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?

 

 

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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.

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

drEAming, fashion, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

mEAndering…down memory lane in 1970’s Cheltenham

Here is part 2 of our trip down to Cirencester and Cheltenham…

For anyone that doesn’t know Cheltenham it is a Regency spa town and this is an example of the houses you will find there – usually painted and quite often adorned with wrought iron balconies and canopies – from my first visit when I attended my interview for the fashion course I fell in love with Cheltenham and this house was always one of my favourites just off the town centre – I love the intricate iron work.

 

As we wandered through the town we were surprised at how much we remembered –  we walked down the famous Promenade…

 

– it felt very much as it always did with Cavendish House (now House of Fraser) at the top of the street –  but many of the other shops along the stretch had changed.  It is a shame the trees are bare at the moment it looks quite splendid when they are in full leaf.

Habitat was at the very bottom of the street in the 70’s – our favourite shop because it was so modern and different then – but now long gone.  I remember that on a Saturday morning it was usual to see many of the wealthy shoppers parading the Promenade and Montpellier in their furs and jewels accompanied by their Afghan hounds and other beautifully groomed long-haired pedigree dogs.  Such a contrast to my home town of Huddersfield where the shoppers were much more about a bargain from a mill shop or the markets.

 

Behind the Promenade lies Regent Street with the Everyman Theatre – this has quite rightly received the Heritage Award for the complete refurbishment in 2011.

 

We eventually came to the High Street – the old HSBC bank (then the Midland) is still on the corner – I had my first bank account here and ran up an overdraft of £10 in my first term and was called in by the bank manager who looked at me sternly from across his desk and told me in no uncertain terms that overdrafts were a definite no no – putting the fear of God in me I went straight out to get the local paper and found myself a weekend job at the nearby hospital to pay it off and then went to bank with the Co-op where the two ‘old’ ladies on the counter upstairs always addressed me by my christian name and enquired after my progress on the course.

This is quite a famous pub because of the lovely old tiled exterior – it was never our local but it is good to know it has survived demolition.  Our local was still there but I expect the owners have long retired.

Further along the little old fashioned jewellers shop is still in business (surprisingly it looks just as it did then) – this is where we chose my engagement ring –  a diamond between to deep blue saphires and cost a hefty £28.  I still have the handwritten receipt and of course the ring!

 

Turning off the High street into one of the many side alleys we just had to go and see where our second rented house once stood – now demolished and the site occupied by a Lidl supermarket.  This picture is all that is left of 30 Grosvenor Terrace.  (I am the one on the bike and as you will notice beards were very much in fashion then!)

 

Our previous house called simply ’58’ was out on the Prestbury Road, which back then was a rather fine row of large semi-detached Regency properties with our very shabby student house letting the side down.  It now stands looking very grand and much more in keeping with its well maintained neighbours who have managed to keep their beautiful wrought iron canopies intact.

This house holds very special memories –  this is where I met both my life long friends and my husband – this is where we packed more fun into the few years we lived here than the rest of my life.  In all the time we lived here we never had a key – there was no lock to the front door so the occupants and everyone else just walked in and out – quite unbelievable now but I can assure you as poor students on very frugal grants we certainly had nothing of value to pinch so it was never a problem!!

 

 

The Art College at the top of Pittville near the racecourse has been demolished in places and rebuilt – this is how the fashion block looked when I was a student there from 1972 to 1975 …

Google image University of Gloucestershire

 

…and this is me leaning out of one of the upstairs windows – being young and slim I always got roped in to modelling both my own and other students creations for photo shoots and shows so I thought it might be fun to show you fashion in the seventies.

 

 

 

It was usual during our course to be involved in projects with fabric manufacturers like Courtaulds promoting their new fabrics.  We would be sent rolls of various fabrics and had to design outfits to suit.  This one was a hit with ICI fibres and was featured in the trade magazine Fashion Weekly – I remember that seeing my outfit in print was quite exciting – I think I even wore the coat a few times afterwards.

 

 

Below was a project for Heathcote fabrics in fine wool crepe and I made the coat for myself afterwards in grey wool for a trip to London – I thought I was the bees knees at the time!

Oddly whilst we were in Cheltenham I actually saw someone wearing an almost identical coat (now 40 years later – which just shows how fashions just keep coming around).

 

As well as the very stylised line and ink drawings I was very much into experimenting with pastels back then and drew large A3 sized freehand drawings onto coloured pastel paper which were so different to my fellow students that I worried the examiners might frown upon them.

 

 

Luckily not – but all my drawings do seem a bit crude now – with all the latest technology Fashion students today produce work that looks much more professional.

When I started work at New Look patterns in Bradford I was asked to design a simple range of patterns for the fabric manufacturers Landau Sekers to team up with our Special Offer patterns – I found these old drawings the other day.

 

I wondered if any of the patterns I designed back then might still be available now and Googled vintage New Look patterns and sure enough among the hundreds that are featured on Google images there are many designs that I remember doing –  though in general they are not my drawings on the envelope fronts as we used a professional illustrator called Alan who lived near Warrington and each week we would send him a pack of sample clothes we had made with fabric swatches and colour guides and he sent the hand painted drawings back to be used on the envelope fronts.

So that is my recent trip down memory lane and it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be – I just wish I could go back and do it all over again and yes I certainly do miss Cheltenham.

back soon x

drEAming, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

mEAndering…goodbye to Uncle P

It has been a bittersweet few days.  We travelled down to Cirencester on Thursday morning for my Uncles funeral, he died suddenly, leaving the whole family shocked and upset at his passing.  You may remember this picture of him that I included in my mum’s Family Album recently.

1958.img016b

Uncle P was married to my late dad’s younger sister (the one here with the cake tin) – he was always full of life – ‘a happy chappy’ I guess – full of wit and wisdom and well-known for the occasional practical joke.

All our side of the family wanted to attend the funeral even though we had long journeys to get there involving a night in a hotel.  Those going from North Yorkshire chose to go down after work on Wednesday evening, stay in a hotel overnight and then go back home after the funeral.   Those of us here in the west of Yorkshire chose to journey down early on Thursday morning and stay over coming back Friday.

Even though it was a sad affair it was lovely to see all of the wider family, some of whom we have not seen for months or in some cases years, and catch up with all their news and the latest arrivals.

As is usual at these events there are many cousins –  first cousins, second cousins and third cousins and not forgetting all the once removed ones – I am never sure how the heirarchy of cousins fits together but we were all there.  Little L discovered her third cousin (possibly removed, possibly not), Little H – they are of similar age and even though it was the first time they had ever met got on so well to the point that little L did not want to leave her new playmate and go home and had a bit of a sulk on at home time!

After a bite to eat and a lot of catching up, a few tears and a few laughs, we set off to find our Premier Inn hotel at Little Witcombe – just outside Gloucester – only to be directed by the Google place finder to the one at Barnwood.  We didn’t even know it was the wrong one until the lady on reception could not locate our booking.  We then had to run back to the car in the lashing rain with all our luggage – repack it into the boot and set off with a few vague directions from the polish receptionist to find the right one.

All we knew was there was a lot of left turns and roundabouts involved – but more by sheer luck than management we eventually came to Little Witcombe – only to discover the hotel is in the middle of nowhere without a takeaway or chip shop in sight and the restaurant next door had stopped serving long ago for the night.

So after dumping our luggage in our room it was back into the car again to find a local takeaway – we ended up a few miles away on the outskirts of Gloucester at Domino Pizza – my first ever and although I am not a fan of takeaways and fast food it was surprisingly good.

On Friday morning before heading homeward we had our trip to Cheltenham where both DH and I met and lived for a few years whilst at Art College – it is many years since we had been there and I was a bit hesitant about going back – sometimes just having the memory of how it was is better – but I really enjoyed trying to spot buildings and places we remembered and what had been knocked down or changed.

I will fill you in on our visit on my next post.  I am experiencing some computer problems at the moment so posting is a bit intermittent.

Back soon x