There are two Seasons in Scotland, June and Winter (B. Connolly Esq.)

That being the case, I decided June was probably the right choice, I’ve heard Scottish winters can sometimes be worse than Wales, although I find that hard to believe…

It’s strange, is it not, that the further ahead an adventure is planned the more surprised we are when it is suddenly Tomorrow !  It seems only a short few months since I was informed that I would indeed be going to Orkney in June 2012.  Hence this last week has been somewhat hectic, somewhat hot too !  I cannot believe how we have been suddenly catapulted into a tropical zone, apparently we are hotter than Africa !  So, if my geography is sound, Scotland should be like the Cote d’Azure, Stromness becomes Juin le Pins.  Of course, that throws up some serious issues in terms of what to pack, thermals or thongs, cheese cloth or wool,  sandals or wellies.  Safety first, it all goes.

Before all that, a very busy week and weekend ( I’ll save you the fascinating tale of getting packed !) of work and duty lay ahead.

A dry stone wall in the mud

The finished section, two weeks to do 10 metres, 4 days to do 10 metres, what’s the difference ? Sunshine !! The mud caked section is still very distinctive.

The new season (for so it seemed) saw me back at the mud encased wall I had battled with a couple of weeks ago.  Why I ever bothered trying to conquer the elements and the elemental I know not.  In four days this week I managed to build almost twice what I had done in over 12 days previously – if nothing else, it is not good economics.  Luckily, given the daily temperatures of high 20F, I have a lovely cool mountain stream at hand and so every hour I immersed my hot little head – and often much more ! – in the chilling water.  How amazing is the re-generation of energy that comes from such a simple activity.  It is highly unlikely I would have been so productive without that healing flow.

I rebuilt the old ‘lunky’ precisely where it had stood for nigh on 300 years and managed to complete the main section which I had erroneously got the machine to knock down.  There remains about 8 metres still to complete but as that has a good stock proof fence along it, it can be done later on.

The wall before demolition and rebuilding

The wall as it was, parts were still in reasonable order but most of it was too dialpidated to save.

I had begun to despair of getting any worthwhile amount of it completed before my departure north.  That would have meant some serious rethinking of the budget, some serious rethinking of the self indulgent activities I have planned. (Apparently there is a wine festival on in the Orkneys next week !!)

With a good dose of vitamin D, with some peeling skin too, with an energy level nearer where I like to be, it was a very satisfactory week and I had a day spare to get back to the walled garden to do some tidying up ready for the Open Garden on Sunday afternoon.

A passage-way for sheep through an old dry stone wall, called a Lunky

The old lunky was remarkably sound. It needed rebuilding to match the rest of the wall and because modern breeds are much bigger and struggle to get through, so…

A new sheep squeeze or lunky in a restored dry stone wall

I made it slightly bigger. Good for another 300 years – as long as sheep don’t get bred any bigger !

The National Garden Scheme (NGS) is a charitable organisation that uses Open Garden days (or half days, as here) to raise money for its charitable causes.  There are hundreds of participants and it is an opportunity to get to see some really amazing private gardens.  Not all of them are as grand as the Llwyn Madoc site, though most of the grand old estate mansions open up sometime during the summer.  It has been a very busy few weeks for the gardener and the Mistress (there’s no double-entende by the way !).  Just a week or so ago all was looking pretty gloomy, few blooms were out and certainly any that were got smashed by the driving rain and howling winds.  The piece-de-resistance at this grand garden is the wonderful display of Azelias which, along with the Rhododendrons, give a staggering display of vibrant colours. Alas, whilst the rhodies are well out the more beautiful Azelia bushes are only just beginning to show.  Never mind, there is another large event in a weeks time, a little party for a lady who has sat on a throne for 60 years, and the splash of bright colours will be at their height by then.

Old garden tools

Being a garden event, I took some antique garden items. They add to the day and certainly attracted some interest.

Water carriers for a vintage garden.

My old water carriers are always cause for comment, they are hard enough to wheel empty, how they managed when they were full I can’t imagine.

Antique poultry house

“Ain’t nobody here but us chickens…” The old poultry brooder house and carrier were complimented by the basket work chickens – in fact I could have sold them a hundred times !! Slightly sad to confess I got them at T K Max !!

The beautiful weather brought the people to view the well manicured garden and the Laird and Mistress were well pleased with it all.  The gardener certainly earned his corn this last few weeks and the displays and lawns are a credit to him.

As for me, well another interesting day, lots of memories of using one or other of the tools or implements, especially the old push lawn mowers of course.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.  I’m literally pressing ‘publish’ and getting into baby car to begin the 600 mile trek north to the port of Scrabster which I will reach on Wednesday midday for a short sailing to Stromness on Orkney.  A journey that will take me through the Highlands of Scotland and bring me back through Northumberland and the North York Moors.  That after I’ve had a week exploring the archaeology of that remarkable place and catching a glimpse of the amazing wildlife (and nightlife !)  Yes folks, Welshwaller is donning his kilt for a two week festive with Celtic cousins north of the Border.

Queen’s Jubillee ?  What Queen !!  Stay tuned for tales from the land of Robert the Bruce and mad Viking warriors.  Oh yes, and some very interesting dry stone walls !

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