The Garden gets some TLC

The garden at the new house is in roughly three parts.  Immediately outside the back door there is a sizeable Terrace with some good seating, then up the steps into a lawned area with a wonky garden shed!


I’m sure we can mend the shed and give it a makeover if only I can work out how to get it level ( I’m thinking car jacks at the moment! ) but it’s not a priority at the moment. What is a priority is getting the flower beds done, by that I mean getting some soil as there is literally no depth to the garden as it is on free draining andesitic lava layers, 


As you can see, there was nothing for it but to have top soil delivered! The borders are fairly modest, not like the borders I had in Devon so I will have to think creatively. Incidentally, this picture was taken the same day as the rainy picture, in fact about half an hour between them, but that’s what it has been like all summer.

The second area of garden is just to the right and it is all paved. It has a metal farm gate and there is room to pull the car in. This area also houses a massive oil tank, the dustbins, compost bins and a couple of old coal bunkers. One of the first jobs that I did was to clear the area of the weeds that were growing up between the paving slabs, cut back the Virginia Creeper that was swamping everything and empty out the compost bins which had really use been used as glorified dustbins. I have never seen so many egg shells as there were inside them!

We intend to put a new shed on this area and perhaps build a pergola type thing to hide it and the oil tank, whilst still maintaining access. As you can see, we also have a lane that runs along the back of the garden, jolly useful for deliveries.



The third part of the garden is the garden to the cottage and as such cannot be reached from the back of the house but I intend eventually to break through the stone wall that separates them ( behind the oil and ) and have some fruit trees and fruit bushes there as well as a less formal patch. It needs quite a bit of work but I think it should be rather attractive when it’s done – eventually.


This is the cottage garden


Underneath the Virginia Creeper is where I hope to burst through!


The garden is like Brighton Beach, and much as I like Brighton I don’t need to be reminded of it in my garden, where space is precious. So, mass movement of stones, I shall put them in th front of the house and dig out the soil where it is against the wall, take up the membrane probably, and I think have raised beds, with more soil and compost brought in. Simple!

Out and About

Despite all the upheaval with the move we have still managed to be out and about. One highlight was to Mellerstain House for an evening recital by a string Quartet. Amongst the pieces they played was the Shostakovich eighth and also the Ravel Quartet, both were excellent and it was good to see young musicians playing live, the volume was staggering, particularly for the Shostakovich.  The setting was just right being in a Robert Adam drawing room. Mellerstain is about 7 miles from Kelso so it wasn’t far at all and we shall definitely go again.

We have also been to hear the Town Yetholm Sinfonia wind soloists in Kirk Yetholm ( not so far) and they were really excellent. A number of the instrumentalists are local but they also came from Newcastle and Edinburgh and I believe, Peebles and Berwick. Geoffrey Emerson is the conductor and the arranger of the pieces we heard, his wife Pippa plays one of the French Horns. We have been to supper and for lunch at their house and through them have met quite a few people.

A visit to Ikea was necessary as for one thing I no longer have a work table, so that was my number one priority. Of course we bought more than that but the main reason for going was to check out bookcases ‘in the flesh’. We didn’t buy any as there was no way we could get them in the car so we will have some delivered once Hywel has reduced the number somewhat!

Country pursuits have become a recent focus for us as there have been a number of ‘Ride Outs’ in Kelso and Town Yetholm which attract quite a crowd of followers. They are certainly impressive for the number of riders, over 200, and for the importance that they give to them. 


Having lived in Devon for 31 years and only one of us ever made it to the County Show (Hyw) we decided to rectify matters and took ourselves off to the Border Union Show in Kelso. It was a fine day and there was plenty of livestock to see. There was a free bus from the car parking and because we had bought our tickets on line, no queues to get in. We were immediately struck by the heavy horses which were very splendid and a very elegant young woman who was riding sidesaddle. There were huge numbers of sheep, a poultry and goat section and a few bulls, most of the cattle classes having been the day before. 


Luckily they had kept the number of businesses to a minimum although there were some very impressive bits of farm machinery


We are looking forward to the next live broadcast from the National Theatre in the village. Apparently there are only two villages in the whole of the uk who have this live link up and Yetholm is one of them!  

I have started digging the garden and have immediately struck what must have been a cinder and stone pathway, not only that, but I have unearthed what appears to be a disused drain but there is no way I can dig it up and anyway it might not be disused! We have been clearing the ivy off the cottage and are about ready to start painting the woodwork and the render to the front of the cottage. We await Phil Stewart to start work on the down pipes on the main house. 

Back to Earth With A Bang

I arrived Sunday lunch time and had two days of relative calm before Pav and his mate arrived to start delivering boxes. Luckily for us the weather was dry again and so the removals could go ahead without having to worry about the carpets which we had just had cleaned. They arrived about 6.30 and worked until about 8pm and then came back the next day and worked from 7.15 until about 10am. I must say that Pav in particular was an absolute demon, on the go the whole time.


It is now a week since I returned from Italy and almost a week since the furniture was delivered. Clearly we will have to buy some more beds and book cases, a dishwasher is also a priority! So far Hyw has mended the table and tidied the garden shed, he has just started to mend the coal bunker. I have been trying to find homes for everything and inbetween times I have been clearing the back yard, getting the computer and phones working and setting up the TV.


The house is gradually getting clear but I have been doing numerous trips to the tip in Kelso, so much so that they recognise me now. Only about another 30 boxes to go.


Just got the pictures to sort out, and my art stuff and yet more books and CDs, happy days!

Last Day

Sadly our holidays here in Como are almost at an end. We have had brilliant weather all week and for the past 3 days we haven’t ventured far from the hotel or the little cafe on the promenade. It’s far too hot and too nice to be doing anymore visits to villas or villages. Nothing can top the experience of the Bernina Express on Monday. Luckily we don’t leave the hotel until 3pm tomorrow so we will have a bit more time to enjoy the scenery before we go.

So Much to See!

Despite the late afternoon rain storms, we have been out every day, except the first. We have had a mixture of visits including a visit from Brian, mums friend, who lives for part of the year at Garda. We went to Lenno for a light lunch with him, catching the boat at Villa Carlotta. Afterwards we came back for tea at the hotel, the second he left Verity and I made a beeline for the pool.

We have also been to Bellagio, not for the town part which looks best from a distance, but for the villa Melli gardens which run alongside the lake.


We also stopped for ice creams, delicious!


We have visited the villa gardens at the villa Barbanielli also. We took the bus to Lenno and then we had about a thirty minute walk to the villa across the hill, through a beautiful tree filled landscape. It was fairly hilly going for nan though! The villa gardens were not extensive but they were stunning, being built on the promontory.


We decided to take the water taxi back as it would have been too far for mum to walk.

A day trip to Menaggio was also planned, as for one thing we needed to buy our tickets for the Bernina Express. That done, we explored the waterfront, which was very charming, and then caught a bus to the Northern end of the lake, the small town of Domaso. It wasn’t really as good as the guide books had made it out to be plus we had overshot our stop so we had miles to walk back. We did however find a windsurfing stretch of the lake so we had a quick paddle. 

First day in Italy

I drove down to Verity’s on the Sunday, making very good time, and together we set off for Bexhill on the Monday.


We flew in yesterday, on an Airbus 320, to Milan Malpensa arriving at around 4.30 pm. The ground crew were most helpful with mum and we had a separate entrance and passport control from the other passengers. Verity had the bags waiting for us so it was just a question of walking through customs ( non existent ) to meet our driver. He didn’t speak any English but he was most informative and helpful, pointing out places of interest on our journey to the hotel. We have a good room with an adjoining room for Verity. It is on the first floor and overlooks the gardens at the back. The evening meal was very good, as usual and we had 2 bottles of wine! 

We were woken in the night by the mother of all storms and in fact it carries on today although it is gradually fading now. We ate out in the small pizza bar, just a few metres from the hotel.

There had been a disaster in that my red nail varnish had spilt on the flight, all over my green dress!


Luckily they had a needle and thread at reception, and with a few liberated silk leaves, it doesn’t look like a murder scene anymore. 

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At last a move

We have been talking about a move for a couple of years now but no-one thought we were serious and didn’t think we would actually make a move, especially to Scotland! Yes, you’ve heard it here first folks, we now live in Scotland. There are various reasons for not blogging about this before, firstly we were so busy with the sale, and getting rid of furniture and also Hyw felt it would be very much tempting fate to ‘announce it’, so I kept quiet.

The couple who bought Spencer House viewed it 3 times and made the offer fairly early in the process. The were moving from Lancaster and would be living in a caravan down in Devon so we agreed to a fairly swift exit on our part. Things worked out well as we were able to move to Mark’s cottage on the 5/6 May and in fact had made an offer on a place I had spotted on the internet, on day 3 of our house hunting (Monday rang for an appointment, Tuesday saw it, Wednesday/Thursday bought it! It has taken about 7 weeks in total to complete the sale/ purchase. 

In the meantime we have been doing lots of site seeing, Verity has been to visit, as has Mark but at last we are in 23/6/17 although our furniture won’t arrive until 11/12 July as I am off to Italy and Hyw has very kindly agreed to wait for my return!





Our first view of Coldstream and the Bowmont valley


A day trip to Melrose


A trip to Wooler and Berwick


Verity’s visit to us in Scotland

A trip to Bamburgh with Verity and some day trips to Smailhome Tower, and Scotts View



Trips to Eyemouth, and St Abb’s

A trip to Flodden, a visit to the gardens at Mindrum and the river in full spate 


The last photos are of our first two days in Bowmont House! Hyw had to sleeps on the floor as I was driving down to Bath and I needed a good nights sleep. He now faces 2 weeks without me or furniture but he does have the cat.