Not so much a blog as a weather report! Lots of fog, freezing the air and the ground, weakening the already weak sunshine. Creating a big fat inversion layer above Loch Lomond but allowing the grandeur of the mountains to rise above.

More news next time, we're just catching up with life and activities disrupted by the winter weather and preparing for the next lot. The fire's lit, we're warm and we're getting ready for Christmas. Best wishes.

Fine days

Last week our good buddies from Norfolk came for a holiday. As always it was lovely to catch up with them and it was also fun to have the house busy with the noise, mess and activities of two families. This marks one of those transitions between this place being a home rather than a house. Other self-builders have commented on the time it takes to settle in after designing, planning and constructing a house. Tamzin and her family bought us a beautiful handcrafted box for collecting apples from the orchard in years to come and some herbs for the garden. The herbs are being planted in the beds we've created between the top of the stone wall and the hen enclosure until we have formed our raised beds. The trailer in the picture above is full of plants ready to be put into the bed.

We officially had one rainy day in May.

One week to go?

Just one person on site to day, Billy the tiler has given the slate floor its final coat of sealant (Lithofin) so its looking quite smart. He's also sealed the showers so we'll test those out this weekend, after some serious cleaning as its pretty thick with dust inside the house.
There has been no action on the replacement chimney which is a shame as it has a knock-on effect for reslating that part of the roof, finishing the joinery in terms of boxing out the area in the bedroom and painting thereafter. As the builder is away on holiday we'll need to do the chasing. We received an invoice from the architect yesterday which is quite amusing/bemusing as we haven't seen them for some time now.
We're at the stage where there are a lot of small things to finish off but its all going very slowly. We're still moving in to a couple of rooms next Friday come what may!!!!

The cleared area where the huge dairy shed used to stand was originally going to be gravelled for car parking but we have realised how large this area is and how ridiculously expensive it would be to gravel. We really don't need such a big area just for vehicles so this is where we intend to start creating the raised beds for our veggies. We're going to use the remainder of the reclaimed roof joists from the original house (the 5m x 2m woodshed is utilising a few) to lay out the area and start filling it with last year's matured horse muck. We have presumed linear beds to follow the line of the wall but after seeing this evening's Gardener's World I quite fancy a more interesting layout, be that triangles, diamonds or some other such whimisie.

The on site compost producers...... our friends' horses Danny and Lily.

Hens eat fries!

The apple trees in position - if you look closely you can see 2 McDonalds fries on the cardboard, the scaffolders thought the hens might like a snack

Feel Good Day

We're back in the caravan now and love being at the heart of it again. Glorious weather here at present so I spent the early morning putting cardboard 'mulch' circles around the newly planted apple trees to keep the weeds at bay. There was no wind so it was really beautiful being out in the Spring sunshine and I was thinking of putting a bench seat in the new orchard. It's a bit rich calling it an orchard yet but Steve and friend Allan planted 12 apple trees yesterday. I chose mainly Scottish heritage varieties from Butterworths organic nursery who are renowned for the quality of their stock and for the range of species they grow. Very kindly the nursery added an extra tree to the bundle but I haven't worked out where that should go - should I just pop it in with the others and ignore the separation distance they're meant to be or put it in the ground elsewhere and hope it pollinates, ether way its temporarily heeled in nearby.
Here's my list of species:- Dessert Apples are White Joaneting which dates from before 1600 and produces early fruit from August, Thorle Pippin (2 of) a Scottish apple first described in 1831, Charles Ross which fruits from Sept to Dec and is a cross of Peasgood Nonsuch and Cox's Orange Pippin, Golden Pippin (2 of) which was described in Scotland's first gardening book in 1683 as the 'best variety for Scotland', Wheeler's Russet which is originally English but was grown in the big Clydesdale orchards in the late 1700s and is a late cropper from Jan to March, Maggie Sinclair is also probably from Clydesdale and finally for the dessert apples is the Ribston Pippin which I chose as it heralded in 1707 from Knaresborough which is the nearest apple connection to my place of birth. Culinary apple choices are Stobo Castle which is an early cooker from Stobo, Golden Spire which originally hails from Lancashire (as does Steve) and is a good cider variety so we can dust off our apple press in seasons to come, Scotch Dumpling which has particularly attractive blossom apparently and is another Clydesdale species, Scotch Bridget which dates from the 1850s and crops from Oct to Dec.
I've spent quite a few hours reading up on the subject and working out the best species for our site (wet and windy west), its conditions (fairly shallow soil with rocky strata), the pollination days of each species to ensure they remain fertile and cropping times so we that we don't end up with too many apples at the same time. Obviously we'll have far too many apples but it'll be fun to see it all grow over years to come.

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