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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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.

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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!

 

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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