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

 

 

home and away…

We came back from our jolly hols in Scotland yesterday.  It has been a mixture of hard work in our cottage garden interspersed with a little relaxation and the odd trip out (or two) – more news on this another day.

Drummore2

 

As I have been away from my blog for what seems like a lifetime I have a bit of catching up to do as well as filling regular readers in on just what has been happening over here and just where the journey has taken me recently.  But not all at once – this is merely to check in and say hi – hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

Drummore

 

Stairhaven

 

I know tomorrow when I return to work I will hit the ground running.  I seriously wish I could leave now – all though I do love my job it has begun to take over my life and there are so many things I want to do whilst I still can.  I have lost all control on our finances and I have a heap of receipts to deal with.  Luckily the bills are always taken care of so I need not worry too much about missing a payment but I do like to balance my statements and know where my money has been spent.

Having said that I did arrive home yesterday to a letter from Yorkshire Water saying we had not paid them.  For some reason when we had the meter installed last year I thought we had switched to direct debit but it appears not and I should have reset the standing order in April.

My other mail was an assortment of the usual marketing junk, voting papers for building societies and bank statements which I still get on paper; hidden amongst the pile was my most recent issue of Country Living so that brought a smile to my face and eased the pain of dealing with all the rest.

I spent most of today unpacking – funny that it seems to take longer to unpack than pack – but  because it was hot during the two weeks we were away and the rented cottage we stayed in had a washing machine most of the clothes I took came back clean and could just go straight into the drawers leaving only two or three small loads of washing to do which I did manage to get outside and dry on the line before the heavens opened.

Cottage

Now I only have the really dirty gardening clothes to wash but these will have to have a pre-soak as we have both spent the best part of the fortnight scrambling around in the undergrowth.  The cottage may still be in a dire need of repair but the garden has certainly sprung to life and become even more vigorous since the flood  – all that fertiliser washing down over the fields I expect.  I don’t suppose there are many people who take their gardening outfits on holiday LoL!!  I should really splash out on some designer gear – something a little more special than Sainsbury’s own t-shirts and stretchy jeans.  Perhaps Joanna Lumley takes her gardening clothes when she holidays at her cotttage up the road from us!

My travel items have been sorted, refilled and repacked ready for our next visit and what my long-suffering hubby calls ‘the mobile library’ that we take is back on the book shelves – this consists of three bags full of a variety of gardening books and note books just in case I need to know the best place for a plant or need some design inspiration.  Of course since the flood we have to take everything up and down with us now unless it will keep in the garage – but usually this is just the gardening tools that we store in there as it is a bit too damp for most things.

Annoyingly I have found that the mice quite like to eat gardening gloves and shred my green kneeling pad to bits to build their nests so I have to hide them in a drawer!

I am now in the throes of planning out July.  I have a few appointments – hair, eyes, mammogram and one to make for a massage using my mother’s day token.  I have a few birthdays and anniversaries; my sister-in-law, myself, a couple of friends and our wedding anniversary.  I desperately need to go shopping for clothes and shoes  – a combination of a little excess weight acquired during our last few months of very unhealthy eating and having a big clear out leaving me with very little to wear!  We desperately need to buy a new computer and shredder too.  Part of my lack of posting has been down to the temperament of my computer which is on a go slow at present and nothing we do will make it get a move on not even the threat of a new one.

Luckily it is only time not money that prevents me from buying one.  The good thing about working all hours is there is no time to shop so you spend very little whilst all the extra overtime money builds up.

Well I have written more than I thought – my aim is to keep it short and sweet and try to make an hour for blogging whenever I can.

Back to crazy world tomorrow – must get some sleep in.

 

Long time passing…

Wow doesn’t time fly past without you realising.  As you will have probably surmised by my very long absence life has just been crazy around here and I have not had any free time whatsoever to even post a short update.  For anyone following my blog (and thank you to those who have sent messages)  I know you will have been wondering…’what have I been doing all this time?’

I think back in June around about the time of my last post we had a few weeks visiting relations and finishing the decorating of the nursery for daughter No. 2.  Then we were preparing for our summer holiday in the first two weeks of July at the our beach cottage and looking forward to 2 long weeks gardening, renovating, relaxing and pottering.

Well that’s what we thought… but…during the week before our holiday our builder told us he would be free to start our bathroom refit at our home whilst we were on holiday if we could get all the items chosen and either bought or on order.  Not wanting to miss this opportunity to get it done we had to finalise all our ideas and rush around measuring and choosing a bathroom suite, tiles, flooring, shower, paint, lights and taps.

This is the old bathroom – anyone with a nervous disposition look away now!!  As you can see it is a tiny tiny bathroom with a retro Pampas green suite of the 1980’s and hideous tiles – I am almost too embarrassed to put this picture on my blog for the world to see (especially with the cleaning cloths in full view)!

Retro Bathroom

In the end we delayed the start of our holiday in Scotland until the Monday  – in our favour it meant we could take advantage of the Homebase deals on tiles and paint over the weekend and get the bathroom suite itself on order from our local merchant.

With everything done and the keys for our house handed over to the builder we set off for Scotland on the Monday feeling disappointed we had lost a few days off our main holiday but pleased we could look forward to a new bathroom on our return.

 

At the cottage my better half completed the guttering along the old flat roof of the kitchen and bathroom extension and sorted out the guttering along the old conservatory,

Cottage gutters

 

Meanwhile I set to with the weeding along the border by the new trellis on the seaside garden.  This is where we had a twelve-foot high Escallonia hedge sheltering us from the sea winds but it was damaged by the unusually severe frost one winter a few years ago and had to be removed. We have now planted a mixed hedge in the hope that some of the plants will survive should it happen again.Trellis border

 

Then disaster struck – hubby hurt his back so the second week he could do very little and the only Osteopath in Stranraer (the one I used at Easter for my back) was away in the Caribbean!  Lucky him…

Eventually hubby’s back eased enough to drive home at the end of the fortnight but we had accomplished very little.  But never mind we thought the bathroom will be well underway and we had the imminent birth of our grand child to think about now – due on my birthday on the 19th July only a week away.

So did we find the bathroom all sparkling new and finished?…. well no not really… the taps we had placed on order never arrived and then we were told they had been discontinued so work on the bathroom had to be put on hold once it had been stripped out and only partly tiled.  The new taps we chose were out of stock until the end of August so our builder had to down tools and move on to another job…as I write he is still on with the other job but hopefully due back on Monday.

Disappointing but never mind we could wait  – after all I was going to be busy preparing for the Garden Party to celebrate my 60th birthday and only a week away now.  All the invitations had gone out before our holidays and I had a list of the food I had to buy and and all the jobs I would need to do before the weekend.

Of course what I hadn’t bargained for was the amount of dust generated from the bathroom being stripped out – plaster dust had got everywhere in the house despite all attempts to prevent it –  so early on Saturday morning the day of the party I had to set to with the help of my trusty Dyson and hoover all the dust from every room and from every surface and hope no-one coming would look above eye level!  I was like a whirling Dervish for 3 solid hours whilst hubby set out the garden with chairs, balloons and bunting … in the rain.  If you can remember as far back as July around the 19th you will remember it was beautiful and sunny all week before and after the Saturday but on the Saturday we woke up to rain – none stop rain.  Our hopes of a ‘Garden Party’ were dashed.

 Happy Birthday 60

The party began at 3pm and went on until after midnight and guests were invited to pop in and stay as long as they wanted.  It worked very well as our house is not big and we had a continuous stream of friends and family coming and going throughout the day helping to celebrate my milestone with me and luckily it was so packed they didn’t notice any stray dust.

So Sunday was a day of rest and baby did not make any sudden appearance even though we waited all through the next week.  By the following weekend we had still no news on the baby front so we decided to carry on and attend my mum in laws care home Garden Party on the Sunday.   The weather was glorious and despite the long drive we had a good day even though I am sure she doesn’t know us from Adam now!

The next day – Monday – my daughter started in labour but it was to be 5 gruelling days before baby was born on the Friday 1st August (Yorkshire Day) with a lot of pain and trauma for poor old mum and a lot of stress for me on the other end of the phone trying to ‘calmly’ offer advice and support.  I think in hindsight given that baby was presenting with her spine side ways on and not engaging fully in the birth canal they may have done a caesarean to prevent the difficulties that arose, however daughter survived the ordeal and so did baby and we held our beautiful granddaughter in our arms the next day – she was certainly worth waiting for but I would not like to go through  the stress of that again.  And here is beautiful L….

New Baby

So could we relax then now all events were over…well no because on the following Sunday at 3pm as the hurricane Big Bertha passed over Scotland we had a call to say our cottage and garden were totally flooded up to window sill height and the firemen were outside not able to do anything.  We were in Sainsbury’s at the time and had to dash home pack a few items and jump in the car and set off for Scotland to inspect the damage.

We saw the cottage on the Monday morning and it was not a pretty sight – 10 years almost to the day since we bought it and ten years of hard work all lost in 2 hours.  Every room inside had been hit and a brown sticky mud covered the floor.   Every plant in the garden lay on its side with the roots exposed as the water took a layer of topsoil with it.  The little bridge you may have seen in my old header had been wiped out and the 1-2 meter wide stream was now a cavern of about 6-7 metres at the lower end.

Friends, neighbours and caravaners nearby showed us many photos and videos of the flood as it happened and we made headline news in the local paper!  It appears that the water flowed down the fields from behind us after a road and some banking gave way about a mile away – this rolled down the hillside with some force like a river over the main road and into the farmer’s field beside us – then gathering momentum shot over the top of our stream and into our woodside garden headed for the cottage surrounding it and flowing into the seaside garden where it eventually ended up in the stream and on into the sea taking the bridge and stream bank and anything else in its’ way with it.

 

Flood c

The water flowing across the fields like a river.

Flood E

This is the point it enters our woodland garden at the back of the house.

Flood B

 My woodland walk completely engulfed.

Flood F

On the seaside of the house by the new trellis and gates the Firemen powerless to do anything other than watch and wait.

 

Flood L

The seaside garden was just submerged under water.

cropped-blog-heaader-may2.jpg

 This is the little bridge that we use to get to the sea-shore.

Flood J

  The water just swept it aside.

 

Flood K

But at least the water had some way of escape had it not our cottage might have stood in a few feet of water for a long time, but as it was when we arrived the next day there was not even a puddle of evidence remaining.

New View

This is our new view with a slightly wider stream and no bridge!!

 We stayed up in Scotland in a hotel for 3 days until the loss adjuster could come out to us.  Everything in the house will have to be stripped out and put into a skip, kitchen units and bathroom suite included.   All floor tiles will also be removed and wardrobes and our lovely wooden pannelling.   The only items we could rescue were a few clothes from the higher shelves in the wardrobes not affected and similarly the bedding, linens and dishes.

We have had two further trips to Scotland since to meet with the drying out man and the building surveyor and at the moment it all feels a daunting, on the good side we will get the cottage renovated quicker once the refit gets underway.

So that is my excuse for the long absence and lack of posts  – I have been a little bit busy!!!

 

 

 

Ready, steady, pack…

Rain, rain and more rain…but I am sure it is about to stop because a) – it has now rained constantly almost since that sunny day in March when my sister got married (and how lucky was she!) and b) –  tomorrow we are going to our cottage for 2 weeks…yeah…and I have ordered good weather.  We set off tomorrow for Scotland to escape our normal busy lives here.

We are going to a special place that is just as unhurried and stress free as you can get…

where we are hidden away with a gorgeous view to wake up to…

and my flowers are well in bloom…can’t wait to see my garden again.  It is always a surprise to see how much everything has grown.

But before then the packing has to be attended to and as always the question is where to begin.  Of course I won’t be even attempting to do the Friday Fling today

  • Finish bits of washing for holiday
  • Change and wash bedding – I like to put fresh bedding on before we go so it is clean to come back to.
  • Wash clothes ready for work when we get back – I may not get them ironed but I know they will be clean for our return.
  • Ironing to do – as much as possible
  • Prepare clothes to take with us
  • Pack some basic food items – we will shop for rest when we get there
  • Quick flick round with the duster
  • Run hoover over the floors
  • Check bank accounts
  • Water plants indoors
  • Clear out the fridge
  • Have a sit down for half an hour and a cup of tea!

So I won’t be blogging for a while until my return as we don’t have TV or phone or computer at the cottage – no technology just a mobile that only works at the bottom of the garden.  Bye for now…

Reflections on the week that was…

Friday night at last after a long exhausting week which has seen my two work colleagues have their lives unexpectedly turned upside down.  Today should have been my day off but because of the unusual circumstances at work I had to go in today to keep on top of everything before I go away for Easter.  It is unfortunate that the Easter holidays have almost collided with my return to work and although I have only been back two weeks I am now going to be away for two weeks.  So instead of being able to pack and set off tonight we are having to delay this until  tomorrow.  At this very moment I have a few items in the washer which I hope will dry before tomorrow if I can stay up late enough to get them out.

Houseplants and Clean Air

Most of our clothes are clean and it should not take long to pack but some of the tasks we need to do before we leave can take quite a long time to complete – such as watering the house plants, emptying bins, checking the fridge and the endless charging of mobiles and cameras.  So far I have done the bins and will put the chargers on before I go to bed  – I aim to check the fridge whilst washing up the breakfast dishes in the morning and give the houseplants a good soak while I am packing.  Luckily we can set off at any time and although I would like to leave as soon as possible I am not going to race around the house to do so.

I really thought this time I would be all organised and ready but with the developments at work I don’t feel I have had any choice but to stay late every night to avoid a catastrophe.  I have been so tired each night that I haven’t even opened my planner.  This is exactly what I meant in my earlier posts about yo-yo organising when some unexpected event crops up and chaos takes over once again.  How do other people cope and keep organised when up against difficult times?

In and amongst all this I have had some new ideas which I will write about soon as it occurred to me that I have certain good habits that I never fail to do no matter what – for instance I always cleanse and wash my face and brush my teeth at night before bed – I would rather leave a sink full of dirty dishes than have a dirty face when going to bed.  I just need to expand on these automatic habits a little more.

Have a good Easter everyone and I will be back soon.