Sunday, 28 December 2014

which apples?

I've been hunting across tinterweb for the identity of our"crabapples".

Looks like they are malus sylvestris.  In other words plain wild apples, not feral, with something giving them red spots.....
The old road they grow alongside IS very old indeed.  So the trees could be at least three hundred years old...or bird sown descendants of the originals.
Pretty gnarly anyway, and in a rather windswept spot, so rather stunted.

icy walking

 After the first mile we called into the village community stores and cafe for a coffee. The manager was there on her own and was busy cooking!  Usually we have two on duty.  I served in the shop while she cooked.  After coffee and cake, and as the shop quietened down,we carried on with our walk in the winter sun.

Saturday, 27 December 2014


We had a short walk today,  up the road, down an old road,now a track,across a bridge over the burn then, as the track disappeared...
across the field..and despite being up a slope, it was sodden after the amount of rain we have had.

We reached the top of a small hill,where we could then see laid out all the other farms around our home, plus a small farm track hidden in a dip that we hadn't realized was there.

Across a patch of rough ground and we picked up another old track, lined with wizened and gnarled trees.....many bearing fruit......

Crabapples...ripe and ready and still hanging on!!   We filled our pockets with fruit then headed for home as fine rain showers began.
Around another field margin to pick up another old road,now beneath earth, which goes along rather across the main valley, then down the nearest old track to home. We picked up fallen ash and apple branches on our way to keep ourselves warm in the evening.

The tarmacadamed roads now go along the Dyrock valley by us and up over Guiltree Hill from Kirkmichael to Dalrymple.     The old tracks laid with stones go across and up to the latter road from the farms.  I should think that the valley road is relatively new.

Apples!...The pink spots are their natural colouring,quite pretty. 
They are being washed in water with a dash of vinegar, then they will be joined in a preserving jar with vodka, sugar and some Geans ( wild cherries) from the freezer...picked last June.   
They'll be ready for the next Winter Solstice celebrations!!

Thursday, 25 December 2014


I now have my laptop and printers back!

We had Christmas lunch at the local pub...not cheap,but no cooking and no washing up for either of us!! So a nice walk down, a relaxed meal and a longer walk home arriving just before the latest rain shower!

I've been going through emails this afternoon, deleting rubbish and sorting the good stuff! Would you believe I had 85 emails waiting in my website inbox....and 84 were spam!!
I've been work today!!  So I'm planning pot and card photography and postage and packing pricing...then I can hit the ground running again!!

This year's cards were linocut and  handprinted..and I'm definitely going to carry on with that.  I enjoyed it 40 years ago and it is still fun now.

Here is the Elf (Santa Baby?!!) who was the prototype...before the IT problems...

Now to choose the next image for a linocut.  It is too easy to get big ideas and try too complicated images too I must ease back into it and keep it reasonably simple.

We're here eating special treat stroopwaffel, dark chocolate, plums and homemade flapjacks in front of the fire.

Hot water bottles are in order as the temperature is dropping ready for tomorrow's possible snow or freeze.

Work tomorrow!!

late and early

The Pirate wanted to go to the village church for Christmas Night service, so I kept him company. The religion isn't my thing, but the sense of community in the two villages that share our village's vicar is good.

We walked down for 11.30 pm under the stars and after tea and sweeties, walked back under straggling snow clouds with the stars peeking around them.
Then we sat in front of the woodburner with the doors open (and the spark guard up!) opening a few presents.

I used the tablet to show The Pirate a little of the Welsh tradition of Plygain...have a look (sorry no link, but the search engines find it easily) . It sent shivers up his spine!!

Season's Greetings to you all xx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


We are having day after day of rain and still unseasonably warm weather.
We train indoors on the turbo instead of going out on the is so miserable going out in the wet!!

We have had a heartwarming comment from several people in the village...they enjoy having us living in (well....near!) the village. After two years we are feeling settled here.

We'd still like a workshop....our own garden...another room so that we aren't  so squeezed..but at least we're living in a lovely friendly place!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


is using this tabket to blog....I can only see the keyboard...and if the cursor it does frequently...

I've also lost some comments on the last post...sorry!  Although it did say comments saved...I can't find them.

Another week, and hipefully normal service....and my laptop...will resume!!

Friday, 5 December 2014


This year cash is no special presents.

Everyone will receive the same...a box containing homemade sweets and biscuits fun to make, good to receive and only costing £15 to make a lot. The main cost will be posting a few of them...

getting mucky!

Last weekend we headed off to near Dunbar to help friends who were riding a cyclocross race. We manned the pits for five riders, cleaning muddy grassy bikes as they changed bikes every lap or so. If you allow mud and grass to build up too much the rear gear mechanism can explode with the clogging, or sieze and end up wrapped around the sprockets at the back.
We stayed overnight at a friend's hose in the Kingdom of Fife, before heading up the road to th Dunfermline Golf club....
my club, Sandy  Wallace Cycle Racing Team were meeting for a ride, followed by dinner.
We went with the slower group, along to Kincardine then retraced at our own pace! The Pirate is riding well, but an hour and a half out on the bike is plenty.

Having showered we all went up the spiral stone staircase to the wooden panelled dining room...all painted and carved. Must look into the history of this fascinating building!

In our club we have three Masters World Track Champions from this one other from 2010..our sponsor presented us with a bottle of Moet et Chandon champagne each!! Now to find a suitable occasion......

Friday, 28 November 2014

a quick post

A quick few words...we are just back from a week on the Isle of Lewis, thanks to Andrea and Eve. 
Much unwinding was we return tobthe round of appointments and gardening ( still warm enough for there to be work for us) 

Please excuse the odd spelling and lack of pictures....still no news on the sick laptop, with the malfunctioning  printer in hope....

meanwhile I'm using a small tablet computer, which has its limitations but at least keeps us in contact

Sunday, 16 November 2014

quiet Sunday

All was cold and foggy this morning, so our bike ride started later..but still the clouds were flowing down the Girvan Valley. We turned right at the old Tollhouse after Wallacetown and followed the lanes up the hill into the sun.
Looking across the Clyde the far side was still obscured by cloud.
We dropped down to Turnberry where a certain Mr. Trump has already started revamping the golf course...starting with the putting green!
To Culzean Castle for coffee, then home skirting Maybole on the Covenanters' Road and back into the Dyrock Valley and home. A gently taken ride of about 30 miles.
Then tidying up the veggie garden, clearing the bean haulms and club rooted brassicas. Enough Runner and Borlotti beans to save seed for next year and runner bean beans to steam for two meals from the beans that ,got away'!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

garden preparation

We have just finished a job today..clearing a fortyfive degree slope of small leaved privet plants.
The Pirate was wielding a mattock and spade, my job was pulling up the remains as well as taking a turn with the mattock.
This is so that the gardener can then plant her chosen shrubs.
We must have done a good job as she insisted on paying more than asked, and discussed our next job there!!

We had lunch in our village cafe on the strength of it.

Then on to another garden to clear an old heap behind a greenhouse prior to re-glazing...and then came the rain!! Such a disappointment after the afternoon,s sun and double rainbow.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

technology 1 gz 0

More techno problems..the software driver for the printer has is refusing to recognise printing commands AND it is clogging up the screen and brain of the computer.
Luckily I've been given a tablet so I'm learning to use it. 
Meanwhile no printer or laptop....

Thursday, 6 November 2014

RIP Blacksmith

I heard today that a good friend died yesterday.

We had never met in real life, but he introduced me to the downsizer forum for sustainable living ....not a dry as dust place, more an online village with all the events, squabbles, friends, births, marriages...and deaths.

He chatted with me on facebook as The Pirate went through his course of radiotherapy and was a great help.  Within a month his chemotherapy started, so he must have known when we were talking.

Despite knowing that his condition was terminal lung cancer he was positive and encouraging.

A good craftsman, marvellous photographer and all round decent bloke.

You'll be missed, Dave Goddard.

You loved barbecues and fireworks, so what better day to go!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

village event

 We walked down the hill to the village as the fireworks started...I'm glad we were late as I'm sure we had the best view!
 There was soup and hot dogs,fizzy drinks and glowsticks

It looked like most of the village came out to see and share,plus many from the surrounding area.

Then a walk home in the light of the nearly full moon, to a warm house, thanks to the woodburning stove.

Saturday, 1 November 2014


 One day it is all Autumnal and conkers, the next the weather shows its true colours as the tail end of the US Hurricanes turns into a storm.....
Today it is Samhain/Calan Gaeaf  So Winter is here and I'm sitting here in front of the woodburning stove all cosy as the wind roars in the chimney and the rain lashes down....

and who forgot to lock the car, and whose bike is sitting in the car after today's!

I took advantage of the good weather we had at lunchtime to go for a bike ride with my daughter on her last day here.
I managed the first flatter part of the ride with her-then told her to go on!

Total ride was sixteen miles, but the last eight were uphill to the summit, where The Pirate rescued me!!   Then we drove to Newton Stewart and had coffeeand scones together, before going tohunt for her husbandand The Boys.
He had forgotten that he had saaid"if you feel ok at the arranged meeting point, carry on the next 16k to Newton Stewart".....)

We found him back here!!   All came out in the wash and nobody died!!

Sad to see them leave after only three nights up here, but The Boys are now in school and one gets fined if one takes time out in term time.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

seasonal cards and visits

Printing is under way of the Seasonal Greetings cards...seems far too early, but one is driven by the market.   Also by the early posting dates for overseas mail !

Daughter is on her way today, she came from Wales by train...a great far as Cheshire where her in-laws live. Thence by car to here.

 The Boys are having a Big Adventure Holiday!! Their first visit to Scotland too.

The house here has been under the process of being made four year old boy (x2) proof for a few days, not that that is entirely possible!!
 This has been a trifle stressful for The Pirate, adding to the stress of restoring a classic bike for his granddaughter....He cannot find all the bits that were taken off and put in one box, when the frame was stripped to go and be resprayed.
It isn't a case of just go and buy new, as sizes of tubing change as well as style of components. 
However it is nearly ready,thankfully....a stressed out Pirate is doing no good to either of us!!

We do have something else to look forward to soon which will relieve much stress...a trip to the Western that IS to be eagerly anticipated- apart from the ferry crossing over The Minches!!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

a find?

Or perhaps not....found an Epson  stylus sx 100 printer in a charity shop  for £3

It wont turn on....we'll get our Electrical Wizard to look at it....but £3 isn't too much to lose!!

Possibly back to the drawing board.....perhaps that IS the answer....

get drawing!!

Monday, 20 October 2014

New Cards

Some cycling themed images and some from Scotland.

I've seen the printer that I think will do the job for me, handle heavier card still.

Just need to find £90 for the printer and more for the ink and card.....

Something will turn up!!


A gate in Barnard Castle (the town,not the castle itself).
 We'd always said we'd stop there instead of passing through.....

We've washed and ironed and sorted.  Put down a rug I'd been given years ago.
Moved the furniture round...."if you can't move house,...."

After a week we were feeling a little better.

Then my back decides toplay up, and the local mouse decides that our place is a"des res" for him as well.
One regular client has decided she doesn't want us anymore , and another is too ill to be at home.
So now we are without that £75 a week regular income,just when the grass stops growing.

The Pirate would love to stop working for other people. After all he is 75 and has things he wants to do for himself!
Until I can get a job....or my pension....May 2017 anyone?!.....we keepplodding along.  
It is time for a change.    Just not sure what it will be.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Home again to sorting out the washing mountain, carrying on the round of medical appointments....and Winter is kicking being back 600 miles further North than Kent, it feels even colder!!

Carry on as usual...battling with ever changing technology to repeat processes I thought that I'd mastered.  Ho Hum!!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Been busy riding our bikes....

 In the League of Veteran Cyclists, the women ride against men ten years I get Geoff Cooke, ex-Olympian and Geoff Wiles, ex-Holdsworthy professional......still I did beat an ex national champion to get third in the sprint.....
 Meeting The Carpenter's geckos at weigh-in time.  Beats a cat if you're allergic to cat saliva!!
 renewing acquaintance with Baxter, last seen as a pup....hang on,he still thinks that he is a pup!!
 having a tour around a house in Bristol, mid-restoration/renovation....
 and The Pirate playing conkers with grandson
 To Kent to meet the Pirate's relations again, some in their 70s and 80s and not so well.
Harry the Cat at nearly 20 is deaf but doing well...

 and the newest at 8 weeks.. a little sad now the Channel Tunnel has taken the ferry ferry since 1999 and no trains since 2009....

 This art installation says it all.    The lines will have gone by the time you read this.
 Then a walk around Canterbury, my first visit....I liked the old town around the cathedral...
 and the Green Man on the huge wooden doors..

 Then on to Manchester for the World Championships, where I managed a bronze medal in the pursuit,and....GOLD in the 500 time trial ....RESULT, after two years' work.

 A nice roof at the velodrome...just wish we could have more real light and air...a week in a stuffy tin box isn't enjoyable,but meeting everyone is!