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