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And on it goes…

February 1, 2016

Hello, how’s your winter going so far? Are you as fed up of the weather as I am?

Rain, snow and storms in a Scottish winter are not news. They are just a Scottish winter. But torrential rain, repeated flooding, and storm system after storm system…that is news. Indeed, the only fun in watching the otherwise depressing evening news on telly these days is the ‘weather porn’ feature, when we can watch the BBC getting over-excited about the latest bit of extreme weather. Usually led by some poor reporter standing in the dark, drenched with rain, their hair whipped about their face as they gesticulate at the waves or the swollen river behind them. (One daft thing which has me shouting at the telly: they never wear a hat.)

It’s supposed to be El Niño behind all this meteorological turmoil, isn’t it? We were warned in the autumn that a bad winter was on the way, but I at least hoped that meant days of crisp snowfall, not the endless wind and water. Anyway, enough grumbling. Other countries are faring much worse. We have had a few snowy days, and very pretty they have been too:

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Aberfeldy in the snow, from the Watermill’s café

The many wet days have given me a reason to make my first ever batch of Seville orange marmalade. It looks like sunshine in a jar: a very satisfying thing to make in this dreich season.

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Sunshine in a jar

Our first snowdrops are flowering, encouraged perhaps by the warm December we had, and unperturbed by wind, rain or snow.

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Our very first snowdrops of 2016

At the moment, however, the wind is our main news. Storm Gertrude, which hit us on Friday, brought down an alarming number of heavy slates from the castle roof and half of one of my favourite beech trees. We have lost several lovely beeches in the past few years; trees two or three centuries old which, sadly, have reached the end of their lives on our watch. I hope that the saplings we have planted around the place will have the chance to bring as much pleasure to future generations as these fine old trees have brought to us.

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The pale beech in the centre is the remaining half: the rest is on the ground.

Friday’s storm has also smashed one of the antique cast-iron urns which adorn the grounds, and brought down masonry from a chimney stack on the sixteenth-century tower of the castle, so there will be some repairs to be done once the wind has dropped.

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A job for the local blacksmith.

Not yet, though. As I write, the wind is rising again and we have barred the shutters in preparation for a story night. Storm Henry is forecast to be a bad one, with winds reaching their peak in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Westerly gales worm their way through every chink in the old walls and chimneys of the castle. Your feet get cold from the draft as you sit at the kitchen table, and our bedroom is Baltic as the wind moans and whistles through the sash windows. I’m off to bring in some firewood now for the evening. Stay warm!

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A weird, lurid sunset (no filter) just now, as the storm sets in.

My first ever ‘tree’ post was about beeches (not this fallen one, but its neighbour): The inaugural Tuesday Tree.

Other stormy adventures are to be found in Many of these trees were my friends.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2016 7:04 pm

    That marmalade looks lovely. Sunshine on toast.

  2. February 1, 2016 7:57 pm

    I am sorry to read that your property has taken such a battering. I hope the repairs are not too onerous. I love your remedy of making sunshine in a jar.

    • February 1, 2016 10:45 pm

      Thank you, though it could be far worse. I hope tonight’s storm does no more than the last one!

  3. February 1, 2016 9:26 pm

    hope the next storm will be kinder than it sounds

  4. February 2, 2016 6:48 am

    Gosh you have had a weather-worn time. So sorry to hear about the loss of trees and the antique urn – I hope it can be repaired. The slates and masonry sound expensive repairs, I hope there is not more to come. Here in the south I hear the wind blowing down the chimney and count my blessings. Compared to the weather your experience we have a soft life.
    I positively smiled at the sight of those marmalade jars in the sunshine, Kate. What a beautiful colour, Saville orange marmalade with peel, my favourite!! A nice way to bring some warmth and colour into your kitchen x

    • February 2, 2016 1:28 pm

      Thanks, Sandie. The roofers are old friends: they are needed at the castle on a fairly regular basis! We are very lucky that, over the years, we have built up good relationships with various skilled local tradesmen, whom we can call on when necessary. And of course, I love living in this part of Scotland, with the hills and the heather and the snow; I wouldn’t be half so happy in the soft south!! 😉

      I’m glad you liked the marmalade. Having made it, I am now a convert to tea and toast for breakfast. It does make a cheering change from porridge or cold granola!

  5. hmunro permalink
    February 2, 2016 12:28 pm

    Your description of the closing of the shutters sounds almost nautical, Kate — like the crew of a ship bringing down the rigging and securing all the hatches before retreating into the forecastle to ride out the storm. I hope it wasn’t nearly so dramatic in real life, and that you’ll awaken this morning to find Castle Beastie and her grounds in good shape, without any further damage. xo

    • February 2, 2016 1:32 pm

      You must have read my mind, Heather. The ship analogy is one I often feel when a storm hits: the castle does feel like a great ship riding out the wind. And thank you, yes, last night was no worse here than Storm Gertrude. A few more slates and one or two smaller trees down, but we got off lightly. The wind is still buffeting around the walls and whistling down the chimney, but is due to drop away this afternoon, thank heavens! (I wouldn’t be much use on Orkney or Shetland – I like my still, calm days!)

  6. February 2, 2016 3:53 pm

    Hoping that you survived the latest round of gales. The whole country is so sore and battered! Sorry to see those lovely trees down. Well done with the marmalade, it looks superb!

    • February 2, 2016 11:44 pm

      We are all ready for a respite, aren’t we? Nothing too bad from Storm Henry here – I hope you were OK too.

  7. February 2, 2016 10:29 pm

    Oh, the lovely trees and that vase. Hopefully the winds will taper off as the days pass.
    We’ve had such a grey rainy winter – a couple of frosty nights but with odd mild weather in between fronts. So unpredictable. Fog this morning but mild and now at the end of the day sun with temps falling.
    The top picture is so delightful – and the marmalade – impressive you made it yourself. Beaurtiful.

    • February 2, 2016 11:46 pm

      Still breezy out there but the worst is over, thank heavens! I’m glad you liked the snowy pic – it was such a pretty scene with the cottages and the little red candle lanterns – and the glowing marmalade too. I’m looking forward to starting a jar of it soon!

  8. February 3, 2016 2:26 pm

    Oh that all sounds very trying. Reminders that we are not in control! However, your marmalade looks almost too good to eat. I hope that your castle continues to bear up under the battering. I can’t make up my mind whether I think naming each storm is a helpful thing or not…

    • February 4, 2016 3:04 pm

      Indeed. There is that saying: ‘relax, nothing is under control.’ Very challenging for a control freak: very liberating if one can make peace with the idea! (Faith helps there, of course.)

      I feel ambivalent about naming the storms too. Now that they have names, they seem to be trying to get far too much attention for themselves…!

  9. Linda permalink
    February 16, 2016 8:51 pm

    Enjoying reading you again after a very long absence on my part. Many changes happening for me, but the weather is a constant. I’m not a fan of naming storms – it seems to ramp them up in the mind whereas before it was just very windy. Although it is definitely much windier than I remember it being in my childhood.

    • April 6, 2016 2:52 pm

      How nice to see you back – as you see, I too have been taking a long absence. I’ll soon be back in touch, though.

  10. March 29, 2016 7:47 am

    I love your first image. And the marmalade, yumm, wish I could drop by to share a slice of toast with marmalade.

    • April 6, 2016 2:53 pm

      Thank you. Must admit, toast and marmalade has made a pretty good breakfast recently – although we had a few days in Copenhagen last month and enjoyed our organic porridge at Grød even more!

  11. Denise permalink
    April 6, 2016 4:36 am

    Enjoyed this wonderful newsy post where I can catch up on all that’s happening. I especially like the photo from the Watermill in Aberfeldy as it’s a view I know well. I’ve even been there in the snow!

    • April 6, 2016 2:55 pm

      Seeing that you had left a comment prompted me to return here after a lengthy period of neglect. Somehow I’m not surprised to hear that you have been to the Watermill in the snow! I intend to come back to blogging a little now and then.

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