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
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.
We came up to the cottage with the intention of getting away from everything and having a rest. That was the plan – but of course we are so used to doing things and not resting that we still packed the boot of the car with gardening tools – the gardening tools for heavy work such as the hedge trimmer and pruning pole. We never learn.
DH’s cold has kept him inside, just resting – I am trying to
dodge the sneezes as I really don’t want to catch it. When he was at work he never had colds or flu
– I can’t ever remember him having a day off ill, so where is he catching this
from now he is at home most of the time.
I did very little yesterday other than make some tomato soup; it feels quite foreign to do nothing. After lunch I went for a walk around the garden and then down onto the beach. I actually like the greyness at this time of year it has a kind of sombre tranquility when the colour of the sky merges with the colour of the sea.
The weather must have been quite bad whilst we were away as there is seaweed strewn over the little steps down to the beach, suggesting some very high and forceful tides. I had a mind to collect some seaweed for the garden but then got diverted taking photos. There are still a few pockets of colour here and there in the garden and the trees are turning a lovely golden colour before the leaves fall.
This is a good time of year to get on top of the weeds but my knee is not good at the moment – I have a hard cyst called a Baker’s cyst developed at the back of my knee in the crease and the fluid makes it hard to bend it when I kneel down so weeding has been a bit of a struggle this afternoon and two hours has been my limit.
Having so little to do here has given me a chance to catch up with my favourite blogs and even leave a comment or two. I will make the most of this quiet time because come the weekend the pace will increase again as we will be going down to North Yorkshire from here to stay with my daughter so we can visit my mum and take her out for a couple of days, and then look after the grandchildren a couple of days. Then we can go home and catch up with the jobs piling up there. I am savouring these few days of calm. Looking at my diary it will be almost November by the time we get back home – a sobering thought.
I have also caught up with a bit of reading. I downloaded the accompanying ebook to an audio book I got from Audible a while ago. It is called The Kaizen Approach and part of the ‘lean’ process of doing things.
Kaizen is all about changing things in small steps and I love this idea as it fits well with our hectic lifestyle at the moment. Not that I want it to be hectic – far from it but at the moment with so many family members needing our support we have no option. Kaizen is all about small – taking small actions, identifying small moments and giving yourself small rewards.
So with Kaizen in mind I am looking at making a few small changes to the way I do things. A while ago we tried eating our meals earlier at 12.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm for dinner and it worked well so I can’t for the life of me think why this has slipped back again. But it has and 2pm can be the norm for lunch and 7.30pm for dinner, which is too late and not good for the digestion especially as we are now getting ready for bed earlier than we used to unless there is something riveting on the TV …and that is not often. One of the changes will be to go back to the earlier times.
There are other changes I need to make too – I decided that cleaning the whole house in one day like I used to is not viable anymore – I don’t seem to have the energy I once had and even doing upstairs one day and downstairs another has proved just as exhausting. So I have been trying to get most of the rooms deep cleaned, reorganised and cleared of clutter so that I can keep up to them on a rota basis over the month. Our office / craft room is still the worst of the rooms with all the paper mountain but I am reducing this bit by bit by scanning important items onto the computer.
Did I mention we have another event coming up that will need my input – it will be little Freddie’s Christening in November (my elder daughter’s little boy who will be 10 months next month). We have the church booked for the baptism and a local village hall for the feast afterwards. The cake maker is on standby and as we did for the birthday party in April we will be ordering the food from M&S and I will make a quiche or two and some desserts.
The village hall does not have any crockery, cutlery or tablecloths but it does have a little bar that they can staff for a small charge. We will be having finger food and using the plastic plates I always reuse for parties….the tablecloths are posing a bit of a problem but we should be able to find enough from various family members. It is going to be a military operation on the day picking up the food and setting up the hall before the service at 11am, crikey…no room for error then. So before I can think too much about Christmas I need to get on with the arrangements for the Christening.
Not much other news at the moment – when I looked at the tasks I set out to do at the beginning of the month (see my October intentions) I have more or less covered them all – only the crafts have fallen behind, but then they always seem to.
Welcome to all the new followers it is lovely to have you on board x
There is something very comforting and reassuring about the words of harvest home – gathering in for the winter ahead, reaping the rich rewards of our earlier efforts of sowing and growing – picking fruits and berries from the hedgerows – and then making, baking and preserving – what could feel better and feed the soul at the same time. It is as nature intended.
I have spent the week here ‘gathering in’; apples for cooking, blackberries for pies, ripening tomatoes in the sun and stacking logs for the wood store – and thinking ahead, I have been foraging for useful Christmas decorations – pine cones, hydrangea heads and a few lengths of willow for a wreath.
I feel now that I am well gathered!
We have lived very simply here over the last two weeks at the cottage – only buying enough food for a few days ahead and mainly fresh food – vegetables, dairy and bread. We don’t keep stocks of anything very much in the caravan just a little salt and pepper, a jar of dried pasta, some rice, a carton of lentils and tomato passata and a few teabags. You might even find a tin of baked beans, if you are lucky.
But with Brexit upon us I have been thinking long and hard about what action, if any, I should take to stock my larder at home. There will be panic buying – I have no doubt – judging by the food shopping frenzy at Christmas – it seems it is a very British thing – but I hate to be a part of that. On the other hand the words in the hymn ‘all is safely gathered in‘ suggests to me that it is a wise move to gather in before the winter storms and what could be more of a storm in the making than Brexit.
At the beginning of this year I decided not to keep large stocks of food in my cupboards at home so that it would never end up as out of date waste and I have loved the emptiness and the fact that we have not needed huge amounts of food in hand or added to the ‘waste’ mountain; but now I feel I must heed the words of the hymn and gather in for my family. So when I return home I will be buying a few extra tins and long dated dry products, ready for the long winter months, ready for Brexit whatever shape that takes.
It has been the most wonderful few days here in Scotland, dry sunny days, not too hot, just perfect for gardening; it has been oh so quiet, just us and a few birds, who have also been busy gathering in – so before we return home, and I am sad to be leaving, here are a few pictures from around the garden…..
back soon – have a lovely weekend and welcome new followers. x
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
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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It feels like we are settling into summer now – clear blue skies, warm sunny days – not too hot and no rain, no winds.
As soon as we arrive at the cottage, daylight permitting, the first thing I do is grab my camera and go for a walk around. It is 6 weeks since our last visit – far too long for this garden; I am sure it would turn completely wild in only twelve weeks! There is always so much to see and so many lovely surprises. The first thing that met me this time was the vivid pink of the rhododendron and the beautiful sky blue of the delphiniums.
Come with me on a stroll around my Scottish garden – of course off camera there is a mound of work to do but for the moment I will just ignore this and just capture the delights that I have found.
This is what we call the the back garden although it is really at the front of the cottage and leads into the woodland – we are quite secluded down here with the canopy of trees. The rhododendron has been magnificent this year and the ground beneath is littered with petals like giant confetti.
Around the pond in the lower wood the primulas I planted two years ago are beginning to spread now and light up a dark corner.
The wild fuschia that is beside the edge of the pond has become so tall and leggy that a branch had broken and fallen across the path, we cut it off but the rest of it will need some maintenance pruning on our next visit.
We took the pond cover off today – a bit late this year but we have been so short of time on previous visits. The pond needs a good clean out too – I really look forward to this, heaving out buckets of mud!
And my little seat by the pond is only just visible – peeping out from under this wild geranium that has seeded itself.
The woodland walk is one of my favourite spots I tried to introduce plenty of leaf shapes and keep everything very natural looking choosing plants very carefully. The ferns just set themselves – they seem happy in dry or wet ground.
Below is the border that runs down the lane side of the house and has a lovely low dry stone wall at the back beyond which runs the daisy path. This is very much a work in progress – the escallonia in the centre on top of the wall is all that is left of the hedge that died in the severe frosts a few years ago. I have yet to decide what to plant to each side of it. I am going to introduce some tumbling rockery plants to the top of the wall for a bit of colour.
And of course the seaside garden – the valerian has formed quite a mass now and is looking good and blends quite well into the wild landscape beyond whilst adding a touch of colour.
Tomorrow we head home again, in the short time we have been here we have managed to cut the grass and the hedges and weed some but not all of the borders – my bad knee allowing. At this time of year I am very selective with my weeding and let some of the seedlings grow on so that I can transplant the ones I want to keep like foxglove and aquilegia, alchemilla mollis and geranium and the annual pink poppies and biennial forget me not.
There is still a lot to do but it will all have to wait now for another day, another visit. For now I am going to sink into bed with my Miss Read book and cup of cocoa and no doubt I will be sound asleep in no time.