Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24, 2010

This is the Kirk Loch at Lochmaben today. I am standing on the ice which is covered by a couple of inches of snow. What a peaceful scene. Or was it? What could be happening to disturb the solitude of this perfect winter's day?

I am sure you can guess. Go here for the evidence.

Photo © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

This was Skip garden yesterday. A Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Burst pipes and wee curling stones

This Days Inn hotel at the Johnstonebridge Services on the M74 is just a couple of miles or so from Skip, and it was my home for a week. I arrived home from Champery to find the cottage with no electricity and no heating... and burst pipes in consequence.

I cannot speak highly enough of the kindness of the staff at the hotel - helpful in the extreme, and with lots of sympathy. Full marks all round.

Actually, this view of Annandale is from my room at the hotel, not that I was in much mood to appreciate it! With the heating back on, the drying out started, and the loss assessor's visit duly made, I moved back into Skip today to begin the clear up. Fortunately the bedroom was untouched!

Just one pic to show what greeted me in the sitting room. You just have to imagine the inch of water on the floor, and the bookcase of wet books! The paintings are originals from my time in Southeast Asia, and the oils at least are OK.

Still, emptying the display cabinets of my wee curling stone collection today was interesting - one tends to forget just how many I've collected over the years. That's them packed away - I suspect it might be a while before they are on display again.

The floor comes up tomorrow, and the paper comes off the walls. Then the clear up begins in the office.

Who said life was simple!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, December 11, 2010


In my week at the European Curling Championships I used the little train which runs between Champery and Monthey as often as I could.

It was snowy and overcast much of the time.

The two carriage train leaving Champery station.

Here's a little single car waiting one evening at Monthey to take me up the valley to Champery.

One day though, the journey was absolutely spectacular. This pic, and the one below, were taken through the train window.

I'm on the train as it descends to Monthey in the valley below.

Now, my challenge for tomorrow, is to catch the 06.00 out of Champery on my way home!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Travels in Switzerland

I took the train from Geneva Airport this morning to Aigle, where I changed to this local service up the side of the valley to Champery! What a spectacular ride.

This was Champery today. Apparently 'Death by Icicle' is not an uncommon phrase to be written on death certificates! Just look at that blue sky!

I wish.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, December 02, 2010

December at Skip

While much of the rest of the country has experienced major snowfalls, Annandale - Scotland's secret paradise - has had barely a sprinkle. This was early this afternoon.

It was a lovely wintry scene looking over the fields.

The garden is carpeted.

So who are these visitors?

The male pheasant was camera shy, despite my best efforts. But his two girlfriends didn't seem to mind my presence.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow in November

I'm 'working' this weekend at the Edinburgh International Curling Championships. Fortunately, I am staying close by to the Murrayfield rink. Next to the zoo, in fact. I wonder what the animals thought of the weather this morning?

Snow in November. Really! Is this a harbinger of another really cold winter, with lots of curling outside? Hope so.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Misty Evening

How nice it was to see a little of the sun today. The lack of wind made it very pleasant to be outside. Winter is coming, as this mist rolling in seemed to be telling me this afternoon as the sun had set.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Autumn is here. The leaves are piling up and getting moved (irregularly) onto the leaf mould pile!

Last year, see here, one of my Acers gave a spectacular display. Not so this year, although the general autumn colour has been first class. I am pretty sure I didn't miss the bright red display. I hadn't realised that there could be such a difference year on year.

These are the old beech trees lining the road to Skip.

The standing stone near Skip.

A grey misty morning in Annandale!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Thursday, October 28, 2010


A shopping expedition to Glasgow on Wednesday found me in Buchanan Street. At first sight, a new statue. In fact, it was full marks to a street performer. Made my day!

Mind you, just walking through Glasgow, the city where I was born and spent most of my working life, is always street theatre. Take this banner, hung high above Buchanan Street. Nothing special about this, you may think.

But when I pan out, you see the rest of the story. £5 Meal Deal indeed! Glaswegians are indeed natural comedians.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Party Time

David and Fiona Hardie threw a great party last night in the Easterbrook Hall at the Crichton in Dumfries, David celebrating his fiftieth!

Unusual and enjoyable entertainment was provided by Masquerade Productions, a highlight of the evening.

Apparently I enjoyed myself!

Photos © Skip Cottage, the pic of me taken by Alison Whyte!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Lockerbie Town Hall

Lockerbie's town hall was built in 1880, in baronial style, from red sandstone quarried locally. The clocktower makes it the most imposing building in the town.

It is in the news because it has been closed to the public after structural problems were found. Apparently safety concerns were raised following an inspection by steeplejacks at the end of September, and Dumfries and Galloway Council's structural engineer took the decision to shut the building after seeing their report on its condition.

An area around the building has been cordoned off.

It must be an exciting job having to erect scaffolding around such a building, as in this photo I took yesterday!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Thursday, September 30, 2010

First frost

Michaelmas daisies are a sign that Autumn is here. Much as I would like to, I cannot claim these for my own garden.

They grow on the roadside verge, just opposite Skip. I guess someone in the past has planted these, and they have thrived. I have a darker blue version, not nearly as prolific!

Despite everyone telling me (even the Beechgrove Garden the other night) that heather/conifer gardens are somewhat old fashioned, I remain a fan. This summer I've been replanting many of the heathers which had been looking a bit tired. Given the relative unpopularity of heathers these days, most garden centres don't stock a big selection. To get what I wanted (a yellow/bronze foliage Erica carnea) I stopped off at the Speyside Heather Centre near Dulnain Bridge when I was up north recently and today planted out five Ann Sparkes plants to fill the space I had earmarked.

The white mound is the centre of the pic is one of my all time favourites - Calluna Vulgaris Kinlochruel. How this heather got its name can be found on the Heather Society website here.

Wamphray experienced its first frost last week. I had an early start one day and had to scrape the car windscreen. It could not have been too severe, as the non-stop begonias are still not stopping, and these great value colour plants are usually the first to tip over when it gets cold.

The leaves on the big beech trees around the house are just beginning to change colour, and it won't be long until I'm hoovering them up for the compost heap.

Dull, miserable, cold days, and I thought it time to start feeding the birds again. I usually stop doing this over the summer months. This week the feeders have had a good wash, and a couple of new ones purchased. I have two 'stations' at different parts of the garden. These feeders I can watch from the conservatory.

I wonder how long before the local birds find them again?

This station I can watch from my bedroom window. I called in to my favourite garden centre to make my purchases yesterday. The staff were setting out displays of Christmas decorations and gift items. Eighty-five days to go, see here. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rails North

I had the opportunity for a few days break, and that took me north. Here, the evening sunshine lights up the mountain top looking over Loch Morlich.

Of course, by the time the morrow came, the weather wasn't quite as good! Riding the funicular on Cairngorm was one of the objectives of the weekend, and I must admit that I enjoyed the experience.... despite the conditions.

Entering the highest 'underground' railway station in the UK!

All about the mountain and the funicular is here.

My main aim was to spend some time on the Strathspey Railway. I had a great morning. 'J94' class 0-6-0 saddle tank, No. 68030, pulled us along to Broomhill and back to Aviemore.

Recently restored Caley 828 was in steam running footplate experience trips, here just coming in to Boat of Garten station.

The Strathspey Railway is a well run heritage line, with friendly staff, and I really enjoyed my day. I hope the plans to extend through to Grantown-on-Spey will be successful.

I had the briefest of visits to the Whisky Line, the Keith and Dufftown Railway. This is Dufftown Station.

No steam here, but this DMU was running last Saturday. More on the line's rolling stock is here.

I was rather taken by this Pullman carriage, a static exhibit at Dufftown! I look forward to another visit sometime in the future.

The holiday was not all rails. There was the opportunity to meet up with some old friends, as well as a chance to take in the new visitor centre at Culloden, which is every bit as good as the publicity. And here I am, washed up on the beach at Dornoch!

Pics © Skip Cottage