Beach Gate

January Storm
Here’s a flashback to the storms in January 2014 when our steps to the beach and part of our lower garden wall were washed away. We have also had a few issues recently with cows trying to get into our garden from the beach area so it was finally time to do something about our lower garden boundary. Luckily our friends Anna and Nigel were visiting in September and Nigel asked if I had any garden projects that he could help with. The first job was to dig out some holes for the gate posts. The ground where we wanted to place the fence posts consisted of large rocks in a matrix of soft sand and shells so we had to excavate some pretty big holes. Eventually we got them down to the right depth, inserted the gate posts and filled in with some of the rocks that we had removed. A liberal application of “shellcrete” was then applied around the rocks to bind everything together and provide a big, heavy stable platform for the posts. Shellcrete is similar to a concrete mix but uses lots of small shells from the beach instead of gravel for aggregate. Here’s Nigel with the freshly planted gate posts.
Nigel and Gate Posts
We then installed some new steps up into the garden from the gate and wedged them in place with more stones. The final task was to rebuild the wall up tho the gate posts. It should now be OK for keeping out the cows but I have a feeling that it may need about another 12 inches of height to keep sheep from jumping up it.
New Beach Gate

Nithraid

The Nithraid is a celebration of the River Nith in Dumfries. It takes place on the highest tide of the Autumn Equinox and the main event is a dinghy sailing race following the tide up the estuary, negotiating a number of low bridges on the way. Some boats are able to lower their masts but others have to capsize at each bridge to get underneath. There are also other entertainments including hands-on art sessions, a parade and local foods. Here’s the scene at the footbridge in Dumfries.
Nithraid
Normally, the boats can sail up the estuary on the rising tide and get to Dumfries just at high tide but this year there was no wind at all and the boats had to be paddled most of the way. When they finally arrive at the finishing line at Whitesands, they are greeted by a statue of a cow made from salt – the “Salty Coo”. Here she is, about to be hoisted up into position.
Salty Coo

Fruit and Veg

It’s been a great year for fruit and vegetables and we’re struggling to find ways to use some of the produce from the garden (especially the courgettes). Here’s the haul from last Thursday. The tomatoes are a mix of “Santonio” (the small ones) and “Ailsa Craig”.
Fruit and Veg
We’ll grow less courgette (zucchini) plants next year and maybe one less cucumber plant. We’ve also had some good late raspberries from a variety called “Joan J” and we have boxes of potatoes and strings of onions stored away in the garage and shed. The leeks and parsnips are still sitting in the ground waiting for harvesting later in the year.

Gail and David

We have just enjoyed a visit from Gail and David, our friends from Houston (and Montana). We had some good weather and we were able to sample a range of activities around the local area. The blackberries were fruiting well this year so we spent part of their first day getting them to collect their own food. Here are the blackberry team in the iron-age fort known as “the Borg” just along the coast.
Blackberry Picking
We had some light winds and calm seas so we got out the kayaks for a trip along the coast. Here are David and Gail with Kirkandrews in the background.
David & Gail Kayaking
No visit to Kirkcudbright would be complete without sampling the fish and chips from “Polar Bites” down by the harbour.
Fish and Chips
David had brought his climbing shoes and harness with him so we made a visit to the sea cliffs at Meikle Ross. Here’s David following up “Twin Cracks”.
Twin Cracks
We also rigged up a top rope to try out a couple of harder routes on the wrinkled face at Fox Craig. This one is “Rez’s Route”.
Rez's Route
We went for a walk up in the Cairnsmore Nature Reserve where there a number of sculptures by Matt Baker hidden away in the landscape. You can get a card with some cryptic clues for their locations from the visitor centre but you still have to do a lot of hunting around to find them. This one is called “Heart” and consists of two carved faces on opposite sides of a wall in the ruined village of Little Cullendoch.
"Heart" Sculpture