Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Enough is enough

Frankly, I don't believe it is a good idea to give these winter storms names. Indeed, I know a 'Frank' and he's a really nice guy. But today's 'Storm Frank' has been particularly mean.

This is the view from the bottom of my garden today, at 3pm. Fortunately Skip stands on top of a wee knoll, so far enough away from the River Annan to say that "If I get flooded by the river, then we are ALL doomed!"

A suitable venue for the Wamphray Model Yacht Club, or, today perhaps, for windsurfing?

Such as been the frequency of floods recently, today I tried to get a different viewpoint for some pics. Here, I've climbed up to the top of the field that rises between the main street of Newton Wamphray village and protects it from the River Annan. Would you believe that the wind was so strong I had difficulty in keeping upright! The village is on the left, and Skip is the white dot in the distance just right of the middle.

Looking in the same direction, that's the Jocksthorn Bridge in the distance.

The river is between the rows of trees.

This is where the Wamphray Water joins the Annan. Not that you would know!

The road towards the Jocksthorn Bridge was impassable. Not the only road in the area to be affected, as I listen to the news on the radio.

Did I mention the wind? The end for this wooden arch in the garden, I'm afraid. Mind you, I never liked it much, and struggled to find something I liked to grow over it. Firewood for next winter. Although if this wind continues, I suspect I won't have to go far to find branches down elsewhere. Hopefully there won't be other damage to find once 'Frank' takes his leave.

Happy New Year everyone. Can I wish for a drier one?

Pix are © Skip Cottage. If anyone is wondering, they were taken with an old Canon Powershot camera, abandoned a couple of years ago because its zoom was knackered, but resurrected this week.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone

It was somewhat ironic that just after taking this photo of a sunset at Skip the other evening, my trusty camera packed up! A trip to the surgery in Glasgow yesterday saw the worst possible diagnosis. It could be repaired ... but it would be very expensive.

It was all the consequence of me knocking the camera off my desk some months back. I thought then that I had got away with it. But apparently not. Ah well. My New Year's resolution will be to be less clumsy in 2016!

An option of course is to replace the body with a newer model. I still have my lenses. Or perhaps I should go for a cheaper 'pocket' model. Decisions, decisions.

Perhaps too I might win the lottery! In the meantime, for this blog, I could dig out and scan some photos from past adventures. Here's a favourite spot in Thailand, from around 1993.

And just round the corner was a deserted beach with driftwood and bits of coconut shell. No, I'm not going to say where it was!

Or, until I can take photos again, I could 'borrow' photos from other sites, such as this which was the 'Photo of the Day' recently on the Geograph site here. It was taken in 2010 and is © Lewis Clarke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It's suitably festive, a good shot to finish on, and for me to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Other pix © Skip Cottage 

Monday, December 07, 2015

After the storm

The quiet after the storm gave me the opportunity yesterday to capture some reflections on the flooded fields around Wamphray.

But however beautiful my local pics may look, I do feel awful about the scenes of the flooding in Carlisle, a city I've got to know well since moving to Annandale. Just horrible.

Not a breath of wind.

Many homes in Wamphray were badly flooded some years ago, and initially I thought that we had come off lightly this time. But the water in this field has caused problems to houses in Station Road, getting in under the floorboards.

Efforts to get the water away continue.

Gerry, with Bonnie and Tara, and Diane with Shelly, company on yesterday's walk.

The River Annan is behind the trees.

Beside the river, this fence had acted like a big sieve!

The local wildlife were quick to take advantage of a new lake. 

I had this feeling I was being watched!

The back road under the West Coast Main Line regularly floods here. 'Passable with care' was the advice on Sunday.

Let's hope we will not have more rain before this lot drains away.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, December 06, 2015


The Wamphray Water in spate yesterday at the foot of Wamphray Glen.

 This is the Wamphray Water rushing down towards the River Annan.

Where the Wamphray Water goes under the West Coast Main Line has been a problem in the past. Network Rail have had contractors working here for much of this year, building what might be called an 'overflow culvert'. The work is not yet complete, but the overflow was taking its share of water yesterday. And engineers were working through the heaviest of rain.

The Wamphray joins the Annan which was well over its banks at the Jocksthorn Bridge. All my fault of course. Did I not say how low the river was just recently, see here.

The field below Skip, aka 'Wamphray Lake'.

Skip Cottage itself is at the top of the bank on the left of the photo. Apparently, back before the railway was constructed, the Annan used to flow in a curve below this bank.

Is it only me, that all the mentions of 'Storm Desmond' bring to mind Dean Ford, and the Marmalade, back in the 60s? Or even the Beatles? If you don't know what I'm talking about, see here! Apologies in advance if this provides today's earworm.

Joking apart though, Wamphray seems to have got off lightly from Storm Desmond, compared with elsewhere in southern Scotland, and in Cumbria. The news and photos from Carlisle and Keswick this morning are horrendous.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

When a friend passes

I've learned today that my friend and mentor, David B Smith, has died. He spent his last days in a nursing home in Ayr.

I was just about to get into my car this morning, heading to see him again, when the news came through. I had packed some new curling books for him to read, some ephemera for him to look at, and had put together a list of curling history related questions which I hoped he might be able to answer for me.

You see, he was my mentor. His enthusiasm for the history of curling was what got me interested in this aspect of our sport back in the 1970s. Researching curling's history is one of the things that keeps me busy in my retirement. It's thanks to David that I have this interest. Another thing that keeps me involved these days is the Historical Curling Places project, helping Lindsay Scotland and Harold Forrester, with that. Of course, this was all started by David.

In the seven years I edited the Scottish Curler magazine, he was the most reliable contributor, ensuring that each issue had an article about curling history or collecting curling ephemera. He could not have been more supportive.

When the magazine folded, I started the Curling History Blog so he would continue to have an outlet for his writings. Recently he hasn't felt able to write much, but has encouraged me to write articles for the blog myself. Always by my side is his book, 'Curling: an illustrated history', published in 1981, still the best curling history resource.

He was a real character! When I told him I was planning a fun article about 'knitting patterns for curling sweaters', he went and found his own, and that's the reason for the photo above! We certainly had a laugh with this. The article is here.

My thoughts are with Hazel and his family.

(More memories of David are here)

Photo taken by Hazel Smith

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Into Winter

November at Skip was grey, wet and miserable, with only a few mornings to lift the spirits, like that above! 

 The leaves came off the trees, and were duly gathered up.

There is something quite magnificent about the beech trees in winter!

In the garden, these wallflowers seem somewhat confused as to the season!

A significant event last month was that my new car had to have some bodywork repairs, after I managed to scrape it when it was barely a couple of weeks old. Border Cars Dumfries did a great job of the repair, and for the few days it was away I got to run around in this loan car. I think this could have been the first time in my life that I've ever driven a black car!

Story of my life!

Just a sprinkle of snow on the hills behind Wamphray.

Lots of standing water in the fields.

Sheep overwintering in the lower fields.

My favourite tree, in its winter garb!

A threatening sky.

One hears the rumble in the distance, and then the Pendolino whizzes past, next stop Carlisle.

I got a little carried away with the trees yesterday!

More standing water in a flooded field.

Flooded fields are not all bad. If they freeze, they can provide a safe venue for outside curling. This photo is of Carmunnock and Rutherglen curlers and friends on a flooded field near Gateside, Beith. I've been asking friends if they can remember exactly when the photo was taken. Best we can do so far is late 1970s or early 1980s!

I wonder if this winter will provide opportunities for curling outside?

Photos © Skip Cottage