After 18 months of behind the scenes work we unveiled our new look dining room. A more relaxed feel designed to focus attention on the food and service and help to dissipate too much formality which ‘fine dining ‘ has acquired over the years but is becoming more passé. As ardent admirers of local craftsmen Don and Wendy chose Robertson and Bailey for the furniture and Highland Pottery for the tableware.
The older I become, the more I appreciate the advent of Spring. Perhaps it is some form of “one foot in the grave” syndrome, but where as in the past I merely noticed (or not) that new life was stirring in the grounds, I now actively look for it.
Georgian Houses are beautiful to look at, and a pleasure to live in. They are however a complete nightmare to heat. Despite 3 foot thick walls and knee deep roof insulation there seems to be little one can do with large sash windows. It is clear how much heat is lost through the windows when opening shutters which have been closed overnight, its just like opening a fridge door as a wall of cold air enters the room. (more…)
Having only just cleared the last of the damage to our trees caused by the gale we suffered here on Christmas Eve, we watch with horror the devastation being caused further South. Although we lost three tree and had major branch damage we seem to have got off lightly so far. We have seen no snow here on the coast this year to date, and only a couple of slight frosts. (more…)
All of apples have now been picked and juiced. Normally this labour of love falls to Wendy and I, but this year Charlie and his crew plus Ian our Groundsman achieved in an afternoon what normally takes us two or three days. We had an enormous crop this year (although plums and pears were not so good) so lots of lovely apple juice. How difficult is it to make cider?? (more…)
When we came here some 22 years ago the parkland at the front of the house had a number of magnificent mature beech tree. I have read that after a couple of hundred years beech trees start to decline and drop limbs for no apparent reason. This has been happening to us for the last five years or so, indeed the last time was only a week ago. We were rebuilding the boundary wall to the north of the house on a lovely hot 25 degree afternoon when a large limb some 20 inches in diameter split lengthways and sagged to the ground. (more…)
BUSY BEE – NOT ME!
I have been a casual beekeeper for a number of years now. We started off with three hives of the local black bees which thrived for the first three years, then started to decline. Despite efforts to shore up the dwindling populations we eventually lost the last hive this winter. No sign of any disease, and despite a couple of poor summers we would not normally have expected these losses a few years ago.
Wot no snow!
I may yet regret these words, but the weather here in February and early March has been outstanding. Almost every day the same, cold frosty mornings with clear blue sky’s giving way to a fairly warm day with no wind to speak of followed by another cold frosty night.
The snow plough we purchased the year before last after two of the worst winter’s in recent years languishes in the shed still waiting to see snow. Machinery has of course replaced most of the manual labour in the fields. The garden here would have had at least six permanent garden staff a hundred years ago. Now we have a part time lady and a groundsman who does a million other things (including a lot of tea drinking).
Twenty years ago we would have spent days and days raking leaves in the Autumn, now with a large leaf blower be can do the job more effectively in a matter of hours.
What cannot be replaced (fortunately) is the sheer wonderment caused by plants bursting from the earth each Spring. No matter how many times I see this annual miracle (this will be number 69 – though I confess I cannot remember the first half dozen years) it still makes me realize how privileged we are to be able to get dirt under our fingernails, and home grown produce on our table.
Now brace yourselves for snow!
November (or Movember if you are growing a moustache for charity) is the month when we start our maintenance on the outside of the house. The roof, windows, drain pipes, parapets and drains all inspected and repaired where necessary. It is always necessary!