Saturday, 29 August 2020

Harvest Coming Home

It has been a sensationally good year on the allotment. I think in part, the success of the crops may be a result of buying seed from a different supplier. Up until this year, I have always relied on Suttons for all my veg seeds, but I have often been disappointed by poor germination rates, and ultimately by poor plants. This year, I bought Thompson and Morgan seed. Has that made such a difference? Who can say? This year could just be a 'special' year. We will have to grow Thompson and Morgan seed for a few more years to be able to make any claim that one is better than the other.

The weather here in the spring of 2020 was mild, often sunny and mostly dry. There were no late frosts. Summer has been quite wet. We have had a couple of 60mph storms, but the allotment is reasonably well protected from the wind. 

Due to the coronavirus lockdown, I had more time than in previous years to lavish on careful tending of the soil, the growing plants, and the weeding.

The results... well ! The photos below tell the tale - and yes, I am sorry the grass paths on the allotment need a trim. I'll get onto that tomorrow...


The kale is just amazing, and really yummy. 
On the left are the brussels sprouts
- coming on nicely and will be ready for picking in a month or so.



The harvest from one row of potatoes...
On the right are the next ones to be harvested - four more rows...



The runner beans are by far the best I have ever grown at Roskhill, and possibly the best ever!



Do you remember my excitement when the carrot seeds germinated...???
Look at them now...!!!



The onion crop, hung out to dry.
The potatoes await being stored in hessian sacks.


Friday, 28 August 2020

Do You Write Reviews?

More and more these days, we are getting used to shopping online for pretty much everything. More and more, we have then become used to follow-up emails from the supplier asking us how we like our purchase, and urging us to write a review. I suppose there may be some value in such reviews if there are enough of them to paint an overall picture, as 90% of positive comments will indicate that the product is probably 'OK', even if 10% have left negative remarks.

I personally have a slightly uneasy feeling about anonymous reviews though. I am concerned that it is all too easy for a reviewer to leave unpleasant, malicious or unfair remarks in a similar way that online bullying can infect the pages of some social media websites.

When it comes to accommodation, in 'the good old days', providers who were registered with the scheme would get an annual Quality Assurance inspection from a representative of the national tourism board. This resulted in a private written report for the provider, telling them what they were doing well, what needed attention, and a public overall star-rating was then awarded. A 5-star rating was reserved for the very highest quality accommodation, and was rarely awarded. 4-star was 'excellent', while 3-star was 'good'. The most basic accommodation gained 2-stars, and 1-star didn't really exist.

All that has now gone, in favour of public online reviews written by the guests themselves. We market our cottages through Airbnb and Booking.com. Both of these platforms nag the guests to leave reviews following their visit, but there are differences in their approach.

Both operate a star-grading system, and both expect providers to maintain a star score of 4.8 out of 5 or better, otherwise penalties may be applied, with very low-scoring properties being unlisted from the platform - though Booking.com is slightly less draconian than Airbnb in this respect.

Airbnb ask guests to separately rate; accuracy, check-in, cleanliness, communication, location and value, and then give an overall quality rating - so a guest who rates using the old tourism board stars where 3-star was 'good', can easily leave a rating that results in a harmful average of under 4.

Airbnb also invites the accommodation provider (whom they refer to as the host) to write a review of the guest, and neither host's review or guest's review are published until both have written their reviews. This system is supposed to encourage guests to respect the properties in which they are staying, and to leave them tidy on departure, as hosts are likely refuse a booking request from guests who have poor reviews - though in practice, a guest with poor reviews can simply re-register with Airbnb under a new name and 'wipe their slate clean'.

For the host, reading positive review comments from happy guests is rewarding, and there is little doubt such comments encourage other potential guests to book highly-rated properties. On the other hand, negative comments in a review can be quite hurtful, especially if they relate to issues that could have been easily dealt-with if the issue had been brought to the attention of the host during the stay. Another irritation in reviews is negative comments about issues that we have no control over, like the weather, or the distance to the nearest pub. Thankfully, we have very rarely found ourselves reading negative comments about our own properties.

So - when I do leave a review for something (which I have to admit - I seldom do) I think carefully about what I say and how I say it. I would like to think that everyone does the same... 



Monday, 17 August 2020

More Words On The Weather

When it was first talked-about, I never imagined climate change and global warming would happen quickly enough to have any affect on my life. But - rather suddenly, and all over the world - people are now beginning to realise that climate change really is here already.

In the UK, we are becoming more and more used to hearing news and weather reports of record temperatures (both highs and lows), of gales, storms, floods and other weather events that are still often described as 'extreme'. The recent 'extreme' heatwave affecting the south east of England was one of several such events in the last decade or two. There is every likelihood that such events will soon become the norm rather than the exception.

Here on Skye - so far - we have not been experiencing any 'extremes'. Unlike the south east of England, where weather is often strongly influenced by the area's proximity to continental Europe, the weather here is largely of a maritime nature, influenced by the vast Atlantic Ocean which is our immediate neighbour. 

Skye weather is never anything at all like the weather in the south east of England. The warmest it ever gets here is many degrees lower than in the south, though the coldest is probably about the same - we might get down to -3C some winter nights. We usually get a little winter snow, but it doesn't last long. 

However, we get much stronger winds than in the south. Gales of 50mph would be considered a stiff breeze, and occur several times a year - winter and summer... Storms reaching 70mph are not that unusual.

And we get a lot of rain. But because we have always had a lot of rain, the landscape absorbs it. The spate rivers rush with peat-brown water for a day or so after a downpour, and then everything returns to normal. Of course - the landscape here is largely natural, and has not been over-developed by acres and acres of non-absorbent tarmac and concrete....

So far - the most obvious way that climate change is affecting the NW Highlands is in a change of the seasons. Winters have become milder. Spring is drier. Summer is wetter. And the whole climate year seems to have moved on a month or so - meaning that now, in mid August, is already beginning to feel like mid-September. It is the same in the spring, when April doesn't happen until May.

We seem to be being faced with a lot of 'new normals' these days. Or am I just getting old?  But, where would I rather be in 2020 Britain? The dry and sultry south or the cool, wet and windy north west...??

Silly question...!


Roskhill, Skye, July 2020 - photo by Sue


Sunday, 19 July 2020

I've Been Painting...

I have just completed the redecoration of the outside of Summer Cottage. The cottage is a late 19th century stone-built one-and-a-half storey croft house, and is one of our holiday letting properties. In common with almost all domestic buildings in the Highlands, the cottage is harled and painted. (Harling is a local term for lime-based render). We had tried to find a local tradesman to do the decorating for us, but decorators here are always busy, and they can be reluctant to take-on more than a couple of outdoor jobs at a time, because of the vagaries of the weather.... so I ended up doing the job myself.

Since living here, I've learned a lot about roofs and stone-walled buildings. Summer Cottage has 3-feet thick stone walls, with gables capped with poured concrete skews. The skew forms a waterproof 'lid' for the wall, and the roof tiles are simply tucked under the skew - there is no lead flashing. The stone is pretty much waterproof, but the 19th century mortar is never rock hard at the best of times, and when affected by water ingress for years, it decays to have about the same strength as damp sand. Although I have been told by experienced builders that 'all the old places are like that' and 'they never fall down' - it is not a demanding task to scrape out some of the mortar and repoint as necessary. At least then the masonry paint has a better chance of staying stuck on the wall for a few extra years.

Some restoration of the harling was required for the most weather-exposed south-west facing gable. Part of the wall had suffered from water leaking past the skew as the result of an inadequately-finished roofing job, done before we bought the place. Last winter, heavy rain and a south-westerly gale had caused enough water to seep through the wall to be dripping from the inside of a first floor window reveal. It was definitely time to fix something! I made a rooftop investigation, found the poorly sealed area, and made a thorough job of re-sealing the cracks - but water had clearly been leaking in there for several years, causing a large part of the wall to become wet, and damaging the mortar and harling.

The rest of the paintwork was pretty straightforward though. With no holiday visitors at the cottage because of the lockdown, I was able to take opportunities to work in the best of the weather. I am fortunate to own a couple of good, long and light ladders as well as a roof ladder, so access to all parts of the building was reasonably easy - though I did wonder at times if I am beginning to be a touch too old to be clambering-about on a roof...!!

It is rewarding to get the job done. It all now looks very smart again, and will hopefully continue to do so for a few years.

Rooftop view - while painting the second chimney

All finished and smart
... and yes - it's yellow and cream, not boring white!

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Is Skye Back To Busy?

In short - no. It is still very quiet here.

After the lockdown, self-catering cottages in Scotland were allowed to re-open a couple of weeks ago, and at the same time, travel restrictions across the UK were lifted. This resulted in a brief flurry of bookings, mostly from Scotland and a few from England, which has partially filled our calendars for mid-July through to mid-September - though we still have lots of gaps, and virtually no bookings at all in the autumn.

So far, there is a barely-noticeable increase in traffic across the island, though a few lumbering camper vans are swaying-about. 

Hospitality, as in restaurants, cafes and bars, are allowed to re-open from today, so this may encourage a few more visitors to venture our way, but overall, I have to admit to being surprised that there has not been a greater rush of people wanting to escape from their lockdown surroundings for a breath or two of clean, fresh Hebridean air. I can only assume many people remain anxious about travelling, though I rather think they will be further from any virus particles here than almost anywhere else in the UK.

Skye is at its summer best just now. The grasses are high, the wild flowers are more spectacular than ever, and the scent of meadowsweet fills the air. The unusually quiet roads and trails are a joy.  It is nice to have the place to ourselves, but sad to see all the tourism businesses struggling to survive.

The photos are from Sue...









Saturday, 13 June 2020

More On Midges

I've touched on this topic a couple of times before, but as the midge-stalking season is now with us again (they stalk us - not the other way round...) I thought a re-visit was appropriate.

Firstly, let's get clear - midges are carnivorous flying dots, at least ten-thousand times smaller than a mosquito, but about 100 times more vicious. If you have any less than 20/20 vision, you may never even see a midge.  But believe me - they can see you... Midges spend their winter first as eggs and then as larvae, slumbering peacefully and harmlessly in cool peat bogs. As with many insects, they emerge in late spring as fully-fang-equipped flying versions of themselves in order to meet other midges and mate. The female needs to feed in order to lay her eggs - and female midges feed on blood. Any blood will do - sheep, deer, cow... but human blood is the gourmet choice.

Midges are a gregarious lot. They like to spend their time in the company of at least a couple of million of their best friends. When it is windy, they grip by their fingernails onto leaves and grasses, and just chat among themselves, pretty much leaving humans alone. But when the wind drops - it's time for reveling. In cool, damp evening air, a light at an open window is like a mega-midge-magnet. It takes precisely one minute and thirty-seven seconds for a 12ft by 14ft bedroom to become tightly packed with partying midges. Woe betide any human who happened to be in there having a doze.

However, it is not all blood-letting, itching and irritation for every human in the Highlands. You see, in spite of having a brain one thousandth of a nano-millimetre in diameter, midges are actually pretty intelligent. By employing their laser-sharp long-distance eyesight and highly developed sense of smell, they are easily able to identify the most succulent prey. The Highlander, striding through open fresh air, with long-sleeved shirt tightly buttoned at the collar and cuffs, long trousers stuffed into socks or boots, and a whiff of deet around the face and hands is quite enough to deter all but the most ravenous midge. (Midges abhor the aroma of repellents containing deet). However, the unsuspecting tourist, smelling of a delicate eau-de-parfum, and relaxing on a sun-lounger in the windless shade of burn-side trees, clad in shorts and an open-necked short-sleeve shirt, is a far more likely victim. Campsites are a particularly rich hunting-ground for starving midges.

So, should the abundance of the midge put you off visiting the Highlands in summer? No, of course not. There's plenty of humans LIVING here, and we cope OK. Just remember to behave like a Highlander when you come.  



Saturday, 6 June 2020

Where Do We Go From Here?

March 23rd 2020 - a date which will live-on in history.  Today is the seventy-fifth day since the UK went into lockdown (not that I'm counting...). Here's a post I wrote that afternoon...
https://skyecalling.blogspot.com/2020/03/quieter-than-quiet.html

Along with everywhere else, Skye has become a very strange place in that time.  Although nothing physically has changed, there is a very different 'feel'. I sense fear and anger, frustration and worry. The lifeblood of modern Skye is tourism. Accommodation providers had fully booked calendars by March, but the cancellations quickly flooded in, and although now only a trickle - a new cancellation continues to drop into the inbox every couple of days. 

Other than a minor relaxation of some restrictions, Scotland remains largely closed. Locally, only the village shop, bakery, post office and petrol station remain open, albeit with reduced trading hours. A couple of places tried offering take-away food, but there were no takers. There's very few people about, and almost no traffic. We are requested to wear a face covering to enter the shops.

The Scottish government is yet to announce any guidelines, or a date, as to how or when small accommodation providers will be allowed to re-open. Meeting people from different households indoors is currently forbidden, and a 2-metre social distancing rule applies for everyone, unless you live together. Common sense suggests that it will be relatively easy to meet those regulations in a fully detached self-contained self-catering property, but there will understandably be huge issues to face for the owners of guest houses, traditional bed-and-breakfasts and house-shares. 

Further problems are the track-and-trace system, which could unexpectedly require a visitor to self-isolate for 14 days... where do they go? And then there's talk of 'local area lockdowns' should a surge in new virus cases occur in a particular place - so anything open could suddenly be ordered to close... how can any accommodation provider cope with that?

The simple answer would be just to close the calendars, take no future bookings, and 'wait and see'. Government cash handouts - for those who qualify - may have gone a small way to easing the financial pressures for now, but I don't see an end to the present situation. As with any tourism-dependent location - the entire local economy depends on the income generated by the visitors. The people of Skye are quietly suffering. 

It continues to be a scary time.


Saturday, 23 May 2020

A Spring Storm On Skye - Part Two

The pending storm that I wrote about yesterday mostly blew-through last evening and night. It was a rough night. It brought to mind Ted Hughes' fantastic poem - 'Wind' - which starts: 'This house has been far out at sea all night, The woods crashing through darkness...' 

This morning, the rain still beats against the windows, but the tearing, roaring wind has died to little more than huffs and groans. 

Outside - all looks much the same, if rather wet and bedraggled. There's no trees or even branches down - locally at least. The allotment has survived reasonably unscathed, though the runner beans have lost quite a few leaves. If any fail, I have some spares, still in pots, in the cold frame. 

So there ends a further short chapter in Skye's wonderful variety of weather. It's never dull here!

The Roskhill trees lost a lot of leaves, but no branches

The 'earthed-up plastic bottles all survived, and protected my young sprouts and kale

The runner beans look a bit shocked.

Friday, 22 May 2020

A Spring Storm On Skye

A Met Office yellow warning for heavy rain and high winds is in place for the Western Isles. As we get a lot of rain and high winds quite often, getting a yellow warning is a bit 'special'. Up to 100mm of rain and peak wind gust speeds up to 75mph are forecast. The worst will be here overnight tonight - but at about mid-day today, rain is already lashing against my study window, and tree branches are waving-about pretty wildly.

How will the garden cope? Well, I have issued frogman suits and aqua-lungs to all the runner bean plants, and built scaffolding round the plastic bottle 'greenhouses' that protect my young brassica plants. The recently-emerged midges are out of sight, no doubt wearing galoshes and sou'westers and clinging to undersides of leaves by their teeth and fingernails.

Looking over the rain-soaked garden, I am always impressed by the amazing flexibility of the shrubs and larger plants as they are constantly blown almost inside-out by the gusty winds. Our local deciduous trees usually struggle a bit in weather like this. They have been through it all before of course, but they are still likely to lose some twiggy branches and quite a few of their new leaves will be on the ground by the morning. And how do the birds still manage to fly??? Salt-spray from the nearby rough sea can also cause damage. I have seen trees with almost all their leaves burned-brown by salt, but this early in the year, if this happens, there is time for them to have a 'second spring' and put out a second growth of green.

Joking aside, I am fairly confident that my allotment will cope OK, as nothing has grown big enough yet to be too exposed - though if my plastic bottles get blown-off my young brassicas, I would fear for the ability of the young plants to take the strain of the wind. I'll be out there in my waterproofs soon, to temporarily part-bury the bottles in the hope that that will keep them in place.

Here is a couple of photos of the allotment that I took yesterday, during the calm before the storm. If there is anything new to photograph tomorrow, I will add a new post here to show the aftermath.





Monday, 18 May 2020

More Garden Pics

Since we are still not allowed to go anywhere much, I'm restricted to taking photos in the garden.

Here's a few from today...

This is Sue's domain - a tiny part of the front garden

At last we have bluebells!
This is in what I call 'the wild garden',
below the allotment

The bottled brassicas are doing really well

The runner beans are getting established
and excitedly waving their leaves in the breeze

Sue's untidy strawberry bed
looks like it could produce a bumper crop

Aliens at Summer Cottage!

The aliens are in fact flower buds
of huge, delicate-looking poppies


Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Allotment Update - Lockdown Restrictions Eased

As a follow-up to my last post about the baby plantlets emerging from the allotment soil, today I offer a few quick pictures of the pot-grown seedlings now released from their captivity in the shed and cold frame, and planted out in their rightful beds with strict instructions to make the most of the current sunny weather and get on with the growing.

The brussels sprouts and kale are currently enjoying the high life in temporary personal greenhouses. Not only does the plastic protection shelter them from the wind while they establish themselves in the soil, but the barrier also defeats any efforts by the cabbage root-fly to get up close to the plants and lay her eggs.

I have noticed that the emerging potatoes have been nipped by the frost. My fingers are crossed that the same fate does not take a toll of my runner beans.

Bottle garden?

The runner beans have some climbing to do...

... and in the wild garden, we at last have bluebells!


Tuesday, 12 May 2020

A Cacophony Of Cuckoos - And A Bit About Babies

03.57 was the time showing on the bedside clock when a cuckoo launched into 'song' this morning.  The racket clearly woke a nearby song-thrush, who panicked, obviously thinking it was morning already, and began his 'wake-up everybody' serenade. A nearby crow squawked a few guttural croaks, which I am quite sure were bird-language for, 'shut up and go back to sleep'.

As it happens, I sleep through much of the cuckoo calling these days. One bird has been with us since about 18th May, and for a while roamed-around the area, cuckooing here and there. But there are several more cuckoos with us now. Today for a while we had two of them calling almost in sync - so it was 'cuck cuck-coo-coo' for a bit. Almost tuneful.

As to the babies ...

It's excitement time on the allotment. We have baby plants! This is not the strapping young seedlings in pots, that are now beginning to look like it is nearly time for them to be planted out. This is baby plants growing in the soil. 

Most exciting of all are the carrots. They take an age to germinate, and when they finally pop up, they are so teeny - almost invisible - before magic takes over, and they zoom into a growth spurt to produce their most wonderful tasting orange roots. There's nothing quite like fresh young carrots, except maybe fresh new potatoes... or maybe fresh baby sprouts... 

We like our veg! 

Baby sprouts always look limp.
On the right are the kale
Runner beans 'hardening off'. They'll be in the soil tomorrow.
Potatoes!. More are up - just not showing in this picture
Broad beans (nearest) and peas under their support sticks
.. and carrots...!!!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The Barn Garden, 25th April 2020

The last week or two of staying at home during the current Covid-19 pandemic has coincided with some beautiful spring weather here on Skye, so with plenty of spare time on my hands, the garden and allotment are benefiting from greater attention than would be normally be the case. Today, I offer a photo-tour of how things are looking right now..

All through this blog - click or tap on a picture to open a full-size gallery (but, sorry - you won't then be able to read the captions...)!

I'm cheating already - this picture - the view from my study - was taken yesterday evening...
... but all the rest are taken this morning. Here's Cupar on the front lawn.
Sue is in charge of the flower borders.
As the daffs die down, montbresia and other herbaceous plants take their place.
Front garden entrance from the township road
Allotment entrance from the township road.
The road divides our garden ground into two parts,
and serves just 5 houses.
The allotment from the entrance.
Not much to see yet - rhubarb on the right. Untidy strawberry bed beyond.
The ridged-up beds are the potatoes.
Look very closely, and you might see four rows of onion sets.
I use a scaffold plank to walk on the beds without leaving footprints.
Yesterday, I planted a single row of carrot seed on the far right of this bed.
In the cold frame - runner beans starting to germinate.
I think the recent very cold nights and warm days have caused a number of failures in here.
I have started a further 20 seeds, which are under the window in the garage,
where there is a more even temperature.
The blue dots are slug pellets. Slugs love beans!
In the shed - brussels sprouts....
... and kale. Spot the difference!
A multi-species hedge I planted three seasons ago is just coming into leaf.
The hedge divides the allotment from the 'wild garden', and is planned to one day provide a wind-break.
The shrubs and young trees beyond the grass are at the top of the river gorge,
while the sitka spruce are on the far side of the river, and not on our land.
The un-mown areas in the wild garden are bluebells.
There is just one brave early flower!


Thursday, 9 April 2020

Lock-down On Skye

As none of us are permitted to go anywhere at the moment, I can only think of a few topics I can write about today.

I could regale you with my own thoughts, hopes and imaginations as to what the human race might possibly learn from our current desperate situation..

...or I could moan about issues that the over-sensationalist media choose to try to anger us with..

...or I could simply tell you what it is like to be living in Roskhill right now.

Maybe I will return to the first option in a future post, but for today, I am simply going to write about living here in lock-down.

The whole UK population (as well as much of the rest of the world) are 'in the same boat' at the moment, as the scientists and politicians try to find ways to bring our planet and its people back to what we term as 'normal'. Life here just now is undoubtedly very different to the living conditions that the vast majority of the populous are currently having to cope with. Now - we have always maintained that Skye is a pretty wonderful place to live, and I am quite sure that there can be few better places to be at a time like the present.

Today, the day dawned calm, with a thick white frost on the grass and patches of thin cloud in a pale blue sky. Sue went off to carry-out her home-care routine at 6.30 as normal, and I pottered up the main road, half a mile or so each way, to give Cupar his morning stretch. Just one car passed us today. There were none at all yesterday. It was very quiet. The nearest coast is about half a mile away, but the distant splosh of small waves breaking onto the rocks provided a background sound to the enthusiastic noisy twittering of chaffinches in the roadside willow and a peep-peeping snipe on the moor. It is a stunning morning.

I haven't ventured far from the Barn in the last few days. The weather has only just calmed - we had a bitterly cold wind for a while, and a blanket of drizzle yesterday. The last time I drove the 3 miles into Dunvegan Village was last Monday. There were one or two people on foot, but I didn't see more than a couple of vehicles moving. The car park at the medical centre was about half-full. Every hotel and B&B is closed of course, but the garage is open, as is the sole and small village shop. A notice at the shop door asks people to wait outside if the shop is busy - but I was the only shopper on this occasion. The shop assistant wears a mask.

Inside at home, everything is normal. The radio plays BBC Radio 2 much of the day. The computer takes my attention for an hour or so of glancing through Facebook and reading any new email - just one holiday cottage cancellation today. A few domestic chores keep me occupied for a while. Soon, I will pop Cupar into the back of my car, where he can sleep undisturbed while I turn-over the soil on one of my allotment beds - it will be planting-time very soon now.

I will leave you for now with a photograph taken from my study window a little earlier this morning. I know I've posted the view many times before - but it is not a view I will ever tire of.


Friday, 3 April 2020

Changing Rooms

This story starts with a piano.

The particular instrument was owned, loved and played by Sue's Grandmother, and featured in many happy family sing-alongs. After Grandmother's passing, in her memory, Sue was determined to keep the piano, and in time, use it to hone her own playing skills.

For some ten years, after we moved to Skye, the piano resided at Rowan Cottage, where it was occasionally played by our self-catering visitors. When we sold Rowan, we had the piano moved to Summer Cottage, Being much closer to our home, Sue has been able to call-in at Summer when the cottage was vacant, to have a little tinkle, and is now becoming an ever more accomplished pianist.  But popping up to Summer to play is not a very convenient arrangement, so we came to the decision that the piano would have to be moved here to Roskhill Barn.

Now, the only place it could stand here would be in the downstairs room that we refer to as the study. This room is also my 'playroom', with decor and furnishings to my taste. Sue has her own 'playroom' - furnished to suit her - upstairs.

I didn't want the piano in my playroom, and there wasn't space for it anyway, so the only option was for us to swap rooms. This means I have to give-up my view of the bird-feeders, and my convenient en-suite bathroom, but I do get a larger room, and - to be fair - a rather better view over our garden and field to the cliffs and sea beyond.

As we are currently enduring coronavirus lock-down, I have no-where to go just now, and the weather is not good enough for working outside, so I have dedicated the last few days to stripping out both rooms, moving a lot of furniture (and all it contained) plus all my computery stuff. I have redecorated both rooms (luckily there was enough paint for each room in half-used cans in the shed...) (just as well I'd kept them...) and now, my 'new' playroom is all-but finished. Sue will spend some time in the next few days organising her books, pot-plants and trinkety bits and pieces to suit her, and will leave a large space for the piano, which will be moved here as soon as we are allowed to do such a thing.

Now, we just need to get Cupar used to the new arrangement.

The study / my playroom, in the process of being 'taken apart'
Sue's former playroom, in a similar state of disarray
The upstairs sitting room became a temporary furniture store
I thought everything was wireless these days...???
My new view -
the weather was good this morning but it has been raining since lunchtime
My new playroom...sitting end
... and again - working end