Peter, the stripper

So the good weather in Scotland finally broke and a realisation that a mix of inside jobs to go with garden duties would be needed the week I was joined by my good friend Pete. Pete and I have known each other since our early twenties when we worked at Rolls Royce together. He, like many of my friends from former lives, loves Scotland and will jump at the chance to visit, even if it means being put to work by his host.

Rain at the start of the week allowed stripping of wallpaper from the ground floor hall. A task that had long been identified as the damp had sorely affected the room and discovery of damage to the plaster walls underneath was necessary. I cannot spin an interesting story out of wallpaper stripping so I will offer a couple of pictures and move on. Needless to say the blog entry takes it’s name from this activity merely to grab attention!

Pete in action
Part abstract painting, part relatively good plaster.

Blue skies returned the following day, well overcast, but it doesn’t sound quite as poetic. Back to the garden and the main task of the week, to reduce a hedge that had grown to approx. twenty foot high down to a more reasonable six foot. The hedge borders the south of what is intended to be the formal garden, the hedge to the east was trimmed by a combination of friends back in May (thank again to James & John) and has produced a leafy screen of privet as intended at the lower boughs. We are hoping in time that this hedge can do the same, the first being so successful it needs a further trim.

Again I’m going to let the pictures do the talking but two days of clipping and a third of burning the cut privet resulted in the desired effect. Plenty of scratches, bruise and the odd burn as the privet fought not to be reduced to a reasonable height but I think we won in the end.

Before the cut on the left, after on the right for comparison
Plenty of hazards to snap back and catch you unaware when climbing to a height to cut.
Pete used as a yardstick to height of hedge throughtout.
I can now see the house from the garden…. just. Other obstacles still need to be dealt with.

Keen eyed amongst you will notice that our appointed joiner visited this week to complete all work requiring scaffold. The dormer window frames are now repaired as well as unnecessary vents removed from the roof, gutters are back and a final accent of black paint has been added to the chimneys. We think it’s all beginning to look rather good on the exterior and cannot wait to have the windows back in. All that in a little time as glass is still awaited in the workshop.

It wasn’t all work this week though, I did allow Pete a day off in the middle to explore the peninsula. Argyle & Bute have recently been promoting the Kintyre 66. A route of 66 miles, from which the name is taken, taking in Tarbert, Isle of Gigha, Machrihanish, Campbeltown and Skipness to name some of the stops. For anyone who is interested take a look at:

Although it was a wet day we (I) thought we would brave a trip to the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse. The beaches of west Kintyre made for stunning scenery on our drive down the Atlantic road of the west coast and visibility was good. Not so as we (Pete) drove the final seven miles of B-road, and then descended approximately half a mile by foot in the direction of the lighthouse. We did glimpse the associated build through the mist that Paul McCartney once so fondly sang about but at that point lunch in the old clubhouse at Machrihanish golf club looked far more appealing. I can highly recommend the fish and chips:

A trip to Campbeltown for paint and provisions at the local Tesco, then a drive back up the east coast of the Peninsula. A half hearted attempt to find the Anthony Gormley statue at Saddell failed due to poor navigational skills but more luck was had in finding the Seafood Cabin at Skipness: Again you will observe the author has more joy in finding food related locations over historic artefacts.

Back on to garden clearing at the end of the week. Much more cutting back in the walled garden to reveal the space that one day will house vegetables, or at least we hope. And further clearing back into the orchard before we were joined by a larger work party at the weekend. Always great to have company and the first persons to brave pitching a tent to enjoy the wonderful views the meadow affords. More harsh pruning back in the front garden has made us realise too how much ground there is yet to be put to use at the front of the Manse, reclaiming this will allow much better access for vehicles. Further too it as uncovered some great flowers that should be less suffocated by others that have been dominant.

In the veg garden, access back to the orchard gained from cutting
Vegetable garden. more strimming and poly tunnel to be partially cleared
Hedge cuttings, now to be disposed of and path clearing along the west wall of the walled garden.
Front garden, for the first time the wall of the garden visible and the magnificent bay tree

So another week done and we are beginning to see potential being converted to actual physical gains. The north wall of the garden has trees identified, two fig, pear, olive and peach join a herb garden containing fennel and mint to name but two. The orchard needs much cutting but there are at least twelve apple trees bearing a good harvest of fruit – although I am told by those who have picked they are sour tasting. The vegetable garden has been cut back and while not quite bramble free is closer to being so bar the raspberry canes, blueberry and blackberry that have been identified and left intact. The least-formal formal garden has again been cleared of unwanted brambles and the two bordering hedges cut to a reasonable size leaving the mimosa and eucalyptus trees as centre pieces. A lawn is being discussed.

The house and external works are also coming together. The pictures above show the significant effort from our roofer and joiner to get us this far. The Isle of Gigha is becoming our home and we love it here, the peace an tranquillity are just what we wanted, the stunning sunsets and the clear night sky are both natural treasures that I will never tire of. So to finish this weeks instalment a view from the scaffold before it disappears (gives a great perspective of the Old Manse grounds) and some from the boat house where I have enjoyed the odd beer this week.

Not quite the colour to the naked eye but the view out from the boat house bathed in late sun setting behind us
And the view from the table – I highly recommend a visit
From the highest point of scaffold the view to the west
And to the East the grounds, so much achieved, so much still to be done and maintained…

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