dEAr diary ~ times they are a changing

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day – too nice to be travelling – but that is the British weather for you– when I needed a nice warm day to dry the washing…..it rained.

There seemed to be more packing than usual.  We had to fit the old water-butt into the car – we have bought a smaller one for home and will use the larger one at the cottage – good job we hung on to the estate car as it is most useful for ferrying things up and down.

I also had a box of old papers to take for the bonfire and a bag of items to drop off at one of the charity shops in Stranraer.  The two Christmas trees will have to wait until our next visit.

As there is less room in the caravan and less storage space I am not able to keep as much stuff like gardening clothes, towels and bedding and I forget what we have up at the caravan when we are down at home.  We keep a few extras but nothing like we had in the cottage.  So I really need to work out a better packing plan – one that takes me less time to get it all together.  When we were both working and set off for Scotland on Friday tea time I could get the car packed inside an hour – now I seem to take well over two hours and I cannot put my finger on why.

As it was such a lovely day we pulled off the motorway for lunch at the South Lancaster junction.  We had packed a flask of homemade tomato soup which is far nicer than anything you can get at the services.  The area to the right of the M6 is one of outstanding national beauty within the boundaries of the Forest of Bowland and has a wealth of delightful little villages with pretty cottages and those quaint country village churches.  But it is an area we have never explored before.  We drove through Hornby and stopped for lunch on a quiet country lane just outside Gressingham (famous for its ducks) to admire the view.  The flatter plains of farmland are enclosed by the surrounding hills  – not hills like the Pennines at home but a gentle rolling landscape and so green.  We felt like we had driven into another world – no busy roads – just a few sheep grazing and an occasional tractor.  It was so peaceful you could have heard a pin drop.   We will be back on another visit to have a better look around but yesterday we had to press on and reluctantly head back to the motorway.  We made it to the cottage by nightfall but as is often the case it was too dark to see the garden – that is usually a surprise for the morning.

We awoke to more sunshine streaming through the caravan windows today and the temperature was warm too, so after a meeting with a lovely man from highways this morning over a wee problem that affects our woodland we set to in the garden.

A day working in our cottage garden is far more punishing than any Yoga class and we have to be very careful on the first day not to overdo things.  So after lunch we had a walk along the beach and into the village, bought an ice cream (a rather lavish £3.80 for 2 Magnums) and sauntered back. On our first walk to the village after the winter it is surprising how much has changed.  When we first bought our cottage in 2004 it seemed like life down here on the Mull never changed; but increasingly year on year brings more.

This flight of steps that take you from the beach up onto Shore Street at the bottom end of the village by the little harbour used to be fully hidden  by willow bushes that have now been chopped down.  It is actually someones garden but they do not mind you using them – I preferred it when it was a secret entrance hidden by the bushes.At the far end of Shore street you can just about see the Ship Inn – once a thriving little pub but has suddenly closed and up for sale again.  It has been sold on two or three times in recent years and each of the new owners just cannot make a go of it.

The Queens Hotel in the middle of the village is looking so very run down now this could be next.  The notice in their window is supposed to be a joke – but might well be true – either way I am not sure it is helping them draw in more custom!The pub at the top of our lane might end up being the only watering hole in the village soon.

We also noticed that the door of the old corn store down by the harbour that used to be locked with the aid of an old shovel and has been like that for all the time we can remember… has now had the broken windows  boarded up properly, a proper padlock put in place and a notice pinned to the door. …but I thought the little wicker heart a very cute touch.Wards garage in the village now looks very forlorn; the forecourt has been stripped of the petrol pumps as under new laws the owner is no longer allowed to have petrol pumps within 2 metres of the road (he is allowed a Palm tree however!) and without the sale of petrol has been forced to close – such a shame this business had served this man and the community for years and now we all have to drive over 15 miles to the nearest petrol station in Stranraer.  This is a picture we took before the recent closure – such a sad end. On the way back to our cottage we passed the community garden – the person who looked after it is not able to carry on and the local community council are appealing for another volunteer.  Sadly it cannot be us as we are not here permanently.  This might end up being yet another casualty.

So many changes each year – they may only be little but sometimes are quite significant and are just another example of our ever-changing world even in backwaters like this.  I am sure that even in the Forest of Bowland that looks as if it never changes those who live there will see plenty.

A day of contemplating change and munching mouthwatering Magnums. x

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dEAr diary ~ upsetting news

Updated post* see below

We have arrived at our little cottage in South West Scotland to find there has been a massive police, air and Coastguard hunt on today to find a missing couple who live in the village.  Their car was found at 7.30am this morning swept up on the beach along the coast road just down the road from us which had been closed yesterday.  The couple had two dogs with them as well.

How lucky were we that we chose to come up today instead of our original plan to come up yesterday – that couple might have been us.  It is a treacherous road coming into the village the sea was battering the coast with 30 foot high waves and the road was closed not only because of flooding but the sea throws up quite large rocks with it – it is known locally as the ‘Car Wash’ but it is no joke and at its worst it can kill.

Our neighbour on the little caravan site has lost a chunk of land again – the sea has moved some huge rocks around that were holding back the banking  – it is frighteningly powerful.

For the moment it is quite calm here – I hope it stays like this and I pray the couple will be found safe but it is looking like they may have been swept out to sea.

*Update

We woke this morning to calm…at least down here in the dip near the sea – it is still blustery on the road above us as we were to find out soon enough on our walk into the village.The incident with the missing couple happened around the other side of this bit of headland, to the left of the photo, in the next bay to us at Kilstay. The hill blocks our view so we cannot see this part of the beach but there was plenty of activity this morning – we watched the coastguard police from our window walking the beach below us here at low tide looking for any evidence that might give them clues.  They came into our garden to check our burn that runs down to the sea in case anything had washed up there. (Of course we had already checked ourselves and also looked in the wood just in case).

All the local lifeboats were here including the one from the Isle of Man and across from Port William, and we had helicopters circling for a while.  All has gone quiet again now but as far as I know nothing was found and as each hour passes it is looking less likely the couple will be found safe and well.      A chilling thought.

Whilst it was such a sunny start we took the opportunity to walk to the village – of course we could not go along the beach so took the main road into the village which runs above us… it was a freezing wind up on top so we decided to turn off when we got to the point where the low road joins and is now a car free footpath only and drops down to run alongside the beach and is quite sheltered.The low road is now famous for the collection of painted stones that appear overnight and can be found dotted in and amongst the hedgerow along the edge of the path.  Such treasures…rumour has it the fairies are responsible for them.

Eventually the path meets the end of  a little row of cottages known as Shore Street and this leads to one of the 3 pubs in this tiny village.We bought a paper, some fresh morning rolls and a box of chocolate teacakes from the village shop, then drew out some cash from the Post Office counter which is now in the same tiny shop but two steps to the left.  We checked the local noticeboard for upcoming events – noted that the Stranraer lights are to be switched on tomorrow in town after the parade headed up by 3 Wise Men on camels (really? – I must see this!), then briskly walked back to our cottage following our footsteps in reverse – no way were we going to attempt to walk along the high road today.

As I write this update sitting snuggly in our caravan with the heat blasting away drinking a hot cup of tea and munching on chocolate teacakes we have suddenly been plunged into dark skies and icy lashing rain.

 

 

bEAching ~ calm after the storm

Welcome to my new followers – it is lovely to have you on board – I hope you enjoy the journey.

We are at the cottage in Scotland now for a few days (for anyone who is new to my blog – you need to read the story of the flood under the tab Beach Cottage and when I say at the cottage for cottage read caravan)

On Tuesday DH and I met with friends of mine who happened to be on holiday up here and had lunch together at Castle Kennedy Gardens in the revamped tea rooms, one of my most favourite places – so loved by my family that my daughter held her wedding there in 2016.

After a lovely meal and a good old natter we said our goodbyes to my friends and popped down the road into Stranraer for a bit of shopping – when I say shopping we actually bought a bottle of gas for the caravan and a few groceries – nothing more exciting.

It was still quite mild and quite calm so we decided to have a walk on by the harbour, through Agnew Park and out on the Broadstones Road – which runs along the side of Loch Ryan.  This is a short stretch of some rather lovely big old houses with well-kept gardens and a view across the bay. There is often a lot of ‘remodelling’ going on as places change hands and I do love to have a bit of a nosy!Loch Ryan Everything is beginning to feel cooler and a bit grey as you can see from the photos – but I actually quite like this as it makes it quite atmospheric.Beach findsIt was good to be out, strolling along on the shore spotting bits of coloured glass and other things –is this is the new message in a bottle – message on a mobile?Broadstones

Broadstones

On the way back to the car the heavens opened and we had to make a run for it –  but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday was a bit wilder – I was expecting worse – we had battened down the hatches ready for the forecasted storm.   It was certainly blustery here on the Mull of Galloway and the sea very choppy, and although the caravan rocked a bit it was not as bad as the rest of the county – some places across the bay had no power and quite a bit of damage.

By the afternoon it had calmed down enough for DH to go outside and make a start on washing down the caravan ready for the winter – I believe it is called ‘winterising’  I even did half an hour weeding in one of the borders when the rain suddenly came lashing down and the wind picked up once again.

Then as quickly as it came it settled again and after tea we even managed a brisk walk – all togged up in my fleece lined Parker, woolly hat and a scarf and by choosing the more sheltered path to the village down the low road we kept relatively warm.  As you might expect the place was deserted – I expect most of the villagers were keeping snug and warm inside (very sensible).  Once back at the caravan I had a nice mug of hot tea and some ginger cake.

Today we were back to calm, very calm; the sea had hardly a wave and nothing stirring in the garden. We drove into Stranraer with a trailer full to the brim with bags of weeds from our last visit to take to the tip.  I also took a box of bits and bobs from my recent decluttering to the local Red Cross charity shop, bought some fresh rolls and milk and the Stranraer Free Press (to get the local news) then came home for lunch.  I have acquired a taste for Tesco’s fresh Cheesey rolls which we had with salad inside and I also bought one of their boxes of 5 assorted mini Danish pastries – five being an odd number for two of us we have to share the last one, or fight over it!

After lunch DH was back to washing  another side of the caravan and I started on the weeding again – pulling out a million tiny seedlings (I exaggerate not!) that have taken root since our last visit – but only after going down to the beach to take a few more photos. Luce Bay SeawedDriftwoodI can hear rain again now outside as I write this – who knows what we will wake up to tomorrow.  Just in case I cannot go out in the garden I have brought one or two projects with me to be getting on with.

Have a good day x