Monday, 31 May 2021

Castle Kennedy (Holiday photos #3)

A return to a favourite place. There is a longer write-up with more photos from my 2018 visit here: Castle Kennedy.

My 2019 visit was mind-blowing and remains hidden on the hard-drive but believe me when I say that in (mumble-something) years of gardening I do not think I have EVER seen such an outstanding display of rhododendron. If you should find yourself within a 100 miles of the area in mid-to-late May then seeing them for yourself is a must.

Thanks to one of the coldest Springs ever recorded this year the Rhododendron were not as far on as normal (although many were in flower) and growth was severely behind in the Walled Garden, but even so I managed to spend an entire day there eventually leaving just before kick-out time at 5.00pm. I accidentally walked over 7 miles around the parkland and barely saw another person the whole time - a perfect 'socially distanced' day out.

I've mentioned the 2019 holiday a couple of times and how all the photographs I took (hundreds of them) are still on my hard-drive. That is because I took my big Canon, a choice of lenses and wandered around with my "photographer" head on (which is not the same experience as visiting somewhere and being completely present in the place). I returned home intending to deal with the images but instead plunged into a significant depressive episode as the reality of a house without Daisy hit me very hard.

I've just had a look at File Manager - 10GB of data, 1,500 files - and it weighs on me. I keep meaning to spend an afternoon sorting the folders out but there is always something else crying more loudly for my time. In order not to create a similar blackhole this year I deliberately left the "proper" camera behind and used only my iPhone to record just enough of an impression of my trip to bring back memories; it worked surprisingly well.

Here are a few of the favourites:

Pictures enlarge to full screen, and if you click on the first one you can scroll through them all.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Ardwell (Holiday photos #2)

Ardwell is the smallest of places, a tiny linear village which you may well miss if you blink at the wrong time. Loooking back I cannot now remember why I first stopped there: only a mile and a half from my campsite so if I'm going TO the site why would I stop just before it and if I am leaving the site then why would I stop almost immediately? But it has become an essential part of every visit to the area with mindless hours spent parked next to the beach accompanied by a gentle couple of miles through bluebell filled woodland up to the 'big house'.

I told myself that on this trip I would "do something different", maybe park near the church instead of the beach or take a different walk but familiarity won out and I spent an incredibly relaxing day doing the same as I usually do 😉 which amount to very little!

Pictures enlarge to full screen, and if you click on the first one you can scroll through them all.

The photos do look remarkably similar to my last visit in May 2019 (not blogged, so please believe me) and almost identical to those taken in July 2018.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Coast to Coast (Holiday photos #1)

On an island as small as ours it is no surprise that Coast to Coast walks are very popular. Wainright's trek from St Bees to Robin Hood's bay is one of the most well-known, and I have always hankered after The TGO Challenge whilst in truth I know I am never going to be accepted for it, let alone manage to complete the route.

One day I did not feel like driving anywhere and decided to take a walk down a very narrow lane which starts outside the campsite. It is a long, almost flat, almost completely straight bit of road that I do not intend to drive down - there are no passing places and it is mostly used by the nearest farmer on a large tractor. But after a couple of easy miles it leads into the lovely little village which is Port Logan.

I have been to Port Logan a couple of times before, sadly the pictures from my last visit two years ago are still unsorted in a folder on my computer which is a shame because I know I have some terrific shots, but the detail of that trip did not make it to the blog {sigh}. It is a super place - if your definition of super is no shops (the tea 'wagon' is only open at weekends), almost no people, and nothing much to do **, although it has been a busy place in the past both in the 18th/19th centuries and more recently when Two Thousand Acres of Skye was filmed there two decades ago.

For a laugh I dipped my toe into the sea (and had done so before setting off from the campsite) which is the "official" way of starting and ending a Coast to Coast walk. Then I had a sit down, watched locals walking dogs on the beach, enjoyed the silence, and walked back. It was strange not having Bill for company and meant I did not stay as long as I might otherwise have done, or go clambering around the rocks looking at wildflowers. The round trip was just over 5 miles.

Pictures enlarge to full screen, and if you click on the first one you can scroll through them all.

** that is not strictly true - an enterprising local has SUP's for hire and a mile up the road is the Port Logan Fishpond which to be honest, I have never really fancied . . .

Monday, 24 May 2021


An unexpected and very pleasant hour outside this afternoon when all of a sudden the bitterly cold wind dropped and the sun came out. I put a dozen homegrown cornflower plants into the Cottage Garden lawn/wildflower meadow, and then moved on to "hunt the orchid".

Some are just showing off and terribly easy to spot.

Others are well camouflaged and take a bit more finding:

But so much easier to see once I have "grazed" the grass from around each plant.

It has been so cold this Spring that everything is late and I hope that by the time summer gets here there will be more than the two dozen plants I have found so far.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Could have done without this taking ALL day

We could both have done without yesterday's activity taking ALL day, and still not being finished.

Early on in my trip I realised there was a small leak from somewhere under Bill's sink. Not enough to panic about, but more than enough to do serious damage if left unattended. Removing the most important tea & coffee drawer and stuffing the space with a pot to catch drips and a pile of tea towels is a good fix whilst away, but not really something for longterm. So we spent pretty much all of Saturday twisting around in the most uncomfortable and inaccessible of places with zero visibility other than by phone camera or mirror, removed the tap, hoses and sink waste, then checked everything, replaced some 'O' rings and put it all back together again.

We had realised there were actually two leaks - one from the base of the tap unit and one (much smaller) from the sink waste. We seem to have resolved the tiny leak from the waste, but the tap - it still leaks 😤😡, and to be honest, probably worse than before we started trying to mend it.

Management has been doing some research and sadly this sort of tap failure is not uncommon, and whilst irritating I have to remember that I have had Bill since October 2017 and even though I don't go away as often as many people the van gets a lot of use on a 'day basis', so maybe we have reached the built-in-obsolescence point. A new tap has been ordered, so we can do nothing else until it arrives, hopefully mid-week. Neither of us are particularly impressed but I keep telling myself that if this is the most dreadful thing to happen, then I am doing extremely well. Still ruddy frustrating though ☺️.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Before and after

My Scotland photos have also gone on their holly-bobs: I gave the memory card to Management so that he could have a look at the images and he hasn't returned it yet 😱.

So until he does, just for a laugh, this is what happens when you have not been to the hairdresser since 1st October 2020:

And this, thank goodness, is what happens when you finally get an appointment:

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Back to life, back to reality

There, a lovely ear worm to take you through the next few hours. Over 30 years old and still as fresh and wonderful as the day it was recorded.

But I digress (happily, into my musical youth!) and am just popping in to say "thank you" from Bill and I for all the lovely messages about our holiday. We both had a great time - very quiet, very chilled (dare I even say I might have started to unwind?) I did not do half of the things I thought I might which was probably a good thing 😝 and thoroughly enjoyed what I did get up to which amounted to very little more than wandering around other people's gardens, sitting reading, and general wandering around the beach at the campsite and the local coastal path.

Got back yesterday afternoon and as today is the only dry and sunny day of the week spent all of it outside accomplishing very little other than grass cutting (which could really be done in a couple of hours but I managed to make it take all day!)

I won't say "plan" (because we know that word dooms me to failure) but the intention over the coming rainy days is a few posts about the most southerly bit of mainland Scotland.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Bill is on her holly-bobs

Bill has escaped again and gone to Scotland for a little holly-bob.

I thought it best I accompany her - goodness knows what trouble she might get up to without some form of semi-responsible adult supervision.

Internet access very weak and patchy, you might not hear from either of us for a while!