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…
We had to take down a very tall and dying elm that was too close to the house and in danger of coming down in a storm. Ed took a piece and made a swing for G that now hangs from the huge lime tree on the lawn.
We wake up to sunshine so Gracie and I take a basket each and head out into the paddock. These days the paddock is regularly mown to keep the nettles and brambles at bay but Ed has left some well chosen places untouched; along the fence line, under the 2 huge sycamores and on the bank that leads up to the bee hives. In the shade and among the long grass, wild flowers now grow. It’s a very pretty sight in the early morning sun and when Gracie starts chasing butterflies I’ve a mind to start laughing out loud.
Our plan is to collect flowers for the white room as our friend Anna is coming to stay.
I’ve a little knowledge of the names of wild flowers that comes from meandering summer walks with my mother when I was about Gracie’s age. An Observer’s pocket book in hand, she’d seek out quiet country lanes with vast overgrown verges and shady banks running down to the river. Anything she couldn’t identify we’d take home – just the one and as long as there were plenty. I’ve a memory she impressed on me that we should never pick primroses – but she knew where to take me to see them and I can still remember the delight of each new discovery.
Gracie too gasps with delight at each new patch of flowers in the paddock. We collect red campion, pignut, germander speedwell (my mother called this Bird’s Eyes), tall buttercups and the last of the bluebells. Of course we don’t know the names of everything so back at the house we turn to the books. I think the buttercups are bulbous crowfoot and we quickly identify the the common bugle but one delicate lilac flower that grows here in abundance eludes us for several days. Ed eventually assists and it’s the leaves that clinch it as they taste like beetroot – it’s pink purslane.