up hill and down dale…

I had quite a busy weekend but mostly enjoyable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the sculptures we did find interesting…

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

The Primula here grow in abundance…

and this jetty is my favourite spot…

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

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

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

and one happy granny…

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

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

 

 

back home and back to work…

I have been back home now for over a week but not had the time to put pen to paper (so to speak), not that I have anything very exciting to say – life has just been rolling along in the usual non-eventful way.

I spent a lovely few days in the woodland garden in Scotland rumaging around in the undergrowth like a wayward squirrel but this was followed by a few stressful days on my return to work which has thrown up that question again of ‘just how long do I intend to go on working’?  I am a few years off collecting my state pension but to tell the truth I don’t feel I want to work to sixty six as life is short and there are new challenges I would like to attempt before I get too old and creaky!

So I am in deep thinking mode at the moment which has been robbing me of quite a bit of sleep.

On the domestic front…

We have a number of projects on the go – far too many – both at home and in Scotland.  I should have named this blog My Double Life or Coming and Going – some days I wake up and don’t know which place I am in!  We never intended to have 2 homes for long but the flood at the cottage has delayed our plans to move up there.

Here at home we are decorating my younger daughters bedroom to use when my granddaughter comes to stay. It was a bit tricky taking a decent picture and didn’t help facing into the light that floods in from the Velux in the roof.

 

bedroom makeover

As you can see it is looking quite dated now with the lacquered pine that has mellowed and yellowed over time and is in need of a revamp. My daughter and her friends loved this room with the mezzanine sleeping platform over the shower room accessed by a ‘Samba” staircase.  You can lay in bed at night and see the stars.

The other end of the room has a normal window overlooking the back garden.  The room is quite narrow only about ten feet wide as it is directly above the garage and laundry room.

bedroom makeover 2

Sometime in the nineties whilst at art college my daughter added the stencilling feature to the staircase but this is really past its prime now.

Nineties stenciling

So it will be covered up and all the pine wood painted to give it a whole new cleaner and fresher look and bring it up to date.  More posts on the makeover later.

In the garden in Scotland…

By the pond

I spent more time around the pond – cutting back the Fernery and clearing the water of dead leaves.  We added a plank on top of the two wooden posts I discovered beside the pond last time so we can sit there, have a cuppa, and admire the garden – I planted a few more Primula in and amongst the stones and transplanted lots of Foxgloves into the wild flower patch just out of sight of this photo.

I have the Fuchsias  to prune back at the edge of the pond but then we can sit back and wait for everything to grow and flower.

 

“and the Spring arose on the garden fair…

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

We spent Easter week at the cottage..not in the cottage exactly as it is still without kitchen / bathroom / power / water and floors!  We stayed in a beautifully spacious cottage up the road.  We were busy in the garden all week – I love this time of year when everything is just coming to life.  Of course all the plants are much later in Scotland but the weather last week was so sunny and warm you could almost see the buds bursting open.

Cottage front garden

Below is the seaside garden – a lot of the top soil washed away with the flood water but it wasn’t the jungle I had prepared myself for.  There is no point in us doing anything at this side as the contractors will be coming and going so best to wait.

Cottage garden

 

The woodland walk is once again taking shape – the planting here has recovered very quickly you would not even know that it was 2 feet deep in water last August.

Woodland walk

We laid fresh bark over the pathways – we had to buy this as we have no power to make our own with the shredder and a few bags does not go very far.

Woodland walk 2

 

I always support my Dicentras with a strip of chicken wire around the base of the plants this keeps them from being blown about and is completely hidden by the foliage as it grows.

Dicentra

 

The Primroses are now beginning to spread around and keep popping up here and there.

Primroses

The burn has a few clumps of Daffodils dotted along its banks.

Stream bank

Ideally the border needs a major reshape and move around, but it may be too late to do this when we go again.

The border

 

One day whilst in Stranraer we took a walk along Broadstones – I love these rows of the wooden breakwaters along the beach.  Broadstones 2

 

Broadstones Stranraer

This is looking towards Stranraer – the beaches are becoming so much cleaner now the ferry has been moved across the bay to Cairnryan.    Towards Stranraer

Breakwater

Rock

This is part of the new Marina that the council are creating to attract more yachts.

Stranraer Marina

 

We had a lovely break – a shame a week is not long enough but being at the cottage and in the garden reminded us why we love the place so much.  Even after the flood we would find it hard to leave.  We did look around at other properties in the area as we have been undecided whether to sell the place and move on – I am not sure I could deal with another major flood and I am not sure the cottage will be reinstated even by August – one year on – but having looked at other properties we realise we would struggle to find anywhere quite the same with a wood and a sea view and so for the time being have decided to stay and battle on.

We have been contacted by the nice man at the Scottish Flood Forum – they provide help and give advice and he is coming to survey the situation and will approach the local Council on our behalf to see what their plans might be, if any, to prevent a reoccurrence in the future should we have the misfortune to experience such a heavy downpour again.  The Witches Glen from where the water came hurtling down has now reopened and the Council have rebuilt the edge of the road that had washed away and made major improvements to strengthen the stream banking.

All too soon the week was over we had to put away our gardening tools and clean our rented cottage and get ready for the journey home on the Saturday morning – the weather by now was much cooler and we could see snow on the distant Galloway hills.

Snowy hills in April

 

Well that is my update on our Easter break how was yours?

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!!!

 

 

 

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.

Nature

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.

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.

A quick turn around the garden…

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last post and I am amazed myself that I haven’t had any time to sit down and write but there it is.

So you may well ask what have I been doing?

Two weekends ago we had a flying visit to Scotland – the weather was just right for gardening and I spent the whole of Saturday in the undergrowth with my little furry friends here uncovering signs of life on my woodland walk.

Bees on Crocuses

Come and have a little wander…

Woodland Walk March

Remember this is in Scotland and even though we pick up the milder weather of the Gulf stream everything is much later coming out up there.  Soon this part of the garden will be covered in a mass of  Dicentra, Heuchera sanguinea  and Solomons Seal.

Woodland Walk March

Even the Fatsia along the stream bank has survived the harsh salt laden winter winds and has kept its glossy leaves.

Streambank March

Below is the site where the large Pines once stood before the gales a couple of years ago – I actually like the old tree stumps although I would have preferred to still have the trees of course.  It would weaken the stream bank to remove the stumps but it is almost impossible to mow the grass and using the strimmer is extra work so I have ideas that I will turn this into a stumpery and plant different species of ferns here mingled with suitable stream bank plants.   I love the way the moss is spreading over the mounds.

Stream bank proposed Fernery

In my garden at home here in Yorkshire I have put the bulbs I bought a few weeks ago into pots to brighten up the front garden.

Pots of spring bulbs

…and this little beauty below is a primrose coloured Rhododendron  – it is very special to our family and has pride of place in our garden. It was specially bred and named after my hubby’s grandfather, R W Rye, when he worked as head gardener from 1921 at Lochinch Castle, Stranraer for the Earl of Stair (whose mother Davina Bowes-Lyon is a first cousin of the Queen).  It received the Award of Merit at the Royal Horticultural Society in 1951.   We have taken a few cuttings over the years as it is not widely available in garden centres and I will be planting one at the cottage very soon.

RW Rye

The rest of my time apart from another trip to see our kitchen planner has been spent decluttering and cleaning my house and it is finally beginning to take shape and any month now I will be ready to begin the decorating!

More about that another night.  I have a bit of catching up to do with everyone – I have been reading most posts but apologies for my lack of comments recently.