Archives for posts with tag: Bonnie Gallowa

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For the first time in what feels like forever, we had a completely blank calendar this weekend and an unusually cool August decided to give us a final hurrah of warm sunshine. Saturday morning was spent tidying up a little after our last WWOOF visitors, the fantastically helpful and efficient Georgia and Stefano, and decanting our first batch of apple wine.

We also got out into the field to put up more electric fencing in preparation for the pigs. We have ordered a pair of female weaners who should arrive later this month. Georgia and Stefano prepared the ground and helped us with the fencing, now we just need to sort out the battery, patch up the sty, connect up some hoses and get a trough and we should be good to go. We’ll have a pig for ourselves and another to sell on, so if anyone fancies some outdoor-reared pork for Christmas, let us know!

Saturday afternoon saw us go on another brambling expedition along the road and into the fields. We gathered around 4kg of brambles and finally visited the small lochan in the field behind our house. A pair of swans were floating serenely on the surface with their awkwardly adolescent cygnets, rabbits startled to see us from their hedgerow hides and deer dashed away, glimpsed through green and pricky gorse. The uneven and rocky ground had been thoroughly worn down by years of cattle marching over the turf to create rutted paths around the thorniest brambles and most gristled gorse. In short, we were great galumphing intruders on a landscape shaped as much by animal as man with only the presence of cattle, feed containers and ancient dry-stane dykes to remind us that this landscape was as human as it was animal.

A quarter of Saturday’s brambles are fermenting merrily for bramble wine and the rest have been packed in the freezer. Today, while I worked, Matt took the kids exploring in the southern part of Cally Woods at Girthon. Matt had planned to forage for mushrooms but there was nothing to be seen, so he made notes of likely locations and a crab apple tree for future expeditions. He and the kids did discover The Temple, an old folly, and lots of coppiced trees for climbing, like this hazel.

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In other news, Iris lost her first tooth on Friday and got 50p from the tooth fairy. Hers is called Twinkle, apparently, although Georgia tells us that in Italy they have a Tooth Mouse who collects milk teeth in exchange for a Euro (or 1,000 Lire when she was wee, which impressed Iris mightily.)

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At the end of June, we spent a sunny afternoon at the Galloway Children’s Festival in Kirkcudbright. The kids had a ball, trying out circus skills, dressing up, singing and dancing.

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The Coo Palace

Picture by CKD Galbraith

Castle Haven, locally known as “The Coo Palace” is an Edwardian dairy built by the Knockbrex estate by the coast at Corseyard. As it’s about three miles from our house towards the beach, visitors often spot it and ask what it is. Built for the finest dairy cows on the estate at the time, the building was once home to 14 cows and the dairyman (who lived in an apartment in the tower). It’s been empty for decades now and, despite some temporary repairs to the roof of the tower, is in a bad way. It’s A-listed and officially on the buildings at risk register. Now, however, it looks like there may be plans afoot to bring this dilapidated building back to life. You can read the estate agent’s particulars here.

The Holiday Property Bond are in the process of buying the dairy and have plans to convert it into holiday accommodation for their bondholders. The current plans are for 21 apartments, created from renovating the existing buildings (the tower will be kept as a viewing platform) and some sympathetic new builds on the site. The company and their architect invited the community council to a site visit last week and held a public meeting in the village hall to show their plans and discuss the scheme. The plans seem like a viable solution to saving an otherwise collapsing building and, like all small rural communities, Borgue could benefit from the extra income and jobs the development will create. I wonder if the visitors would fancy buying in home baking and handmade “ready” meals…?

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Despite living just five miles from the south-eastern boundary of Galloway Forest Park, we’ve only seen the tiniest slither of this huge open space, namely Cally Woods. On Tuesday we rectified this by heading for the hills to take part in a Red Deer talk at the Red Deer Range near Clatteringshaws Loch. The talk was free and part of the Dumfries and Galloway Wild Spring festival. We saw seven red deer, mostly hinds but a couple of skittish young bucks were around too. At this time of year they are not very red and the stags were still in their winter feeding grounds. It was great to learn more about this native species and also about another deer we’re more familiar with – the roes we see in our garden and field!

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After walking back to the car past some lovely wood anenomes, we headed for Kirroughtree, only pausing to admire the mountain goats and for a quick walk to the Grey Mare’s Tail fountain. The kids loved having a scramble over the mossy banks and the fountain was sparkling in the spring sunshine.

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The new visitor centre at Kirroughtree was perfect for lunch and afterwards the kids spent a good hour in the play park before we headed home for a teatime barbecue. The first barbecue of the year is always a great event and although the wind was a little chilly, hovering by the flames or sitting on the freshly mown grass in the sun was perfect. After all that sunshine and gadding about, the kids were pretty tired but I think their favourite part of the day was actually just mucking about playing an elaborate Narnia-style game on the lawn!

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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.
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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.

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Porthole

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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.
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Sunshine and showers today but in one of the lulls I took the chance to take more pictures of our gorgeous snow drops.

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It’s a real luxury to have so many of these dainty beauties you can give in to the urge to pick some. Not known for lasting long as a cut flower, they have the most subtle fresh scent, so I placed a tiny glassful by the sink to admire them.

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On Wednesday, while Arthur was at nursery, Kester and I decided to blow away the cobwebs by taking a stroll around Dundrennan Abbey.

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Originally Cistercian – though I think probably adopted and further ornamented by other, less austere, orders later – it was set up by monks from Yorkshire’s Riveaulx Abbey at the behest of a local landowner.

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As well as being a gorgeous ruin, with some surprisingly intact areas, its chief claim to fame is an association with Mary Queen of Scots. Dundrennan is the place where she spent her last few hours in Scotland.

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Amusingly there is a padlock on the elaborate iron gates (it is a Historic Scotland property) but the Abbey is completely open at various points due to its being a ruin, so the padlock is somewhat superfluous!

Morning light

I’m enjoying taking the time to see how the light changes around the garden through the day. This morning a shaft of sunlight seemed to uplight the sycamores outside the kitchen, picking out the leaves as they begin to change to their autumn hue.

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This afternoon’s steady drizzle didn’t stop everyone working. A harvest spider had been busy weaving webs between the railings outside Arthur’s nursery. Covered in tiny droplets, they glistened in the waning sun – nature’s lametta garland.