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…


Leave a comment

This year’s veg; successes and failures… (Aug 16)

IMG_2494      IMG_2496

After last year’s club root disaster (see Club foot! Aug 24, 2013 ) Ed bought resistant strains and this year brilliantly all the brassicas have come through.

_MG_0234      IMG_2506

The onions were kept in pots too long before they were planted out so ours didn’t do well at all.  Luckily we are sharing everything and Mr C planted his out at the right time…

_MG_9995      _MG_0228

We’ve had a glut of courgettes (we have 3 kinds) and tomatoes – they just keep on coming.   So I’ve been making batches of soup to freeze and tried my hand at ketchup as it uses up nearly a kilo of tomatoes per bottle (it turned out a bit runny for ketchup – I blame the sieve – so I’m calling it relish).

_MG_9901      IMG_2503

We’ve discovered that runner beans and peas need to be picked at just the right time – otherwise the beans are stringy and the peas go powdery.

IMG_2491      _MG_9997

We have curly kale and cavalo nero – the curly kale tastes a bit earthy but the cavalo nero is delicious.

_MG_9897      IMG_2641

We also have house stores.  We pulled up all the beetroot which are now buried in a bucket of sand –  and all the carrots which are now buried in a box of compost.   All the potatoes – we have 2 kinds  – are sorted and in sacks for the winter.

We have more lettuces and parsley than we know what to do with.  The spinach is now coming through, as are the leeks – and the parsnips will be next.     It’s been a bumper year and now we know what grows really well the next skill to master is ‘succession’ – so we have year-round veg.

 

 


1 Comment

The tumble-down sheds (Aug 3)

We are putting my nephews to good use while they are here.  They’re working through a list of jobs with Ed that I’ve been compiling for some time.  There’s always a list.

Today it’s clearing out the tumble-down sheds behind the walled garden.  They’re full of junk; cages, bins, broken furniture, bits of old wood and metal.

The long term plan is to use them as potting sheds and garden storage but before we get that far, the back wall will need some attention – particularly above the corrugated roof (see the dark holes in the photos).    Like a lot of work here we just have to keep our fingers crossed that the hole/leak/crack doesn’t get too much worse before we get round to fixing it / can afford to do it…

IMG_2593IMG_2594IMG_2595

The sheds are already quite beautiful  – but in time we intend to add salvaged windows, doors and make-shift skylights;  a collection of different pieces that we’ll pick up whenever we can from local salvage yards.

For now though the boys are helping us to move things on and because they’re involved I can see that their connection to the place gets stronger with each visit.    They are becoming part of the shape of things here.   Slow progress I’m discovering has its own kind of rewards.


2 Comments

Uncovering the secrets of the walled garden (Jul 16)

When we first moved here just thinking about the amount of work that needed doing to the walled garden was overwhelming.  See – The Walled Garden (Easter Weekend – Mar 30, 2013).     The old vegetable patches hadn’t been tended for years, the green house was filthy and many of the glass planes broken, the orchard looked like it had never been pruned and that winter, before we arrived, the north wall had been seriously damaged in a storm.

Below – the back of the north wall. The repairs were meant to have been carried out by the previous owners…

IMG_0374

 Nearly all the garden was rough grass

IMG_9245

April – and Ed gets started on one of the 2 overgrown vegetable patches…

IMG_9243

The unloved orchard surrounded by mole hills

IMG_9242

Despite the daunting task ahead, we were smitten – and one step at a time, our secret garden is starting to bloom.   Ed has worked a year of magic on it and walking up the winding path to the garden door is now more exciting than ever as there’s such a treat in store…

IMG_1160

We now have 4 impressive plots of burgeoning green; fruit as well as vegetable patches.   This is our main veggie patch

IMG_2504

The green house has had a total make-over and is currently the happy home to 5 tomato vines

_MG_0127

At long last the north wall has been properly fixed with stone and lime mortar; a massive job that the previous owners eventually paid for…

_MG_0122

The moles hills have also gone, the apple trees have been fed and pruned, and the meadow patches are underway – and there’s so much more to come; hedges and paths, flower borders and a DIY summer house, restored railings and replacing a section of ancient tumble-down wall with old barn doors as gates (the search is on…).   It’s a vision of loveliness.   We are one year in and it’s already taking shape.