home for a rest…

Back home from our two-week holiday and break in Scotland at the cottage – you may have noticed my absence.  The weather in our part of Scotland (the South West corner) has been absolutely glorious – so many hot sunny days and blue skies – who needs to go abroad!

Thank you to everyone for your recent comments on my previous posts –  I was not ignoring you all I have no internet connection at the cottage and so am oblivious to life in the rest of the world. I would normally reply to your comments but time is a bit scarce at the moment as I have a lot of catching up to do both in the house and in blogland so please accept this general acknowledgement.

Whilst we were on holiday (which I will write about in another post) I had my birthday, and also a funeral to attend  – not on the same day but close.  The call to say that OH’s uncle from the Scottish side of the family had unexpectedly passed away came as we were enjoying the first day of our holiday but being close to Kilmarnock (82 miles up the road from our cottage) we decided it would be fairly easy to attend the funeral.

Not everyone gets to go to a funeral on holiday and like most people we had not packed clothes for such an occasion so we had no option but to go in our holiday attire – the best we could do was black jeans each, a suitable top for me and dark t-shirt and jumper for OH and yes as you can imagine we did stand out from the crowd who were quite soberly and traditionally dressed, the men in black suits, white shirts and black ties and the women black dresses or skirts, but the family did not mind rather they were pleased to see us.

The funeral director and staff did however show a look of horror once or twice especially when the announcer called for any family members to enter the crematorium chapel first and we stepped forward – until then it was probably thought we were just passers-by!

Being on holiday for my birthday does mean I have spent a lot of my day today opening cards and presents and answering messages.  So back to the unpacking now as it is work again for me tomorrow.

I will just leave you with a few holiday snaps…

 

Kipford and Rockcliffe 

Ardwell Walled Gardens

Broadstones Stranraer

Across Agnew Park Stranraer

 

 

eat, beach, sleep, repeat…

We had quite an eventful weekend looking after my granddaughter and my mother, now affectionately known as Great Granny,  me being Granny now of course!  We had already planned to stay with my mum last weekend but in the middle of the week we received an SOS call from my daughter asking if we could look after Baby L (now little L due to the growth spurt) for two days at the weekend due to staff shortages.  So nothing else for it but to take both on at once whilst staying in my mum’s apartment.

 

On Friday I took the train as planned to Eaglescliffe, just outside Yarm in North Yorkshire, and mum met me on the station, then after off loading my bags at her apartment we took a taxi to Teeside Park to do a bit of chatting, lunching and shopping.

 

On Saturday morning we were joined by my husband who had driven up collecting our granddaughter little L on the way.  We headed off to nearby  Saltburn by the Sea for the day.  It took us a while to park as the weather was so hot everyone had the same idea to go to the seaside.

We finally got a spot in the car park down by the sea and then took a ride on the Cliff Tramway which goes up the steep cliff side, 102 feet above sea level, into the town centre so we could find a place for lunch.  We had a ploughman’s in my favourite cafe a little Deli called Real Meals.

Saltburn has that quaint British seaside feeling – it is a Victorian Spa town with amazing iron work verandas along the shop fronts.  I always find I get a strong feel good factor when I am there.  You will note the lack of pictures but holding on to a 3-year-old and a 91-year-old does not allow for much photo taking.

After lunch we strolled along by the shops then made our way back down the hill to the bottom of the cliff by road – bad move – it is extremely steep for both the push chair and a ninety-one year old – in fact I am not sure who was clinging on to who in the end!

Reaching the bottom we then decided to catch the little train that runs along the valley bottom through the pleasure grounds ending at the tea rooms and Italian Gardens.  I had no idea any of this existed and it was quite exciting exploring the windy paths and hidden corners.  We skipped the tea rooms having just had lunch but did treat ourselves to an ice cream each.

  We walked back so that we could take Little L on the swings and slide along the way.

After this we just had time to fit in a bit of playing time with a bucket and spade on the beach by the pier and find a cup of tea in the nearby cafe for my mum together with a take away pensioners fish and chip tea.  So everyone was happy but I must say I did feel a little worn out trying to cater for two opposing age groups.

On Sunday I was woken early by guess who springing out of bed like a Kangaroo and wide awake saying – ‘Hello granny are we going to play’?

After building bricks and getting the whole ‘chocolate bunny’ family sorted in the Sylvanian Family house we had a trip over to Bedale for lunch and then went round the corner to Crakehall a beautiful little English village with expansive village green on which stands the church.

At the far end is Crakehall Hall and the owners of this beautiful house had opened their gardens to the public for charity.

 

It was a glorious day again but with a slight breeze and we wandered around admiring the plants and taking photos.  This hidden secret garden was my favourite with the fluffy yellow Alchemilla Mollis mixed with Lavender and Delphiniums – a classic country garden.

We came across a tree swing in the Orchard and then ‘wow’ a trampoline – Little L had a fab time on this while Great Granny headed once again for the tea tent and a sit down.

After more tea and cakes we dropped off Little L back with mum and Great Granny back at her apartment and then drove back to our own home exhausted but relieved it had all gone quite so well and everyone seemed to have a lovely time.

back soon x

 

 

 

 

weekend plans…

By the time you read this on Friday morning I will be on the train North to Yarm where I will be spending the weekend with my mum – OH will drive up and join us on Saturday but Friday is just mum and me time.  Also joining us on Saturday for the rest of the weekend (which wasn’t part of the original plan but childcare was urgently needed) is baby L my granddaughter – no longer a baby and soon to be three.  How time flies!

I will have an almost three-year old and a 91-year-old to entertain – I think perhaps a day in nearby Saltburn by the sea will satisfy both age groups – the Cliff lifts, the little train, the park, the pier, the donkeys and a stroll around the lovely little town centre – oh and two vegetarian cafes.  I am just hoping we have good weather.

 

 

Have a great weekend x

“What is one to say about June…

… the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise
of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
–  Gertrude Jekyll,  On Gardening

 

Last Sunday we decided to take the day off from cleaning and clearing and go down into Derbyshire for a walk around the open gardens in the village of Birchover near Bakewell.

It was if you remember a very hot day and not a lot of shade for me but I was determined to see as many of the gardens as possible I just had to walk more quickly around the ones out in the open.  Luckily most people have a tree or two which provided me with some cover when I needed it.

We began our tour at an artists garden – this was my absolute favourite although my photo does not do it justice.

I have never seen a garden with such a limited colour palette before but this one really works.  There were three basic colours –  green of course with many shades and tones  of purple and cream through to lemon.  The planting was casual and mainly Ferns, Irises, Alchemilla Mollis, Geranium and Lavender and the majestic plant to the right (which may be a Thalictrum?) all surrounding a daisy lawn.  The paint colour of the house toned in well with the garden.  The effect was amazing.

Behind this ladies cottage is a tiny white-painted chalet used as an artist’s studio and gallery complete with wood burning stove.  This would be my absolute dream.

 

Before long we headed for the village hall named the Reading Rooms were they were serving tea and cakes.

 

 

The hall has now had a full refurbishment and is well used by all members of the community.

The notice on the wall made interesting reading – the hall opened in 1907, but only men were allowed to go and read the newspapers provided to broaden their horizons.   The rules state that 3 newspapers had to be provided (which I forgot to make a note of but I think one was the Sporting Times!) and no women were allowed.

It was a good cup of tea and a delicious slice of Victoria sandwich cake made by the village ladies.

Lower down the lane is the church of St Michael’s originally built as a private chapel for the owners of Rowtor Hall.

It is a modest church with a tiny graveyard sited next to the huge old vicarage (now a private residence).  In the large picture below you can see that this would have been the garden entrance from the hall which then became the vicarage from what I understand.

 

In contrast to the traditional window in the chancel the stained glass windows pictured below in the South wall are the work of acclaimed artist Brian Clarke and generously gifted to the village.  Clarke lived in Birchover for a number of years and his work has worldwide recognition.

 

The striking clear colours and simple shapes are stunning.

 

The pew ends had been delicately decorated with a few wild flowers for the event.

On leaving the church we decided to wander further down the lane to stay in the shade.

The notice above is asking the Council not to spray this section of verge to preserve the wild flowers and the organic garden beyond.

 

We eventually came across Rowtor Rocks – a series of caves and intriguing rocks to explore  – we will definitely go back and have a walk around here another day.  This is just one of the unusual caves at the entrance.

 

Such a beautiful day the light dancing on the water and through the overhanging trees was quite spectacular.

We walked all the way up to Rocking Stone Farm with the promise of Pimms and strawberries – well worth the trek even in the heat.

We walked back into the village and spent another hour wandering from garden to garden.  On the South side of the village all the gardens seemed to have a stream running through or a babbling brook probably coming from the same source and occasionally disappearing underground in places.  Most of the gardens had made a feature of the water like the picture below.

Out on the main street under the shade of the trees was a pottery stall run by two lovely ladies who belonged to a co-operative pottery studio.

 

This little bowl in particular caught my eye  – I am told it is a bubble glaze – and you might now spot it on my dining room table!

 

‘it is the season now to go…

about the country high and low, among the lilacs hand in hand, and two by two in fairy land.’ 

          Robert Louis Stevenson

The Open Garden season is in full swing and our first of the year was a garden at Hognaston in Derbyshire a couple of weekends ago.  I chose this because the leaflet said the garden owners have a woodland garden complete with a pond.  Intrigued to know how they managed their pond in a woodland setting (as we have similar in our Scottish garden) I just had to have a visit so that I could quiz the owner.

Picnic Lunch

We set off with a picnic lunch (cheese and beetroot rolls, a mixed salad with chopped up left over veggie sausage and a Higgidy Feta and Red Pepper veggie roll) – it was a gloriously warm, sunny day – just nice for eating outside.

When we arrived at the garden it was really busy and many of the visitors seemed to be regulars and knew to head straight for the tea tent to get the best of the cakes on offer!

The garden did not disappoint – although on a much smaller scale than the Himalayan Garden we visited last weekend I felt it had more interesting aspects for me and a particular ‘casual wandering through a wood’  feel about it  – not too overpowered by planting if you get my drift.

Hognaston Open Gardens

As with the Himalayan Garden the Primula were out in force but a beautiful sight set against the tapestry of greens.

Primulas

Like our garden in Scotland they have a natural stream running beside their garden – only a bit wider than ours – you can just see a glimpse of it in this photo below.

They also have a pond that fills with water only when the water table is high – there is no membrane, the pond is purely a part of the garden that has heavy clay that acts as a liner – at times there is no water in there at all.

Woodland Pond

It was so natural and delightful surrounded by bog loving plants and a network of crunchy gravel paths with one of the paths forming a modest bridge over the two ponds (unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the bridge).

Being under a canopy of trees like my little pond in Scotland I was curious to know how the gardener maintained the pond after the leaf fall.

He told me there is no magic answer to keeping the pond clear  – you can try covering them over before the leaves begin to fall – but mainly it is down to emptying the pool every year and scraping out the sludge that collects. 

This was not what I wanted to hear but at least it confirms that it can be done and I couldn’t bear to part with our pond in the wood even if it is going to be an absolute pain to manage.  Anyone following this blog will know that I completely cleaned it out a couple of years ago – (see here) then covered it with netting over the Autumn / winter period.  I have pulled some sludge out this year and will aim to give it a good clear out next Spring.

The cover we made was a flat frame and the weight of the leaves made the netting sink into the water and the leaves rot.  Then recently I came across a handy universal cover for odd-shaped ponds on the internet from Agriframes which is raised in the middle to throw off the leaves – so I am madly saving up my overtime to buy one – sometimes all the overtime does come in handy!

Rubra

We spent a glorious 2 hours wandering in the garden – taking notes of course and collecting names of plants we had not come across before as well as taking time to leisurely sit in the warmth of the sun with a cup of tea and home-made cake…perfect!

It is a delightful secluded garden, peaceful and relaxing with the distant sound of running water and so much birdsong.  If ever you get chance to go I don’t think you would be disappointed.

We are headed up to Scotland now so there will be a break in transmission for a few days, no communication up there for us, but I will pick up any comments, should you care to leave one, on my return.

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend.  back soon x

up hill and down dale…

I had quite a busy weekend but mostly enjoyable.

I did my two hours of paperwork over Friday and Saturday (mentioned in my previous post) and filed all the papers and then moved on to the Mount Everest of an ironing pile and finally managed a half-way clean in our office and main bedroom.

A half-way clean in my books is one that isn’t exactly a deep clean of moving furniture or emptying cupboards but neither a lick and tickle with the duster.  It always feels good to me to have a good clear up – tidying up loose ends as I go and then giving all the surfaces a good clean.  What a shame it doesn’t stay in shape for longer!

On Friday afternoon I took my good friend and neighbour out for Afternoon Tea for her birthday at a local Garden Centre called Totties – only when we got there did we find we should have booked!  We settled on a Cheese ploughman’s with hummus instead followed by ice cream – both courses were delicious.  We both agreed it was probably more enjoyable than Afternoon tea as we both like savoury foods more than too many sweet cakes.  We will definitely go back though to sample the Afternoon tea another day – remembering to book next time.

We travelled up to the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday to meet my daughter and granddaughter at the Himalayan Garden at Grewelthorpe between Ripon and Masham. 

I was a bit disappointed that it was overcast and in places quite cool but depending on where we walked in the garden we came across unexpected pockets of warm micro-climates.

It is quite a stunning 20 acre garden with a mass of very colourful and showy rhododendrons and Azaleas on wooded slopes with winding paths that lead down into a valley with two main lakes.

Dotted amongst the planting are modern sculptures – some I liked better than others and although it is an interesting garden I personally found some of the features a bit too themed but it didn’t really detract from the beauty of the place.  

These are the sculptures we did find interesting…

perhaps not a sculpture but I quite like this feature below!

The Primula here grow in abundance…

and this jetty is my favourite spot…

You have to admire the sheer scale of the planting and dedication that has gone into this place and it is still a work in progress.  The garden has an interesting history which you can read about in the new visitor centre.  It is a private garden that is only open for a limited number of weeks in the year and you have the added bonus of being able to talk to the head gardener in the Nursery for planting advice.

In all it was a pleasant day we had a picnic in the grounds and a cup of tea from the new chalet tea room and a play on the roundabouts then set off gathering pine cones, sticks and fallen leaves for granny to carry.  I resembled a nature table by the end of the walk.  In the Plant Nursery we were tempted to buy a delicately flowered white Azalea (see below) which is now waiting on our patio for a trip to Scotland.  It is not too showy and likes shade and will blend in well in our wood at the cottage.

At the end of the day we went home with one happy little girl…

and one happy granny…

My garden tonight – a little smaller in scale than the 20 acre garden but my little corner of tranquility and how quickly everything is growing.

And now its back to work while the weather is warmer and sunny!

 

 

economising update…

I haven’t done a post for ages on our economising so thought a bit of an update in order.

It is slow progress but at least there is progress.  I have now moved our savings into higher interest rate accounts, although the rates are still comparatively low, but any interest is better than nothing.  These savings will help to make our pension go further in the future when we stop working so it is important for us to make the most of what we have.

One of the best rates for us at the moment is actually the Flexclusive saver from Nationwide  paying 5% gross over the year.  It is one of those regular savings account where you save up to £500 a month and this accumulates over the year – you cannot put in a lump sum at the start.  At the end of the year you have to close the account and start again.

On the spending side I have managed to balance the books so to speak and deal with the outstanding paperwork.  I think it took me longer than the two hours I am trying to set aside each week and last week I did not do anything at all deciding instead to go in the garden.

I have sorted out all our new outgoing payments such as the increased Council tax and my yearly parking contract and have fixed the utility bills for a while though these need constant watching for better deals.  I find it tiring to have to search around on the internet and compare all the time – thank goodness we don’t have to do this for the mortgage.

Since the New Year I am still planning a menu for the week although it is often a bit of a rushed flexible list; however, it is having the required effect and cutting down on any waste food.  I have also started planning and taking a packed lunch to work – mostly I have a mixed salad, a cabbage and carrot slaw with walnuts (homemade by OH) and then some protein – a piece Nut Loaf or Quiche or just a boiled egg – sometimes it is leftovers.   This saves me about £3.50 a day.

I  have two months overtime to claim this payday a total of about 50 hours so quite a nice boost to the savings pot although I have a few items I want to buy and I might even treat myself  – perhaps a relaxing massage or reflexology treatment.

When we go out we have been making the effort to pack a picnic – actually I am enjoying these and have a few recipes to try that I can freeze in individual portions.  Tomorrow we are going up to North Yorkshire with a picnic to see my granddaughter and visit the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park at Grewelthorpe.  I have a feeling the plant nursery is going to be far too tempting perhaps this will be my treat rather than a massage!

Sainsbury’s have been very good recently and keep giving me a triple points coupon and the reward points are already building up again – I have now got £64.24p.  Morrisons have also given me a £5 coupon to spend (we tend to get our petrol here).  It will come in useful when we go to Scotland as the two supermarkets in Stranraer are Tesco and Morrisons.

And the not so economical

I had a bit of a spending spree last week on items that I had run out of or worn out and a few that had not been planned for but caught my eye  – this is the list;-

  • I needed some face cream and I use Neal’s yard which is not the cheapest but it suits my sensitive skin
  •  one or two gorgeous little outfits for my granddaughter from Sainsbury’s £18
  • a white top for work from Sainsbury’s £10
  • some new Tayberry Mucker gardening boots £35  from the internet as my old ones are wearing out.  They are a bit like moon boots but very flexible with comfy fur-lined soles – I wouldn’t be without them so much better than my old wellies.

Tayberry Mucker Boots

  • a bird house from Sainsbury’s £8 and OH has put this in the garden, attached to the top of a pole. I think the pole cost more than the bird house!

 

We also bought a few items for the garden last weekend from the Garden Centre with my birthday tokens (some National Garden vouchers) which covered the cost and although I could have been thrifty and grown my own herbs I felt it was just nice to treat myself and the large bottles of feed / bug spray will hopefully last a very long time – here is the not very thrifty list:-

  • A Gazebo to go in the shady border £35
  • some organic seaweed feed £7.49
  • an organic greenfly spray £6.99
  • a courgette plant, some mint and fennel £5.49
  • a posh garden fork by Burgon and Ball £9.99
  • a paving knife also by Burgon and Ball £9.99I love my new shiny stainless steel hand tools – my old fork has hardly any wooden handle left it is so worn – but must be well over 20 years old.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend x