Monthly Archives: October 2011

Parton Village by Loch Ken

I thought we were in for a dull day but it was probably something to do with the clocks being turned back an hour to winter time. By noon it was starting to clear and next thing I knew the sun was shining and the birds were visiting my feeders outside on the terrace.

Parton 002

Time to get the gixxer 6 out! She has been parked up for about two months while I gave the XJR1300 a shake down. I had forgotten how light the gixxer is – with the wide bars she dances down the road. Great fun and the tiny village of Parton by Loch Ken makes a lovely backdrop  for my photo.

Parton Village by Loch Ken

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized



ICGP Racing in Croatia

I had hoped to get out on the gixxer today but the forecasters have got it wrong again so I will write about biking instead. This time it’s about the old Grobnik GP Circuit in the foothills above Rijeka in Croatia.

My first visit to the circuit was in 2008 in a supporting role to Ian Simpson in the ICGP series of races for bikes as used in the grand prix glory days of the nineteen seventies.

Ian’s weapon of choice – this very smart TZ350 —

TZ 350 2 at Grobnik


The long haul from Scotland down to the circuit wasn’t without incident and almost every part of the cooling system was replaced on that hard worked Sprinter on the journey. We arrived a day late and missed the first Free Practise session but no matter – Ian was soon on the pace in Practise proper and qualified on the front row of the grid first time at the circuit. All seemed promising for race day but with some ex-grand prix riders on quick bikes in the mix nothing was taken for granted.

Spot the hitch-hiker – a grasshopper on the wheel hub —

Hitch-hiker at Grobnik


The winner’s laurel wreath with father & son team Bill & Ian drinking champagne shows the result of all that effort.

Grobnik with Ian & Bill


Practise hadn’t gone without incident as the old Grobnik circuit isn’t your modern billiard table smooth. The coarse aggregate used in it’s construction and the bumpy surface make for a rough ride.

The frame mounting for the steering damper on the little TZ tore completey out of it’s seating breaking the weld meaning a quick fix was needed. I toured the paddock with my best smile and eventually found the locals encamped down near the toilet and shower block.

After a question or two here and there in my pidgin Serbo-Croat bringing nothing but confused looks I was soon directed to Cobra pronounced Zobra (in Croat there is a small squiggle neneath the ‘C’ which softens it) who was resting between practise sessions in his converted Leyland ambulance motorhome.

The man with all the answers. Norton riding Zobra from Zagreb produced a strip of titanium plate from his ‘lucky’ box and I returned to the Simmo camp with my loot. Engineer father Bill didn’t take long to fashion a titanium strap to fit round the damaged frame rail and take a new bolt to anchor the steering damper. Over-engineered but strong! We had no more problems!

Zobra had spent time working in London so we had a language in common – his cockney to my scots! He was competing in a well supported classic series on his 750cc Norton and certainly knew his way round the Grobnik circuit.

He qualified on pole for his race and was a run-a-way winner on race day!

The pic shows him on the grid cooking gently in the hot sun despite the attention of his ever-present brolly dolly.

Another winning team at Grobnik – washed and ready for the prize-giving with a relaxed Bill still drinking champagne.

A nice thing to come from my meeting with Cobra is that I made a friend and we still keep in touch although we don’t see much of one another. Not surprising really given the distance but I’m sure that one of these days I will return to Croatia and look up old buddies.

It wasn’t all about motorbikes – we had art in the paddock too —

ICGP art


With racing and prize-giving over – a bunch of us headed back to the coast and a caravan site that one of our number knew of in Moscenicka Draga which was as beautiful as it sounded and we settled in there for a night. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the long haul home across Europe as passenger in the Sprinter towing a big three axle race trailer so waved everyone bye-bye next morning and booked into a hotel on the sea-front for a couple of nights.

I enjoyed walking – swimming and even did a bit of sight-seeing before packing my bag and catching a service bus up on the main road one morning and heading off for the islands.

I had heard so much about Croatia’s thousand islands and there was nothing else for it but to go see for myself.

The bus was absolutely full and as the last passenger I stood in the footwell next to the driver as we slowly made our way to the ferry to the island of Cres. The road was hung on a steep cliff face and care was needed with this full size 42 seat service bus loaded with at least sixty passengers!

We arrived at the ferry terminal without mishap and that’s where I got my next surprise! The bus drove straight on to the ferry complete with passengers and the reasonable fare I had paid on entry had included the ferry crossing and took me all the way across this big island to the actual town of Cres. That appealed to a tight Scotsman and I treated myself to a couple of nights in a comfortable guesthouse right on the seafront as a reward.

I didn’t do a lot except walk and chill out. When it dawned on me that I had left my towel and swimming trunks drying on my room balcony back at Mosenicka Draga the sense of good humour from my cheap transit sort of evaporated. But – it’s an ill wind as they say!

Off I went on a long walk across the town – past the harbour and round the headland. I was envious of everyone swimming and sunbathing and kicking myself for leaving my speedos behind when I began to notice a lot of people in the same predicament!

Well that’s what it looked like but I went back to check on the notice board I had passed just to confirm. Sure enough – there in Croat and German it announced I was entering the nudist area! Problem solved! I took the cheap option – stripped off my Tee and shorts and jumped into the sea naked alongside everyone else.

What a liberating feeling! Don’t know why I’d never tried it before – or since!

With my luck I should have gone into the casino – not just taken pics of the old-style Fiat 500 by the door.

Croatia 2008 002


On second thoughts perhaps I did well to play safe. Last time I had a run in with one of these little b*ggers was fifty years ago and on that occasion I came out of the melee with a broken neck! Best to quit while I’m ahead!

All too soon it was time to think about home. The main airport for Rijeka is on the off-shore island of Krk reached by a splendid new bridge from the mainland. From Cres it was a pleasant bus journey to the top of the island for another ferry crossing and a couple of days exploring before catching an Easyjet flight to Luton for all of fifty quid! I spent a night with my daughter just down the road in Costa del Hemel and next day a domestic flight for another fifty quid took me on to Prestwick where Ian picked me up.

Croatia 2008 003 (2)


With sunsets like this it makes me wonder why I don’t do these things more often – especially when the rain is bouncing off the patio as it is at the mo’. I’ve just got nine hundred and ninety eight islands off Croatia left to visit!

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized



Band of Brothers

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes! Or even moonlight because that’s what I had this morning when I set off for a long day in the saddle of my XJR 1300. I was heading north to tie up with a loose band of fellow bikers who are the remnants of a bunch who have been meeting on the shores of Loch Earn in Perthshire since the early fifties. An added attraction for me was that my daughter was on a flying visit to central Scotland for seventy two hours and I hoped to lay claim to some of her precious minutes.

My old XJR was shinier than a shiny thing when I wheeled her out this Sunday morning after a day spent washing and polishing. I was tempted to leave her under wraps and take the car – for all of two seconds.By the time I was on the A75 heading east the sun was above the horizon and shining full in my eyes. The early morning mists were lifting out of the hollows and I wanted  to stop for pics but with the best part of four hundred miles for the day in front of me I kept on riding.

With one hour down I was through Moffat and heading up the twisting climb towards Edinburgh on the A701 past the Devil’s Beeftub. Not that I saw any of it in low cloud cover. I could barely see the grass verge but as I cleared the summit visibility improved. It was broad daylight up there in the sunshine with the moon still high.

I did notice the wind turbines on every skyline. It was just above freezing and not one of the expensive monstrosities were spinning! The guys who make the rules should get out more and see for themselves just how useless the bloody things are!

Two hours down – I was past Edinburgh and warming my pinky’s round a mug of coffee in Mac’s by the Forth Bridge. It had been pretty cold on the way up so I found a job for the Sunday Times that someone had left behind. I stuck it up my jumper! No more problems from the cold windblast on my chest for the next stage by Knockhill Race circuit where I had competed in years gone by. As usual it was cold and driech on that windswept hilltop and I wasn’t tempted to linger.

Knockhill had been my favourite circuit but no peg-scraping antics today on the cold and greasy roads. In fact I was pointing a single digit at a farmer on his tractor at one stage after winging over the brow of a hill and skating sideways on the mud he had dragged from the roadside fields. He was obviously trying to get the baled silage in before the snow forecast for Monday arrived.

Up by Rumbling Bridge and through Glen Devon was an old favourite and posh Gleneagles Hotel was basking in sunlight as I tiptoed past the big team of excited young cyclists photographing one another by the entrance. Soon I was through Crieff – home of actor and Round the World rider Ewen McGregor and heading west for Loch Earn where I found a few bikes in the lay-by before me.It was just like old times except that today we didn’t have a fire. No worries – brilliant sunshine was enough and I had carried a couple of flasks of hot water north so tea was soon on the go.

My day was complete when daughter arrived in her hired VW Golf with more tea and filled rolls. It was just like days of yore when she would meet me for a natter with the biker boys on that same spot.


As usual the craic was good amongst the lads with many subjects touched on and humour to the fore. We are a diverse bunch of bros with life-times spent in biking being the common denominator. Old friends are remembered with laughter and fondness  Many have inevitably passed on as this informal meeting place of like-minded souls has been going for over fifty years. In the past I have been living down south or overseas for long periods but have still felt as if I had never been away on my return.The faces may change but the welcome remains.

None were made more welcome than my London based Biker Girl —

All too soon it was three o’clock and time to head for home. Not for me the more direct motorway routes which would have taken an hour off my journey. Doncha know the lack of corners wears flats on the centre of the tyre and ruins it for fun times on the twisties. Not good for an ol’ corner-hound like me!

Band of Brothers

I certainly didn’t expect that one – definitely one of my favourite Posts 🙂


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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, out and about



Bella at Dhoon Bay

A touch of glamour came into my life back in July when my daughter and thirteen weeks old Bella came to visit.

But all that posing in the sun for the camera at Doon Bay was tiring for a wee dog so she had to lie down.

Bella & stones 019


Not for long though cos soon it was PLAYTIME —


Bella & stones 023


Poor Lady Bella – she thought she was going to the seaside not the ‘mudflats’ at low tide down the Dee estuary.





Bella at Dhoon Bay


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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in out and about


Somewhere Else – chapter one

The story of my Somewhere Else.

DF&Dad 001Ever since I can remember I have been on the move. Not always for the better. Maybe it was my first job after leaving school that brought it home to me. ‘Shawing neeps’ or in Queen’s English, topping and tailing turnips thigh deep on an upland snow-covered farm in Perthshire on piece work. At one shilling and nine old pennies for each hundred yards of drill harvested it was mind and finger numbing toil for a lad who until recent weeks had been muddling his way through a Border high school, the only certainty in his head that one day he would play rugby for Scotland.

Most of the farm consisted of steep uncultivated land covered in gorse and whin, grazed by wild cross-bred cattle bought from the Irish bog country for fattening. The turnips grown on the one flat field down by the railway were winter fodder for the livestock. In those days when labour was cheap there was no way the cattle would be turned out onto the fields of turnips to graze for themselves. No sir!

Instead each individual turnip had to be pulled from the frozen soil, the left hand gripping the shaws as firmly as it’s painfully chapped fingers would allow. The roots and clinging soil were dispatched to the side by one or two blows from the cleek swung in the right hand before the final blow cleaving through the base of the leaves sent the cleaned and pruned turnip to join it’s neighbours in the slowly growing row ready for uplift.

With tears of self-pity freezing on my wind-reddened cheeks it would have been of little consequence if the fingers of my left hand had joined the row of prepared turnips due to some miss-guided blow of the razor sharp cleek. During the short winter days I would reach the field most mornings while the moonlight still sparkled on the frost-covered leaves, grudgingly complete my full day’s toil then make my way home to the farmhouse on the hill as darkness fell.

Born into a howling March snowstorm in rural Aberdeenshire in 1942 shortly after my father volunteered to go and join the war effort, I was probably as wild and hardy as the animals the turnips were destined for. As a woodcutter my father had been exempt from call-up but right reason or none he was going to do his bit in defence of his country – even if it left two sons under school age and his wife, heavily pregnant with me in that remote wooden shack in a north-east forest.

Somehow my mother managed my birth on her own and we got through the next four years with a little help from her family which brought me close to my maternal grandparents. By 1946 we were living in a single room rented from fishwife – Jessie Cargill in Auchmithie on the coast a couple of miles north of Arbroath and that’s where my father returned on his demob from the army. It didn’t take him long to fall out with the local fishermen and I can vividly remember cowering in that iron-ended bed in the single room with my two brothers as battle raged outside the door. Thankfully Jessie managed to put a stop to it – fish wifies have sharp tongues and are pretty good with a sweeping brush too!

As you can imagine we didn’t hang around in Auchmithie for long after that. There were only two families in the village – Swankeys and Cargills. Jessie may have stopped the punch-up but we didn’t belong to either of them. I’m sure like many servicemen after fighting for his country my father saw himself as a returning hero and it must have been hard to find that he was virtually homeless and was forced to take farm work in order to get a cottage for his family as part of the feu. Equally galling was the fact that farm workers had been exempt from call up to fight in the war and he found himself near the bottom of the ladder in an era when the demarkation from foreman all the way down to orra loon was clearly defined.

My primary school years were spent following my father as he worked his way through a multitude of farm jobs after his unsettling experience of war. He had come home with hope and expectation of something good. It was the reality of his situation after the war that wore him down. Often my father moved to better himself but sometimes the move was forced on him as he tended to ‘know’ more than the farmer at times and wasn’t slow to voice his opinion. He had ten different jobs in the next five years which meant we had ten different homes up and down the east coast of Scotland due to the tied house system. The house went with the job – change or lose your job and you lost your home.

During those five years I attended seven different schools but I did learn something other than the three R’s. I learned how to fight. There’s nothing so cruel as boys when a new face or accent arrives on their patch.

I’ve been lucky through life but I like to think I’ve made my own luck to a certain extent. After a few months at a small school in the Scottish Borders I was picked out and sent up to the county Public School twenty miles away. I prefer to think this was because I shone academically but it may have been as much to do with the fact that I managed to break some stained glass windows while throwing stones in the general direction of the village church. My partner in crime and I became runaways that night and I vividly remember sharing two shabby looking boiled sweets with him with the admonition that they would have to feed us for two days. I’m not sure where we thought we would reach in two days.

As it happened our runaway lasted about seven miles – about as long as it took for the taste of the boiled sweets to wear off. Then we turned for home, arriving there about nine o’clock at night to find the local bobby and his bicycle on the doorstep. We got a long lecture from him and I was sent to bed hungry. I got a grim look or two from my father but the hiding I was expecting never happened but I did give him a wide berth for a few weeks.

I may have been moved to the county public school to break the bad influence of my partner in the stone throwing episode or perhaps it was the other way round. No matter – I was travelling on the school bus with the big boys! I was on my way and the year at the county public school was the best thing that could have happened to me. Not only was I selected to play football for the school team but I passed my qualifying exams for High School with ‘A’ grades. I’m sure my frustrated teachers who spent the next three and half years trying to beat the basics of their curriculum into my inattentive head wondered how I’d managed it.

I started off well in first form but as the years progressed my interest in playing rugby and sport overtook everything else and I suffered many a hiding with a well swung leather tawse for handing in slipshod work. Geography was never a problem neither was arithmetic. French and German languages were so-so, likewise geometry and history but algebra, science and music remained a mystery to me throughout my senior schooldays.

No worries – by my fourth year I was playing rugby for the senior school at open side wing forward alongside boys up to two years older than me. Speed off the mark and reading of the game were more important in that position than bulk in those days – just as well because there wasn’t much of me. I was built like a whippet!

With springs in my heels I was also junior high jump champion and record holder. Blowing my own trumpet? Well someone had to because my mother was terrified I overstepped the mark. ‘The higher ye climb the farther ye’ve got tae fa’ was her favourite expression.

Father just glowered and said nothing. In fact father’s didn’t talk to sons in his life they just thrashed them when they stepped out of line and sometimes when they didn’t. I’m sure a lot of it was to make up for the thrashing I missed when I broke the church windows.

The icing on the cake came when I was selected for the final trial of the under fifteen South of Scotland team to play the Welsh in Cardiff! The trial was to take place early in the New Year. Was I excited? Just a bit!

Yes I know! My mother had always cautioned me not to reach too high as it would be all the further to fall. Perhaps she knew what was round the corner. My father was contacted by one of his former commanding officers with the offer of a farm manager’s job if he would move back north. Would he just! Recognition at last – there was no stopping him!

During the war the officer, Colonel Stirling of Keir along with his brother David gathered together the hardy bunch that were the forerunners of the SAS. I realise now that the colonel had been a charismatic figure and his men would have followed him through the gates of hell and probably did! All I could think of was that the move would mean I would miss any chance I had of playing for the South of Scotland. Utterly gutted doesn’t come close to describing my feelings!

A late offer from a kindly neighbour and parents of one of my school friends to have me stay with them and let me finish my schooling in the rugby mad border region wasn’t even considered and we were on our way north before Christmas.

Once there, instead of attending the rugby playing school I had expected I found I had to travel twenty miles in the other direction to a city school where they played football. It was a far cry from my country school in the borders and when I saw an open razor being passed around under the desks it helped me decide after three days that I was leaving.

Having grown up on farms I had earned my pocket money working alongside the men at weekends and school holidays. I knew very well what I was letting myself in for when I walked out of school against the advice of the headmaster and took the first job offered in that ten acre turnip patch. The very name of the farm – Mains of Panholes was enough to make a boy with ambition weep but my stubborn, independent streak had come to the fore. There was nothing else for it but to bend my back and work my way out of my predicament as many had done before me.

The passing steam trains running on the main Aberdeen – Glasgow line on the embankment at the bottom of the field helped break the monotony of my work. Especially the south-bound express that would take my attention and I always managed to stand and stretch my aching back muscles as it passed.

I just knew it was going to a better place – that mystical – magical Somewhere Else!

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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized



Somewhere Else – chapter two

As winter turned to spring I picked up full-time employment on the three upland farms which formed that remote part of the estate near Blackford in Perthshire. The good thing about my new situation was that I didn’t work directly under my father but shared my efforts wherever I was needed and work as part of a team became something to look forward to.

The nearby village of Blackford was built around the Maltings. A large multi-level stone building where the grain from barley was brought in from the threshing mills on the farms and prepared for distilling into whisky. In the old days this preparation was done by hand and involved arduous amounts of shovelling using the special large size grain shovels in dusty, hot conditions.

Luckily I didn’t have the misfortune to graduate to working in the maltings although it would have paid more than farm work. No, my interest in Blackford lay in something else. Inititially it was the bus to Auchterarder or Perth on a Saturday afternoon with my new-found wealth from a weekly wage burning a hole in my pocket that was the high point of the week.

A visit to the cinema followed by a fish supper before catching a bus home become a regular treat. Having a sweet tooth and being able to buy ‘sweeties’ for the first time, it became a habit to buy a quarter of Qualty Street before boarding the bus home at the South Inch. The sweets were supposed to last me through the following week but somehow the packet was always empty by the time I reached home. If I needed a reminder of my greed and stupidity the painfull red spots quickly erupting on my face and neck were enough. Especially in the months to come when I discovered dancing, and girls!

Girls were foreign territory for someone brought up with three brothers for company. Yes I had been in a mixed class at high school but girls were the class swots and boys played rugby in the winter or did athletics in the summer. I’d had one date with a girl from my class before leaving the Borders. We went to the cinema in Earlston, her home town about three miles away from the farm. Then she walked me through the graveyard where we sat on a flat gravestone and chatted before I cycled home. That was my sole experience of ‘girls’.

Now I was a man! Well not quite! I was only sixteen years of age, earning a wage and unofficially able to buy a couple of drinks at the pub in the backstreet as a loosener before going to the Saturday night dances in the village hall. Music was by Bobby McLeod or Jimmy Shand and their accordian bands or others of that ilk. A modern quick-step or slow-foxtrot time about with a gay gordons, a boisterous strip the willow or an equally birling eightsome reel. How I would look forward to Saturday nights!

The farms where I worked neighboured the famous Gleneagles Hotel golfcourses and I would often walk there on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the pre-text of looking for lost golfballs. It was there I met Jeannie – a red-haired waitress from the hotel. Older than me and more experienced in the ways of the world in her white blouse, fitted knee-length black skirt and medium heeled black shoes – now I am a man!

It wasn’t long before my father was promoted to manage his own farm and we moved lock, stock and barrel to Greenyards Farm near Dunblane. Father was in charge as Farm Manager and my older brother Jim and I worked under him. Jim was blessed with a kindly placid nature while I was always a firebrand. Always asking questions! Always wanting to know what comes next?

My father’s nature was too like my own. I remember asking him how to do a particular job and his reply – ‘you want to know in five minutes what it has taken me a lifetime to learn’. He never did tell me how to do the job. That’s probably why I’m self-taught in most things. It became a trait. I only needed to see something done once and I could do it, either that or I worked it out for myself.

Dancing was learned in similar fashion. I loved it – I couldn’t get enough! Scottish country dancing, modern, jive, twist, six nights a week at one time. As soon as work was over for the day I would have a quick wash at the sink in the big farmhouse and run the two miles to town. There would be a modern local dance in the Victoria Hall with it’s sprung floor on a Saturday night and dancing to a Big Band at Stirling Plaza during the week. I couldn’t get enough of the dances at the Victoria Hall but they soon had enough of me.

Groups of hard young miners from Cowie or toughs from the Stirling Raploch housing estate would dominate the hall depending on which team was on top at the time. I was the only local lad going there so it was only a matter of time before trouble came my way. Yes I got a good kicking from the Raploch heavy squad one night and started looking elsewhere on a Saturday.

Back to Blackford, down the Stirling Plaza, way over to Forteviot on the motorbike with my mate Hamish or even up to Glasgow to the jazz clubs. Dancing was in my soul and I even had visions of becoming a dancer on stage before Billy Elliot came along. If dancing was in my soul, motorbikes weren’t far away.

My elder brother Jim helped me to buy my first bike.  A 350cc black and gold Velocette from one of my mates who had fallen for an Edinburgh girl in a big way and had decided to get married. Having my own bike was like having a passport to another world!. I even rode the hundred miles to Kelso for the Saturday night dances in the Corn Exchange. The fact it was dead of winter was no deterrent for I remember riding home alone over Soutra Hill in the snow after midnight. Little things like clutch slipping and lights failing were just par for the course!

I had met my own ‘Edinburgh Girl’ by this time which led to my final fraca with my old man. All over a half hour to be worked or not to be worked on a Saturday morning. I had been told by other estate workers that since the clocks changed to summer time, finishing time on a Saturday was eleven thirty instead of the twelve noon we had worked to when on winter hours. I made my date with Georgina my Edinburgh Girl accordingly and was back in the farmhouse by eleven thirty.

Father – ever a stickler for protocol – hadn’t been told officially of the change to summer hours so when I walked into the back kitchen and took my boots off at eleven thirty that Saturday morning he was waiting for me! Without saying a word a right hook to the jaw put me out through the still open half doors onto my back in the yard! My boots quickly followed accompanied by a few expletives! That was to be the last time my father touched me, or spoke to me for that matter!

I gave notice to the estate factor at his house that same afternoon while on my way up to Edinburgh on the Velocette. It wasn’t to be my day as the traffic police caught me shortly afterwards while I was trying to make up time by speeding through Stirling with my mind elsewhere. A fine followed for doing 42mph in a 30mph area.! Still with ‘L’ plates, I had only been on the road a few short weeks! To make matters worse, I don’t think my sophisticated Edinburgh Girl was too impressed with my split lip either!

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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Uncategorized



Regula Flies with the Eagles

A Swiss friend sent me this photo of herself flying in the Alps.

Certainly looks like a whole lot of fun Regula 🙂


Regula Flies with the Eagles

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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in out and about


Roof Garden

I had some success with my roof garden this year.

The honey suckle I inherited with the apartment appeared to get a new lease of life although it was competing for room on my Screaming Tree with the clematis which climbed a rope and attacked from another direction.

My sweat peas did well too but a cheeky family of sparrows delayed the first flowering when they pecked all the new buds out.

I will draw a veil over the vegetables. After a decent start they quickly went to seed and apart from a few carrots most were a waste of space. I think I’ll fill there pots with bedding plants next year. Even I can grow them.

My first rose of the season was almost my last one. My attempts to kill out the aphids almost did for my rose bush too and it was a touch and go for all of July and August.

All the leaves and buds fell off leaving a dry looking twig and I put a half dozen cheap strawberry plants from Aldi in the pot beside it.

By September the rose had recovered and I have had several flowers but I do feel bad about almost killing it.

A small bonus is that I got a few nice strawberries.

The rockery in a pot did well. It was on a low table in amongst the hostas and everything in that corner flourished despite the torrential rain that flooded all the pots and washed the nutrients out of the soil.

The sunflowers in the same area grew to a great height but in the last week or so they stopped shooting up and have flowered.

As for my lillies!  They started off as two soft looking plants I bought in flower last year for some instant colour. They lasted less than two weeks and were frozen into an ice cube in the winter when the frost got to them before I could lift the corms.

My instruction manual says I should put the corms in a cool dry place for the winter. What do they know? My two lillies had increased ten-fold and I was actually giving corms away when I rescued them in the spring!

The few shrubs I had in pots did well with only one fatalty. I’m reluctant to chuck it out because I had written my rose bush off at one stage and it recovered despite me.

Last year was my first attempt at a roof garden and although I had mainly bedding plants the biggest threat was the high winds they were exposed to.

This year I put cane and netting windbreaks round the wrought iron perimeter fence and I think they have been a success but wind wasn’t the problem. No it was the torrential overnight rains.

It’s 1st October today so it won’t be long before my blackbird and his friend the robin are back for the winter. I hang bird feeders from my screaming tree and they prove very popular with the birds that don’t head for warmer climes.

My first attempt at a roof garden and mostly I’m pleased with the results. The photos don’t do it justice and unfortunatly I’ve deleted most of the ones I had from mid-summer when my garden was at it’s best.

No worries – I’ve realised the Good Life it ain’t! Apart from the lettuce and a few cherry tomatos the veggies were a waste of space and next year I’ll be visiting my local Tesco when I want to make broth.

Oh yes – the Screaming Tree! My daughter and I rescued it from a lochside in the depths of a Galloway Forest –  smuggled it home in her jeep and somehow we managed to get it up on to the roof terrace. I festooned it with ropes and floats picked up on various beach-combing expeditions and a friend dubbed it the Screaming Tree. I took the hint and removed most of the decorations leaving me with what must be the best natural tree sculpture I’ve seen anywhere. So I’m biased – who cares?

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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in out and about