A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…


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Apples apples everywhere…(Aug 31)

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The old orchard in the walled garden (half a dozens trees) has produced hundreds of apples despite the fact that none of the trees have been pruned for years.   They are almost ripe and we’ve been wondering what we’re going to do with them all…

I mentioned this to one of the mum’s at the local toddler group and it turns out her husband and his mate make their own cider.  Happy days.  They live in the village and have a hand-made apple press in their garden shed.

They’ve apparently been on the look out for a good source of local apples for years – so they’ve come up today to check out their potential new supply.    They’ve brought a sugar measuring device with them and seem pretty happy with the results.   2 of the trees are dessert apples for eating and the rest are for cooking, as we suspected.   Both can be used to make their cider.    They’ll come back to pick them next week while we’re away.

250 kilos will make 250 bottles and they think that’s roughly what they’ll collect.  So we can expect a crate or 2 in return next year.

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Club foot! (Aug 24)

We have a veggie patch disaster – club root – or club foot as I’ve been mistakenly (and embarrassingly) describing it to the neighbours…has attacked nearly ALL our brassicas.

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So I’m afraid half our winter veg supply; the sprouts, cauliflower and cabbages (with all their lovingly placed collars) are not going to make it.   And it was all going so well…

It’s a fungal infection that comes from something in the soil.  It stunts growth in the roots and therefore the plants.  There’s really not much we can do about it – apart from trying to find strains of club foot resistant brassicas in future.   Ed not surprisingly is forlorn after all his hard work, especially today  – as he decided to pull them all up.

However, even though we’re rookies, the rest of the patch looks really healthy and with our intermittent removal of slugs (fond of lettuce) and caterpillar eggs  (prefer curly kale) it looks like the rest of our veg should be fine.

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A puzzle? (Aug 4)

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There are large hooks on the hall walls that run from the first floor to the top of the house and we can’t work out what they’re for.  We’ve considered family portraits (too low), lanterns (too many – and no hooks on the ground floor), tapestries (wrong place) and the previous owners can’t tell us either.    They’ve been put in quite roughly so we don’t think they were part of the original Georgian interior.  We’ve been told that the army used the house in The Second World War so maybe they were put there to string up light bulbs powered by a generator…

It’s a puzzle and everyone who comes to stay asks about them.


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The fruit bushes (Aug 1)

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We’ve got 4 gooseberry bushes and they are weighed down with fruit.   Our other fruit bushes (blackcurrant and redcurrant) were stripped by the birds.    They had a feast one evening – and when Ed went in the next day, so many had gone he initially thought that someone had crept into the walled garden overnight and stolen them all…

Covering the fruit bushes with netting WAS on our list to avoid this happening but like many things on the list there are never enough hours.   Clearly though the birds are not keen on gooseberries so we’ve had quite a harvest.   Today we collected more for a crumble and the rest to freeze for gooseberry fool.