drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…making plans

There was a lack of sunshine here today but it was mild and we did have a dry spell or two but mainly we had a light drizzle .  Not brilliant for gardening but we needed to get out there and plant some holly bushes where an old Escallonia hedge had died.  Escallonia is supposed to be reasonably tough but we have found that one by one over the years we lose a bit more in a bad winter.  I hope the holly fares better.

We will be on our way back home tomorrow ready for work on Monday.  Shame.

Next weekend I will have to get my summer clothes out and decide which items are going with me to Italy.  I have my wedding outfit and I am hoping I will have a parcel waiting for me at home containing the shoes, though I am thinking about getting the white ones after all but I will see better when I can try outfit and shoes on together.  DH is sorting out travel insurance and money so I only have to think about the luggage and packing, washing and ironing.  I will need to decant shampoo and toiletries into small travel containers and check the travel hairdryer and adaptors.

As my eldest daughter and her DH are now going to the wedding and they are going to hire a car for their two-week stay it will solve the travel problem to and from the wedding and reception.  This is actually more than good news as we had just been told by the bride’s mum that the mini bus taking guests from the wedding to the reception about 8 miles away might not materialise after all.  Of course the downside is that we were going to borrow their suitcases if they were not going so now we need to sort this out.

It is only 19 days until we go and I feel a bit in limbo – not able to start any major projects and knowing that when we get back both the garden at home and in Scotland will be needing major attention as everything will have suddenly taken off including the weeds.  I bought some courgette seeds but of course I will not be able to sow them if I am not home to water them.  We will be having a bit of an eBay break too as we cannot a list anything if we are not here to post the items.  We have done quite well so far and of all the items listed only the six white wedding brollies remain unsold and some bath taps.

As well as the eBay items I have been sending a lot of unwanted stuff to the charity shops.  I have tried to be quite ruthless both in what I keep and what I give away.  Much of the stuff is actually things I didn’t buy in the first place.  Some of the stuff belonged to my elder daughter and she has been taking a few boxes back to her house each week to sort through.

The old pile of papers has now been burned on our recent bonfire – old bank statements and paperwork of closed accounts – they have mounted up over the years but I am satisfied I will not need them.  There was far too much to shred so bringing the four boxes up to the cottage and burning it was a good option.

So my house is feeling a whole lot lighter and I feel better for the clear out it actually makes me want to do more and it certainly makes it easier to keep the place clean.  When we get back home I intend to go through a few more drawers and cupboards and look at the 80% of stuff we never use – I realised whilst doing the recent declutter that I actually prefer to have only those items that we use all the time and when I come across something I haven’t used for ages I am going to either start using it or pass it on.

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Welcome to the two new followers.

Back soon x

 

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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

beach cottage, bEAching, cottage garden, drEAming, general chit chat, mEAndering, sEAsons

what we didn’t do on our holidays…

Hello – I’m back – well I have been back at home for over a week but soooo busy that blogging has not been an option for me.

To say I was a little disappointed on holiday is probably an understatement.  All was going to plan, we got off on time and ambled our way up country stopping for lunch and tea and arriving at the cottage early evening.  After a good nights sleep we had a lovely day in the garden the following day with the sun shining down on us and the sea so calm with a beautiful silvery cast and then the next day it happened – my back went into spasm, I couldn’t move and I spent the rest of the holiday in pain and discomfort unable to do any gardening!! We also had to abandon the visit we had planned to go up to the Cowal Open Studios at Dunoon. (Sorry we missed you Freda if you are reading this).

OH plodded on as best he could all week in the garden trying to do as much as he could inbetween the rain and the cooking.

One or two of you asked me to bring back some pictures of the garden so I thought I would show you the progress so far to the stream bank.

Remember the flood – this was the original view at the bottom of our garden with the little wooden bridge.

After the flood we were then left with this gaping void where the sea had taken not only the bridge but a slice of both our garden on the right of the picture and the farmers land on the left.

This is what it looked like back in January this year (looking from the other direction) when the engineering work had been completed and the boundary of our garden re-established using gabion baskets to form a stable edge and then black mesh laid over to create a more natural looking banking.

This is how it looks today – the grasses and wild flowers are beginning to grow back through the black mesh and the gaping void we were left with is narrower and much less obvious now and… we have grass – you can hardly call it a lawn but it looks better than the mud heap we had up until Easter.

There were pockets of colour dotted here and there in the garden – the bright orange of the nasturtiums and Monbretia, the glossy red berries and hips and the bobbing white daisy heads of the chamomile, and of course the Hydrangeas and White Anemones.

 

 

We had bought a pond cover to install over our pond to try to minimise the amount of leaves that fall into the pond at this time of year.  It was not an easy thing to put together and seemed to have a few basic design faults which added to the frustration, but it is now in place so we will have to see how it goes.

On my only day in the garden we managed to clear a patch and sow the grass seed where we wanted to extend the lawn on the wood side garden.  Once this has taken we will plant a few shade loving shrubs along the banking to give it some structure.  I am not sure the netting is going to keep out the wood pigeons.

 

Whilst indisposed for most of the holiday there was little to do (with no internet or TV) other than read.  I had taken a number of library books and one in particular I found quite thought-provoking and I will come back to this another day as the ideas are quite useful.  I also made use of this time reading all the diet and health articles I had clipped from my pile of magazines and taken with me on holiday. I learnt a lot and will be putting my findings into practice over the next few weeks and will share this with you.

On the last evening after having been straightened out by the local osteopath ready for the journey home the next day we celebrated with a meal out at Henry’s in Stranraer and then took a detour on the way back to the cottage to Portpatrick a delightful little harbour village.  The white-painted Harbour Masters cottage by the lighthouse with its mustard yellow window mullions and contrasting blue shutters (that are often tight shut against the winter storms) is one of my favourite houses.

As the day was drawing to an early close I captured the last of the sun setting over the Irish sea.

 

Back at home it has been a busy week and a half as we have been going up and down to North Yorkshire on my days off to help my younger daughter move.   She is now renting a place further away from Masham but this one has central heating and double glazing.

Luckily my back has fully recovered and I have been scrubbing cookers (she has two – an oil-fired Rayburn which they have had difficulty keeping lit and the back up electric oven in the adjoining laundry room).  I have no idea how to work a Rayburn but I hear they have already made pancakes so must have overcome the lighting problems.

I am ever hopeful that one day they will be able to afford their own home but the prices in the area are far too high for first time buyers.  Each time she rents we end up fixing things that really the landlord should be doing but typically never do.

At work it has been a round of appraisals and notice of forthcoming changes that will be implemented soon.  Since the appointment recently of two new directors we have been told to expect plenty of change.  On average I believe we have had some kind of change every three months for the past 3 years even before the new directors!  As they say nothing ever stays the same and the family feel our firm once boasted has now disappeared.  I meet people in the corridor and I don’t even know they are new employees.

Onwards and upwards.  I need to have a good catch up with everyone now.