During last week I was on holiday from work so we decided to head up to the caravan in Scotland for a few days whilst also arranging to meet the engineer who came to get our water and gas connected.
I was sitting in the caravan looking out over a calm, silvery winter sea during the time just before dusk sets in. The wood-pigeon was gently cooing outside and inside a very peaceful quiet. Just like in the cottage we have no means of communicating with the outside world – it feels almost like being on a desert island – all we can do is just sit and be. A very odd experience – 250 miles away from our usual existence at home where there is always some pressing ‘To Do’ to be done and I would normally, like a lot of the population, be at work. I quite enjoyed this break – so did hubby who was often found gently dozing in the corner!
The highlight of the trip was at last we have running water, central heating, a flushing toilet, fully operational shower and gas cooking facilities. Thank goodness for all these modern inventions – being without such comforts is good for the soul once in a while as it reminds us of how grateful we should be for these services we take for granted and how they free up our lives. For the last few weeks we have managed with containers of water, a bucket under the van to catch the sink waste and a chemical camping toilet to catch the other waste! I won’t go into detail here!! We had to have a wash with one bowl of water each and clean our teeth with a glassful. All hot water had to be boiled on our little gas camping stove and our meals consisted of soup, soup and more soup – the easiest thing to heat up when you only have one gas ring.
The caravan is now a real home from home and is actually warmer, cleaner and more comfortable than our cottage was whilst we attended to the renovations. But it does not have the character or the space.
Now the caravan is fully up and running we can turn our attention to the garden maintenance. It suffered a lot last year due to shortage of time and the cottage being out of action still. We had to limit our visits and stay at a nearby B&B or hire another cottage.
Many parts of the garden were badly affected by the flood and all though most of it has sprung back there are still some strange effects to overcome even now. The lawn and borders on the wood side of the cottage are covered in wild garlic leaves, the bulbs being washed through the garden and scattered by the flood water. The only way is to dig them out by hand one at a time. So far I have done a patch about one metre square – the amount of garden affected by this is probably 20 metres square – some of it appears in clumps and others more scatterd – funnily enough the ones in clumps are easier to pull out than the numerous single bulbs dotted around. Any good ideas anyone?
The stream bank is looking so much better and as soon as we hit a drier patch the contractor will be back to spread the top soil and re-seed the area. The black protective mesh will eventually allow the vegetation to grow through it and it will look like a natural grassy stream bank. Of course the stream bed is much wider now but will probably, hopefully, look narrower again as the vegetation takes hold.
Back at home now we celebrated Burns night here in England with a few friends – it was a great night and always reminds us how good it is to have a get together. I have never cooked Haggis before but it was quite easy – not so easy is mashing a huge pot of potatoes and turnip.
For eight of us (5 meat eaters and 3 vegetarians) I spent
2 x Haggis £5.00
1 x Haggis veggie £2.50
1 large bag Potatoes £1.29
2 x Swede £0.80
1 pot beef gravy £2.00 (already had some veggie gravy)
8 mini Scotch pies £2.70
2 macaroni pies £1.15
Add in some Scottish delicacies
1 box Tunnocks chocolate teacakes £1.60
1pkt Tunnocks Caramel wafers £1.60
1pkt mini Scottie shortbread £1.00
A total of £19.64 or £2.46 a head – one friend brought fruit kebabs for a starter and another friend a Rhubarb crumble for afters. So quite an economy meal.