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.


beach cottage, bEAching, celebrations, cottage garden, drEAming, fEAsting, general chit chat, holidays, mEAndering

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.


 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!!!




beach cottage, bEAching, cottage garden, mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons

Just an update…

and to say Hi everyone…I finally made it back to my computer and as you may have guessed by my absence life has not got any easier for me recently what with my bad back and now stiff neck – although they are on the mend I am trying not to spend hours bent over the computer.

As well as this my family keep me busier than ever, we have spent some weekends at my daughters decorating the nursery for our future grandchild which is due in July, as well as making the curtains.  We have had another trip to Shrewsbury to see my mum-in-law and this weekend we go off again to Yarm to visit my mum.

Over the Spring Bank holiday we had a visit to our cottage in Scotland for the big clear up now the roofers have finished.  We spent hours picking out tiny bits of slate from the gravel beds and borders around the cottage (something a bit of fore-thought and a sheet of black plastic might have avoided)!   There was plenty of sweeping up as well as clearing out the garage so that we could safely keep the rest of the slates under cover until we can return the ones we do not need to the merchant.

We didn’t have time for any gardening in fact we had a day out on the Sunday being hubby’s birthday and we ended up across the bay on the Machars (we are on the South Rhins) visiting some of the Artists Open Studios as part of the Spring Fling event.  I will post these pictures another day – in the meantime come and have a little stroll around the garden and see the view.

 Candleabra Primulas

The Primulas I planted last year around the pond are beautiful – they were just starting to burst into flower as we left and I am hoping they will go forth and multiply.

Planting Rogersia

Beyond the Primula is a ditch that separates the lower from the upper wood.  I cleared just enough of the weeds to plant my two Rodgersia plants (50p each) and these will be divided in the Autumn or Spring so that they form a drift along the banking and hopefully suppress the weeds – well that is the plan!

The Woodland Garden

This is taken looking in the opposite direction from the banking.

Wild flowers

I like to keep the wild flowers (within reason as they can take over at a rate of knots).   Here is some pretty pink Campion mingled with self seeded ferns and what I think is blue Pulmonaria (but not sure of this) can anyone confirm the name?

Hidden Trough

To my delight I discovered this little eathenware  trough when weeding one day.  The plant growing around it is creeping Campanula and will soon be covered in a mass of  purple blue flowers for the summer.

Cottage border

This is part of my dry border under the large Pine Trees.  It can be a bit hit and miss finding things that like to grow here.  You can see the leaves of various Agapanthus – they love it hot and dry so are well suited.  The bright orange flowers are Geums and goodness knows what those hundreds of little seedlings are beside them.  I expect I will soon find out on my next visit.

Daisy Path

This is the Daisy path – we always leave it as long as we can before we have to strim it as I love this natural look.


My little terracotta plant pot now gathering moss inside – it is like a mini nature table.

Cloud formation

We had glorious weather over the bank holiday and I captured one or two atmospheric pictures across the bay.

Cloud Formation 2   The cloud formation passing over was quite fascinating and there was hardly any difference between the silvery blue colour of the water and sky.

Evening across the bay

This was taken one very calm evening – the little boat out on the water is the Lobster Pot man checking his cages – probably seeing if he has any supper!

  Porch window view

Looking out of the window from our tumble-down porch on the seaside side we are sheltered by the Privet hedge and have a lovely uninterrupted view of the bay.

Seaside garden

At the moment this part of the garden is mostly covered in black plastic to keep the weeds down but I am hoping to start planting here soon with Coastal plants which for me will make a change from the woodland plants on the other side of the cottage.

Tree Crossing Road

Just thought I would include this picture – we had to stop on our way into town one day for a tree crossing the road!

I have to go now and do a bit of catching up with everyone again – please excuse any lack of comments in the past couple of weeks – no doubt life will calm down a bit soon.  Have a great week everyone.

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

Back home again…


Hi everyone I’m back.

It is strange going away in the middle of one month and coming back the next I feel quite disoriented and still do not know what the day or date is properly without looking at the calendar. I can see why some retired folk say they don’t appreciate when it is a weekend anymore.

So you may be asking how was the holiday…did we have good weather and did we get lots done on the cottage and in the garden?…did we manage to buy the paint from Homebase before we went?…most of all did we have a great time and have a good rest?

Well, it was not the holiday of our dreams I can say that – all was going well over the Easter weekend – lots of sunshine and we made the most of it both going out and gardening until on Easter Monday when I slipped on the concrete edge of our pond and went down with a bang injuring my back (yes my second accident this year and I haven’t even taken the crutches back yet from the previous accident to my foot!)I spent the rest of the week in agony and often flat on my back until I got to see an Osteopath on the following Monday and during the week he manipulated things back into place enough for me to travel down home to England this last Monday with a sick note for a few days and strict instructions not to garden, lift or even try any exercises yet.

Poor hubby had to do all the meals and gardening as well as supervise the re-roofing.

All I could do was watch the plants and weeds grow and lay there listening to audio books and thinking… I did quite a lot of thinking.

I actually discovered that thinking can be quite therapeutic – and I had plenty of time to think…about what I might like to do and not do and I will no doubt get around to sharing some of this with you over time on my blog, but in general I feel quite glad of this enforced thinking time.

So here are a few snapshots of our Easter break…

I love this picture looking out over Luce Bay when the colour of the sea is almost the same colour as the sky.

Scotland at Easter 2014

Over Luce Bay Easter 2014

When I could sit in the car we had a short trip across the other side of the peninsula to Port Logan Bay below where they made the TV program 200 Acres of Skye.

Port Logan Easter 2014

Port Logan Lighthouse Easter 2014

But to get on with the practical update here are the pictures of our cottage roof being re-roofed.   The slates arrived on time in large crates…

Roof Slates

and the roofers got straight to work removing the old slates…

Cottage roof a

and covering the sarking boards underneath the slates with the breathable membrane now used in place of roofing felt.  Only Scottish roofs have this kind of boarding as English roofs have battens fixed onto the membrane or felt to hang the slates from.  The boards were in pretty good shape and only a few rotten bits had to be cut away and replaced.

Cottage roof 3

Cottage roof 4

Cottage roof 5

Then began the arduous task of re-slating, a back-breaking job, but we supplied plenty of tea and biscuits to help them along…

Cottage roof 6

Cottage roof 7

Then ‘big Harry’ arrived on the scene (their term not ours I must add) to cut the hole in the roof and fit the Velux window.

Velux window in roof

all neatly fitted on the outside but from inside a bit of a hole still remains but that will be another job another day…

Velux from inside

Cottage roof 9

Cottage Roof 12

Cottage roof 11

As soon as two sides were completely slated the zinc corner strips (I have no idea what they are officially called) are put in place.

And there we left it but hopefully it is now complete and watertight.

Below is the garden when we arrived…

Easter 2014

and as we left it had sprung into life with a mass of nodding bells along the woodland walk.

Down in the wood Easter 2014

Woodland Garden Easter 2014 2

Cottage Garden Easter 2014

Cottage Garden Easter 2014 3

Cottage Garden Easter  2 2014

Woodland garden Easter 2014

So that was our holiday – hope you all had a good Easter…and yes we did get the paint and also a mini wooden greenhouse that fits against a wall – more about that soon.

bEAching, cottage garden, fEAsting, meal planning

An apple a day keeps the Deer happy…

Homegrown Apples

Some of these cooking apples may be a little misshapen and show signs of pest attack but they are home grown at our Beach Cottage in Scotland and taste delicious in a crumble.  I am hoping there will be a few more when we go up in a couple of weeks time.

If you look closely at this picture below, which I took back in July,  you can see a young deer that had ventured into our garden having a crafty nibble at my apple tree.  Fortunately all the apples are on the higher branches and out of reach.  I think it is quite probable that we have  a lot of  visits by the wildlife when we are not there, this lovely lady did seem a little surprised to see me pointing a camera at her.  I expect she usually has the garden to herself.

Deer with Apple Tree


This week we have been enjoying Plum and Apple Crumble.

Plum and Apple Crumble

read about it on Re-routed

crEAting, mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons, sketching

The dawn of a summer day…

Poppies at Renishaw Hall Gardens

Taken from my Art Journal –  ‘Celebrating the Year 2009’

Poppies at Renishaw

Watercolour Sketch July 2004

That beautiful season the Summer! 
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
–   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

July is one of my favourite months.  The flower borders are bursting with summer colour and if you have never been to Renishaw Hall Gardens and you live nearby then you are definitely missing a treat.  It is the home of the Sitwell family and their history is steeped in the Arts and Crafts movement.

Renishaw House

Here we all are (apart from me – I’m taking the picture and we are missing a daughter and partner and a neice) on our recent family picnic posing in front of Renishaw Hall as if it were ours!

Meet the family at Renishaw Hall

Allium Bed Renishaw

The extensive grounds are a mixture of formal gardens near to the house leading into the naturalised woodland area Bluebell Wood Renishaw

complete with this Laburnum walk.

Laburnum Walk Renishaw

There are also plants on sale that you will have seen growing in the garden.

 Yew Hedge Renishaw

 We have been lucky enough to be there when they have had musicians positioned behind the huge Yew hedges playing flute and violin.  The sound is carried around the gardens on the breeze with the nearby fountain bending and spraying spurts of water as if in time.

The Fountain Renishaw

On a warm summers day I could sketch happily here for hours popping into the tea shop in the popular Courtyard for refreshments and a home baked scone then a wander around the grounds what could be a more perfect relaxing day?  You can also book ahead to attend a performance at the outdoor theatre or fireworks or have a tour of the vineyard and sample their own wine.

The courtyard also houses a little museum and art gallery.  In the tea room you can buy a cold salad lunch by weight.  Just help yourself to a plate and choose from the vast selection of salads and meat, then weigh and pay!

If you go in Mid April to early May they have a splendid display of Auriculas (a type of Primula) in a purpose built Auricula House.  This is like a small wooden bookcase painted black to enhance the colours of these delicate blooms with a wire netting front.  They are quite fascinating when displayed this way.

Auricular House Renishaw

Auriculars Renishaw

I hope everyone has a glorious July and that we have some of those warm halcyon days we can all remember from our childhood when it never rained all summer long!!  This will be posted ahead of time (I know it isn’t July until Monday) but I will be on my way to Scotland and without any internet, TV and a very intermittent mobile signal.


Walking in a winter wonderland…

January Snow

I know you might have seen enough of it but I love the snow… it is so magical and this is one of my favourite pictures taken before this weekends heavy snowfall.

Snow Patterns Grid

When I ventured out into the back garden it really was virgin snow and the soft powdery kind,  not even a cat had passed through and my footprints were the very first.  It seemed a shame to disturb it but I wanted to feed the birds and at the same time capture all the different patterns the snow had made, even the garden chairs that have got left out look inviting and the washing line, bottom left picture, is like a line of thick snow suspended in space.

Wheelie Bins

Even the wheelie bins are snuggled up close, they look as if they have their winter hats on!