beach cottage, bEAching, cottage garden

bEAching…an unexpected weekend break

It has been a grey dismal day here today at the cottage (caravan) – we decided to sneak away for a few days with the hope of better weather and yesterday it was pleasant enough to be in the garden but today we are back to cold and wet.

When we cleared some of the upper wood on our last visit at the end of February (if you can remember so far back) we ended up with stacks of rotting wood and trailing ivy and not a hope of burning it in the gales.  However, yesterday was mild and calm so perfect for a bonfire.  It won’t be long though before I generate another pile – it is an ongoing job here. So far I have made a pathway through the wood.  The old concrete bunker on the right makes a great log store.  It is a left over outbuilding from when the pub at the top of the lane was a Creamery and until the seventies this land was just a field with no trees.

In the afternoon DH found time to cut the lawns and I did a bit of weeding in the borders and pruned some of the Hydrangeas.  The ones by the conservatory had grown too big and so I have cut them back hard and will probably have to sacrifice some blooms later on although last time I did this they still flowered despite the gardening books saying they wouldn’t if cut back too far.

It is very noticeable that everything in the garden is very late compared to other years and so I was quite surprised when I came across the Delphinium bed and some of the plants are already a good foot high.  I can almost hear their tender shoots calling to the rabbits ‘eat me eat me’  – hence I have them well protected with chicken wire!

The grand fernery beside the pool with the majestic Royal ferns is a sorry sight at the moment – all the leaves have been burnt by the cold weather and salt spray and are shrivelled and brown and will have to be cut back to ground level and wait for the new growth.   I spent ages doing this last year and usually only need to do it every other year if the winter is milder.  The Fatsia is the same.  I will leave both for now just in case it remains cold and we have some heavy frosts.

We had a brisk walk into the village and back tonight just before the light went.  There had been talk of adding solar lights along the ‘low road’ which is the old road that runs alongside the beach and is just a pathway now, not accessible by car.  If you walk along here in the evening it is a real treat as you can hear all the hedgerow birds in full song.  I for one am glad that the solar lights have not materialised as I think it is not the place for light pollution it is a quiet place for the wildlife to live undisturbed.

It is only 20 days until we go to Italy eeek…I still have to resolve the footwear and handbag problem.  I still have to resolve transport to and from the wedding and reception.  I still have to resolve what exactly is the breakfast at the hotel when it is only 3 Euros?

Hoping for a sunny day tomorrow.

Back soon

 

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beach cottage, bEAching, general chit chat

bEAching…stuck in the tin can

 

Well – we are well and truly stuck up here in Scotland with not a hope of getting back home to Yorkshire yet.

Our only route back first to the border, then down the M6 and finally across the M62, which is at present closed, sounds far too risky and I would rather be in a rocky, noisy tin can of a caravan than stuck for 12 hours or more without heat, food or drink as some motorists have been.

The noise from the gales battering our caravan is horrendous and has prevented us getting much sleep for the last two nights but the rocking is something else – it is making us feel quite sea sick and with each gust I fear our anchorage might give way and we will be whisked off into the sea and looking at the huge swell on the sea from our window here I would not want to end up in it!  The swell is so high that we can barely see the land opposite across the bay and every now and again a huge wave hits the caravan window.

Luckily no trees down yet – but no roofing felt left on the log store that has been ripped away last night.

However, as you can see thankfully we are still snow free unlike the rest of the country and all our relatives who are snowed in from Yarm through North Yorkshire to Sheffield and also those in Lincolnshire and probably everywhere in between.  We had thought we could get as far as our nearest relative from here and stay with them for a while but looking at their Facebook pictures that is no longer a possibility.  So we will have to put up and stay put for a while – I am expected back at work on Monday – we will have to wait and see if Sunday travel might be possible.

Obviously there has been no gardening going on here – yesterday we braved the elements and drove to the next village for lunch at the local cafe just to get away from the noise for a while – we were their first customers.  They had just had their power switched back on after a morning long power cut – eek power cuts – if we get a power cut now we would have no means of heating (gas boiler like any other is powered by electricity) or cooking (gas cooker has a fail safe electric ignition) we would have to go to bed I think and stay there to keep warm!  One of the villagers had some quite spectacular pictures of some frozen waves and I could see icy slush along the shoreline as we drove up the coast road which I have never ever seen before.  Today the temperature is up to zero so feels comparatively warm to what it has been.

You would think that having an enforced break might be an ideal way of using the time to plan and think but I find the weather going on outside far too distracting and we are spending most of our time reading up on the weather news.  I think our plans today are to go into Stranraer – we found the winds were not as strong further up the coast in the basin of the bay so might go and replenish milk and bread and buy some lunch out.

We will probably avoid what the locals term the ‘Car Wash’ that is the stretch just along the main road from here where there is a concrete sea wall around Terally Bay and when the sea hits this with force sends up huge sprays of sea water across the road but complete with rocks and pebbles – exciting to see – the kids love it but many a car is dented around these parts from using this road.  I think we will use the back road today which comes out after the ‘Car Wash’.

Taken earlier today by a local – the ‘Car Wash’  – the road snakes around just where these waves are crashing over the sea wall on the left.

Apparently there is a local pantomime in the village hall tonight – we need a good laugh so might go along.

 

UPDATE – since going in to town this afternoon we unexpectedly  learnt of a diesel shortage here as the tankers cannot get through – we only knew because on our way out-of-town we saw a huge queue at the petrol station so went to investigate – guess what our car runs on – on discovering this was the only petrol station in town to have any diesel at all we joined the queue – we were amongst the few lucky ones – after we filled our car they only had another 120 litres left.

Reports say M62 is still closed tonight and there have been more power cuts – luckily not local to us.

But what next I ask?

 

 

bEAching, cottage garden

bEAching…woodland clear up day 4 – down tools day

An eventful day today and not an event that we had planned…

We woke up this morning to find we had no snow…but no water either – oh dear frozen pipes – luckily we had some bottled water to make a drink but we couldn’t wash or wash up or use the loo.

The first job of the day then was to jump in the car and head off into Stranraer to Douglas Dairy (I haven’t made that name up – you couldn’t make it up could you!) to buy more pipe lagging.  The piece we had in the garage was now a pile of bits left by a recent visitor so we needed something that would be nibble proof as obviously the temporary water pipe feeding the caravan is on the surface and the wildlife like a nice bit of juicy polystyrene foam pipe lagging.  DH said they do make one that is aluminium clad – ha-ha but not at the builders merchants in a small town like Stranraer.

So as we usually do, we improvised and DH covered the regular polystyrene foam lagging with strips of duct tape – well even if it doesn’t stop the wild life nibbling it will slow them down a bit and give them toothache.

Once back at the caravan, and the temperature still down at -3, the pipe had not thawed so there was nothing for it but to give it a helping hand and so we set to with the extension lead, my travel hairdryer, an empty water bottle and a kneeling pad, not to mention the hats, coats, scarves and gloves to brave the Artic conditions.

With the wind coming off the sea and whipping around the caravan at some force believe me  it was not the cosiest of places to be outside underneath the van on our hands and knees – hence the kneeling pad.  We topped and tailed the empty water bottle and split it so we could wrap it round the pipe to contain the heat from the hair dryer.  The length of pipe that was causing the problem was the last little bit as it joined in to the caravan under the floor – for some reason it was made of a different material and obviously not as weather proof.  After 5 minutes – eureka – we had success and we could hear water trickling out of the taps inside and then a sudden gush – music to our ears.

Once we had washed the dishes and then ourselves it was far too late and too cold to go in to the wood today so we decided to go for a run (in the car that is) – first to Port Logan and then Portpatrick.  Every now and then we stopped the car and I braved the ‘sea air’ to take a few pictures – but of course you will have to wait until I am home to see them.

Listening to the news reports for the rest of the country and the rest of Scotland we are very lucky so far to get away with not having any snow here on the Southern peninsula.  All the puddles and ponds here are frozen and the temperature has not gone above freezing all day – even the bull in the next field looked a tad cold and miserable – but we are not stranded…yet!

As if the beast from the east wasn’t enough we are soon to face storm Emma coming at us from the west.

 

Stay safe and stay warm and a very warm welcome to my new readers.

Back soon x

bEAching, cottage garden

bEAching…woodland clear up day 3

Day 3 in the woodland garden – the weather still holding off enough for us to get into the wood and continue clearing away the debris – I can’t believe our luck.  It did seem cooler today and we had a flurry of snow around lunch time but by the time we had eaten it had passed and the sun came out again.

We even got the grass cut on both sides whilst the very hefty but rather beautiful Charolais bull in the adjoining field was watching us with an amused look – I did point out to my DH that if the bull so wanted to charge the mere fact that there was a little fence and a stream between us would not deter anything of that size – best just to ignore him and not attract his attention, but not turn your back on him!

I have been playing tug o’ war with the ivy again – sometimes I win and it comes away easily when I pull on it and sometimes the Ivy wins and I have to resort to the secateurs – but I have cleared quite a large area now and found some interesting things beneath – a wooden pallet someone has obviously thrown over the fence, a charger for something, a fresh load of soil (hope it is not contaminated – probably the remains of some hanging baskets or tubs) and a few too many drinks cans.  The problem with people dumping pallets is that when they rot down the nails don’t and you can easily step on one –  I constantly worry in case we have any children playing in the wood that they might injure themselves.  People can be so thoughtless at times and although we have a stock fence around the wood it doesn’t seem to prevent unwanted visitors.

My long-term plan is to leave some drifts of Ivy and clear the rest to make way for some native woodland plants that I will introduce into this part of the wood – I don’t want it to look too decorative though I prefer it to look as natural as possible so I am looking at Cow Parsley, Foxglove and Anemone, we already have red Campion, Sweet Woodruff, Alkanet, Bluebell, Bramble and plenty of spotted dead Nettle.  If I don’t fill the uncovered ground up with something then the Ivy and Stinging nettles will just grow rampantly.

Over the last few years we have also acquired Bracken from the neighbouring field – it can be quite a problem as it easily gets out of hand and is not good to be breathing in the spores so as soon as it makes an appearance this year we will have to treat it – at the moment it is not easy to spot as it has died down but the runners are there lurking underground.

I have noticed a number of little abandoned nests here and there whilst the trees are bare – some of them rather precariously balanced – I like to think our little wood is a safe haven for the wildlife and birds and that they can live here happily undisturbed – well usually undisturbed – but I am really careful not to disturb any nests and there is no evidence of any birds nesting at the moment but I do need to get a move on and any clearing that isn’t done by the end of the week will have to wait until next year.

Whilst on the subject of rubbish (oh dear I hear you say another rant coming!) –  I do find it weird that as a householder at the cottage we should have 6 different recycling bins and boxes issued by the Council to put our rubbish in – as we don’t live here full-time and are not around to put out the right bin/box on the right day or generate very much rubbish we are allowed to put everything into the one grey bin – (however, this goes against my values so what we actually do is take anything recyclable back home with us and put it in the appropriate bin at home) anyway I digress – that is not actually the weird part I was going to mention – what I do find weird is that the pub at the top of the lane opposite our wood as a business generating heaps of rubbish doesn’t even have to recycle their cans or bottles and the caravan site beyond that with 28 vans doesn’t have to recycle anything either even if all the vans were fully occupied all summer – so their very large industrial bins can be full to overflowing with rubbish that is headed straight for landfill.

Amazing!

 

Back soon x

 

bEAching, cottage garden

bEAching…woodland clear up – day 2

So far so good – the weather is holding out and we managed a few hours again in the garden.  We were quite sheltered today in the wood as the wind was coming off the sea from the southeast  and for most of the time we were lucky to have the warm sun on us as we worked.

 

We were joined as usual by the robin – I couldn’t say whether it is the same one as before but there is always a robin hopping around when we are out in the garden following us around and waiting for an opportunity to grab a bite as we dig – though worms here are few.

 

In the two days we have now cleared a pathway through to the top of the wood near to the road and removed much of the rotting, broken branches and the ivy covering it.  The problem has been that so many people have been in the wood chopping this and that over the years and leaving the mess behind that the whole of the wood floor had become difficult to walk through without stumbling and was in fact dangerous.

 

There are always maintenance jobs to do in the wood but it had become an impossible task because as soon as the undergrowth starts growing it hides what lies beneath.  There has been rubbish too –that is the downside of having a handy pub at the top of your lane – some of the people visiting the pub obviously think it is fair game to throw their litter into our wood.  I often gather enough old beer bottles to start a brewery – but at least they are glass and recyclable – it is the crisp bags and sweet wrappers that are worse as they don’t rot down and can be a hazard to wildlife.

 

We noticed on the journey up just how much litter is lying on the verges at the moment – it was the same when we drove down to Cirencester – where has it all come from?   Britain is becoming one huge landfill site.  Why do people not take their litter home and put it in the bin.  A few weeks ago I watched as someone in the car park at Sainsbury’s went back to their car and before pulling out from their space opened their car door and deposited a heap of litter, fast food cartons and plastic bottles right there on the car park, then drove away.

 

Before that I had been waiting in the car outside Halfords in town whilst DH had popped in for a car headlight bulb – it was dusk and the car park was tucked around the back with no lighting so it wasn’t noticeable that I was there – a group of people who looked like mum, dad and daughter got into their car with their purchases – a set of car mats and a dangly car freshener.  They obviously did not know I was there because after they tore off the packaging from the mats to use them straight away the man opened the passenger door looked quickly around then threw the packaging over the hedge in front of him.  Then they took down the old air freshener and replaced it with the new one and once again the guy opened the passenger door look quickly up and down  and tossed the old one over the hedge to join the other litter.  Daughter then drove happily away – the packaging was now someone elses problem – I was left speechless and shocked!

Snow is forecast tomorrow but it actually sounds worse down in Yorkshire so maybe we won’t get home at the end of the week.  We have quite a stack of wood to burn now – shame it isn’t bonfire night – I only hope the wind changes direction so we can light it tomorrow – no snow permitting.  If we do get out tomorrow I will try to remember to take some photos of the before and after.

Going to ease my aching muscles now with a warm shower and bed.

 

back soon x

 

 

bEAching, cottage garden, drEAming, general chit chat

bEAching…a week in the cottage garden (weather permitting)

Everything was ready to pack yesterday morning for our trip to Scotland but it still took a while to assemble and get into bags and then into the car.  I often feel I spend my life packing and unpacking and it is not a job I like doing but sometimes needs must.   Part of the problem is remembering what is already at the cottage (caravan) – I do make notes when we leave but some things just escape my memory so if there is no note I have to search my brain and ask myself do I really need more brown rice or toilet rolls!  I have over the years got my packing down to a bit of a fine art with the aid of my trusty packing list and by duplicating items like toiletries so I don’t even have to think about these – although DH will insist on packing his toilet bag and I then have to remove it again and remind him he doesn’t need it.

The journey up to Scotland was quite enjoyable – outside it was like a beautiful spring day – glorious sunshine and blue skies, but bitterly cold.  Here and there from the car widow I spotted drifts of snowdrops and many clumps of daffodils  about to burst open – but the temperatures over the journey wavered from 6 degrees down to minus one – maybe not the best time to be setting out to spend a few days at the cottage (caravan).

– On a long journey like this we can either chat or doze or both and I did both.  We always have things to discuss, things in our life we want to change, a rant about people who have annoyed us, problems at work, life in general or often just stuff – being in a car for so long is a very good place to catch up.  As we left the outskirts of Manchester behind the heavy motorway traffic petered out and I was asleep so by the time I woke we had reached the Kendal junction and it was fairly quiet from then on.

We stopped for lunch at the Burton in Kendal services for a Costa toasted sandwich – I really like their Halloumi and mixed roast pepper Focaccia.  Once across the border we usually stop in Castle Douglas for another drink and a bag of chips for tea – Moore’s are an award-winning fish and chip shop and their chips are always good – we take our own bread and butter though as we prefer brown and most chip shops only serve those soft white rolls spread with margarine or cheap butter – not my favourite.

As well as a bit of a rest this week  we were hoping for a few fine days to be able to go in the garden but the forecast for the next few days is snow and very low temperatures – nothing we can do but wait and see what the weather turns out like.  I have plenty of books and magazines to occupy myself if it does snow.

I was pleasantly surprised this morning  when we woke and opened the curtains to see more sunshine and I could tell from the chill in the air inside the caravan that it was cold outside but nothing prevents me from getting out into our garden other than lashing rain – so with layer upon layer we wrapped up warmly and with secateurs in hand and a rake set off into the upper wood to do a bit of clearing in the undergrowth.

Over the years we have had all sorts of people going into the wood and chopping down trees – from Scottish Power to the local council and then leaving us with what is termed ‘nature piles’ – this is their term for not taking the stuff away and clearing up after themselves.  Woodland it seems is fair game for anyone – we even had a Birch tree chopped down and taken by some thieving individual – maybe for logs we will never know – but they too left us the branches and just took the trunk.  This is the downside of not living up at the cottage – you don’t know what is going on or who is trespassing.  Someone has also been helping themselves to our seasoned log pile – do they really think we don’t notice!

Believe me you can have too many nature piles and some of them have to go so we can make a safe path through the wood again and we also need to remove some of the ivy that is threatening to strangle the whole wood floor.  We had very little ivy at one time but when trees are taken down and light is let in the balance of undergrowth changes.  Scottish Power took out four large trees (by ‘accident’ they said) a few years ago without even telling us and this has been the major cause of all our problems.  Of course once felled large mature trees take years to replace so their apologies did nothing to make me feel better.

Anyway enough ranting – I am sure with a bit of hard work this week we can clear what we need to.

Sorry for the lack of photos I don’t usually post when we are at the cottage but I have managed to connect briefly to the internet but don’t expect the photos until I get back home.

Back soon x

bEAching, celebrations, cottage garden, crEAting, fEAsible, fEAsting, holidays, mEAndering, taking stock, trEAsury

drEAming…January – did I blink and miss it?

I feel like I have been ‘off the circuit’ for months rather than days and January has whizzed past so fast that I never got to post the list of my intentions for the month but I will try to capture the best bits in a quick summary.

 

  • fEAsting –

    Celebrate Burns Night – as you can just about see from the Polaroids above a great night spent with 6 friends, 3 Haggis (one vegetarian), 12 Scotch pies, 2 Macaroni pies and a heap of tatties and neeps not to mention plenty of gravy and wine whilst singing along to the tunes of bonny Scotland –  I even made the Cranachan this year – it was delicious and although hesitant at first everyone gave it the thumbs up – just a touch more Whisky next year!

 

  • trEAsury –

Buying a new car – after much deliberation and contemplation and counting the pennies – here she is my new car ‘Hetty’ Hyundai.

 

After 16 years driving the same car day in, day out she is taking a bit of getting used to especially as she is much higher than my old Citroen Saxo and at times I am feeling a little travel sick.

I am sure we will settle in together soon!

  • crEAting –

Making birthday cards for January birthdays – they had to be quick and simple so I used some brightly coloured ink pads and these tiny flower stamps and just dotted the flowers around – each one is slightly different.  They also made good Thank you cards too.

 

  • fEAsible –

taking stock and planning but first the reading and researching – with the long dull winter days what could be more perfect than getting warm and cosy and reading – most of the books below have been borrowed from our local library.  I am interested to cut down our spending as much as possible both to save money and to simplify my life by owning less stuff.

The book titled Deep Country by Neil Ansell is an excellent account of a man who takes himself off to live in a cottage in a remote part of the Welsh Hills for 5 years where he has no modern conveniences such as electricity or running water, no transport and no phone.  His nearest neighbours are just the wild creatures – fauna and flora of the surrounding woods and fields – I was captivated by this book – not only because he describes in detail the amusing behaviours of the birds and animals he comes across on his daily walks, but part of me was envious of this simple but rich lifestyle.

 

 

  • mEAndering –

The ‘Italian Job’ – booking the accommodation and flights for our trip to Italy in April for our niece’s wedding.

This task was both a chore and a delight – looking at the beautiful pictures of the region from Venice to Verona and deciding where we wanted to stay and what we might do and then the difficulty of making all the travel arrangements to get everything to join up.  Now everything is booked apart from a taxi to take us to the wedding ceremony – for that we will have to email the hotel for advice.

  • bEAching –

My final intention for January was to have a few days at the cottage (caravan) in Scotland – to check the place over and also begin clearing out the undergrowth in the upper wood – not forgetting buying the haggis for Burn’s night.  We set off on the Friday with snow lying on the ground in Yorkshire and we heard on the news it was bad at Shap but the M6 was still flowing so we decided to risk the journey knowing that we could turn back or put up in a hotel if need be.

As it turned out the worst bit of the journey was actually only 6 miles away from here going over the moors to Manchester and the stretch of the M62 by Scammonden – there was nothing around Manchester itself.

As you might expect it was a very cold night in the caravan – the temperatures had dropped to almost freezing but thankfully we have double glazing and central heating.  We put the electric blanket on to air the bed and even after we switched it off we stayed toasty warm all night.

On the Saturday it was a gloriously sunny day with blue skies and an even deeper blue coloured, calm sea.

 

We had a leisurely breakfast and a trip into our nearest town Stranraer to change the empty spare gas bottle – with the cold weather it is always best to be well stocked.

We had a potter around the town – I bought a couple of birthday gifts for the January birthdays and a very large family sized pack of Persil on offer at Tesco for £9 (Morrisons had it on offer at £10!) – I like a bargain.

Back at the caravan the sun was out and it was such a lovely afternoon we put on our gardening gear – fleece joggers, padded jackets, hats, scarves and boots and looking like arctic explorers went up into the upper wood to do some clearing.  We have to do the wood clearance at this time of year whilst the undergrowth is not growing.  We pruned the elders that spring up in any bit of a clearing and had a go at the brambles.  Elders make good shredding or should I say Elder branches go through the shredder easily, they are straight thin branches and not thorny like Hawthorn.

The large spider legged pond cover we bought last year in a sale from Agriframes seems to be doing the job of keeping the leaves off the pond – I presume the wind from the recent gales must blow straight through the structure as there is no way to anchor it down but yet it had not moved an inch – luckily.

 

 

There are bulbs coming up everywhere in the garden and snowdrops well in bud.  To my horror though the three-cornered leek is everywhere you would not even know I had dug up so much of it last year even to the point of digging out every last tiny bulb over a 2 metre area – even the ones that were like microscopic beads.  To no avail – it has spread over winter with a vengeance.  So it is back to searching the internet for a remedy – surely there is a pesticide for this persistent pest of a weed.

 

There was a surprising amount of colour around the garden –  the Mahonia Charity and Viburnum in flower…

 

 

Berries still remain on the Hypericum…

 

 

and elsewhere evidence of shoots bursting into life…

 

or about to…

 

 

The light eventually faded and we had to come inside – I made a nice hot 2 day lentil curry for tea to warm us up whilst OH promptly fell asleep and snored blissfully on the sofa after a job well done!

Opening the curtains on Sunday morning confirmed the weather we could hear from inside the caravan – wet, windy and cold – not a day to venture out and certainly not a day for the garden.  We had to turn our attentions to amuse ourselves inside.

For me it was plotting and planning as well as reading a stack of magazine articles I had clipped in my recent clear-out interspersed by just watching the waves as the sea crashed around at the bottom of the garden.

By the end of the afternoon the weather was a little warmer and calmer but the light was fading fast so still no chance of gardening.

At tea time I began to collect our bits and pieces together ready to pack for leaving on the Monday.  We had to be in town for 11am as the local Osteopath (with the magic touch) was going to work on fixing my bad shoulder before we travelled home.

I know the main problem with all my muscles is due to lack of exercise and I will be taking small steps to address this soon.

I actually feel quite pleased with myself that I completed all my intentions for January – I decided this year I would try and focus on one project at once – unfortunately it was unavoidable that planning the Italian Job and buying a new car collided a bit but thankfully they both got sorted.

In a day or two I will be posting my intentions for February so stay tuned.

Back soon x