dEAr diary ~ enjoying the slower pace of life

It was sunny and dry for most of the day, the day before yesterday at least while we were in the garden – it has turned out that we picked a good few days after all to visit the cottage.  Thank goodness as there is so much to do in the garden and we are trying to take it slowly and sensibly to avoid an achy back.  I have areas to put to bed but also areas where I want to have a move around – plants that have outgrown their space or would be better in a different location.  When I started in this garden it was a case of getting anything in to cover the ground – well it has done that and more.  Everything here gets a bit oversized because of the mild climate.

I will be doing a garden update soon of our progress – perhaps a few before and after pictures if I can remember to take the ‘befores’!Bramley apples

The windfall apples are outside our gate now waiting for any takers – I am hoping people will come with large bags or big pockets as it would be a shame for them to go to waste.

Tuesday afternoon we had to drive in to town for more provisions and to swap the empty spare gas cylinder.  Living so far from the nearest town (15 miles) it is essential we have a backup in place.  The place we buy the gas is one of those places that sell all kinds of oddments and the guy was selling off bags of branded farmyard manure for the garden at £1 a bag – normally £4.  Bargain – so we bought 3 bags.

All though I never need an excuse to visit a stationery shop I had to buy a birthday card for my older brother (he is 70 at the weekend…blimey!) so I took  the opportunity to have a quick look in W H Smiths for a new notebook at the same time.  I could only find page a day diaries and they are expensive, but on buying the card I was given a voucher for 25% off a 2018-2019 diary.  It doesn’t really matter that the pages are dated I can ignore that if it makes buying a notebook cheaper.   I didn’t go back and buy one – I am taking a moment to think about it.

We stocked up again at the supermarket – all the ‘cheesy’ rolls had gone so we chose crusty baguettes instead and then found we couldn’t buy a small jar of mayonnaise other than in plastic – I prefer a glass jar and anything in a glass jar was the large size.  It can be difficult buying for two so must be virtually impossible for one.  None of the large hand cooked crisps were on offer either – so in the end being frugal we did without.

By tea time the weather had turned unexpectedly cooler with a little drizzle – so far this visit it has been good gardening weather, but that could all change overnight as I suspect it could easily become much colder.  I have noticed that over the last week the trees and hedges are all turning brown along the shore road where they face some quite strong winds.

We were glad to get back into the car to warm up and on the way back to the cottage we had a slight detour round to Portpatrick, a little harbour village that faces out into the Irish sea, just to sit and look out to sea for a while.  The wind had got a little stronger by now causing a big swell to the incoming tide; I love to see the frothy white waves rolling in and sending up a dramatic spray into the air as they crash against the rocks. Standing at this point to take a photo of the sea can be a bit treacherous – It is a really windy spot and the water on the floor is from the sea spray coming over the top of the large rocks on the left and at high tide can easily sweep you into the sea.  So I didn’t linger! Round the little harbour the Council have put a string of lights which are quite pretty – Portpatrick  is a well visited tourist place and a lot of money goes into its upkeep – much more than our little village where the council seem to only spend the bare minimum.

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was very overcast in the morning and we ached from too much gardening the day before (and old age of course) so feeling a bit rickety we allowed ourselves a day off to recover.  I quickly made some sandwiches with the crusty baguettes; filled with crumbly cheese and a dollop of chutney, added a small container of salad – no crisps or mayonnaise of course – a piece of sultana cake and a flask of hot chocolate.  Then we headed off round the bay to the Machars to the Wigtown Book Festival.

This is the best part of not having to go to work you get to decide what you want to do and when and you can make those snap decisions to just go out.

I will update you with photos from the event later. x




sEAsons ~ Autumn it is then

Cow ParsleyThe Autumn Equinox is official this weekend – I was really sorry to see summer go but I have to admit it has felt so much more like autumn these past few days than it has at this time in previous years.The weather has been so unpredictable – one minute sunshine, the next rain interspersed with anything from a light breeze to a howling gale.  In the calmer moments I have been out and about capturing the hedgerows turning I love the varied mix of vibrant green and red at this time of year, the colours echo those of Christmas.Virginia Creeper Before we left for Scotland I had already switched over to my warmer clothes and these last few days I have been snuggled up in my Parker and woolly hat before venturing our for an evening stroll down to the village and back – well more of a brisk walk really as there is rather a bite in the evening air and a shrill wind blowing off the sea – so we have not lingered – tonight we took the torch with us too as it was dark quite early.Rosa RugosaI did not go in the garden at all today, DH finished the ‘winterising’ of the caravan and then the garage door and I sat inside attending to our finances.  I had a heap of receipts to log, statements to balance and a new budget to set- after all this is not a holiday I still have chores to do!

We have been making more and more cooked evening meals too recently – curries, Cauliflower and Broccoli bakes, nut roasts and baked potatoes – always my favourite – and salads have now been reduced to lunchtime only.FernI was amazed at the colour still in the garden here in Scotland – the pictures were taken yesterday –  but then we are in the Gulf Stream and many of the plants are quite sheltered.

The Valerian – still protected with netting from being eaten by the pesky bunnies are doing well.  This was the tray of plants given to me by Elizabeth MacGregor when we visited her nursery in Kirkudbright at the end of the season last year.  Having such a large garden you have to think of planting in threes or fives to get a good swathe of colour and mass so a whole tray full of around twenty plants was wonderful – an instant garden – thank you Elizabeth!

ValerianThe Chamomile self seeds all over but it is very welcome here on the seaside garden.Chamomile

LavenderThis Fuchsia and Lavender were both one of those cheap plants from Morrison’s – I bought them to fill a bit of a gap in the border when the other shrubs were small and newly planted. They definitely like it here. FuschiaI am not even sure where this white Agapanthus came from I don’t remember buying one but it has sneaked into the border under the Viburnum.White Agapanthus The trailing Nasturtiums flower well into November and are a lovely burst of colour on a grey day.Nasturtium The wild Fuchsia by the pond still providing a little colour now all the summer flowers are over.Wild FuschiaBelow is my dad’s hydrangea taken from his garden after he died – it stands majestically in a central position on the edge of the lower woodland walk. Hydrangea And lastly the Bramley apples – they have been abundant this year and much rosier now than when we picked some on our last visit.  So many windfalls – …we have been giving them away and will probably put some outside our gates for the walkers to take. Bramley ApplesDo help yourself!



fEAsting ~ easy meals

Apologies for the short interlude I have been unwell and the sight of food did not make me feel better!

I had prepared this post before my brief indisposition so it is a shame to waste the photos!

Above is my vegetarian sandwich using up the Halloumi cheese from the fridge.  Spread the panini with mashed avocado then add shredded little gem lettuce, cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes, top with grilled or griddled Halloumi. Delicious.

My courgettes have done remarkably well this year despite the neglect.

Courgette plant

Home grown courgettes

Fresh from the plant they make a wonderful Courgette Bake – cut the courgettes in half lengthways and place into a pan of  lightly salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes just to soften.  Lift out and drain then place in a baking dish to form a base with the centres facing upwards.

Mix together the following:- a few sautéed mushrooms and spring onion, halved cherry tomatoes or chopped large ones, grated cheese, wholemeal breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of chopped chives, salt and pepper.  Bind the mixture with a beaten egg.  Spoon on top of the courgettes and place foil over the dish for the first 15 minutes in the oven at 180C.  Remove the foil and further cook until golden brown reducing the temperature a little if necessary.

Serve immediatley with boiled new potatoes and a mixed salad.


Enjoy x

dEAr diary ~ leaving…tears and treats

How did last week slip by so quickly?  What a whirlwind it has been here.

Unfortunately Tuesday, not only my wedding anniversary day but my last day at work, started with a bit of a stand-off with the new lady – I was playing it cool, polite but not overly friendly (quite unlike me).  It was our first encounter since our difficult day last Wednesday and I was adamant she was not going to spoil my final few hours at work.  Not much had changed in her attitude but she got the message that I wasn’t going to pander to her whims on my last day when I threatened to put all of my reference files in the shredding bag if she felt I was wasting my time checking they were all updated to pass on to her – though as she already knows everything she shouldn’t need them!  Standing my ground seemed to make her more amenable for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon I was suddenly called to the training room for a meeting which  ‘surprise’ turned out to be a buffet spread laid out with Prosecco, party food and cupcakes and attended by all the staff and directors.  There were speeches and presentations, more bouquets, gifts and wonderful words of thanks and appreciation for my hard work over the last 18, almost 19 years.  So my house is full of beautiful flowers once again and my birthday cards had to move over to make room for my leaving and wedding anniversary cards.

I was really touched – it was certainly a good send off – quite unexpected and lots of goodbyes, with promises to keep in touch and a few tears.

Then after an emotional day it was back home to collapse.

Early on Wednesday morning we set off for Pateley Bridge and Studfold Park with fairy wings and birthday presents on the back seat and a picnic in the cool bag ready to celebrate Little L’s 4th birthday.

The only route for us was 2 hours on busy (A) roads through Bradford and Otley and then along some winding (B) roads but it was a pleasant enough run through the countryside – places I had not been before.  We all met in the car park at about 11am – the weather was very warm but luckily it stayed mainly overcast so we didn’t get burnt as we were hunting for the fairies.

Both Little L and her friend were far too excited to eat much of their lunch and only managed half the ice cream cone and a lick at the cream frosting flowers on the birthday cake.

Her main birthday present was a balance bike but she wouldn’t ride it until she was kitted out with the full helmet, elbow and knee pads.  Luckily the postman came with them during the afternoon and then she decided to keep them on until bedtime!

We had bought her a camera that takes real pictures and selfies which you can add cartoon features to.  I had as much fun with it as Little L and would add it to my Christmas list if I could!

After a lovely day playing it was then back home to collapse.

On Thursday morning up bright and early again it was all hands to the deck once more at my elder daughter’s house – DH sorting out new banister rails on the landing and me back on the gravel patch.

By Saturday with a bit of help from the men to lift some very heavy paving stones which formed a pathway and edging we finally laid the gravel.  Our daughter then added the finishing touches of the table, chairs and pots of plants to form a seating area.  It looked really good but I forgot to take the all-important picture – I will take one and post it soon.

After 3 days hard graft it was back home to collapse.

On Sunday morning DH and I rushed around packing clothes, food and tools for our trip to the cottage in Scotland.  We finally managed to get away at lunchtime and arrived at the cottage about 8pm to then unload everything again and finally fall into bed.

After a hectic few days we must have been so tired that we slept for 10 hours solid but at least now we are here our time is our own and we can go at our own pace for a few days until Thursday when our commitments begin again.

I love exploring the garden when we haven’t been for a while – so many changes and so many different plants in flower.  Our Bramley apple tree is full of apples – it must be a good year – each morning I am gathering up the windfalls, before we leave I daresay DH will give the tree a good shake.  I will have to give most of them away as our freezer is still full of apples from last year.   

The cottage garden has lost a lot of its summer colour due to the hot weather  – many of the flowers have had a shorter flowering period with the intense heat and lack of water but the Buddleias on the woodland walk are weeping with the weight of the blossoms this year and they are full of butterflies.

The Hydrangeas are also out in full bloom now – the one above was my dads, I have no idea what it is called but it is a beautiful shade of coral pink around the edges of the petals which fade slightly as they open.

The Rosa Rugosa hedge down the lane has huge hips forming already and the Agapanthus are just loving this sun.

There is plenty to do here – weeding, pruning and tidying but only one day left so I need to prioritise.  On our next visit which will be longer maybe 2 or 3 weeks we should have time to make more of an impact. Going to Italy this year certainly put us behind with the general maintenance.

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer – I have a bit of catching up to do with my favourite blogs.

Back soon x

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