Archives for the month of: March, 2014

Slipway To The Sea Later this week, our friend Jo has organized two beach clean ups, one at Kirkandrews beach and the other at “the bathing hut beach.” Not being sure where this was, I came across a painting of it by a local artist, Andrew McKean, which described it as Barlocco Beach and bathing hut. Digging out the OS map showed a sandy beach just along from Kirkandrews by a farm called Barlocco. So, on a very sunny and spring-like Sunday afternoon we set off to find it.
Coo Palace

As it turns out, it’s just five minutes along a popular but unmarked footpath from the road past the Coo Palace (Corseyard Edwardian Dairy, pictured very badly right, which is a whole other post in itself). The bay itself is a mix of golden sand, old slipway and Carrick-style rock pools.

The feature that gives this bay its local name is one of the Knockbrex follies that add character to this bit of coastline. Now boarded up (which is a shame as it would make an incredible holiday cottage or beach café), the bathing hut has porthole windows either side of an arched door and is made from local stone.

Bathing hut

Porthole

Porthole

Like most of the local beaches it does need a clear-up after the storms but actually isn’t too bad. Further round the headland, there’s a beach with more shells and debris. We claimed a washed-up plastic crate, probably from a fishing boat, to use for storing the kids’ outdoor toys which are currently housed in one of our old packing boxes. I also gathered a bag of shells to top dress a pot I filled on Saturday.

The wee walk to the beach was looking good in the spring sunshine (if you averted your eyes from the odd dead bird and baby deer), with plenty of primrose and gorse. We also harvested some more wild garlic to have with tea. Recipe to follow as a few people have requested it now.
Primrose

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A very rare Mothers’ Day off work today, which meant lots of spoiling for me. The weather was extremely kind, so once I’d opened the lovely cards and gifts, we went out in the garden for some pottering before heading to Galloway Lodge in Gatehouse for lunch, followed by a trip to one of the local beaches we hadn’t visited yet, Cream O’ Galloway and home.

I’ll do some posts through the week of our day out but for now here’s Iris’s very nice words for Mothers’ Day.

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New lambs have appeared in the field over the road from the house. We had a family meander to admire them earlier in the week.

 

Baa

sheep

Apologies for the speck on the lens. If all of that wasn’t exciting enough, we heard on Thursday that friends of ours down the road had just been handed an orphan lamb by a local farmer to hand-rear. Too much cuteness to be ignored, so today we went along and Arthur helped to give the lamb her lunch.

Feeding time

And once she was full, Kester wanted to give the lamb a pat, although Ellie’s dog Sally decided to help clean up the lamb’s spilled milk from her chin.

pat pat

The weekend’s spring excitement will include my first Mothers’ Day off work since I became a Mum, fun in the spring sun and lots of gardening.

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The wild garlic I harvested the other week came from nearby Cally Woods. Despite this only being a few miles away from the house, we hadn’t had time for a visit before now. It was an overcast day but there was still plenty to see with the last of the snowdrops, loads of bridges for playing pooh sticks and an old earthwork to walk up.

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There are also a few installations, like these amazing sensory benches and some open air classrooms made from felled trees. Some of these had been damaged by fallen trees in the winter storms. The idea behind the benches is that you lay back (they’re surprisingly comfortable) and look at the stars through the tree canopy.

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Just before Christmas we went to a party at our neighbours’ house over at Lennox Plunton. The farmer there, Benjy, is the son of Mrs Sproat, who lived in this house. In fact, Lennox Plunton, Plunton House and much of the land around here has been farmed by the Sproats since the 18th century.

While we were there, we were given an envelope of pictures of the house, most of them from the late 1980s and early 1990s and one much older than that. It’s lovely to see the subtle changes to the house and the beautiful garden as it has developed over time.

Plunton House in sepia, from the west on Lennox Plunton land. The buildings to the right are the piggery and steading which have since been converted into homes.

Plunton House in sepia, from the West on Lennox Plunton land. The buildings to the right are the piggery and steading which have since been converted into homes.

Here’s one of the more recent ones but before the double-glazed sun room was added.

Original porch and lovely flowers. I also suspect this was the last time the house was freshly painted!

Original porch and lovely flowers. I also suspect this was the last time the house was freshly painted!

There are a couple of Plunton dealing with adverse weather, including one of the “pond”.

Reflections on the pond

Reflections on the pond

Snowy drive and rhododendrons.

Snowy drive and rhododendrons.

And I love how this one captures the amazing winter skies we get here. I think it must have been taken from the study window.

Plunton skies

Plunton skies

Bootylicious

I’m going to be baking for this car boot sale in Castle Douglas with a friend. No idea how I’ll have time but I’m currently planning on producing parkin, flapjacks, cinnamon buns, chocolate muffins and banana bread.

Tam is making flatbreads, focaccia, cupcakes and scones. Really hope we’ll get a decent turn out and sell the lot!

Arty Arthur

Arthur, like Iris, loves mucking about with the camera. Most of the images he takes are instantly deleted but I stumbled across this sneaky selfie when going through the uploads and thought it was rather nice.

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A few sunny days and the weeds have appeared already. So a few hours were spent on Monday weeding the border under the lounge window and admiring our spring bulbs close up

By far the most popular with the early busy bees is the purple-striped crocus with its bright orange anthers. Other recent discoveries have included the sun-loving anenomes, sharing the sink planters with the crocus, and some chinodoxia that has appeared in the vegetable patch. We’ve also spotted a few muscari on the banks of the copse.
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Latest discovery from the Rayburn. We had some forgotten black grapes and on-the-turn organic tomatoes, so I halved the toms and tipped them and the pluckesld grapes into a roasting tin with a little oil and thyme from the garden.

I didn’t season, partly because Kester might well get some and partly because I didn’t want to encourage the juices to seep. I then put them in the low oven of the Rayburn for a day or two. Well, OK, I did forget about them a bit but they have turned out lovely.

The grapes have an intense, not-quite-raisin taste. I expect they will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so I think I will use them in a salad with goats cheese or halloumi.

 

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March, and our profusion of snowdrops are beginning to fade from luminous white to delicate papery grey. There are still drifts of alpine white among the trees but these are beginning to be overtaken by the pointed acid yellow buds of daffodils preparing to flower. On the grass, in places, there are purple and white crocus forcing their heads above the green blades and, best of all, one or two highlights of buttercup yellow crocuses, including one slap bang in the middle of our winter puddle pond. That particular golden bloom comes from the bulbs we planted this autumn, so is especially gratifying. Most of our spring blooms are inherited and we’ve been marveling at each new discovery, as well as taking the opportunity to move clumps around and add some extras in pots.

In late Autumn, I moved two old Belfast sinks from the back of the house to the front, to benefit from the sunshine. I planted this with perennials and bulbs in shades of blue and green. Pleasingly, all the plants seem to be coping well with the winter and a cheery purple anemone is the first bulb to flower. The luscious green curls of tulip leaves are also growing up through the mulch of gathered seashells used to dress the top of the soil.

Thanks to all this floral abundance, I’ve been able to indulge in cutting blooms for the house, gathering two bunches of daffodils today which are now in jugs in the lounge and the kitchen. The coming spring has also encouraged us to crack on with work in the field – before new growth overtakes us. Our new WWOOFer. Audrey, and Matthew have been busy raking off bracken patches in the field and we’ll plant wildflower seeds in the bare soil to give them a bit of competition. The bracken strafing is a project inspired by the Woodland Trust site visit on Friday. We’re waiting for the full report but it looks like the best option for creating a woodland in the field will be to plant trees in stages, starting with the areas close to the current copse and those that benefitted most from the sheep grazing. In these areas we could plants around 500 trees (willow, alder, hawthorn, scots pine) this year. For the remainder, we need to get hold of livestock to turn the soil and beat down the bracken which looks like being our biggest enemy.