Wednesday 30 August 2017

For Sale - Rowan Cottage

Rowan Cottage
Sue and I have agreed that it is time to reduce our workload. I am 66 now, and would quite like to take semi-retirement from my job of managing our holiday cottages. We once had four holiday lets. We currently have three, but by selling Rowan, we will be down to two – which we think will be manageable by us for the foreseeable future.

Our plan is to use the proceeds from the sale to buy a modern bungalow in Inverness which we will long-let through a management company. The management company will do all the work, and we will get a regular income from the rent – albeit a good deal less than a holiday let might achieve…

A big bonus of selling Rowan will be to reduce the miles we travel to service our properties. The biggest mistake we made when we started our holiday cottage rental business was to buy cottages that were scattered across the island – it is nearly an hour’s drive each way from our home to Rowan, and that’s an awful lot of driving just to mow the lawn!

Rowan Cottage was the first property we bought on Skye, fourteen years ago. It is a lovely little cottage, snuggled down on the shore above a sea loch, with a wonderful view to the nearby island of Scalpay, and also to the mainland. The cottage has been a very popular holiday let. Some of our regular visitors will be very sorry to see it sold – though it well may pass on to an owner who will continue to offer the cottage on the holiday rental market.

The cottage is being marketed through Re/Max Skye, and is available for offers over £185,000. To see the details - click this link .

Sunday 27 August 2017

Allotment update

I've been trying to find the time to harvest some of the abundant vegetable growth on the allotment. The potatoes have done exceptionally well this year. On planting, I filled their trenches with leaf mould and added a few handsful of organic fertiliser - they clearly liked that! The plants grew huge, and now, on digging up the roots, an equally huge crop is the result.... The crop in the barrow are a seldom seen variety - Red Duke of York - they have beetroot colour skins, but beneath the skin, they are pure white. Each of the larger ones provides enough potato for two portions. The crop in the box are the waxy-textured lovely-flavoured Charlotte.

Potatoes - about one third of this year's total crop...!
That's just one bed harvested - the smaller one... The Maris Peer, Maris Piper and King Edwards are still to be dug up... I'll do my best to store them over winter, but even after giving away a few bags to our neighbours, I think we will struggle to use all these!

Here is the jumble of dying growth in the larger bed. On the right are the carrots, which have also done really well. At the back are the beans.

The larger potato bed (and carrots), still to be harvested.
The broad beans have only produced an average crop, and the runner beans have finally grown big enough to flower, but they are about six weeks too late! I doubt they will have any worthwhile pods on them before we get an autumn frost which will finish them off. I'll start the runners in pots indoors next year, and hope to get them going in the ground a good bit earlier. But so much depends on temperatures and sunshine - one year's weather is never the same as the next.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Roskhill's Secret Garden

It's not really secret at all of course...

The garden ground here at Roskhill is divided into two separate areas. One area is in front of, and to the side of, the Barn itself. The other area lies across the old township road, and is accessed by a pedestrian gate. It is this second part that I generally refer to it as 'The Allotment'. However, the actual area of land in this part of the garden is considerably larger than just the vegetable beds, and over the last few years I have gradually reclaimed a fairly sizeable piece of ground from the wild wilderness that was there before. I've also planted several trees along the top of the river gorge. These trees are mostly 'rescues' that had self-seeded in silly places, and none is taller than me... yet.  I have two larches, two scots pines, two spruce, an oak (grown from an acorn and still only about a foot tall, even though it is now five years old) and a mountain ash.

So - this is my 'Secret Garden', as no-one ever goes there - only me and just occasionally Sue. I really like the jumble of natural vegetation that borders the area I have cleared. Wild flowers flourish. The birds and insects love it.

So do I!

The yellow flowers are ragwort. I won't let them shed seed!

In the middle foreground is a cotoneaster that came to me as a 6 inch tall single spike.
It clearly likes its home next to our septic tank - and the bees love its flowers!

Looking into the Secret Garden over the allotment.
Just right of centre is a cherry tree - it does produce cherries which we leave for the birds.
Left of centre is the foliage of Jerusalem Artichoke -
the roots are like knobby potatoes, and great in soup or when mashed with swede.