Sunday, 30 April 2017

A magical place

As our holiday cottage is on the edge of the gardens of Colonsay House, there is daily opportunity to roam through the woodland area, which is open to the public.  

There is some industry in the wood, tree felling and a collection of beehives on the north east perimeter.  Over the years, though, the gardens have become a bit of a wilderness, but with that comes a mysterious and magical atmosphere.  Moss encrusted dry stone walls with tumbling coloured ribbons of fallen blossoms, the exotic patterns on the cinnamon-barked myrtles, old and twisted branches weaving their way along overgrown paths, outsized rhododendron leaves, smelly American skunk cabbage, prehistoric-looking gunnera, and ethereal skeleton leaves.  I can't get enough of it, and the dogs enjoy it too.  Lots of new smells!
Same bloom, three days later


Sunday's smelly offering

An American skunk-cabbage, Lysichiton americanus!  Well named because it does emit a pretty unpleasant smell, but it grows here luxuriously, alongside the fast moving stream which runs through the gardens of Colonsay House.  A spectacular plant to look at, but you wouldn't want it in a small garden.  However, sited a very long way from your outside seating area, and its a winner!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Saturday's grande flower

The gardens of Colonsay House were laid out during the 1930s.  Covering over 20 acres, much of the garden is woodland, with an impressive collection of rhododendrons.  The gardens were neglected for many years and it must be quite a task to reclaim them, but bit by bit the owners are getting there.  There are areas where today's flower, rhododendron grande, Rhododendron argenteum, make you feel as though you have landed in a world of giants.  The leaves are ginormous.  I laid a beech leaf in the middle of one of last year's leaves, to give a sense of proportion.  It is slightly bonkers.


The other book festival

The timing of our holiday on Colonsay is to coincide with the island's Book Festival.  In its sixth year, to my mind, it comes a close second to the Borders Book Festival, where I work in the bookshop.
To step out of the venue to be greeted with this view - well, it knocks spots off the Edinburgh Book Festival!
Today, I went to listen to Sue Townsend, cookery writer and novelist.  She is a delightful lady and certainly has my respect, having been the winner of the second year of Masterchef, back in the days of Lloyd Grossman.  Unfortunately, this afternoon, I was sitting behind Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith (who I am going to hear tomorrow), and he is quite a solid chap, so as he moved about, I was ducking back and forth, trying to keep the speaker in view.  At least I won't have that problem tomorrow!


Friday, 28 April 2017

Friday's flower

Today's flower is the common dog violet, Viola riviniana.  Apart from a greener and more wooded area in the north of Colonsay, most of the island's land mass is moorland and rock.  The dog violet can be seen as tiny pinpricks of colour in amongst the buff coloured grassland.  Often there is just one little flower.  Modest, and completely delightful.



Thursday, 27 April 2017

A flower a day, on Colonsay

My mother, Nancy, was born one hundred years ago today.  27 April 1917.  I have decided to post a photograph of a Colonsay flower every day that we are here, and Mum loved bluebells, so here is the first flower, just for her.

The native British bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta 

Time to chill

We are on holiday - hip hip hooray!  Time to chill and do very little after a long, rather dreary winter.  We have travelled to the Inner Hebridean island of Colonsay.  We were here this time last year, loved it, and as soon as we got home booked the same cottage again, but for two weeks this time.  

We caught the ferry, Hebridean Isles, from Oban, heading out west towards Mull and then turning south to Colonsay.  A bracing, freezing cold wind drove us inside for most of the journey, but Ted was restless so a few turns around the deck gave us the opportunity to keep an eye on our journey's progress.
So, here we are again, in our cottage by the reed bed.  Just waiting to hear the call of the corncrake, who lives in amongst the reeds on the other side of the stream.  I am sure he'll be in there somewhere.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday started off sunny and lovely, but gradually the clouds gathered and the rain fell. However, you can't keep a good rich, festive yellow down and these kingcups have more than made up for the lack of sunshine today!
 HAPPY EASTER!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Daffy-down-dilly

I think that the sun is shining throughout the UK today.  It's coming and going a bit, with large clouds getting in the way, but generally a very sunny Sunday.  

The dogs and I have had a good walk this morning, and the countryside is greening up nicely.
The daffodil season can't last long enough for me.  I love them.  I am reliably informed that as a very small child I picked the heads off every plant in the garden, to present to my mother.  That didn't go down too well.  
Then, later in life, as a young teenager, with little money in her pocket, my father would take me to two places where I knew wild daffodils grew and I would pick Mum a bunch for her birthday on 27 April.  

These days I spend the daffodil days rescuing bunches of long-harvested buds from a lingering death in supermarkets, buying them for knockdown prices.  I also collect up the ragged and wilting blooms which get picked or kicked and strewn along pathways by young hooligans, who don't seem to appreciate that these plants have stalwartly followed their calling to emerge from underground at the end of winter, and eventually produce a proud and joyous flower, which heralds the arrival of a new springtime.  Over several weeks I have a raggle taggle collection of daffodils lined up on my kitchen worktop, where I hope they know they have been appreciated and enjoyed after all.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Yippee!

Wall to wall sunshine yesterday, and all that lovely warmth and balminess brought the world and his wife out to greet the day, including us!  We spent the day with longstanding friends, who are visiting Edinburgh for a few days, and with such wonderful weather, North Berwick seemed like the place to be.  
I have never seen the town so busy, even in high summer, but we managed to park the car, and have a wander by the east beach, and around the edge of the park.  It was a real treat to be out in the sunshine without being bundled up against the cold and strong winds.  All the seaside stuff had come out of hibernation - fishing nets, sailing dinghies, and most important of all, the ice cream vans!