Monday, October 29, 2012


At this time of year you have to grab the good days when you can, and last week found me exploring the ruins of Auchen Castle, near Beattock.

The castle (not to be confused with the nearby Auchen Castle Hotel) dates from the 13th century. The ruins are extensive and quite confusing. I had expected to find a tower house, but Auchen predates such structures. Deciphering its history has presented problems even for the experts, as you can see if you read the comprehensive archeological notes here.

But it was a wonderful place to visit, on a spectacular autumn day! The ivy covering the remains of the corner tower looks like a skull!

This area is described on old maps as 'fish ponds'.

The function of this underground passage/tunnel remains unclear, but it is rather impressive.

It seems to be home for this splendid frog, just waiting for his princess to come along!

Looking north. The West Coast Main Line, and the A74(M) following the valley of the Evan Water, are in the dip behind the trees. Coatsgate quarry is on the left of the pic.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Light

The sun didn't shine today until late on in the afternoon. Then, with a lot of cloud still about, the strange light had me running to find the camera! The autumn colours were spectacular!

Here's another autumn colour pic!

As the sun set, this weird rainbow appeared. And, as you know, I like rainbows, so it was another grab for the camera!

I wonder if the passengers on this southbound Virgin service on the West Coast Main Line realised they were passing through rainbow's end!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, October 19, 2012

Red Light at Skip

This Acer does vary each year in the show it puts on. Looking good today, though. And yes, that is water lying in the bottom field on the right after all the rain in the last couple of days!

It is a beautiful plant. Slow growing. It will be nine years since it was planted. Here's a link to how it looked three years ago. How quickly the years pass by!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn Colour

The leaves on the beech trees near to Skip have just begun to colour up as autumn approaches. Annandale has seen some lovely days this past month, and a couple of frosts already.

There's the odd flash of colour still in the garden. This Phlox went in as a small plant just this spring.

Lots of berries on this Cotoneaster. The yellow Rudbeckia seems to love most places in the garden!

This Echinops was another 'bargain buy' at the garden centre earlier this year, and is doing well.

This double flowered Calluna vulgaris 'Kinlochruel' is my favourite heather!

 I really should have more clematis. These two are getting along OK.

This old rowan tree almost got the chop early in the year. Spared the axe, the berries are as good as ever they have been!

The purple aster is just coming out in this pic, with one of my favourite perennials - whose name I can never pronounce - stealing the show!
I mean of course this Schizostylis. Love it to bits, and it always surprises me year after year.

This was the best of my Bishop's Children, grown from a packet of seeds in the spring. What a colour! And just a memory now that the frosts have arrived.

This is the largest perennial in the garden, Eupatorium maculatum 'Atropurpureum', growing behind this purple Cotinus.

I've had a lot of enjoyment from the garden this year. I think that's because it seems to thrive on neglect!

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Lockerbie Steam

I didn't have to go far for my 'steam fix' this weekend. And I wasn't the only enthusiast on the platforms of Lockerbie station at 09.00 this morning!

It's always pleasing when things run to time. The steam excursion I had come to see pulled into the passing loop just south of the station, to let this Virgin voyager service (the 06.20 from Birmingham) continue north unchecked on its way to Edinburgh.

 A bit of huffing and puffing on the cold clear morning!

And here is 'The Caledonian', an excursion organised by PMR Tours for the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust, out of Wolverhampton at 05.23, and steam hauled from Carlisle, headed for Stirling.

You can see too in this pic that the repairs to the Lockerbie Town Hall clock tower have now been completed!

Star of the morning was the locomoive, LMS Coronation Class 4-6-2 no 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, which I last saw back in April at Dumfries, see here.

Always great to see steam on the West Coast Main Line.

Photos © Skip Cottage