Tuesday 27 December 2016

Our Christmas, 2016

I did my friend and family visiting earlier in the month, and Sue is travelling to Kent to see her sister, Mum and friends in a day or two's time. So for Christmas Day here at Roskhill, it was planned to be just us. As it happened, a nearby friend became widowed a short time ago, so we invited this friend, Anne, to join us for dinner and part of the day.

We had a great time. Sue was working in the morning (doing her usual home care job - which of course goes on 365 days of the year). This left me to cook the dinner, and although I say it myself - it all came out pretty fine! As to our visitor -  If I ever reach Anne's age (she is 93) should I then be only half as interesting, witty and jovial, I will still be having a good life. Anne was a life-long teacher, and became head teacher of a tough Glasgow secondary school in the late 1960s. She has many tales to tell, and remembers everything in perfect detail. She is a lovely, gracious and respectful lady - endearing qualities which I fear are going out of fashion in so many younger people of today.

Cupar was on his best behaviour. He only opened his own presents, and this year unwrapped one to find it contained a replacement for his much-loved but rather tattered rubber chicken toy. I didn't think to video the unwrapping until it was too late, but there are a couple of photos below.

So, although Christmas Day for this year is now in the past, we are still very much in the Christmas season, so I wish all readers of this blog Season's Greetings, and may we all have good health and happiness throughout the coming New Year.

Sue with Anne and Cupar
Cupar's 'deceased' rubber chicken (headless, feet-less, tail-less...)
'I've got a new chicken!! I've got a new chicken!!'
...but you're not having it !!

Monday 19 December 2016

Skye at Christmas

I'm sure I have mentioned before in this blog that the age demographic of Skye's resident population is somewhat different to that of the UK as a whole. We are all getting older anyway, and Skye is a popular place to retire to, so attracts plenty of ageing incomers (much like ourselves...)! Young families are few and far between, and as the children grow up, they often want to leave the island to seek a more exciting life elsewhere.

All this means that the autumnal family events such as Bonfire Night and Halloween tend not to happen here at all. Pensioners generally do not go trick-or-treating (or 'giuising', as it is known in Scotland), though there were a few 'spooky' masks for sale in the local shop.

You could be forgiven for not realising that Christmas is almost upon us too. Probably the most obvious sign is the stacks of beer, wine and spirits which now partially block most of the aisles in the Co-op, and some of the check-out staff are wearing Santa hats. Then there is the annual wonky Christmas tree outside Dunvegan Community Hall. But you don't see twinkly lit-up houses here, and we won't be expecting any carol singers to trudge through the black night to knock at our door.

I did manage to sing some carols the other evening though. The enthusiastic Skye Light Orchestra performs an annual Christmas Concert, and this year the orchestra was augmented by the recently formed 'Skye Chorus' choir. Sue sings with the choir, so I happily went along to one performance where audience participation in the carol singing was encouraged. I was also particularly impressed by the vigorous rendition given of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Clearly, we're not all huddled round our log-burners every evening!

Saturday 3 December 2016

Best Place To Live In Britain?

Apparently, a recent survey by the Rightmove estate agency group has revealed the Isle of Skye to be the most desirable place in Britain to live. Hmm... I think there are a lot of these surveys. Is there anywhere in Britain that has NOT been included in a list of 'healthiest', 'happiest', 'cheapest' or 'most dog-friendly'? I don't imagine the Skye vote will result in a flood of new incomers rushing to move here.

Having said that - as regular readers of this blog will know - Sue and I love it here. Skye life suits us well. The winter weather so far this year is being very kind. We've had a bit of frost and a bit of snow and even a bit of fog, but it's not been especially wet or windy yet, and the sun has been making quite frequent appearances.

At this time of year, the sun never gets very high in the sky, so the low angle of sunshine enhances the rich browns and oranges of the winter vegetation and long, deep shadows all combine to give us the most glorious of light shows. The landscape seems to vibrate with beauty. There's no explaining it in words, and photographs don't do it justice - you have to be here and experience it for yourself!

But if you have read the survey, and are rushing to get your house on the market in preparation for moving here - remember - it's a long way to the shops...!

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Let’s Hear It For NHS Scotland!

I received a letter the other day, inviting me to attend Portree hospital for a screening scan for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurism. All men aged 65 in Scotland get this letter. The accompanying information leaflet told me that about 1 in 20 men aged 65 have an aortic aneurysm. Small and medium aneurisms may never need treatment, though they will continue to be monitored. Large aneurisms can rupture, which often leads to death, but if spotted soon enough, may be treated to prevent rupture.

But enough of the health-scare stuff…

My appointment was for 2.40pm. I arrived at the little Portree hospital at about 2.25pm, and was greeted by a helpful receptionist who showed me towards the upstairs reception, where the patients for scans were registered. ‘Do you need the lift to get upstairs? I was asked…OMG – I must be beginning to look old…!!!

A further friendly and smiling receptionist at upstairs reception took my details and pointed me to a seated waiting area. Just one other person was sitting there, among about a dozen empty chairs. I took off my coat and was about to sit down when a nurse called my name, and showed me to a treatment room.

‘I’m Christine, and this Is Janice’, said the nurse, showing me into the room. I was given a little information as to what was about to be done, and asked if I had any questions. I did not, so I lay on the couch and my abdomen was squirted with a rather chilly jelly. A few minutes of ultrasound scanning took place, and I was then told by Janice that my aorta was well within the ‘normal’ range, and I was filled in with a few further details by Christine. I was then ‘free to go’.

I wandered out of the hospital and back to my van (parked in the hospital car park, right outside, and for no cost, I should add), and as I turned on the ignition, noticed the time was 2.37pm.

Yes – I had attended my appointment, received top quality treatment, and was back out of the hospital BEFORE the time I was due to even be there.

I award 10 out of 10 to Portree Hospital, NHS Scotland, for their friendly and efficient care.  Thank you!

Portree Hospital

Saturday 5 November 2016

Historic Roskhill

Ever since buying Roskhill Barn, we have been fascinated to learn more about the history of the building and the local area. Very little has been written down. Our deeds provide the names of two previous owners, going back to the 1950s, but we are pretty certain that the Barn was built towards the end of the 19th century. There appear to be no written records to confirm this. The oldest map of Roskhill I have found dates from 1877, and certainly shows buildings on the site of the Barn and Roskhill House (which was the farmhouse to which we are the barn), but the footprint of the buildings is not quite as they are today - so there is no knowing if they are the same buildings.

1877 map - the Barn is under the pink dot.
A new road was built in the 1960s, which bypasses us and the sharp bend at Vatten Bridge.
Note the Erd House (at the foot of the map).
This would have been a bronze-age souterrain - there are several on Skye.
The Roskhill one has long since collapsed and no sign of it remains today.
As for the slightly more recent history - we do have some first-hand tales told by elderly local residents. One recalls the days when the Barn was a cattle shed - probably about 1950 - and one night, the building caught fire, destroying the roof and sadly killing some of the cattle. Charred timbers were found in one of the walls when our rebuild was undertaken. At some time, possibly in the 1920s, the farmhouse next door opened a shop with a petrol pump outside. It was also a Post Office for a while. Our postman's sister worked in the shop in the 1960s. The Barn was then used for storage and for anyone buying paraffin oil, a trip had to made from shop to Barn where the oil was stored. The doorway of the barn was in what is now the back wall, and the wood lintel is now visible inside, being the beam above our kitchen window.

In the 1970s, the Barn was converted for residential use as two flats. These were let as holiday accommodation. The roof was raised slightly, and an outside staircase built to provide access to the upper floor. Another local resident used to do the turn-rounds. She visited here recently as was able to recall the location of the ground floor kitchen and bathroom, which were in quite different places to what we had expected. She was also surprised to see how much the trees around the building had grown - I guess trees do a lot of growing in 40 years!

We have found just two old photographs which show the Barn. They are both undated, but our best guess is that they are both from the 1930s. I'll post them below. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get a modern comparison view today because of the growth of the trees.

The Barn stands to the left of Roskhill House.
Today, the ground to left of the river is planted with sitka spruce.
We think this is a later picture than the one above.
It looks like the deciduous trees in the river gorge (in front of Roskhill House) are beginning to grow
though the sitka are yet to be planted.

Monday 31 October 2016

A Little Break

With the visitor season slowing down at last, Sue and I have booked ourselves a couple of very short breaks to give ourselves a change of scene. We made the first of these trips last week, staying at the rather lovely Bunchrew House Hotel just outside Inverness. Cupar gets to have his break in the Portree kennels... The hotel stands in large wooded grounds on the shore of the Beauly Firth. Our room (in the tower, just above the front door) faced the gardens, but breakfast in the dining room gave us views over the firth. We travelled in Puss Kat the Jaguar of course - what a fabulous vehicle!

Puss and Sue at Bunchrew
On our first day, we parked on the outskirts of Inverness and enjoyed a lovely walk all along the banks of the River Ness into the city centre, where we spent a couple of hours exploring the little museum and art gallery - which is definitely worth a visit if you find yourselves with a couple of spare hours in the city centre!

Next day, with the weather very much in our favour, we headed out to Fortrose (not far away) where we viewed the cathedral ruins, then embarked on a six-mile circular walk which took in Chanonry Point, the village of Rosemarkie, a bit of Rosemarkie's Fairy Glen, and the hill over Swallow's Den.
We later had a little wander around the small town of Beauly with its wonderful Abbey ruins. Sue took more photos than me, so I may add some of hers later.

Fortrose Cathedral, lychgate, built 1922 as a war memorial 

Chanonry Point lighthouse.
The point is reckoned to be the best place in the UK for dolphin-spotting
 - but the dolphins were in hiding while we were there.
Rosemarkie village - yes, I managed to pass the pub without pausing...

Fairy Glen - the autumn colour was fabulous, and a dipper (bird) serenaded us with the most beautiful of songs

View from Swallows Den.
We had walked from Fortrose (on the right), to the point, then to Rosemarkie (on the left), and were now heading back to the start. 

Next trip - in a couple of week's time - Dundee!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Skye For Sale...?

Two of our good friends on Skye currently have their homes on the market, and it sometimes seems like almost everywhere on Skye is for sale. I guess it is a reflection of the constant flow of people moving here and moving away. Sure, Skye has its long-term residents - some who have lived here all their lives - but incomers come and go with an almost predictable regularity.

So, is it time for you to relocate to Skye? Well, property prices here tend to rise all time - just like most other places – so now is as good-a time as any. Here, though, the increase in prices is quite slow, and incomers from many parts of the UK will find prices lower than they are ‘back home’. Some properties here take a long time to sell. For example – there are a number of businesses for sale in Dunvegan just now, including a shop, a garage with adjoining cafĂ©, and several guest house/B&Bs. All have been on the market for at least a year. It seems that the properties which sell fastest are what I would describe as ‘little gems’ – small (2-bedroom) traditional cottages in decent condition, with great views, and priced well under £200,000.

There are three estate agents on Skye – Remax in Broadford, and The Isle of Skye Estate Agency and Skye Property Centre in Portree. On their books currently are quite a number of properties for sale, with habitable residential properties from under £100,000 to about £450,000 - and you get a lot of house at the top end of the price range! At these prices, it makes buying a plot and having a new house built look like rather an expensive option. There is a severe shortage of long-term rental property however – I get quite frequent enquiries through this blog for help or suggestions with finding rental property. Just now none of the Skye agents have ANY rental properties on offer. Maybe it a good time for anyone with £££s to spend, and keen on property management, to buy-up a few good houses for the long-let rental market?

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Exciting Skye... Or Maybe Not...?

I have in front of me the 9th September edition of our local newspaper - the West Highland Free Press (it's not free, it costs 75p). I grabbed it at random from the magazine rack in the lounge. Just to give you a flavour of the exciting events that make it into print here on the Isle of Skye, I'll describe below some of the contents of this paper...

Front page headline: 'Fresh Fears For Portree Hospital'.This is a story that has been ongoing for a while. We have two tiny and ageing hospitals on Skye, and there is a proposal to reduce the status of Portree and build a new hospital to replace the existing one in Broadford. To put this in perspective... I quote from the WHFP 'There are currently seven patients at the hospital [Portree] so at present it is closed to new admissions'. Yes, that is single digit SEVEN - not seventy, or seven-hundred...!  Can you imagine how many doctors, nurses, other hospital staff (and everyone else needed to maintain a hospital) are employed to keep this hospital open?? Can you wonder that the NHS is struggling?  But then again - our nearest 'big' hospital is in Inverness... 130 miles away. How far would you have to go to your nearest major hospital? I'm glad I do not responsible for making decisions about where the finite amount of NHS money should be spent!

So, on to page 2...'Mallaig Lifeboat Called Out'... apparently a fishing boat began taking on water, but both boat and crew of two were safely rescued. Phew!

Page 5 features a large photograph of many sheep, under which is the headline: 'Large Entry of Lambs in Portree Auction Mart This Week'. Apparently they were selling for an average of £37.49 each, which is 50p less than last year. It's not much fun being a lamb...

On Page 7, under another big photo, this time of a lifeboat, is the headline: 'Kyle RNLI Planning For Another Successful Maritime Day' - this refers to a forthcoming annual open day, which (weather permitting) (!!) will include the local kayaking club, an obstacle race and rope throwing competition....
I can barely contain my excitement...

After that major highlight,  the paper lapses into several pages of semi-advertising articles about local businesses and writers. Then there's a letters page - all the usual complaints about the council not doing the right things for road safety and the state of the Scottish economy.

Finally, there follows a 'what's on' page (lots of little events at local community halls) and a couple of pages of small ads from local businesses, with the back few pages being given over to sport - no, not football here, but shinty. Every photo is of a stick-wielding male. Are women allowed to play shinty? Are any other sports played on Skye? You would not think so from the coverage here.

The West Highland Free Press website is at: http://www.whfp.com/ , and if you really want to fully immerse yourself in the excitement of life on Skye, you can have the paper posted to your home - just click on the 'subscriptions' tab on the whfp website.

Same Blog - Different 'Look'

Regular visitors to Skye Calling will have noticed that I have changed the look of our blog. I just thought it was time for an update! All that has changed is a few background colours and images and maybe a font or two - everything else remains as before, and all the previous posts are unaltered.

The new banner photo is just one of many fantastic sunsets we see out of the windows of Roskhill Barn.

Sunday 11 September 2016

AN EXCITING DAY (posted by Sue)

It is just six months since we lost our very dear friend,
 Rosalind Burgess and those who knew  her
miss her tremendous warmth, gregarious personality
 and lust for life!

Rosalind's wee cottage and her lovely garden!

There are a lot of us left behind and amongst them,
a lovely couple, - Robert and Anne, living on the nearby 
Isle of Soay, south-west of Skye.
I was in contact with them after Rosalind's passing 
and have been doing so ever since and 
recently received an invitation to attend 
'a Book Signing' of Anne's account of life on Soay, - 
'Island on the Edge'  How exciting!!
I duly drove down last Sunday morning through 
THE most amazing scenic route to the appropriate
spot at Elgol Pier.   It was an incredible day and the photos
I took were numerous......!

This is one of the views from my car en-route to Elgol

It was lovely to finally meet up with Anne and Robert
basking in glorious sunshine down by the pier!
They had lots of support from friends and neighbours
and were kept busy throughout the day....

Anne and Robert at Elgol Pier proudly present 
'Island on the Edge' !

After soaking up some sunshine, chatting and
enjoying such a convivial atmosphere I left 
for the journey home clutching five books.
Along the way I encountered just a few lovely panoramas!

The view of The Cuillin from Elgol Pier

 There were similar breathtaking views like this around every corner!

Looking back at Bla Bheinn 

Puffy white clouds and a blue sky frame Beinn na Caillich!

Back in Broadford the weather was still amazing so 
I decided to go for a walk to take in some of the 
more local scenery.....

The view across Broadford Bay from the Co-Op carpark.....

I just love the vivid blue of this beautiful scabious plant!

Just look at that beautiful sky.....

..... and it just gets better and better.
This was taken just before Struan, en-route home to Dunvegan.

A picnic bench with evening views towards MacLeods Tables

And finally:

A spectacular sky above MacLeods Tables about two minutes from 
home at Roskhill......

What a day! :)

Sunday 4 September 2016

Skye Sighs… Peace is Returning !

Now, as each day passes, there are greater gaps appearing between the convoys of camper vans that lumber onto Skye over the bridge. Timid left-hand-driver overseas visitors in their right-hand-drive rental cars are becoming fewer and further between. There are even a few empty spaces in the car park in Portree. Skye and its residents breathe a collective sigh of relief. The summer season is coming to an end.

The powerful promotion of the Scottish Highlands, and Skye in particular, as a tourist destination has been very successful. Year on year our visitor numbers are increasing, and it is a delight to see so many people discovering this most fabulous part of the world. But at what cost?

In ‘our’ part of Skye, we have three natural attractions that have been much promoted on social media with brightly coloured over-photoshopped images. These are the Fairy Pools, the Coral Beach and Neist Point. All lie at or near the end of several miles of single track road. The car parks at each of them are tiny, and there are no other facilities such as shops, cafes or toilets. Just about every visitor heads for one or all of these locations, with the result being blocked roads with damaged verges, and damage to some of the rental cars and camper vans too. It is hard to imagine how a visit to a crowded and muddy ‘scenic’ location is going to leave a visitor with the best impression of what they have seen.

For me, the silence and solitude on Skye is a big part of the island’s magic. Somehow, Skye needs to find a balance between providing for the numbers of summer visitors without spoiling the wild and ethereal beauty of the landscape. It would be good if fewer visitors came in July and August, and more came in winter. November to March, Skye is empty of visitors, but the scenery is still here! Sure, the daylight hours are shorter, and it‘s a bit colder, but rain is not much more likely, and there will probably be snow on the hills which adds to the majesty of every scene. Some of the touristy shops will be closed – but consider that a bonus! The canny folk see Skye at its sparkling best by visiting in April/May or October.

Plans are in place to provide visitor facilities and larger car parks at one or two popular Skye attractions, but I would hate to see our single track roads being widened, visitor centres created, and over-commercialism kill the essence of this lovely land – though for now at least, I know plenty of spectacular secret and virtually unvisited locations to sneak off to while the crowding tourists fight for a parking place at one of the more congested spots.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Away Day

... almost two days in fact. We booked Cupar into the kennels for the night, and set off east - the west coast is too busy with tourists at this time of year! I had booked a B&B in Elgin, but we spent most of day one in Burghead and Lossiemouth. We have never visited these places before, and found plenty to keep us occupied as we explored the streets and harbours. It was pleasing to find a number of information plaques which explained a bit about some local history and places of interest.

Later, we arrived in Elgin to check in to our B&B and have an evening meal in the town. Next morning, we had a fairly brief wander through the town centre, and also walked round the ruins of the massive cathedral. We probably spent most time in the beautiful Biblical Garden. This features many of the plants which are mentioned in the Bible, together with plaques giving Bible quotes mentioning plants. The garden is beautifully maintained. It is a community project, managed by Moray Council.

Next week, I make one of my regular trips south, staying in Devon and Hampshire, visiting friends and family, but this time, Sue and Cupar will be staying home.

Heading east
Burghead village
It was a bit breezy...
Burghead Harbour
Old Harbour - Lossiemouth
Former fishermen's cottages in Seatown, Lossiemouth
Lossiemouth has a wonderful beach, accessed by a footbridge
Sue at Elgin Cathedral
Elgin - The Biblical Garden
Inside the Biblical Garden

Sunday 7 August 2016

What Do We Wear On Skye?

 I will shortly be making another of my regular trips south, to visit friends and family in Devon and Hampshire. Every time I go, even in summer, I carefully pack my bag with jumpers, waterproofs and woolly hat… and seldom if ever wear any of them. I’ve become so used to our weather here, that I kind-of assume it’s the same everywhere else in the UK.

Only yesterday, I came across a question from a lady who is about to visit Skye in August for the first time, asking what clothing she should be bringing with her. Good question! Glancing at the way many of the visitors are dressed – they clearly didn’t think to ask that question before they packed!

Daytime summer temperatures here can be as low as 13C or as high as 26C (possibly all within the same day…) so wearing layers is good. Just because it is a bright sunny morning, doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be windy and wet by the afternoon, so be prepared for anything! Personally, I prefer to keep my arms and legs covered in all weathers, as biting insects seem to like my flesh – so there are no shorts in my wardrobe!

Obviously, it depends a bit on what you are going to be doing, but for any trip which involves being outside for any length of time, you are likely to need protection against rain. Since our rain is very often accompanied by gusty winds (60 mph winds are not uncommon, even in summer…) then an umbrella is not a lot of use. Likewise, poncho-style rainwear is not very wind-friendly. The ideal is a lightweight, zipped, waterproof jacket with fitted hood, which can be worn just over a shirt when warm enough, or maybe over a jumper or fleece if chilly. Waterproof trousers (or over-trousers) are also essential to have with you if you are going to be outside for long. The woolly hat can be good when it is windy – at least it helps keep your hair out of your eyes!

Footwear? Anywhere off a tarmac or gravel surface is likely to be soggy, so shoes should be well-fitting, stout and waterproof.  Wellies are not comfortable for walking. Full hiking boots are only necessary if you are doing any serious trekking. Also – you won’t need gloves in summer unless you are going high into the hills, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you are not fully conversant with hill walking in Scotland.

Evening-wear can be the same as day-wear – certainly in the pubs and eating places that we frequent. There’s not much formality on Skye, though you might feel like putting on a bit of sparkle if you are dining in one of the posher restaurants.

I hope this post may be useful to some of our visitors – come prepared, and enjoy Skye in all of its moods!

Wednesday 27 July 2016

International Skye

Skye is a very popular destination for holidaymakers. People come for any number of reasons - there is so much on offer, including hill walking, coastal walking, climbing, photography, wildlife, history, geology.... and just plain, simple peace and quiet.

When we first offered our self catering accommodation to visitors, by far the largest proportion of them came from the UK, indeed, it was quite rare to get an overseas booking at all. But things have now changed. Gradually, the Europeans discovered self catering on Skye, and we would get bookings from Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy. But as much of the booking today is done through international booking websites, we have now become truly international. We have been using booking.com for Summer Cottage since we bought it, and at that cottage, a booking from the UK is quite a rarity!

Here's the most recent couple of pages from the Summer Cottage visitors' book. To save you straining your eyes, I will tell you that the entries here have been left by people from; The Netherlands, Romania, Finland, Israel, France and Scotland. There's no photo, but on the previous page are entries from visitors from the USA, Australia and Hong Kong.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

The New Toy - Update...

A few weeks ago, I promised I would post some photos of my new toy when it had its new number plates and Skye graced us with some decent weather... well, it happened...

First Time Ever...!!

Yesterday was the warmest day we have had on Skye this year - a very pleasant 24C in the afternoon, with wispy white clouds overhead. Additionally, I have been aware for a couple of weeks now, that we are almost completely midge-free at the moment. This was confirmed by spending a couple of hours cutting the grass wearing a short-sleeved tee shirt, and getting no bites at all.

So, come the evening, I rummaged in the garden shed and came out clutching an unused disposable barbecue that a visitor had left here a few years ago. A few minutes later, a match had been applied, and the thing seemed to began to light OK, so I set off to the freezer for a couple of burgers.

The little barbie didn't seem to be getting going too well - I'm sure the charcoal would have been damp - but I persevered, and sat happily in a cloud of smoke for about an hour, sipping a can of cider while my burgers gradually turned from pink to slightly less pink. I eventually gave up, and finished them off under the grill, but hey - this was the first time in all the years we have lived here that I have actually managed to have a barbecue, even if it wasn't an all-out success!

Chef at work!

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Skye's Roadside Verges

Cupar-the-Collie gets his early morning stretch along the main road that runs by Roskhill. I say 'main road', because it is the A863 which crosses the moors from Dunvegan to Sligachan, but Skye is so traffic-free, we seldom see more than half a dozen vehicles in our 30 minute walkies.

So, every morning, wandering along with occasional pauses for a sniff (Cupar, not me), I gaze at the view (stunning), at the clouds (usually plentiful) at the birds (meadow pipets and sedge warblers most likely, plus crows, seabirds and occasional snipe) and at the roadside verges.

Just now, the wide verges are at their most resplendent. Lush swathes of waving grasses are tall and delicate and dotted throughout by yellow, blue, purple and white wild flowers. A close-up of nature at its awesome best.

But I have noticed a difference this year. Some familiar flowers are very few in number, and others seem to be missing altogether. We are used to seeing orchids (marsh and spotted), but the few that have flowered this year are small and widely scattered, while in contrast, the birds foot trefoil is absolutely everywhere. And there seem to be none of the magnificent huge spear thistles at all.... I can only assume the success or otherwise of wild flowers varies in much the same way as any other living thing. Temperatures and weather conditions vary every year, and no doubt this has an effect on some plants (and presumably on insects/animals as well).
Here are a few photos of some of our local wild flowers... (and I'm cheating a bit - I took these on 25th June, last year).

As ever in this blog - click on any picture to see it bigger and view a gallery.

Birds foot trefoil

Marsh orchid

Spotted orchid

Ragged robin

Tufted vetch


Red clover

Ox-eye daisy

Marsh thistle