Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Misty Morning

Sunday, November 23, and the early morning mist is beginning to clear across the fields. Actually, I'm fibbing somewhat. It's not 'early'! I don't do early very often these days. I took the photo above at 11.30. How lovely to see the sun appear after that.

The garden pretty much gets left to itself at this time of year. But I was out with the loppers this morning, cutting a few shrubs back. Some major pruning, or replacement, will be required in places, I'm thinking. Ten years have passed so quickly.

This deciduous cotoneaster has good colour.

A few tubs with some winter colour have been planted up to give me a lift on the cold, grey days that are still to come. And a lot of new bulbs have been planted too.

It has been a very mild autumn ... so far.

So mild that this fuchsia is still flowering away in its pot outside! It is called 'Blue Heaven', and the label describes it as 'Suitable for patio tubs and other containers, this semi trailing variety displays a profusion of red and purple flowers in summer and early autumn'.

The standing stone opposite Skip has seen a lot of winters!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn adventures

I planted this Acer not long after I moved to Skip. Twelve years on, just look at it!

After all the rain earlier this week, I went out to see what the River Annan was doing. Here it is under the Jocksthorn Bridge.

The river wasn't keeping within its banks on Tuesday afternoon. Mind you, it had a long way to go to match last December 30, see here.

But it was well over in places, as you can see. Now, there's a story, or two, about Wamphray's bath tub.

Some think this is just an old tub that is in the field to provide a source of water for the cows. Not so. The story goes (1) that it is a left over from a failed attempt to navigate the Annan from Moffat to the Solway in an interesting way, or (2) it was where visitors to Wamphray were required to wash their feet before visiting!

I'm not sure I believe either of these stories, but it does seem to have magic qualities. Note that although the water is high around it, the level in the bath itself is quite low. So, if you want to visit Wamphray's mysterious bath, just stop at the Jocksthorn Bridge. There's no charge!

Moving on, this is the Wamphray Water, at the point where it goes under the West Coast Main Line.

The river is squeezed coming through under the railway and was really quite impressive on Tuesday.

In my pre-blogging days in 2005, this bridge got jammed up with debris brought down by the river. The resulting build up of water in a particularly wet spell eventually found an outlet, and flooded many of the houses in the village, and the village hall, with hardly any warning. Bad memories for many.

And going down in size, I didn't realise that this little burn which usually is somewhat insignificant beside the road leading to Pumplaburn Farm, is called the 'Pumpley Burn'.

 The sun came out briefly after the storm.

No, its not upside down ... just the reflection in the field. The water didn't last long though. By today, most of it was away.

Autumn sunset! Good enough for the Cloudporn group, I wonder?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Into Autumn

Travelling home from Stranraer recently, I just had to stop the car and capture this pic, near Creetown. Early evening sunsets - a sign that autumn is approaching.

The spiders have been busy on this Cotoneaster.

At Skip, the first frost must be imminent. It has been a good summer. Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' is still going strong.

Autumn colour from this aster...

... and from Sedum 'Autumn Joy'.

 The beech mast has fallen, and the leaves are just beginning to colour.

The first autumn storm did bring some leaves down, and these are now on a new heap to compost down.

A few winter containers have been planted up.

These cheery violas makes me smile.

 Cotoneaster horizontalis looks spectacular against the white wall of the house.
A good year for the gentians.

Probably the biggest success of the year were these snapdragons, grown from plugs and planted out in containers, and still giving a great show into October!

There's a trellis doing sterling work underneath all this!

So, a few more bulbs to plant, and then it will be time to 'forget' the garden until the new year. There are no gnomes at Skip, but this little fellow was purchased in aid of pancreatic cancer. He (she?) gets to look after the garden over the winter months. Doesn't have a name ... yet.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

My friend Pamela, and other encounters at Carlisle

It was an interesting day at Carlisle's Citadel Station on Saturday. Above, one of the new Transpennine Express Class 350 EMUs heads south for Manchester Airport. On the middle road, a West Coast Railways Class 47 no 47786 'Roy Castle OBE' waits to assist with moving the coaches of an excursion due in later, and on Platform 3, an East Coast train waits for the line towards Newcastle to reopen, blocked by a landslip at Brampton.

Power car no 43320 presents a dirty looking sight in the sunshine as it eventually leaves Carlisle.

Of course, I was at the station for a 'steam fix', and it was to be a double dose on Saturday. First in was the Railway Touring Company's Cumbrian Mountain Express, from London, but steam hauled from Carnforth.

This was hauled by former London Midland and Scottish Railway Jubilee Class No. 5699 (BR No. 45699) Galatea, looking splendid in its crimson livery. It was built in 1936.

Next in was the West Coast Railways Lune Rivers Trust Special, steam hauled Carnforth-Lancaster-Settle-Carlisle-Settle-Hellifield.

This railtour was pulled by LMS Royal Scot Class 4-6-0 no 46115 Scots Guardsman.

Educational day it was. You can read about the work of the Lune Rivers Trust here.

If you look closely you can see that the locomotive seems to have picked up an extra passenger on the trip - a pheasant, deceased.

And here she is. An 'old friend', see here, a Mark 1 Open First Class carriage, built at Swindon in the early 1960s. Just a youngster then!

I've never ridden on a main line steam hauled railtour. Perhaps I should put this on my bucket list.

Galatea was collecting her coaches from the siding as the Guardsman arrived. They 'saluted' each other with appropriate whistles. A lovely moment. Made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

All aboard, and back towards London via Settle. Galatea in charge as far as Faringdon!

Meanwhile, back at Lockerbie station, there's a new addition. I've almost convinced myself that a planter like this would look good in Skip garden!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dumbarton Memories

It's about time for another 'nostalgia post', 2014 being my 'Year of Nostalgia'. What prompted this one was a question that popped into my head when I was out for a walk recently. I wondered when was the first time I had ever walked up a slope, and who it was that first sparked my interest in climbing hills!

The answers were easily dug out my memories. My mother's sister and her husband lived in Dumbarton and as a youngster I often visited my Aunt Jenny and Uncle John there. The latter took me to the top of Dumbuck Hill, on the outskirts of the town near Milton. The photo above is of the hill as it looks now, in a lovely photo taken by Danny Kearney from the other side of the River Clyde. It didn't look like this in the past though. It rose to just over 500 feet in the fifties. Much of the hill has been quarried away since then. The shape of the hill was said to resemble a giant man lying on his back, or an elephant's head. As a wee boy, I could never see this myself!

I found a photo of the hill from 1960, showing the quarry in its early days, here.

You know you are getting old when the hill you climbed as a young boy is no longer there!

Thinking about my aunt and uncle sent me delving into the box of old family photos, always a bitter-sweet thing to do. But I did find some pics that made me smile! They are not the best quality, but I thought them worth sharing. Black and white memories!

That's my father on the left, with the cigarette. The year would be 1947 or early 1948. I'm being carried by my dad and by Uncle John, with my sister on the right! If you recognise where we are, do let me know. It could be Dumbarton, or somewhere else entirely.

This is Aunt Jenny on the left, with my mother. And that's me on the little tricycle, in the garden of my aunt and uncle's home in Geils Avenue!

I loved my bike, and I enjoyed visiting my aunt and uncle. As I grew up I spent many holidays in Dumbarton. I still remember playing with my Dinky toys on paths cut out in the pebbles you can see in the foreground of this photo. Now, that must be one of my earliest memories!

My uncle's garden had a lane at the bottom, running alongside the railway line, which was on the other side of the wall made of old sleepers. I remember playing cricket in the lane with the children who lived next door. It was fun waving at the trains passing, although, when I stayed there, it took a bit of getting used to the noise, especially during the night.

This section of railway, the North British route through the town, was closed and is now a footpath and cycleway.

The car must have been our family car back then. This one I don't remember though. Do you like my sun hat? 

There was one other member of the family at Dumbarton, a little smooth haired fox terrier, called 'Gyp'. This is the only photo I have of this much loved pet. There is no doubt that the dog was the boss! Coming back to the point of this blog post, Gyp took us for regular walks, and the big adventure was climbing Dumbuck, which we did on a number of occasions.

I wondered if I could find some old photos of Dumbuck, before the quarry. I was thrilled to discover this old postcard, the photo taken from Geils Avenue. My aunt and uncle stayed just a little way up in one of the terraced houses on the right!

The houses were constructed, I believe, to provide accommodation for the workers at Babcock and Wilcox, a major employer locally in the twentieth century, see here, and here.

I remember that right on the top of Dumbuck was a small brick building which had been an observer post during WW2. Gradually it came nearer and nearer to the edge of the quarry, before it disappeared forever. I wonder if there's a photograph of it in an old album somewhere. Uncle John would tell stories of serving up on the hill, looking out for German bombers using the River Clyde to navigate up towards Clydebank.

This photo of Geils Avenue, looking west, is by Richard Webb, taken in 2009.

I remember well that Uncle John loved his garden. Roses and carnations (one of which you can see in the foreground of this pic) were his specialty, as well as blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, which provided the fruit for the jams which Aunt Jenny made every year. I'm not sure exactly when this photo was taken, but it would have been in the early 1970s. I was amused to note that I still had a full head of hair then.

Memories, memories!

The top photo is © Danny Kearney, from the Geograph website and reused under a Creative Commons licence. Similarly the photo of Geils Avenue is © Copyright Richard Webb. Other photos are © Skip Cottage.