More July Activities

Wine o’ Clock has been taking place most Friday evenings through the year but it’s good to be able to venture outdoors now that we have a taste of summer weather. There are still a few fleece jackets in evidence but some hardy souls are in short sleeves.

We had a trip to the deep south and one of the highlights was a visit to the amazing gardens at Great Dixter, near Hastings. Here are a couple of pictures of the riotous planting there:
Great Dixter gardens

Great Dixter garden & house

Kirkcudbright was visited by the Kelpies in July and August. These are models of the enormous ones that are installed near Falkirk but they fitted well with the scale of Kirkcudbright harbour.
Kelpies in Kirkcudbright

Following on from the wine-tasting in June, we had a seashore wildlife walk in July, led by local naturalist Jim Logan as another fund-raiser for Kirkandrews Kirk. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious on the day but a small band of hardy souls ventured out into Kirkandrews Bay and discovered a range of interesting shells and marine creatures. Here’s Jim identifying a specimen for Howard.
Seashore Walk

Down South

In late November, we had a trip to visit relatives and friends way down in Kent and Suffolk.

Visiting Cath, Jerry and Ellen in Kent, we had some good walks around the North Downs, especially around Cobham and Jeskyns Country Park where Betty got to play with a bunch of other crazy dogs and we sampled some excellent beer and food at The Cock pub in Henley Street. Here’s the path through Ashenbank Woods on the way to Jeskyns.

In the church at Cobham there was a carving that looked a lot like Betty.

We then ventured up to Westleton in Suffolk to visit Elaine and David for a couple of days. It was our first visit to Suffolk and we got a good look around the local area, visiting Covehithe, Walberswick, Dulwich and Southwold for some good coastal walks and more tasty food and beer. We also had a great Jazz evening at the local village hall. Here we are on the beach near Covehithe, enjoying a bracing stroll and keeping an eye on the incoming tide.

After a walk along the flint pebble beach followed by some muddy lanes, Betty needed to get her legs cleaned off so here she is, sampling the waves at Dunwich.

Kent and Suffolk are highly recommended for their selection of good pubs and beer. Here are a few of the ones that we sampled. This pint of “Proper Job” IPA from the St. Austell brewery was so good that it had almost disappeared before we could get a photo of it.
Adnams Pale Ale

This is a pint of “Trigger” pale ale from the Musket Brewery in Maidstone, being enjoyed at “the Cock” in Henley Street.

Adnams is the beer of Suffolk and their brewery is a prominent feature in the town of Southwold. This is a pint of their “Mosaic” pale ale disguised in a “Ghost Ship” pale ale glass at the Bell Inn at Walberswick.

Family Visitors

August has been a busy month for family visitors. First we had Pauline and Katie for a few days and here they are helping us lift the first batch of potatoes.
Pauline and Katie
Next it was Trina, Richard, Caitlyn and Georgia who came for a long weekend. It was a bit wild and windy but we managed to get out for a few local walks and the girls enjoyed a session at the Cream o’ Galloway ice cream factory and activity centre.
Slippery rocks
Trina and Caitlyn appreciating a wild and windy day at Kirkandrews Bay with Richard and Georgia off in the distance.
Georgia and Caitlyn
Here are Georgia and Caitlyn posing on top of the big granite erratic boulder by the beach at the bottom of the field.

Caitlyn balancing
Caitlyn performing a gravity-defying act of balance on one of the rock outcrops.
On the Sunday we were also joined by Kellie, Paul, Morgan, Zoe and Scott and a large quantity of Chinese food was consumed.
Chinese Food Time
The following weekend we had Miriam, Phillip, Stephen and Harvey to stay and enjoyed some much better weather so we were able to get out in the kayaks between more sessions at Cream o’ Galloway for Harvey.
Skimming stones at sunsetSkimming stones in Kirkandrews Bay at sunset.
Harvey kayaking
Harvey kayaking with the Isle of Man in the background.
Stephen & Phil kayaking
Stephen and Phillip at Rumblekirn on Sunday afternoon enjoying some quite bumpy seas.
Stephen kayaking
Stephen found an interesting little channel through the rocks as the tide was falling.

Maltese Wedding

We had a very enjoyable trip down to Malta to celebrate the wedding of Gabrielle’s nephew Joe to Debbie who is from Malta. Debbie’s family treated us to vast amounts of tasty local food and abundant hospitality.
Here are the newly-wedded couple and their parents in the church.
At the church
Leaving the church in a classic Daimler Princess car.
Wedding car
We also managed to get around Malta to see some of the history and scenic sites including a day trip for a sea-kayaking session on the north coast of Gozo.
Gozo Kayaking
A panorama of the Grand Harbour from Valetta.
Grand Harbour, Malta


Margaret came to visit us for a few days just after we had the heavy snow falls at the end of March. Luckily the weather was dry and sunny while she visited and we were able to get out and about to visit some of the local attractions.

IMG_3963 IMG_3969

Windy Wedding Anniversary

We had a plan to stay with Phillip and Miriam at the Aston Hotel in Dumfries and go to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra New Year Concert for our wedding anniversary. The hotel is on the Crichton site that also includes the Easterbrook Hall, a multi-university campus and a business park. We all checked in on the Monday evening and enjoyed a good meal in the hotel restaurant. During the night it got increasingly stormy but we had a good night’s sleep. Around 7 a.m. however we heard the wind outside gusting violently followed by a loud banging and scraping sound. We looked out of the window to see a lot of pieces of the hotel roof in the car park and on top of the roof of an adjacent building. The fire alarm went off and most of the hotel residents headed for the door then realised that the muster area was where the pieces of roof were landing.

For the next hour or so there was a lot of activity from the fire brigade and structural engineers then the hotel manager informed us that we would have to leave because rain was getting in through the big hole where the roof section used to be. They booked us into a hotel with an intact roof in the middle of Dumfries. It was still pretty windy and our room in the new hotel was up in the roof where there were a few ominous creaking noises every time there was a strong gust of wind. Eventually the wind died down and we were back at the Easterbrook Hall that evening for the concert which was excellent.