MISSION-ROOM 41

The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag, which had been handed to me. Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items. There were three Pak Choi and one splendid white Mooli.   It was lunchtime when I made my visit to the care home, carrying this abundantly overflowing bag.  In my spare hand I held a pack of raspberries, a treat.  I got curious looks from the care staff and some polite smiles.   I was on a visiting mission. I knocked on the door of room 41.

© Elegant Veg

She immediately wanted to know what I was carrying. I got her to feel through the foliage and the thin stalks. Still not sure, I encouraged her to nibble at a little of a leaf. Yes, it tasted of something but what?  She sniffed the green bunch and stroked the stalks.  Realisation; her mother used to grow this and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it with meat and gravy.  She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour.   Did the Mooli have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.  What about the other one, the Pak Choi?  She was thinking and asking questions while I gave my ideas for preparing the two vegetables.

© Our Yellow Beetroot.  Pak Choi it is not.

We shared savoury and sweet  recipe ideas  for the best part of an hour, and the time passed pleasantly and quickly. The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of home made cakes; puddings; jam; outings with an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking the raspberries, in times long past.

On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery I was carrying.  One, a Bulgarian lady did not know Pak Choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her.  A local carer had no idea about any of it.  A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the Mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the other little vegetable (the Pak Choi) the same name she knew it by.

 

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DOSING

What a din!  I thought it must be a sheep-shearing day at the neighbouring farm.  Mums and lambs were noisily milling about in front of one of the barns, the doors of which, were firmly shut.

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This was not the norm for them.  As far as they were concerned, when you head for the barn forecourt, you naturally move on through the wide open doors of the barn and into it.  The lambs were all born in there, except for the odd one or two, so, both ewes and offspring had a deep formed affinity to the place.  They wanted to be let in and they did not care who knew it.

And of course, it rained, not just any sort of rain, but soaking curtains of rain.

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The weather is always uncertain when the sheep are being treated, or, sorted, or, sheared. It seems like nature is being deliberately perverse. This occasion, the stock were being ‘dosed’. You can bet your bottom dollar that when they are sheared, which will be soon, we will experience gales and probably a hail storm.

SO FAR:

So far:

We’ve had external storm damage to the house, a rogue storm that came through between Doris and Ewan; reparation work costing lots of money is weather dependent. We wait.

P1000459 A pair of Fulmars

My microwave failed two weeks before its manufacturers’  one year warranty expired.  Getting this unwieldy appliance to the service department is  a story in itself. It exhausted us. Upon discovering the failure was due to a known manufacturing fault, which included a range of appliances from a specific production line, all requiring modification, I asked for a new replacement.  It arrived this week.-1

Next,  my three and a half months old monitor crashed. A bit of problem solving, moving plugs into different sockets, brought the monitor back to life and it gave me a crash report. It was okay for a couple of days, then went blank several times in one morning, followed by what looked like the mother of all crashes. Problem solving didn’t work this time. While speaking to the Technical Help department a couple of hours later, telling the lady how dead the monitor was, the screen burst into life!

The conversation then went like this…… her“Monitors don’t give messages. it must something to do with your computing equipment”. 

I wished I’d taken a screen shot of the message.  More chatting  followed about the symptoms and pathology of the sick monitor…

her-  Could I try a different HDMI cable. (Everyone has a spare one of those…NOT!)  I have just the one available, the one that was supplied with the monitor. 

monitor-ok-iconBack to the store service department the monitor went. I couldn’t dismantle the base from the screen single-handed.  I ended up cradling the monitor in one arm and also carrying the box. The service department lady and I performed a tug-of-war and separated the bits so the monitor could be re-packed.

The really nice bit.…..without a mention of inconvenience, loss of computer use, or anything similar, I was offered the loan of a spare old monitor, with which to keep going. It was “doing nothing”, sitting on the shelf gathering dust.  An HDMI cable was located for me to use. I had not brought mine, but in any case it was agreed a test run with my own cable connected to their monitor would be useful. This way, I have HDMI cable back -up, should it be needed.

 

The Difference Time Makes

It is just a fraction over seven years since I last came here. With an Ordnance Survey map it is easy enough to find.  There is a small parking area, space enough for the trickle of people who arrive to explore. This is a ‘pre-history’ site, which,  you reach by an easy sloped climb; you can choose between two or three different approaches, although one approach would certainly depend on whether there’s  a bull in one of the fields and/or cows with young calves.  Dads can jealously guard their ladies and in any case, bovine mums and dads can be very protective of their broods. So,definitely, no waving red rags to a bull.

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Prehistory site Information 2009

The pictures I took back in 2009 were with an early bridge camera that had an unsophisticated limited zoom lens.  Even so, it is so interesting to compare the yesterday, (2009) and today, (2016) photos and see the very marked  modern man-made changes in that period sat on top of, and next to, the signs of time immemorial.

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Prehistory site Information 2016

There are five cairns at this site, none uncovered.  The outlines of three are straightforward enough to see. The roof of the highest cairn (height as in top of the hill) appears to have caved in, creating a rim on which, weather permitting, you can rest.  On a clear day you can also gaze upon the panorama of two counties and their mountains, plus an island twenty-one miles across the water, as you will see.

This a serene view from the top of the hill in 2009 and the picture below it, (allowing for differences of time, position, general weather conditions and the light) is a similar scene ….. and

p1010073-baillie-farm-house-wb p1000444-section-baillie-wind-farm-wb….this is how it has changed…and changed…

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…..A panorama – the same house and woods totally surrounded by windmills.

This photo also shows the sweep down from the ‘high cairn’ to a lower sited cairn, (the rounded mound on which there’s another modern day intrepid explorer).

This was a ‘tentative’ coastline wind farm development, in 2009.  There are more wind turbines now. The two wind farms are not far from one another.

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I did not want to focus on the wind farm, (the one above) in the picture below. I wanted to show the view of Orkney  across the water. It is  some distance away, you may need to peer in, but, it is there to be seen, to the right.

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The yellow flowering bushes in these pictures are Gorse bushes.

 

Morven and Scaraben are the mountains in the county of Caithness. This looks like Morven peaking up and over the horizon in 2009.

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This is The County of Sutherland, also in 2009, pre-turbine days, from the same vantage point.  If I am not much mistaken, you can see a couple of the Bens (mountains), amongst the clouds, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

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At the cairn, I was at the same level as the top of these wind turbines, (excluding the upper windmill arms). It was quite a thought.  The miniature buildings, (left) give some sense of scale.

You can see the concave cairn I have been talking about and a typical horn sloping along from what would have been the dome. This is the one from where you get all the great views. You can see a difference in the relatively richer looking grass on and around the cairn, in comparison to the rough moorland tufts on the ascent to it. The new heather blossom is bonny just now.

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Taken from  the cairn, and some distance away,  the land meets the sea. Stubble is being burnt off  the field . There are hay bales in one of the other fields. Across the Firth (sea) is the coastline of the county of  Sutherland and signs of village habitation.

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FLAMING REFLECTION

Last night’s sunset was just amazing.  I am not sure that photos can do it justice, (my pictures perhaps) but, I could not resist trying to get a souvenir.

I ran around in different directions to get as many pictures as I could to record the colours and patterns in the sky.

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The skies changed to this almost gentle pastoral sunset scene.

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It was incredible to watch nature’s vast moving pyrotechnic kaleidoscope.P1000417-Sunset-5-WbThis was just so stunning. Could  the camera  handle the image? ….it is a ‘high five’ in my book.

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The windows of neighbouring houses were fiery too.

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Soft focus and a lot of flaming reflection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I turned to go indoors I saw this dreamy celestial scene.

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Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

Remember the adage “Red sky at night, Shepherds’ delight, red sky in the morning, shepherd’ warning”.  We were really looking forward to a good day, today. Where oh where did the ‘delight’ go. Most of the day was dry and overcast. There were a couple of brief periods when the sun appeared.   Late afternoon, a stiff breeze blew up which had a chilly edge to it and it tried to rain.  (A few wet blobs plopped down on my head).

There is no sign of any kind of sunset this evening, the sky is leaden, darkening and it is raining. My sunset picture record gives me a nice warm glow.

 

 

HOW DOES THE GARDEN GROW…NOT WITH SILVER BELLS OR COCKLESHELLS.

It’s been a mixed week.  Flora and fauna have figured large.

As you will know from my last post, I was presented with a really bonny bouquet.

Literally, I have watched the garden plants  increase in size and strength within a few hours. One moment  they look immature and when I returned some hours later, well…..I rubbed my eyes, even I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  When the weather gets warmer,  the plants obviously quickly rise to the occasion.  What were just leafy Calendulas, now have budding flowers at last

The wild Orchids in our garden are very pretty. They increase in number every year. Hubby does a slalom around all of  them with the lawnmower. Once they have finished flowering, he’ll mow the grass with carefree abandon again.

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The Spiraea I successfully rooted also shot up a few centimetres and became quite bushy with tiny leaves.  I was intending to nurture it for another year, but it seemed a shame to restrict it in a pot.  So, it was planted, a fledgling bush amongst thrusting grass.  This is from where it originated.

The parent Spiraea bush

The parent Spiraea bush

It’s a pity one of the young  Weigelas, which was bursting with flowers, was accidentally caught by a strimmer, (not by me). Most of the flowers on the bush dropped off, the rest have since followed suit.  The broken branch, which I attempted to save, is not at all happy.  I’ll leave it in a pot a little longer to see if it might perk up.

Japanese Honeysuckle has delightful gentle mid- green leaves with cream lace veins .  After twenty-nine healthy years mine suffered an attack of what looked like mildew. It is no more.

A few snips with the ‘clippers’ and the flowerless stalks of the Primula Candelabra  have  been removed. They have not failed to put on ever-increasing candelabra displays.   I have a new kid on the block, new last year.  It was quite timid then, with just two flower heads. These Primulas are really cute and it has thrown up  five floral heads, so far, this year. You can just make out the head of the the fifth one, it makes its contrasting skirted frilly rim as the pointed hat develops.

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You can see the vigorous Allium here just beginning to open their yellow flower buds.  Just behind them is a plant that appears to be a thistle.  I can vouch for the fact it is not a weed, I did plant it in 2015.  It’s not like any of the leathery prickly thistles, those leaves though they look spikey, are very soft .  It has yet to present its first flower.  An ornamental thistle style flower should appear in due course.  They are often found in floral displays.  When it is safe to, when I am not likely to tread on anything flowery, or, knock any plant heads off, I will have to check the name of it.  (Hopefully, the label will still be readable).

Summer gales nearly always arrive when  my Peony bush comes into bloom and  they quickly batter the blooms out of existence. There has been quite a strong wind building up today.  This season’s first blooms are really lovely, so I took a few pictures to record them.  There are others on the bush, in slightly varying shades of pink, similarly gorgeous.

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Finally, here is ‘the spotty flappy leafy thing’ mentioned a couple of posts back. It is commonly known as a pineapple plant; its official name is Eucomis and is a native to South Africa. I don’t know which particular Eucomis I have, there are a number of them.  For you buffs out there,  it is of the Asparagaceae genus. The ‘fruiting’ centre, (if that’s what it is) looks very interesting. There’s a second little Eucomis peeking out from behind the larger plant.

Eucomis

Eucomis

 

COMMUNING WITH MIDGES AND ‘THE SPOTTY FLAPPY LEAFY THING’.

Talking about the garden again…my brain is connecting into peaceful communing with buttercups, daisies and wild orchids. It helps to cope with the chaotic and volatile political diatribes, the tribal nature of so-called debate, and the murder of Jo Cox M.P.

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The plants received a generous dollop of water when I got the hose out last night. If I had waited a few more hours Mother Nature would have provided and copiously too.  So, everything is now well-watered.  All that back-breaking weeding I got stuck into has got a sabotaging helping hand and the weeds, no doubt, will thrust up through the soil again.

I swear the Scottish midge has got larger. They are not usually interested in me. I pride myself on usually being bite free.  Instead of seeing a mass of tiny dust-sized dots flitting about, I saw masses of individual wing-flapping insects. This lot liked me and I was eaten off piste two evening in a row. The back of my neck, my ears and my forehead were smitten with minute burning bites. Yeuch!  I itch as am reminded  of it.  I find I am scratching my face again.

I am really pleased to see that a bright yellow lily I planted last year has grown again, so, I bought another Lily to join it. It has  tight deceptively reddish coloured buds. They might turn out to be orange!   And …..the large flappy spotty leafy thing I bought at an Open Garden last year has reappeared. Yay!  Those spots are on the underside of the leaf that  takes shape. They eventually show as opaque markings on the upper side of it.

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In fact, the plant might be giving me a double act. Since I took this photo a few days ago, a second stem has pushed through the surface. I hope the pot will be big enough. Don’t be fooled by the white I.D. stick. What was written on it in indelible ink has completed faded out.  This folks, is why it is ‘a flappy spotty leafy thing‘ till I can put a name to it.

GARDENING. OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC PLANTS

It’s been a busy two days in the garden taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and the dry sunny weather.

I rescued, (I hope) some of my plants from other over-enthusiastic plants encroaching on their space and depriving them of vital light.  I chopped back the Lovage for the second time this year.  I have decided it has got to go. What’s left of the Lovage is behind the  white planter. My flat leaf parsley should be a bit happier now and also the Aubretias.

You can’t see them, the Fennel is in the way,  but there are Violas, which were tied up with weeds. I moved  all but two of the self-seeded Calendulas (edible Marigolds) to another patch with their pals.

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It’s surprising what happily grows under the delicate fern leaves of the Bronze Fennel. It is not full height yet. It’s a bit warmer now, so, it will put on a spurt.

 

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Calendulas are quite  hardy and they don’t seem to be fussy about what kind of ground they grow in. These have some re-sited Violas among them. I do throw a bit of compost in this direction every now and then. I’m not sure if the replanted fancy rocket behind the planter will settle.  The petunias in the pot  were planted yesterday.

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Allium are growing vigorously this year and have quite a few buds. There’s a couple of bunches by the Primula Candelabra, (the tall creamy flowering plants).  The Alliums are quite aggressive and have been pushing up and around the settled  Primulas.  Sadly, a  low lying double-flowered Primula was well and truly killed off by their growing antics. You can see what is left of one newly re-planted small Primula with a Viola for company, which did keep going, though it was obviously  struggling.  I pulled up some Alliums to give space and light back to the other plants.

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A few of the miscreant Alliums have been plonked into this bund that hubby has developed. Their root network will be ideal for it assuming they take root. Even so, I reckon there will have to be regular culls.  Bluebell type flowers, (below) which are currently flowering would add to the root strength, they seem to behave in a similar way.

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I was a bit nervous of clearing out the weeds between the Euphorbia and the Lupins, I wore heavy duty gloves for this job. If any Euphorbia sap gets onto your skin, the skin will become light sensitive and can blister. This is one plant from which you don’t want to accidentally break anything.  It’s not ideal to have a top which keeps parting from your trousers, however well you think you’ve tucked everything in!

Those are Busy Lizzie’s peeking out from the amphora.

Gardening is never done; there’s still more to do. A bit of grass clearing should do the trick here.  There are some other Weigelas that would appreciate a similar manicure.

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One for emptying. I’ve not had much success in this planter. I’ll have to think about how to use it.

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YE OLDE WORLDE SCOTS WETHYRE

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It was Snowbird’s post in which UK floods were mentioned reminded me that back in March this year, (2016) I made a note:

“… There have been  floods where there have never been any, or, none for many years. Apparently, the recorded rainfall for Scotland, and the relative mildness of the winter for other parts of the UK winter 2015-16 has not been seen since records began,

or put differently;

similarities can be traced back to the late 1600’s,  about the time of  the Stuart kings.  (The Stuart kings followed on from the last of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth 1st, Henry V111’s daughter by Anne Boleyn).”

-1So, that puts that weather in context…

SPEAKING OF PLANTS…

We’ve had frosts, sleet, and snow, which did not settle.  Daily temperatures are still in single figures, at night it feels the numbers are very low.  Though it is very light till late, it feels cold enough to draw the curtains to insulate us from the chill outside.

I checked my five ‘baby’  Weigela bushes, which I planted last year. Their leaves vary in colour, two are light and dark variegated greens.  I also planted two dark purple leaved varieties. The plants burst into life and sprouted leaves during the short-lived. false spring we had early April.  Since the temperatures dropped, four of the Weigela’s furled up their leaves and appeared to be trying to protectively wrap them round their main branches.  Like the Euphorbia,  they were looking quite sorry for themselves.  The light green variegated leaf Weigela, which I thought may be a tender offspring, seems to have survived the cold snap quite well.  You never can tell, can you.

On a recent visit to Edinburgh’s lovely Botanical Gardens, I took a guided walk to learn something about plants and the garden’s  highlights. It turned out to be a group of one plus the guide, a retired botanist; lucky me! Amongst other things, I was introduced to three plants I have. My Begenia is not yet flowering, theirs is.  I planted it where the Livingstone daises are  by the tree trunk. This picture is pre-Begenia. There was a great big green leathery elephant ear leaf, (my description, it’s real name I cannot recall) which I hope will reappear. It is in the blue pot  in the picture.

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And last, a bronze Fennel; I was told it was an aggressive growing plant. I’ve had mine two years, it grew upwards to about 4.5ft last year and was  spectacular to look at.  I can think of other plants- like the one behind it – I wish I had never planted, however, my bronze fennel is not one of them. It is staying.  A local visiting cat nuzzles up to it, I do believe the cat likes the aroma: why not, I do!

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