am not sure I know what I am doing!  The old apple tree needs a few branches off the top – that is DH’s job to climb up with the saw – it had never been pruned when we bought the cottage so is quite a large tree which bears most of its fruit well out of reach at the top.  We have been cutting it down gradually knowing that we will lose fruit but it will keep it in check.

Whilst I have been working in the garden my little friend the robin, who is never very far away, has been hopping around waiting for me to unearth a juicy worm or two, we have both been overlooked by the beautiful big rust coloured bull that has now appeared in the farmer’s field across the burn.  I am just glad the burn runs between me and him, though he does seem very placid.

We have seen very little of the new neighbour, but I would be keeping well out of his way anyway – I don’t want another confrontation with him.  DH has spoken to him since – just in passing, over the garden gate so to speak, he is a peacemaker and hates bad feeling and would never hold a grudge against anyone, but I know some people, like said neighbour, who might see this as a sign of weakness and think he can just do as he likes in future.  DH though has that knack of being able to tell people that their actions are not to be tolerated in a very calm and reasoned way that leaves them both unable to argue and in no doubt that he means business, unlike me of course who, like a bull at a gate would jump in and inflame the situation!! 

Over the years we have lost plants to the salty sea spray, the gales, the flood, and the rabbits but to lose plants because of the neighbour hacking away at them is far more maddening. It seems a bit sneaky to me that he chose to chop the hedges whilst we were not around! When we leave in a few days time I shall be wondering what he is doing next behind our backs.

I will say no more.

We are on our third variety of homemade soup now, tomato and red pepper today.  Just before I used them for the soup I decided to paint them – I find tomatoes quite a nice subject getting the shine and highlights is the difficult part and I certainly need a bit lot more practise. 

The next soup to be made will be our last batch before we go back to Yorkshire and I shall be using up some of the bits of veg left in the fridge – so pea, cabbage and leek with celery and onion it is.  We always eat well up here; I bring packets of lentils, chickpeas and brown rice to go with the veg I buy locally and keep the meals simple.  As the Calor gas is neither cheap nor readily available at the moment I decided all the meals we have should be ones that can be cooked on the hob, rather than in the oven, to preserve the gas. 

The energy price hikes are quite worrying – when we go home, where we cook by electric, I will be trying to use the oven as little as possible too.  Our gas and electricity prices will not go up until April as we are currently on a good deal until then so I have time to revise our meal plans and look at other ways to save on our fuel bills.  We don’t have a microwave at home so baked potatoes cooked in the oven might become a speciality soon. Luckily as we head towards warmer weather we will need less heating and can eat more salads.

I have very little data left now on my phone so there is a limit to the number of photos I can upload – so for a few days it might just be me and the written word.

16 Replies to “dear diary :: weeding, sketching, worrying”

  1. what a lovely post. just life as trying to sort it. and doing it the best way possible for yourselves.
    thanks for sharing. (-:


  2. The picture of the tomatoes is glorious! I can understand you worrying. I hope that things settle down soon. Its’s a real worry about electricity prices, and I think there will be a few more slow cookers and hayboxes used now.


  3. Just a suggestion…before you leave, take photos down your property lines from multiple directions, as well as other places on your property you may be concerned about. That way, when you return, you can repeat these same photos for comparison to see if any activity was done on/to your grounds. If something untoward has/is done and the issue ever become litigious, you would have evidence, Given this neighbor’s actions, it seems like this is something you might want to do each time you depart and return to the cottage, just to be on the safe side. Perhaps he will see you doing it on his “camera” and think twice about trying any further destruction. 🙂

    On a happier note, I do like your tomato sketches. Safe travels homeward.


  4. Your paintings are so beautiful. You are very talented. I too need to do some pruning of our apple tree. I really cut it back hard last year and wondered if it would rejuvenate itself. It did, with knobs on. We didn’t get any fruit last year, but maybe we will this year.


  5. Your tomato painting is quite remarkable – really life-like (I hope that was your intention!). Have a safe trip home.


  6. I am always in awe of your beautiful paintings. I hope it brought you some peace, with everything else you have going on just now.
    Soup is regularly on the menu here as well -spiced carrot and lentil today 🙂


  7. Your first photo and your painting are both so lovely. Painting is a lovely calm activity isn’t it. The energy prices are a worry aren’t they, we have been thinking about slow cookers and hay boxes as possible alternatives to keep costs down. You are right that come the summer we will be eating more salads so less cooking needed. I hope you enjoy your last few days at the cottage.


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