It is so good to be back by the sea and nothing lifts my spirits more – though a little less sea breeze and a slightly higher temperature would be better. It is sunny, bright (and breezy) but certainly very cold and as we look across Luce Bay we can see the snow topped hills in the background a reminder that although my calender is telling me it is May the weather has still to catch up.
I am having to choose my position in the garden very carefully – the seaside garden is a definite no no and the wood side, although more sheltered, is shaded by the trees at this time of year while the sun is still a bit low. So I am nestled into a cosy spot outside the little porch that leads into the kitchen. The giant Fatsia and privet hedge providing shelter from the wind on one side and the cottage itself on the other. It is not the worst part of the garden by any means there are places crying out for resuscitation after being ignored for more than a year….but one step at a time.
We had a visit from the ‘ratman’ this morning – during the lockdown they had taken up camp in our wood being fed nicely by the escalation of the takeaways and leftovers of food in the bins belonging to the pub next door (part of the legacy from the government initiative ‘eat out to help out’ scheme). I don’t think they had included the rat population in this – but they had a good feast nonetheless.
Afterwards I managed a couple of hours gardening while the leek and potato soup simmered away on the stove. After lunch we had a stroll to the village chatting with one or two of the locals at a safe distance and catching up on the news and generally just passing the time of day. It was obviously washing day. I always find it is an immensely satisfying sight for some reason to see washing on a line and blowing in the wind by the sea (no tumble driers needed up here) and I just had to have a few pictures.
We took the low road that runs by the shore back home to view the now famous artwork – the painted stones – which have grown in number over the past year and many more painted stones have been added to the collection, an obvious sign of what everyone has been doing during lockdown. I loved these simple little leaf paintings.
Tomorrow we have a visit from a local civil engineer who will hopefully make some suggestions for the repairs we need to have done to the burn; we lost a bit of the banking this winter when the willow tree fell over into the water taking part of the banking with it. The farmer next door removed the tree for us with his tractor and now we need to repair the hole before it erodes any more.
A lot of land was lost to the sea this year on the seabank below us but luckily this is not our responsibility and falls to the new owner of the caravan site. Presently, he has the civil engineers in with diggers and hefty looking Tonka toys making the banking good and laying armoured rock against it to hopefully stop further erosion. The power of the sea should never be underestimated.
At last we are here in Scotland at the cottage but staying in the caravan in the garden of course (as those regular readers, who know the flood story, will know).
And what of the garden? Well did you ever read the Secret Garden as a child? Then perhaps like me you can remember having an image in your mind of the moment when Mary discovers the entrance to the hidden garden and unlocks the door to discover a wild and beautiful place – well that is just what our cottage garden looks like now after 6 months of neglect. Very wild but also quite beautiful. My heart was both heavy and lifted at the same time.
Everything has grown in abundance including the wild flowers and those that are definitely weeds. The goosegrass is draping itself around so many plants and weighing them down.
Sadly, we cannot leave it in this state as even a wild garden has to be managed or the most vigorous plants eventually take over and the smaller vulnerable ones are crowded out. If left unpruned the trees and shrubs grow so tall the reduced sunlight causes the undergrowth to die back and with little light plants like ivy soon settle in and can sweep through a wood floor like a fire. It is a fine balance I have to strike in this garden to keep it in check but also keep it looking quite natural.
After an initial tour of the garden I estimated it would probably take us about 2 years to get it back to what it was like before, but now having spent a couple of mornings in the garden I might revise that to 3 years hard labour! Everywhere I look trees and shrubs need attention, the invasive weeds removing and many plants need thinning out or cutting back. The ivy is heading for the farmers field next door and some of the weeds have settled in so well they have tap roots more than 2 feet long.
But it is not all doom and gloom, despite the rather wild and shaggy appearance, and the fact that some areas have been fully taken over by something far too vigorous, there are delightful little corners to discover where self seeded foxgloves and poppies have made a new home.
The picture below is by the lower woodland pond and I now have a very green mossy path with daisies that was once bark chippings – but I quite like this and will probably keep it as it is. The little seat by the pond has disappeared altogether into the undergrowth – it may take me a while to uncover it.
There will be plenty to keep us busy for a while – thankfully we do not have to maintain the caravan other than it needs a wash down on the outside to remove the green winter film it collects. And of course there is soup to make – mushroom maybe and tomato.
On our very last visit here back in January we did not get to replace the empty gas bottle so that was on the priority list, there is nothing like running out halfway through cooking a meal. So a trip into our nearest town of Stranraer was required in the afternoon…..that and it was good to take a break. Frequent rests are much needed at the moment until our backs are stronger and can cope with the strenuous work in the garden. Being at home for so long during lockdown just pottering around the house and our very small Yorkshire garden has left us with weaker unused muscles.
The weather was so lovely yesterday that whilst in Stranraer, which was eerily quiet, we decided to take a walk down to the harbour and round through Agnew Park. The light and cloud formation was incredible – I will leave you with a few pictures.
It is time for bed now – I am not sure I am making much sense in this ramble – I have an early start in the garden tomorrow….weather permiting. x
Nothing much happened yesterday other than a trip into the local town of Stranraer – but for me that is quite a pleasant event. We decided to put the final portion of the tomato soup in a flask, make a sandwich and take lunch with us. All was calm weather wise and the sun came out so we stopped in the pretty village of Ardwell further up the coast and watched gulls bobbing about on the sea whilst lunching. The two cottages facing out onto the bay are my very favourite on this coast – much more sheltered than we are.
Would you believe it though, as we turned off the main road into the picnic area by the shore the car beeped and a fault message suddenly flashed on the dashboard screen ‘automatic parking brake fault’ and the service light came on? Usually when we stop the car when parking the handbrake automatically engages as there is no handbrake to pull on and luckily even if the automatic parking brake doesn’t work you can operate the brake manually with a lever – but it is yet another problem to add to the list. When we arrived back at the caravan later all messages had disappeared from the screen and the car’s automatic brake came on – so maybe it has corrected itself…who knows!
After lunch we took a quick brisk walk along the beach looking for beach finds then headed off into town – it was bitterly cold so we kept dodging into shops just to keep warm. I got mum’s card and a lovely one that opens out into a train for Freddie’s 1st birthday. I had to write mum’s card in the local café to get it in the post – I slipped in a book token for her – as she cannot get out much now reading is quite important to her but this means buying a lot more books.
After a trip to the post office we went round to my favourite hardware shop which is more like a mini department store. Here you can still buy something as basic as a steel fire basket for your coal fire or some of those old varieties of seed potatoes ….and sure enough they had jam pot covers –there was even a choice and I opted for the mixed pack of waxed circles with the cellophane covers.
It is one of those shops where you feel you can buy anything and coming across a pile of cloths between the dishcloths and floor cloths marked ‘udder cloths’ was no surprise. They are quite nice – like stiff muslin (maybe you had one Pat on your farm?) I am sure they might be quite useful for something other than udders – but I couldn’t think what so I put it back.
A lot of the shelves were quite bare having cleared away all signs of the decorations, artificial trees and lights that they have on display at Christmas to the delight of the local children (it is their only Santa Grotto for miles). The assistants were busy having a bit of a change around as shops do now and just starting to put out their new stock. It is a struggle for these independent shops to keep going – a lot are family owned and when they retire they are lost and gone for ever leaving increasingly empty gaps like on most high streets. I always try to buy things when we are up here to help keep them going.
We had a bit of a shock in Tesco though – it is not a big store but bigger than one of their Express stores. A few years ago they removed the instore bakery but have continued to sell a range of freshly baked bread and Danish pastries; now the section selling the freshly baked bread and rolls has halved in size to one small fitment and they have stopped selling wholemeal loaves altogether unless you want the wrapped steam baked Warburton’s type which I don’t like (too squishy for me).
What made it worse is the fact that they have now expanded the sugary cakes and doughnuts section to fill the space. This feels like a big step backwards to me especially in a region that is known to have a pretty bad diet of high fat and sugar foods anyway. Are people substituting cakes for bread I wonder? The Tesco assistant said this was not the only store to remove the wholemeal loaves.
When we come here for any length of time we are going to be quite stuck for bread now – we can bring some with us but obviously not for a whole week or longer – I like my bread on the dry side but stale is another thing!
We bought the haggis, a few wee scotch pies (the men love these), macaroni for the vegetarians and some after dinner treats….Tunnock’s of course. There is no way to make haggis look appetising in a photo but here it is.
So today we are homeward bound – car allowing, stopping in Castle Douglas another fine market town full of little independent shops, a huge Wilkos and the best craft shop ever. Oh and did I mention they have an award winning chip shop – so a bag of freshly cooked chips is a must.
I just need one more turn around the garden to say goodbye until next time.
Have a wonderful weekend. x
PS. The tomato soup recipe is now in the recipe section – click on the tab above the header. Hope you enjoy it Wendy x
Its not hard to spot the difference between the calm photos of the beach I posted yesterday and these. Waves crashing around and the roar of the swell coming before it has to be seen and heard and can feel quite threatening stood so close – so I didn’t linger too long.
I stayed indoors and made red pepper, tomato and basil soup (click on the Recipes tab for the recipe) while the guy we found to fix the garage door came down. We called him at about 9.30am and he came about 11am – not a bad service. We didn’t even have to pay for parts as we could supply him with the cables (in fact both had gone in the end) and the spring just needed respringing rather than replacing.
So one job down. Umpteen to go.
We didn’t make it into town either we kept warm and read instead, so we are going today. I have two birthday cards to get; one for my mum (she will be 94 come Sunday) and one for little Freddie who is just one year old. Then I need to go to the wonderful Homes and Gardens store for jam pot covers and a mooch around – they have a fascinating collection of everything you could possibly want for your house from teapots to drain cleaners.
Then I need haggis and some Scottish pies to take back with me for Burns night.
Surprisingly, the weather is quite calm today and the tide is way out – it did feel like it was coming up into our garden yesterday so I hope not too much land has been lost on the banking around the bay here.
The journey to Scotland didn’t start too well. We were up, packed and ready to go on time but then a power cut delayed us, as we had to wait to be sure everything electrical was off and the burglar alarm set OK, then as we drove the first mile it was obvious the car is still not as it should be….smooth. The suspension was suspiciously rather bumpy and hard which is not like Citroens at all. We circled the block a couple of times, me driving, then DH driving as it seems far worse on the passenger side, then we went back home to decide on what we should do. Already having forked out £1200 for this problem we are reluctant to go back to the same garage.
We decided we would carry on to Scotland turning back at Preston if the suspension had not settled down by then or had got worse. It more or less remained the same – probably better on the smoother roads like the motorways and no warning messages had activated so we pressed on, fingers crossed all the way.
Anyway we are here in Scotland now and despite all the weather warnings it was gloriously sunny yesterday, but bitterly cold in the breeze. I have said this before but I do love these grey winter days by the sea, they are quite calming and relaxing.
And we have no plans other than to relax.
Because of the earlier set backs and subsequent late departure we didn’t get to the cottage (caravan) until 9pm. It was cold inside the van, the central heating boiler had lost water pressure and was flashing fault. Hastily, we scrambled around for the manual to check the fault code – most likely due to a leak it says – no obvious signs inside so we will need to examine the outside pipes under the van in the daylight – in the meantime DH is able to let more water into the system so that we can get the heating up and running again.
Meanwhile, I start to busy myself unpacking and making up the bed with clean linen only to discover that the electric blanket that I had taken home to wash…. was……you guessed it…… still at home. Memories of the recent cake saga flood into my mind. Luckily, we keep a hot water bottle at the van and so this was requisitioned to warm and air the bed which was so cold I could only envisage a night of discomfort. Trying to heat up the whole of the bed a few square inches at a time takes some effort when you are tired and cold and just want to climb into a warm bed and sleep.
After a while we managed to warm up the room and the bed and eventually jumped in fully kitted out with t-shirts and socks….. and actually slept quite soundly.
It was quite late when we surfaced, tired after the long journey, but the sun was shining so after breakfast we went out to survey our land – not quite roaming in the gloaming (which means twilight – I had to Google it) but rather midday. We always have a wander through the wood and round the garden then down onto the beach to check everything is OK.
Everything was as it should be with no evidence of any fallen trees or flooding, even the burn running alongside the cottage was not as high as it might have been. It would seem we had survived storm Brendan – only the little path that takes us onto the shore was covered in a pool of water so we had to make do just looking from the banking.
Round the corner from us is in the next bay is a different story; where the coast road runs alongside the beach the road is closed – an action that has been taken far more seriously since the death of the couple and their two dogs last year when they were swept out to sea one stormy night. It is a long diversion and one that the locals are loathed to take but one that will save lives. The spray from the sea covers the road and sends up quite large beach stones with it…a treacherous mile known here as the car wash.
So all seemed well until we came to open the garage door only to find one of the cables of the up and over door has snapped. Being so close to the sea there are certain things you have to get used to – rust is one of them. The cables rust with the salt from the sea spray, which finds its way in through any crack, and so need replacing quite frequently. DH is quite capable of replacing them and we always keep a spare or two. However, as he started to replace the cable the tension spring went as well so now we have a door that we cannot close or open fully. With this and the car problems I won’t deny the stress is building up a bit. The search for a garage door fixer is now on. And we have still to locate a possible leak.
In all this turmoil, both in our lives and the world generally who can deny the beauty around us and tuning into nature is one of the best ways to calm down – I tell myself – and it does – I was delighted to see snowdrops dancing around in the breeze and the first daisies appearing in the grass.
There are little signs of new life everywhere and the rabbits have not, as yet, been scratching up the bulbs but I do need to put a little food out for the birds….the table is empty and the robin sits looking quite hopeful at me.
So today while DH is on the phone trying to find a Mr Fix it man I will be making some warming tomato and red pepper soup for lunch. I am hopeful we may get into town for a look around the shops – only a look – there is nothing much we need other than jam pot covers, and we will certainly find them here – we had no luck at home. Keep warm everyone.
Many readers have asked me about the cottage and I have tried a few times to do this post with a few pictures, however, each time I have abandoned it as it has been too upsetting.
So here I am trying again.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with my previous blog the tale of the cottage and the flood can be found here – Beach Cottage and the tab above.
And so for the tour…please mind your step it is a bit dangerous inside as all the floorboards had to be removed.
This is the kind of state that met us when we first went into the cottage after the flood. The water level had reach 2 feet in the conservatory but only about 1 foot elsewhere. There was brown sludge everywhere.
Looking from the other direction when we had cleared some of the debris and the sludge had dried a bit.
This is the kitchen above now completely stripped out of units – the contractor’s schedule and makeshift electrics board on the walls still remain. Everything from here ended up in the skip even the fridge freezer which was like new. Luckily we had not renovated the kitchen at the point of the flood.
Likewise the bathroom – with toilet and basin removed.
The bedroom above stripped of plaster and floorboards – the bed and wardrobes all had to go in the skip. Only the light shade remained and is still hanging there like a ghost of times past.
The living room is the saddest room for me, we had almost finished the renovations in here. The old tiled fireplace had been removed and a larger opening made to take a wood burning stove. One of the windows had been knocked out and french doors fitted so we could access the conservatory at the back.
We had boarded around this room and carefully painted it with umpteen coats of paint, sanded between each one – the finish was so smooth. At this point just the skirting boards to fix…
…and now we have gone backwards as all the boarding had to be removed.
This is just a handful of the many pictures we had to take – I can hardly bare to look at them and now it just sits in this empty state – just a shell of its former self, cold and forlorn. I never go inside anymore it is too heartbreaking – it was to be our retirement home.
We have plans on the go – they keep changing as the years pass – somehow the 3 year fight with the insurers left us drained and now life has just taken over so much ( we have had a wedding and 3 grandchildren since the flood) we barely can find the time to sit and discuss what the future might be. We could just have the place renovated but I am so scared it might all happen again and although I can cope with the flood and the practical things I could never cope with the wrangle we had with the insurers to get our money, they make you feel like some kind of criminal who is trying to defraud them. We were fully insured and even they agreed that in the end.
Part of the problem was a useless building surveyor who eventually left – had it not been for DH knowing about buildings and contracts etc we could have had a big problem on our hands. They could never add up either and had it not been for my job in finance and a keen eye we would have been robbed of thousands of pounds due when they made payments to us.
I know we must get on and do something – the caravan is far too cosy but is not a long term answer. I am hoping 2020 will be the year – let’s hope everyone in the family keeps well and problem free to allow us more time to progress.
There is always a silver lining though and I am waiting for it! xx
We started in the garden early today, well early for us; the sun was shining and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity so we had breakfast then I did a few floor exercises, as I have done every day, to loosen up the tight lower back muscles; not easy to do squeezed in between the table legs and the seating (space is hard to come by in a caravan),
It was back to weeding around the pond today, what you can see of the pond, as over the summer we had a bit of a primula explosion amongst other things. DH took off the leggy branches of the Fuschia that overhung the pond – shame – but it had grown into a tree and really got far too high but it will grow quickly again next year. In fact we are feeling a little exposed in places now as we have pruned many a tree and bush over the course of the week – some of our plants must be suffering from shock after being plunged suddenly into the sunlight.
After lunch we read, I actually dozed off for a while – unintentionally of course. We decide a brisk walk to the village would waken us up; as the tide was in we had to go by the road rather than along the beach. For a change we took the main high road past all the houses – I like to have a nosy now and again to see what everyone is up to. There are always plenty of new delights to spot.
We walked up to the village store and bought an ice cream and fresh rolls – I resisted the temptation to buy one of the Christmas magazines on display – each one had a few free goodies enclosed in the plastic wrapper and I could have chosen between chocolate moulds (might be handy) or coasters and any number of those rubber stamps and dies; but it still felt a little early so I put them back and just bought cake – Eccles cakes – my favourite.
We then strolled on down to the harbour and along the shore road cutting through the little garden of the end cottage (they don’t seem to mind) that takes you down through the sand dunes and onto the beach. By now the tide had receded enough for us to get back round the bay to our cottage.
I love hunting for little treasures amongst the pebbles, bits of sea glass, unusual stones and shells – it is amazing what you find. Today I collected a few small pearl shells and an empty crab shell.
As the tide had only just gone out the sand was all rippled and I managed to capture the photo above where the wind was blowing the shallow water in ripples across the sand.
Once home and a cup of tea later I went foraging around the garden collecting flower heads and berries. Even though I forgot to pack my flower press I didn’t want to miss out on some of the colourful flowers that are in bloom at the moment. The fiery oranges of the monbretia appears everywhere in our garden and certainly cheers up the dark corners – it makes wonderful confetti too when the petals are dried. The pretty blue campanula is still scrambling around and flowering – brilliant ground cover and so dainty.
In the absence of my press I had to improvise by using the pages of my moleskin gardening notebooks to sandwich the petals between. I will transfer them into my press when we get home.
These pretty hydrangea petals are even lovelier when they start to get the speckled vintage look. I had the idea that I might make some cards and gift tags with them, it is a long time since I made pressed flower cards so I am looking forward to having a go again. Time willing!
Tomorrow will be a final rush around the garden to finish off what we can before we go home. As always we could just do with another week here.
Hope everyone is having a good week – and welcome new followers.
I have been enjoying myself far too much to stop and blog the last few days. Despite a few lot of aches and pains (self inflicted from gardening) I do feel quite revived. I even spent a lazy afternoon with a book – Miss Read of course – I like to be transported into the idyllic village of Thrush Green and the lives of her characters. And why not read Thrush Green at Christmas in September?
In the garden we have spent a lot of time pruning some very straggly shrubs – it is amazing how they grow to monsterous heights behind your back. We have had to be ruthless and now have a wood pile the size of the caravan. I have no photos – it would be far too dangerous to take my camera outside when we are hurling branches around.
In and amongst we have been making some simple but quite healthy meals to offset the chocolate biscuits and Danish pastries we have been devouring for elevenses with our daily cuppa. Gardening certainly gives you an appetite. Tonight we rustled up an easy egg salad for tea rather than the fuss of making an omelette and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have continued to make tomato soup and our healthy green soup and each batch lasts two or three days which frees up more time to be relaxing and not cooking. We took some with us in our flask when we went further up north near Glasgow to visit the Scottish relatives on Thursday and that’s when we discovered our flask no longer works – the soup was luke warm – almost a vichyssoise. I didn’t think there was very much to go wrong with these modern flasks but obviously I was wrong. I don’t suppose it can be repaired so that will be another expense to add to the list.
On the way back down the coast we stopped for tea in Ayr at the little Italian restaurant we have been to before. We ordered the usual marguerita pizza with mushrooms that we have had many times only to find that they have increased the size to 12″ (way too big for me) and dropped the other choice of sizes they used to do.
Disappointed about the size I then found the tomato sauce so laced with garlic I couldn’t eat mine. I have an allergy to garlic (breathing and cramping problems) – I can just about tolerate it on a pizza – I am still not well afterwards, but not as ill as some meals would make me and I have not as yet needed a trip to A&E after a pizza.
On Saturday we set down our gardening tools and went to Castle Kennedy gardens for the afternoon just around the bay. Long time followers will know this is the place where DH’s grandfather was once head gardener and lived on the estate in the Head Gardeners cottage until his retirement in the early sixties, we also held our elder daughter’s wedding here back in 2016 with a marquee on the lawns by the old castle ruins and of course the guest of honour our favourite tea room of all time.
It is only a little wooden hut and resembles an old cricket pavillion and a bit of old England…well Scotland….but it has been there as long as I can remember and had one or two face lifts in its time – the most recent being removing the painted wooden benches along the walls and levelling the floor inside so they did not have to prop the tables up with pieces of wood nailed to the legs so that the tea cups didn’t slide off. Now they have a set of new bistro tables and chairs. I must say I do miss sitting on a slope and still find myself trying to compensate by leaning over to one side. I hear that next year may be the year they build a new tea room and when they do I for one will be distraught but things have to progress. I suppose.
Inside the walled garden we were met with a lavish display of colour – vivid hot pinks and vibrant yellows, a corner of beautiful and fashionable dahlias and many of the flowers attracting so many butterflies it resembled butterfly world – every flower seemed to have one perched upon it or bees buzzing round. They were none too keen on having their picture taken but I did get one or two by creeping up on them.
Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I will be catching up with the weeding – the pond and surrounding borders are a mess and need a good tidy up; the walkway of the woodland walk is covered in bittercress and the wild geraniums are spilling out and have spread so much I will have to cut them back into the confines of the border.
The issue with the pizza has not managed to overshadow our time here at the cottage and as usual I will be sad to leave but normality is calling and we have daughter’s, grandchildren and a mum in need of our help as well as a pantry that needs finishing. So only one or two days more before we have to leave.
Back to my book now or maybe a game of patience, having no television here is no real hardship at all. Back soon x
We are at the cottage at last – it has been a long time since we were here. It was a turbulent summer, but for now the dust has settled and daily life resumes. Things have not resolved though – and won’t for a while – the outcome is a long way off and like Brexit we will have to live with uncertainty, until certainty gains some ground. But I firmly believe in the fact that good always comes out of bad. Just not quick enough sometimes!
I had forgotten how some very simple pleasures can ignite a feeling of well-being and here at the cottage simple is one of the great attractions. Snuggling down at night under a heavier duvet than we are used to – I like the weight of it – it would feel too stifling at home where the bedrooms retain the heat longer with better insulated walls – but here I need the extra warmth to keep away the chill in the caravan once the heating is turned off. I am reminded of my childhood long before we had central heating in the bedrooms and a sense of being wrapped up tightly against the cold night air – at the same time bringing feelings of security too.
Lying, warm and cosy in bed in the caravan I listen to the beat of the rain on the roof. Steady at first, then a sudden torrential burst, but like the roar of the sea at night, soothing in its rhythm. At other times there is absolute silence here and always, once the lights are out, an inky black darkness which is only lit on the nights we have a full moon. We have street lights at home, security lights too and any chink in the curtain throws light into the bedroom no matter how hard I try to keep it out; there is never a moment when the world is completely black to us.
Here there are no street lights – only nature lights a path. There was talk of putting solar lighting along the low road, which is a path leading into the village that runs alongside the beach – I hope not as the nesting birds and wildlife in the surrounding bushes need darkness…..we need darkness.
There are other pleasures here too – cooking by gas, the
whistling of the kettle on the hob, cupboards that hold ‘just enough’ to get by
and no more. There is a sparseness of
decoration that brings quietness to this little temporary home – a vase of tiny
sea shells, a jam jar of coloured sea glass and a display of beach pebbles or
pine cones collected on our walks.
We have time here too – time to eat breakfast and read, time
to ponder and collect our thoughts even managing to put them into some kind of
order. We watch the rabbits scampering
around and the birds foraging in the undergrowth for food – they have all day –
we have all day. And I ask myself how it
is once we are back at home life takes over again, demands surface and problems
begin to mount up.
The Rosa rugose hedge running alongside the lane is dripping
with rosehips. The abundance of nature here
is wonderful – the hedgerows and woodland – the call of the cuckoo and wood
pigeon mingled with the cry of the gulls – the expanse of deserted seashore.
One of my first tasks will be to pick a few herbs and flowers from the garden to bring inside, whatever is still in bloom. I am annoyed with myself that I forgot my flower press; I will have to assemble a makeshift one from a stack of heavy books and some kitchen paper. I have ideas to make some gift tags and cards from the pressed petals.
There was a huge amount of windfall apples lying on the ground – I salvaged a few and left the rest for the wild life to devour. Hopefully, the ones remaining on the tree will fall before the weeks out.
The rain continued to lunchtime so after our initial walk around to inspect the garden we decided to go for a walk to the village whilst it stayed dry. The garden will have to wait for another day – it has waited our return all summer and many of the plants have grown unchecked to dizzy heights, whilst others have been and gone leaving only a skeleton behind to suggest they had once been there at all.
For the benefit of new readers we are camping out in a caravan pending the reinstatement of our cottage after the flood – you can read our tale should you be interested in the tab Beach Cottage above.
I expect you may be wondering if I had got lost in the wood, or fallen into the compost bin, or down a rabbit hole; but no I have been a little quiet this week because I needed some ‘me’ time whilst on holiday – amongst the gardening of course.
As usual when we arrived the garden resembled a jungle, all but the grass, which had been cut by our dear friendly grass cutter, Kelly. 5 days in and it was ready for cutting again; so DH got the mower out and cut them again.
I had the usual first day dithers wondering which of the borders to start on; in the end I did none of them and decided the garage needed a clear out.
It is a big space but we were only using the last few feet by the door because I could not get past all the equipment and garden sundries blocking my path. I found some interesting things though and a few things I had forgotten about.
Through some clever prompting on my part I managed to get DH to go through the wood pile and keep or toss. It is now much reduced. The rest was put outside on the concrete standing and yesterday had a journey to the tip along with a few bags of weeds that I don’t compost here like goosegrass.
There is still a lot to do as you can see from the photo but it is very much a work in progress I am pleased with what we have achieved and presently we can get to much more of the garden equipment. I also collected up a number of plant pots strewn around the garage and clay planters, gave them a hose down and laid them out in the sun to dry. Some of them I will be taking back down home to use there.
So it wasn’t until last Sunday that we gardened, the wind had dropped by then and it turned quite hot, so much so that I had to do my usual border hopping to avoid the sun. Dowsed in sun cream I began on the border by the pond but within minutes realised this was a mistake, far too hot, so I moved to the holly tree border. So many tiny foxgloves have seeded themselves and a flurry of hypericum seedlings but also many bitter cress were hiding amongst them. I fished out the bitter cress and hypericum and left the foxgloves – these will grow on and flower next year. I do like foxgloves they are welcome anywhere in my garden, but a few more white and pale pink ones would be nice.
The delphiniums in the lower wood have been spectacular and I only lost one to the rabbits before we put the netting round.
On Monday I began in the long trellis border. This is full of tiny poppy seedlings again there is bitter cress amongst them and some other unwanted weeds like dock. DH tackled the early flowering clematis on the trellis giving it a hard but not over excessive prune. The later flowering Etoile Violette had entwined itself with the earlier flowering montana rubens and we spent a good hour trying to separate them so we didn’t acidentally prune off the buds.
Eventually by the end of our week here I had just about done most of the borders and cleared a heap of weeds. The rose is looking magnificent and smells divine. The falling petals have been collected and brought inside to dry. The pink mallow is just on the point of flowering – sadly I will miss it in full bloom as it will be over by the time we come again.
On the Monday afternoon we went into Stranraer and down to the waterfront to look at the Skiffe boats. I know nothing about boats but these are beautifully made rowing boats and we watched as the teams from all over the country and abroad heaved them in and out of the water. They each had a little tent to shelter in which looked like a row of beach huts along the promenade.
Princess Anne had been flown in by helicopter to attend the start of the races but we didn’t see any sign of her other than the pictures in the Free Press which we bought later in the week (the Free Press is the local paper, which isn’t actually free, now £1 and extremely thin on news of late).
During Skiffie week there were plenty of activities and entertainment laid on for the visitors and locals, one of them was a classic bus rally and I managed to get a quick snap of this one as we left town.
On Tuesday it rained so we went back into town to look around the shops and stock up on provisions – I bought two birthday presents from my favourite gift shop, Baxters, they gift wrap them at no extra charge too. We had a drink at one of the cafes and then took a drive up to the north of the peninsula near to Corsewell Lighthouse, then followed the road down to the little harbour village of Portpatrick. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun appeared and it was the best part of the day so we bought an ice cream and had a walk around.
Today we have been in the upper wood to clear some branches left by the Council who have turned our lovely grass verge into a tarmac path and in so doing have thrown all the grass sods, grit and left over tarmac into our wood, not to mention cutting back our hedge that separates the wood from the main road; so now there is no hedge. It had only just grown again since Scottish Power reduced it to the ground 11 years ago.
So we are back where we started. The council have a workforce of only 5 men for an area of over 100 miles to do any kind of direct works jobs – the ones that are not large enough to be undertaken by outside contractors. They apparently do not have the necessary skills do many of the jobs proficiently – as we noticed! The man from the council apologised profusely for the bad workmanship, and said it was because when the workforce was cut – most of the men who could took early retirement or got new jobs elsewhere and they were left with quite unskilled men who could not get jobs anywhere else.
They are coming back to deal with the rubbish – I just hope they do not make a worse mess. I will show you pictures of the mess in a later post.
All to soon it is time to pack up and go home – I hope I don’t find my garden there in need of a lot of attention as we need to prepare the house inside for our Aussie visitor.
I had a text from the hospital on Friday to say that I need to travel to Leeds in good time for my appointment on Monday as there is a demonstartion in the city centre by the Extinction Rebellion group. They are targeting the banks and could cause a lot of disruption. Whilst I am all for this kind of protest, getting to Leeds and through the centre and out to Jimmy’s is difficult enough, and I will be stressed anyway wondering if my results are going to be OK – so I think we may go further round on the motorway and drop down from the north avoiding the centre.
So that is all from Bonnie Scotland – there will be more about the garden in my garden notes section when I get time to publish it. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
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