Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All’s well in Balnald. And we are safely back in cosy Edinburgh.

There was a fresh fall of snow in Strathardle last Wednesday-Thursday, so we left the car at the top and carried everything down. A strenuous afternoon.

The water came on when the main tap was turned. Nothing flowed from the hot water taps for several hours – that had happened before. Water destined to be heated has to go upstairs to a holding tank, thence to the hot water tank itself, thence back down to the taps. Ice can impede the flow, however carefully everything was drained. But it put itself right during the night, with no ill effect.

The mice had been in and eaten the poison we left for them. One had sought and found a watery grave in a plastic pail under the sink positioned to catch the last few drops of water when the pipe is drained. But they hadn’t taken over the house and made themselves comfortable.

Deer had been around in considerable numbers, stripping trees and shrubs of bark. The saddest loss – if it proves to be dead – will be the clematis montana on the front of the house. We put it in a few years ago, and it has become wonderful. This is a picture from '07.

But the deer spared the young apple trees, and other specimen trees were well enough protected to frustrate them.

The fresh snow melted, and we eventually brought the car down to the house, but the ground remained rock hard. I couldn’t get a fork into it, even where I had prepared beds in November and covered them with plastic. But the moles had been very busy, and the molehills (oddly?) weren’t frozen. I filled two big pots with molehill soil and put the sea kale thongs in one and the Fishwife’s Jerusalem artichokes in the other. They looked delicious: it was tempting to take her advice (comment, last time) and just eat them.

That is a picture of my vegetable patch yesterday morning, at the start of a clear, frosty day. The subsequent drive south straight into the low winter sun was no fun.

We’ll have to go back soon, because the snowdrops weren’t yet in their glory. We have been adding to their numbers recently. They are ready to make their move, totally unfazed by artic cold or wild animals.

As for knitting, I swatched and started the ear-flap hat at last. The lining and the earflaps are done, and now I think I’ll put in some pattern, as all the ones I see in the streets about me are patterned. That meant bringing it back to my books.

Last night, I was too tired for anything but a spot of sock-knitting.


  1. Welcome back!
    I think I am amazed every February at the thought of somewhere being ready for gardening now. It has been an odd dry winter in Toronto, there is no snow buildup at all, but I really don't think anyone can do any gardening here for 8 weeks yet.
    Looking forward to seeing the hat in progress.
    Lisa in Toronto

  2. I wouldn't worry too much about the clematis unless they've dug up the root system. New vine growth should come up to replace what's been lost, though it may not be quite as spectacular.

  3. Oh, oh, oh! How absolutely beautiful!

  4. =Tamar10:39 PM

    It's nice to hear of somewhere thawing out, here in the snowverload country. I'm just glad I have power and heat and plenty of supplies.