Sunshine

It was sunny this morning and  I retraced some of Saturday’s steps.

This rose had unfurled

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the anemones seemed happier

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and the May* was definitely out.

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The lambs had left their shelter

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and this guy looked contented.

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Here’s that peony, even blousier than before

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There was even a breeze to keep the midges at bay.

Though that didn’t stop DogS picking up a tick snootering in the long grass.

tick.

When I got home, I put out the washing (MrS removed the tick)

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And  brought it in again**.

When the rain came back.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*I did cast a clout

**it was dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The changing seasons

So I’m now 23 days into my #EveryDayinMay challenge to myself. And Spring is moving towards summer. Here are some photos I took around the beginning of the month

And now some taken on walk today.

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First I noticed these Hawthorn or “May” blossoms.

Do you know the saying “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May is out”? There’s often debate, disagreement even, over its meaning.

Is it referring to the month or the flower?

And what is a “clout” or  “cloot”?

Well in Scotland a “cloot” is a cloth, and can be used as word for vest. As in don’t stop wearing your vest until. ..

Well until when?

Until the 1st of May, or when the Hawthorn blooms?

Or perhaps the end of May? With May being “out” meaning over?

And then my mother used to say the same thing. In Wales. Where we didn’t use the word “clout” in the same way. Although it was usually a warning not to go out without a coat.

And  walking along I noticed the blossom wasn’t even at the same stage everywhere.

So:  “Don’t take off your vest/coat/make any rash decisions that it’s summer, until it’s May/May is over/Hawthorn starts to bloom/is in full bloom.

Is that clear now?

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this tree was absolutely covered in blossom

But everywhere I walked there were signs of summer, bluebells going over and being replaced by campion.

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Wild roses starting to bloom.

Ditches are filling up with irises and umbellifers,

anemones and peonies blooming in gardens.*

the trees in fare in full leaf and bloom.

Those lambs getting bigger. And wiser.

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No room for these guys  though.

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“just turn your back on it, and it’ll go away.

All topped off with beautiful summer weather**

 

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*mine are still in bud and getting battered by the wind

**winds of 50+mph and a temperature of 9.9 degrees centigrade

 

Oh, and there are still plenty of rabbits, they were just a bit too quick to catch on camera

 

 

Gardens

I’m not much of a gardener but love visiting and being in gardens. My mother filled her small terraced garden with blooms

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and my sister has inherited Mum’s green fingers and has a lovely garden,

but I’m usually having too much fun to take photos which do it justice.

I’m lucky to have two beautiful open gardens right on the doorstep and another just a short drive away.

 

We can’t visit them at the moment but will be back before too long.

I’ve enjoyed the cool of beautiful gardens in hot places, like these in the Philippines

 

and the Jardin Botanico  and Parque del Drago in Tenerife.

 

And then there’s the formal  French splendour of Villandry in the Loire valley.

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“I be a bit worried ’bout what he’s planning”

Or this at the Casa de Mateus  in Portugal.

 

This French garden at Varengeville- sur Mer in Normandy was less formal.

As were these glorious borders at Dyffryn gardens in South Wales

 

But there then there are places that have it all…..

Dumfries House in Ayrshire, possibly my favourite garden ever*.  All my favourite flowers, delphiniums, cornflowers, poppies, lavender, it was absolutely gorgeous. The house is beautiful too, it’s a great day out.  But the joy of visiting gardens is that DogS can come too**. That’s why we chose Villandry as our Loire chateau.

Like many others we’ve been spending quite a lot of lockdown time in the garden. But it’s still very much a work in progress.  And of course at the mercy of bambi and the  bunnies.

Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

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Bringing the garden indoors***

 

*to visit.

**all the gardens mentioned in the UK or mainland Europe were dog friendly at the time of visiting

***that’s from last year, the sweet peas are at least a month away from flowering

Beaches

I love going to the beach. It’s top of my list of places to go once we can make non essential journeys. We live beside the sea

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and it’s beautiful, but we don’t have a typical sandy beach.

We don’t have to drive very far to find one, just the other side of our nearest town. Simply out of bounds for us for now.

But it will be our first trip, because if there’s “someone” who likes a beach more than me, then it’s DogS.

Particularly if there’s a tennis ball around, the scruffier the better.

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this was not a welcome sign

Although  I’m not a sunbather my favourite travel destinations are beside the sea.

sunset looking east

 

Home

and away,

wild and urban.

On a hot sunny beach you’ll find me under an umbrella with a book, not stretched out soaking up the rays. I like paddling though, and swimming when it’s warm enough. I learned to swim in the sea (the Bristol Channel) and love the feeling of the waves.  I’m not so hardy these days and prefer warmer seas so don’t get a dip as often. I’m not a particular thrill seeker and hate the term “bucket list” but I’d love to try waterskiing.

I like a seaside cafe

or sometimes, something grander.

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I try to leave only

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but pick up the occasional

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and can get quite obsessive about clearing up

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One of my favourite films was set not too far away.  Here I am acting out one of the scenes.

 

 

I’m looking forward to feeling the sand between my toes again.

Version 2

Until tomorrow

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Garden wildlife

Well mostly. I’m very keen on encouraging the butterflies and bees

We  let the grass and other “scruffy”  grow in parts of the garden. In fact I felt guilty the soother day for clearing away too many brambles and nettles after reading that bees love them. And  I leave bits of Ragwort as it’s the food for these

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Long  grass is good for the birds too. Goldfinches are small enough to perch on it and feed off its  seeds.

And we don’t want to hurt other creatures which like the cool of the long grass

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Then there are the birds which come to the feeders, or pick up from underneath.

 

And the ones which are still feeding their young, even though the chicks are now adult sized. At the moment it’s been mostly sparrows and chaffinches, but we have blue tits, coal tits, great tits, green and goldfinches, thrushes and blackbirds.

And of course robins aren’t only for Christmas

Some birds are a bit less welcome

The pheasants aren’t content to pick up the spillage, they’re also partial to potato leaves and flowers. Or at least they’ll peck a flowers to find out whether they’re partial to them. And either they or the crows have worked out how to open the peanut feeder and tip out its contents. (Their beaks are too big to access the nuts otherwise) My money’s on the crows, pheasants don’t seem that bright. Often they seem to forget they can fly,   just scuttling around in a fluster when they’re disturbed. Crows are pretty smart I think. And I quite like them even though they’re generally held to be unwanted predators.

I haven’t seen any yet this year,  but I’m hoping for a repeat of this

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But they have their own predators, there’s a heronry close by.

And then there are the very  destructive visitors

 

 

Cute they may be but they are voracious, tenacious and athletic. We once had a rabbit nest  inside our raised bed. And I’ve spotted a deer sitting quite happily inside a friends fenced veg. patch, while their dogs barked at it from the house. And of course deer bring their own wildlife.

But really I like seeing them all, even if I get annoyed when my flowers get trampled or nibbled.

There ‘s only one creature I’d happily see the back of.

The relentless, voracious Highland Midge.

Of which I am a favourite feast.

Have a good weekend.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

Walking (2)

Why the “2” Well I’ve posted on this subject before. Twice if you count the one about walking with DogS. But it’s something I do a lot of,  and can do at the moment.

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“Obviously the one wiv me in was better”

Yesterday’s story was inspired by and thought up on one of my daily walks.

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Though the people just live in my head.

I look forward to our hour of exercise every day. The routes we can take may be limited but we make slight variations and  notice the changes in our surroundings.

These are from a circuit around the forest plantation

Sometimes we go along the seashore,

and once walked right across the sea

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Standing mid Atlantic

I meet  the new arrivals.

And have a socially distanced yell with old ones.

Watch the flowers bloom

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and fall

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I’m pleased that outdoor exercise was never banned, and that we can now go out more than once a day.

But for now apart from walks and shopping,  I’ll be staying safe at home.

Perhaps a little armchair travel tomorrow?

Until then

Marina xx

 

 

Wildflowers

I like all types of flowers, but there’s something really special about flowers growing by themselves without any help from us. That’s why I picked dandelions as my header image. Perhaps you call them  weeds but I think they’re a bit wonderful. Plus bees love them, they are often their source of pollen in early Spring. So stop and think before you get busy with that weedkiller or you’ll poison the bees. And didn’t you play the  dandelion clock game as a kid?

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not a bee but a Peacock butterfly on this one

Dandelions need to get themselves some hints from the bluebells, everyone seems to love the bluebells, and I do too. They are even protected perhaps that’s because of their link to the fairies so take care next time you’re in a bluebell wood.

wild bluebells from our walk this morning

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and our home attempt at a bluebell wood

Actually the bluebells have been spectacular this year, or it could be they put on the same show every year but I’m usually too busy to take enough notice?

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“I mean they’re alright I s’pose, not as nice as me tho'”

Lockdown has meant more time to spend in the garden, but I’m not a very good gardener. Also our garden is a restaurant for rabbits, deer and pheasants. The latter are definitely more abundant this year as no one is shooting them, and a few years back a rabbit actually nested in MrS’s newly built vegetable raised bed! But I’m getting away from my subject. They’d be buzzing in on me in “Just a Minute”

So back to the wildflowers, I’ve always wanted a wildflower meadow and have sown packets and packets of seeds over the years trying to grow one of those beautiful cornflower and poppy filled carpets.

With very little success.

I’ve come to realise two things. First growing one of those meadows is very hard work, you can’t just sprinkle on the seeds and hope for the best. You have to get rid of the grass first, yellow rattle  can help with that. Then you have to sow the seeds and wait, and wait, and wait. I sowed a tiny bed last year and I think it maybe might produce some flowers this year. Plug plants deliver results more quickly and I’d thought about planting some but then read “…rabbits love plug plants..” Pfft! Time to think again. Which brings me to my second realisation. Those cornflowers I like so much aren’t actually native around here, though as a clever naturalist friend pointed out when was “year zero” for native species?  Five hundred years? A thousand ? Something to think about.  So I have to learn to love the flowers which are native and encourage them. Which we do by limiting mowing and careful strimming of the longest grasses.

We’re going to mark out a patch for No Mow May and see what grows, and what wildlife is attracted. I ‘m hoping that means lots of butterflies and bees and not a hoard of very well fed bunnies. And hopefully lots of use for this

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birthday present from MrS

And I’ll leave you with a couple more from our walk today

Until tomorrow

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..a challenge.

So I’m challenging myself to post, “every day in May” . It’s not an original idea a friend is taking part in 5k every day in May where NHS workers are running or cycling 5k every day in  May as a way to say “Thank you”. Let that one sink in for a moment.

very cute Bramble pic

I like running too

Now I can’t ride a bike (not very well anyway) and my running days are past (dodgy knees) and I’ve never been any good at raising money for charity,  BUT I can take up a challenge. I need to get back in the blogging rut (rut sounds a bit grim but I  couldn’t bring myself to type “groove”) and I have a precedent to follow.  Way back in 2016 I managed to post every day for #Blogtober.

Back then I was living under constraint too, though not like our current situation. There were no blocks on travel or socialising, but home was a lot smaller. We were in the middle of our renovations and using one room for all entertainment, cooking and eating.

there was also a sofa and TV!

And like now,  our  situation was not nearly as challenging as that faced by far too many people as their norm.  We were safe and warm, had food, cooking and entertainment facilities,  and only had to bear our cramped surroundings for a short  time.

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I know I’m lucky to be able to walk here

But even with all the good things that I should be thankful for, and happy about, there are times when I’m not. I don’t think this is unusual.  Even though there’s almost unlimited time for projects I’ve found it hard to achieve much.  Again that’s not just me.  On social media friends and the famous describe feelings of inertia.  MrS has  tins of paint he ordered before lockdown standing unopened in the hall, and I  have bagfuls of old photos waiting to be sorted. Mind you I did patch my favourite sweatshirt, though the jury’s out on the success of that particular project.

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I’m not convinced the holes weren’t better

So I won’t go on for too long because I’ve got to do this for the next 31? days.

Until tomorrow,

Marina x

PS if you’re wondering about the header photograph, look closely. And if you’re a certain age (like me) think of the “Two Ronnies” Mastermind* sketch.

 

*Still no?   Specialist subject answering the question asked before – I’m paraphrasing it was a long time ago. xx

Exploring

Two quite different short trips.

First off to Glasgow for an urban adventure (though we’ve been there lots before).

on the train

We took plenty of provisions and entertainment for the journey 

Our bed for the night was new, both to us and Glasgow at the brand new Motel One ; they even had photos from the West Highland line to make us feel at home. It’s close to Central station and the shops and is very, very dog friendly.

B at motelone Glasgow

“What’s next?  I’ve finished my tea”

If you don’t know the Motel One brand they are well worth checking out. We’ve stayed at their Princes Street branch and they’re also in Newcastle and Manchester.

I couldn’t go to Glasgow without visiting the shops but  it’s not quite as dog friendly as Edinburgh, possibly because a lot of my favourites  (eg. Whistles, Space NK ) which are dog friendly there are inside malls in Glasgow. The massive Waterstones branch on Sauchiehall Street is dog friendly though,  as is Anta and lots of lovely independents on and around Great Western Road. Luckily it was mostly sunny and MrS was happy to wait outside on Buchanan Street while I shopped, and of course Dog S loved all the attention from passers by.

It wasn’t all consumerism though, nor sitting about for DogS.  We had a pretty extensive walkies, in fact I covered more steps than I do at home. I’ve walked all over Edinburgh and explored many overseas cities on foot but apart from shopping trips Glasgow on foot has been a path less travelled.

 

Glasgow is full of impressive buildings, also some haunting ruins.  The city centre is full of memories of Glasgow’s time as “second city of empire” and those Victorians  didn’t limit their exuberance to building for  commerce;  on a hill behind the Cathedral is the Necropolis.

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It’s a good place for a walk with views over the whole city  – and on a clear day up to the highlands.

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  Births, Marriages and Deaths though not necessarily in that order*

I thought back to our visit when I read this post today**.

And our second trip? Quite different, over the sea to ….. Tiree, the most westerly of the Inner Hebrides. Because of its westerly position it’s much sunnier and drier than many of the islands and also much windier!  So windy in fact that it’s a hub for surfing and windsurfing, the Tiree Wave Classic had been held the weekend before our visit.

We stayed at The Old Thatch in Scarinish,  small and cosy just perfect for two people and one dog. A traditional two roomed cottage it would have housed a large family well into the 20th century.

 

through the bathroom window

view from the bath 

Now Tiree’s built environment might be a tad less grandiose than Glasgow’s (though very attractive) but its beaches would be hard to beat.

And it was even warm and sunny enough for a picnic

Our lunch spot was close to the Ringing Stone an “Erratic” which landed on Tiree  after a volcanic eruption. Don’t worry about getting hit on the head by flying rocks though, it happened millennia ago.  Nearby basking seals jumped into the sea and swam close to get a good look at us.

the Ringing Stone

seals

watching us watching them

 

It wasn’t all gorgeous natural beauty though, once again all too much plastic waste washed in by the tide.     When the shells are sand the plastic will still be around.

two wrecks

the wreck of the schooner Mary Stewart at Scarininsh

 

old me boat

and another old lady retired ashore

 

 

Two short but sweet breaks, each lovely in their own way.

Marina xx

PS. I’m just back from a shorter trip, just one night in Perth.  A shout out to Gringos a lovely, lively bar, dog friendly of course with great food and friendly staff. Not the place for a quiet romantic  night perhaps but well worth a visit. Another plus for Perth(shire), a selection of libraries  have introduced dog friendly Fridays .  No accommodation report because I like to post positive reviews, the only plus point being DogS could come too.

*The Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral and Infirmary (in the background right).

** I was a bit delayed completing and posting this.

Islay

We’ve had another short break, this time to the slightly less balmy climes of Islay. Storm Callum had been raging, flooding our local shopping centre, cancelling ferries and generally causing mayhem (and very sadly loss of life) but luckily had subsided by the time we needed to travel. Still we stopped off to fortify and warm ourselves up with a hobbity second breakfast at the lovely Smiddy Bistro

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Spicy beans and egg on toast

Then it was back on the road to Kennacraig to join the Finlaggan

We’ve travelled to Islay before but always as a means of visiting Jura and though we did make a quick trip over,  this time it was all about Islay.

It’s probably best known as a distillery island and while we popped into the newest* one Kilchoman for some lunch (and picked up a bottle to take home) we were more interested in exploring some of Islay’s spectacular beaches.

And of course DogS approved of this option.

Even thought sun was shining I was not tempted to paddle, these beaches Machir and Saligo bays face out into the Atlantic and have dangerous rip tides and fierce waves.  I didn’t want to risk DogS following me and getting swept away.

I found a piece of slate and made my mark

Marina slate

But was very aware of leaving no trace…

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Unfortunately even on these wild and fairly remote beaches that wasn’t always the case

blue plastic

We couldn’t manage to take away this plastic but removed a few “poo bags” worth of sweetie wrappers, plastic bottles and cable ties. And then because I was looking for obvious litter I began to see the tiny ground up pieces of plastic which we’d have had to sieve the sand to remove.

trying to leave only footprints

trying to leave only footprints

rubbish face

Bleurgh!

MrS didn’t miss out on his history fix, as well as the distillery and gorgeous beaches Kilchoman is home to this ancient carved cross and a poignant military cemetery marking the loss of the Otranto in 1918.

kilchoman cross

 

And true to form good food and drink was enjoyed, though we couldn’t take advantage of the bar at the Bowmore hotel. (We were driving)

DogS didn’t miss out

A walk through Bridgend woods gave DogS some good sniffs

Bridgend woods

 

And she could sniff but didn’t see this fine guy at Islay Woollen Mill

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Who’s that sitting in My mill?

And we got the shivers listening to the seal song at Portnahaven

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Portnahaven, the seals were sitting out on the island. Singing. 

A very short visit but great fun and still lots to return and explore

across to Jura

The Paps of Jura across Loch Indaal from the Bowmore – Bridgend road

And a few treats to take home.

goodies

sitting on an Islay wollen mill blanket

Until next time

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*Kilchoman is the newest until Ardnahoe opens later this year.

We stayed at the very comfortable, dog (and people) friendly Bridgend Hotel and must give a special mention to the dog friendliness and sausages  at our lunch stop The Bowmore Hotel