Monday, April 30, 2012

Time for contemplation

This is Rhododendron 'Elizabeth', one of the shrubs I planted when I started on the garden nine years ago. It's the earliest of the rhoddies to bloom this year. Whenever I'm heading for Dundee or further north I try to stop at the Glendoick Garden Centre, not just for a break, but to add to my Rhododrendron collection. I'm having to think these days about the future, and how to make the garden less labour intensive, and more shrubs is one solution.

There's always so much to be done, especially at this time of year. A small section of wall had fallen down over the winter months, and that needed to be repaired. I've rebuilt most of the dykes around the garden over the years, and I was heartened that this was not a stretch that I had previously rebuilt!

I see some growth in the perennials in this bed, so a few buckets of compost were spread around after Saturday's rain, to keep the weeds down. That's another Rhododendron gone in with its back to the wall. It's been in a pot over the winter. I'll try and photograph this bed later in the year, to see how much growth there has been!

Each year I add some perennials to fill in gaps around the garden, then in the spring I wait in anticipation to see if they have come back, or if they have succumbed to the rabbits, mice, slugs, wet, or cold, or if my investment has just 'disappeared'? Finding the right plant for the right place is always a problem to be solved.

Every day, at this time of year, I set myself a task to do in the garden. Breaking what needs done down into little pieces allows for a feeling of accomplishment when the job is done, however small. Then there's the chance just to sit back, enjoying the surroundings, with a coffee, listening to the bird song ....

... and realising how much more needs to be done! Which is what makes gardening such a challenge, but one I enjoy now I have the time to do it. There's always more that has to be done, and a lot more that could be done! However, it was just lovely this morning, sitting beside the pond, looking up the garden, out of the wind, in the sun.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Duchess of Sutherland at Dumfries

Here she comes!

Today was Day 6 of 9 of The Railway Touring Company's Great Britain V railtour, down the Thornhill - Dumfries line from Barnhill to Carlisle, and on to Preston. I was at Dumfries station to see the train pass through.

Providing the traction was LMS Coronation Class 8P 4-6-2 no 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, looking quite magnificent.

A moment of nostalgia, all over far too quickly.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Showers

The geans are beginning to blossom, the sun is shining, and there are just so many jobs to be getting on with in the spring garden. Keeping on top of the weeds is the priority at this time of year.

But there are lots of productive jobs to be done too. I usually try to save some money by buying some plug plants and potting them on, and growing some things from seed. But I don't have a lot of space in the porch, and I don't have a greenhouse. It will be a while before these are outside.

Outside, the hostas I have in containers get some new compost, and are beginning to show new growth.

But what's this black cloud. The sky was blue a moment ago!

An April shower, and not one to be messed with. The white stuff is hail. This taken from the shelter of the conservatory!

Did I say spring was coming? It looks like winter.

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tangmere at Carlisle

It's the sounds and the smells which contribute to the fascination of steam locomotives. And the sights of course. So what was hiding behind this cloud of steam at Carlisle's Citadel Station on Thursday?

It was 34067 Battle of Britain class Bulleid light pacifics, Tangmere, built in Brighton in 1947, see here.

Lots of enthusiasts turned out to see Tangmere. Locos like this were common in the south of England in their heyday. And it was unusual to see the preserved Tangmere at Carlisle. It had pulled the Railway Touring Company's steam charter, the Cumbrian Mountain Express, over Shap and return via the Carlisle - Settle line.

Well badged.

Tangmere was an RAF airfield near Chichester, West Sussex. It has an interesting history in WW1 and WW2, see here.

I have often heard of these locomotives being referred to as 'spam cans', but this was my first time seeing one at close quarters.

Ready for the off!

Lots of smoke and noise as the journey back south begins.

Watch what it looked like to others from the trackside here and here and here. And there are lots more YouTube videos if you care to search for them.

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Friday, April 13, 2012

An Easter Egg Special

Easter Monday found me heading south from Falkirk towards Edinburgh, with an hour to spare. What better to do than visit Glenauchter.

Have you been there? You'll not find it on the Google Maps website, which comes up with, "We could not understand the location Glenauchter." That's because it is the Bo'ness Gauge O Group's model rail layout, housed in two old carriages at Bo'ness station, on the Scottish Railway Preservation Society's Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway.

The scale is 7 mm to 12 inches, somewhat larger than my old Triang OO setup.

Glenauchter is well worth the visit, the layout having lots of interest, with lots of different trains running. It's open most weekends.

Outside, now. Ex Comrie Colliery, Hunslett designed and built by WG Bagnall in 1945, Austerity No 7, 75254, in War Department livery, had just pulled an 'Easter Egg Special' on the Bo'ness - Kinneil line.

Steam engines need to be fed!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Butterfly days

What a beautiful week it has been!

Yellow is the predominant colour in the garden at the moment, as the daffodils hit their best. It will be a while though before the containers (at the back) get planted out. Still, some plugs have been planted on inside the porch, and bags of compost already purchased.

I inherited all these daffodils from a previous owner of Skip, and every spring I say 'thank you'!

This little double primula, a division from a friend, obviously likes where I've put it.

I even made a start in getting next winter's firewood cut and stacked!

These Ericas have a fine show at this time of year, and they were absolutely humming! I counted some twenty bumble bees on the clump.

As well as this butterfly. I'm no expert, but apparently, see here, the Peacock butterfly hibernates in winter and is one of the 'signs of spring' in the BBC Springwatch project. This one had me bouncing round the garden trying to get a good picture!

And this one, a Small Tortoiseshell. I had to keep reminding myself that is was only the last week in March.

I often take photos looking down the garden and across the Annan. One day last week, I wondered what it would look like the other way. So I decided to find out. This is the result.

The Jocksthorn Bridge is the main way into Wamphray Parish.

Built in 1908, as you can see.

And here's the view from near the bridge towards Skip, with a longish lens. And no, that's not my front lawn. See here how it looked on December 8, last year. Or indeed, on November 29, here.

Here's hoping for a good few summer months ahead! Lots of plans for things that need done outside, if it's fine, and indoors, if it's wet.

Photos © Skip Cottage.