An impossibly monochrome afternoon, the island is dreich and damp. Chronic procrastination is allegedly symptomatic of creativity, this bagatelle of a post as an excuse for not finishing a very long and tedious report in data mobilisation.
A friend recently sent us a photograph of our croft house (now Croft Garden Cottage) taken in the 1980s. This was the perfect excuse to look for photographs of the cottage taken since we purchased the croft in 2007.
Croft House 1980s
Croft House 2007
Croft House 2008
Croft Garden Cottage 2016
About 15 years ago the original stone blackhouse was renovated – the dorma windows were replaced by modern velux roof lights, the original slates replaced by tiles and the whitewashed stone covered in harling. In 2013 we removed the leaking roof lights, replaced all the windows and door, installed new plumbing and central heating and the old croft house became Croft Garden Cottage. Architectually it has lost some of its rustic charm, but the the location is still as beautiful as ever. I would like to think that the garden also adds a little something, but that is pure vanity.
And the canon – the story of myth and legend, allegedly genuine, but we were just left the concrete plinth!
It may have taken 140 years but finally Fanny Mendelssohn’s Easter Sonata has its UK premier on International Womens’ Day. Culturally, politically and financially we still live in a patriarchical society and the only we can gain equality is through persistence.
Silence is what allows people to suffer without recourse, what allows hypocrisies and lies to grow and flourish, crimes to go unpunished. If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanised or excluded from one’s humanity. And the history of silence is central to women’s history. – Rebecca Solnit
Whether it is Elizabeth Warren refusing to be silenced in the US Senate, women MPs in the House of Commons speaking out against domestic violence or women all over the globe protesting about mysogynism, FGM, trafficking, abortion rights or access to education they are using the only weapons they have – loud persistence.
Many of us are privileged, we have been able to fulfil our aspirations, use our talents and enjoy opportunities that are denied so many women. It is now easier than ever to use your voice – whatever your method of choice – blogs, social media, protest marches, writing to your MP, heckling your local councillors, please be persistent and loud. Please don’t be silent on International Women’s Day use your voice on behalf of the women whose voices are not allowed to be heard.
Winsor and cadmiun lemon, bismuth, chrome and cadmiun yellow, Naples and Indian deep and light yellow, jaune brilliant and yellow ochre have been splashed and dripped across Ardivachar headland as the sun has irradiated the islands for the past month. The machair is in its yellow period and the early summer flowers are glowing and radiating with the golden light of the sun. The palette begins with subtle hints of primrose but quickly gains energy and sparks with the acid citron of charlock; warming to gold as the buttercups, celandines, silverweed and kingcups occupy centre stage only to be eclipsed by the rich aureate tones of the bird’s-foot-trefoil.
Birds-Foot-Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus
Kingcups ,Caltha palustris
Silverweed, Potentilla anserina
Yellow Iris, Iris pseudicarus
As we move into mid-June this golden glory is softened as the grasses begin to flower and swathes of red fescue drift across the fields in a gentle maroon mist. The floral kaleidoscope has been twisted and the first blue spikes of the tufted vetch appear as the spectrum changes from yellow to blue and the tapestry of flowers becomes more complex.
Alas the cottage garden lacks nature’s refinement and is defiant in flaunting a riotous mix of colours, forms and textures. There is no restraint, kniphofias flaunt their brilliant orange and yellow spikes defiantly amidst a swathe of aquilegias which profligate and promiscuous create an amalgam of the palest and most delicate of pinks with deep violet and blue.
Geranium Johnson’s Blue, London Pride, Alchemilla erithipoda
Purple pompoms of chives sit against the fronds of fennel feigning refinement before marching off down the path to parade their glory against the candy floss pink of the thrift and London’s pride. Pillows of blue geraniums spill over the path, smoothering the primroses, their dominance soon to be upstaged by the flaming scarlet of the opium poppies. In the strong light of a hot June afternoon, the garden hums with the sound of insects as the exuberant flowers offer a surfeit of delights.
There are no contrived vistas in this garden, no artful arrangement of rooms, as beyond the garden walls there is an unrivalled panorama of sea and shore, distant islands and natural grassland. The eye is always drawn to the horizon and the extrovert carousel of colours in the garden is a mere distraction. However, there are tiny oases of calm which sit quietly in shady corners and form miniature green refuges.
There is no gardener’s restraining hand strong enough the constrain the summer revelery in the cottage garden, nor a garden designer’s scheme to discipline the arrangement of plants. It is the same on both sides of garden wall, plants grow where it suits them. I am the servant of the garden, I nurture the plants that choose to grow and replace the casualties. I might suggest a planting plan, but it is generally ignored and I suspect that left to its own devices the garden knows best.
Illustration: Ros Asquith for the Guardian
Whether you wear a cardi and blue stockings, designer labels, or wellies and woolly hat, have a Nobel Prize, Oscar or an accolade from the local flower and produce show; be proud, value your achievements, stand-up for who you are and use the F word in support of the women and girls throughout the world who can’t make the choice.
“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
This is a very personal Christmas message exclusive to malicious hackers, phishers, scammers, spammers and every amoral species of low life that inhabit cyber space.
Thank you so much for selecting my sites for your attention. I’ve no idea what you expected to find but I hope you enjoyed the tour of my very boring databases before trashing my sites.
Clearing up after you is about as pleasant as hosing off the wellies after walking in something particularly nasty. I know that if I add all the available security bells and whistles to my sites that you can still break-in. This does not deter me, it is just a pity that you have nothing better to do.
In appreciation of your Christmas gift I can think of nothing better to send you than the latest emoji which signifies universal contempt, you can even chose whether you prefer the one or two-fingered version. I won’t publish them as I have no desire to be blacklisted by WordPress. Happy Christmas!