Another Man’s Waste


Last week and again today I am struck by the effects of other people’s rubbish and how years later it affects us.

I read somewhere as a statistic that all the plastic that ever existed still remains in the world today.

This news saddened me greatly. I wondered how we would ever get rid of it. Although it is only a tiny small step I do try to do whatever I can not to buy anything needlessly wrapped in plastic. Save on bags and reuse everything possible.

I wish I could say that I’m doing my bit, but I feel as though it is a drop on the ocean and that we are all such a long way off.

I digress as usual…

On both occasions I was picking up rubbish in the garden. I would love to turn this place into a healthy garden, but several previous owners and my current neighbour here have some awful habits when it comes to litter and seem to think it’s ok to bury it or just leave it floating around the countryside. Something that makes me really mad. We spend a lot of time picking up other people’s rubbish here.

The house was derelict when we bought it. Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that it is still in a bad state now but we are only one couple on a non existent budget trying to make a difference whenever we can.

Yes I have dreams of off grid eco living off the land. By during today’s clear up I thought I wonder if it will ever be the sort of land which will bear fruit. I was standing in what used to be an orchard and will be once again one day.

I was clearing up the debris of a life which ended in 2001, some16 years ago I thought. For someone who lived off the land, he didn’t think about the effect of his waste upon future generations or inhabitants. I cannot hold this against him really. I did not know the man and I don’t think he really thought about it.

It was pointed out to me that due to the remote location it is not easy to get a rubbish collection up here. But for goodness sake, there are recycling bins in the village and at the end of the track a small village where they would collect it from, so I’m not buying that.

I picked up 6 pairs of leather shoes which were buried along the hedges. Toothpaste tubes, wine bottles and jam jars, cocoa jars and Fizzy pop. Plastic bread bags, probably of brands which no longer exist buried in the ground. But of course as the years go by, ground moves and things reappear.

There was broken Crockery, plates, dishes. Glasses and wine and beer bottles. Plastic containers and that was just from the old boy who lived here. The last owner used this place as a dump. He was a glazier and so the amount of glass that has been shifted from here over the years since we took it over is astronomical. I think we will be unearthing it until the end of time. Just when you think you have found it all, you turn around and find more. There are also rubber, window fittings, metal and plastic all over the place all surrounded by our woodland. What was once a lovely green space was tarnished by waste and is fighting to recover along with our help.

It may sound crazy that I am worrying about the garden in a decidedly shabby house. But I hope that if I sort out the ground around it. It will be usable and things will thrive here again. It costs only the time that we put into it and a whole lot of effort but I hope that it will be worth it.

I have visions of the orchard full of fruit trees, the garden with a lawn and the woods at the back with healthy trees again. The broken pieces of the past finally removed and something new and wonderful will remain for years to come. Even though I have no one to take over the place after my demise I don’t want it to be in a sorry condition for the next person to come along and say “what on earth were they thinking of leaving all this rubbish laying about?”

So today we have recycled the glass jars and window glass we have found so far but we literally have not scratched the surface. Whenever you take or dig anything over, it is as though you haven’t done it all.

The old toothpaste tubes and tin foil and cans have also gone to the recycling and rubbish dump along with a lot of rubber sections used by the glazier. I also found out something interesting. At least four pairs of leather shoes which have not broken down either and a tobacco pouch. The only thing that has rotted down has been the stitching. I wonder if he ever thought that part if his legacy would be found 16 years later after he died, buried in the garden. It probably wasn’t the type of legacy he had in mind at all as a writer and artist his legacy should have been far more artistic.

You can find out a lot about a person from their rubbish, especially when they leave it laying around.

We decided to make a track through the orchard to get to the back unearthing yet more of the same. There will still be trees, more will self seed no doubt and we will find some more to transplant later on. My partner talked about the possibility of a paddock one day. He has a yearning for me to have animals here. I voiced my concern today that we could be picking up glass there for years to come so I don’t even know if it is possible down the line. Maybe with a JCB to skim the top of it all it might, and we would probably lose the orchard in the process and it’s also such a lot of work and expense. It surprises me where we find it all. Around the edges, in the hedges and by the fences around the perimeter. We will have to build new ones later, a huge job (in my eyes) due to the area. But then I am used to a small plot when back South. To a farmer it’s nothing but to a townie, it’s something else entirely.
My years of dreaming of eco living may not be possible on this plot due to it’s previous life.

That saddens me more than I can say.

I thought about my plans to litter pick on the beach when I go back back South but there is so much of that here I am starting on my home ground first.


Tomorrow I will pick up the debris from the trees which were moved and felled and probably get the chain saw out. We need to restock the woodshed which has been seriously depleted on this trip due to the cold nights. Today it was warm and glorious followed by a windy evening and a beautiful red sky so I think we will be in luck for tomorrow.

Thinking Space

 

1-2Thinking Space.
Sometimes I need some thinking space,
Peace and quiet in this place.
To understand what we’ve been through.
Behaviour changes me and you.
A place from where we do not shout,
Where I can let it all come out.
We do not even have to speak,
When I am feeling oh so weak.
But quiet places where we talk,
No hustle and bustle for a walk.
It seems that as we rearrange,
Going forward time for change.
Emotions put away inside,
Dark and sad, we try to hide.
But there’s a place we go to rest,
When we do not feel our best
It’s where we think of when we’re still,
Peace and quiet upon the hill.

via Daily Prompt: Aware

The Crossed Boundary…

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This picture represents a crossed boundary.  There are often things which you cannot understand however hard you might try.  About three years ago, I laid out the boundary to our garden, in accordance with our deeds, I was a little more generous than I should be, to allow our neighbour to create a slightly wider gateway or access to the side of his house.  I checked with the Laird, a man who has known both properties for many years, he came and inspected the area and confirmed that I had been more than generous with my neighbour, so there should be no issue.  It was a simple barrier.  Wire fencing supported by 4 inch wooden fence posts and galvanised wire.  It was a gentle boundary, showing where the line was.  I tacked it loosely around an apple tree in the orchard part of the garden.

About 18 months later, when I returned the apple tree was completely gone.  There was also a pile of logs which had been stacked at the bottom of my neighbours driveway, with rather alot from an apple tree, which he does not have anywhere on his land.  It was clear that they had come from my garden. He only has one tree remaining in his garden, he left it looking like a totem pole when he butchered it five years ago and it is still fighting back with greenery this year for the first time. He set a fire underneath it, climbed up the tree after a bottle of vodka when the branches caught light and cut the branch he was sitting on, falling to the ground unscathed.  He then decided the next day to take the other branches off it.


The Sycamore & The Totem

I was a bit fed up, but more so when I found that my boundary had been cut through as he built his fence.  It was needless to take it down and little more than vandalism.  My tree had been lopped and the evidence was there in his wood pile.  I removed the 8ft high log which had been left there and propped it up against the side door of the cottage in plain sight of his window.  Should he wish to discuss trees with me again, I would point out that he had no business in my garden felling my trees or taking my wood without discussion.

Needless to say, there was no discussion. Not that year or since he did not pass by, went away for a while and I did not see him until this year, in passing but he has not come by to speak with me, preferring to speak only with my partner.  He doesn’t have a very high opinion of women, especially the ones who make decisions.  The log stayed in our cottage since then, it made a good prop-barricade in case someone tried to push the door in.  But a friend who helped us chop logs this week cut it up for firewood when I wasn’t looking, this is the only piece I managed to salvage.

So this is all that remains of my boundary, the one he crossed. A crossed line, which I will not forget. It will stay in the cottage as a reminder to me that I should not trust him.  As a reminder to him that I know what he did and of my displeasure at his actions.

In the time we have had the cottage he has tried many times to fell my trees. Wild attempts to get other people to cut them down in my absence, with excuses as to why, some of which we have foiled only just in time. There is a large sycamore which is growing rather spectacularly and he attempted to get the telephone company only a week ago to fell it, saying that it was on his land.  It isn’t.  I ask myself when will he realise that  I have woods here because I love the trees, they are calming, protecting and offer sanctuary and they are mine.  There are none which can damage his property, they were already removed. There are none which concern him. The truth is that he doesn’t care. Some people don’t. My question is that if they resent the countryside so much, then why choose to live there? A rural location without trees and nature, well that just isn’t natural.

I think I need to spend more time here, in my absence things happen…

 

 

Days like These and Remaining Independent

 

11062706_10154122837704517_7428223558496551676_nThere’s something about days like these, being in a rural location that makes you feel cold to the bone. It’s damp in our house and in a stone cottage where on this trip we have brought with us an oil fired heater which was keeping the chill off, we were feeling rather pleased that it was working.  On a freezing cold night, we are now able to keep warm in two rooms.  I am also extremely grateful that I have the gas cooker in the caravan.  It’s a really old caravan and it leaks and is damp, but it has its’ cosy moments.

Today there is something wrong with the electric. It has been on less than half speed since we awoke there must be a problem up in the fields somewhere. The caravan fused last night, which meant that we had an impromptu candlelit dinner in there.  I was just pleased that there was power left in the house, but today nothing was running right. 20 minutes to boil a kettle and despite the heater being left on all day, the room was still cold and chilly. We wondered if any other homes were suffering but the neighbour is not around so we cannot ask him. So as I prepped dinner tonight, a Thai Chicken Curry to warm us up, suddenly the cavalry arrive here, lights ablaze on their team of vehicles, called by our neighbour who returned home to a cold house. We both have very dim lights.  At first we thought that the bulbs might be on their way out, but since they are the old incandescent ones, they either work or they don’t.

So Scottish Power arrived at about 9pm, to head over the hills to investigate a cabling problem, we were all at half speed so it seemed.

Grateful for the logs, gas bottles and candles I have in the house along with the bottled drinking water and our washing water.  Yes we are basic here, but pretty self sufficient for a night at least. The guys worked through the night, cutting all power to our homes from 11pm. Back on by 7am they let us know before heading back down the hill. We were very relieved that we could get the oil fire back on again to warm it up.

chainsaw-kit

So today we are back to normal again and since I only brought the electric chainsaw with us on this trip, I am relieved as I will have to cut wood again in a couple of days, to actually fit on the fire. Our logs were hastily cut from trees which had fallen in storms in the past couple of years, all sections are about a foot high and anything up to 2 feet across and were not logged at the time.  They have dried in large pieces and now need to be split.  We tried a small hand splitter, a large axe, a small hand axe and we only have the small chainsaw left here to try.  My partner tried it the other day, but his old injuries along with the new ones have been playing him up and have left him sore. So it will finally be my turn to try, I have the kit for working outside, chainsaw helmet, muffs, gloves, trousers and rigger boots.  I am sure that with his guidance I’ll be able to do it.  When I get the hang of using the small one, then I can move onto the big one next time.  But for now this will have to do for us.

Something occurred to me yesterday morning though, if all the big strong men up here get their logs delivered and pose with their axes for their women, then there is probably a reason or two why.  I will leave you to come to your own conclusions there.

Our neighbour has a bandsaw and a huge pile of perfectly sawn logs.  They are outside ready for winter and he has moved them outside his back door for ease of use when needed.  When the power was down, my partner commented that it must be lovely and warm in there with his new log burner going. He was a little bit shocked when he was informed that despite having it fitted over a year ago, that the man still has not yet used it. That “it was a very messy business using this one, and all the instructions are in Italian.”  As my partner says, that was three reasons.  Remembering the other neighbour with his wood delivery my response was My God, is it all for show up here?

How difficult is it to light a fire for goodness sake?

I guess some people are not blessed with either common sense or practicality.

I don’t know why the mess of a log fire should bother him, he is a wealthy man who has people to clean and pick up after him.

So when there was not enough power to pump his oil fired heating around his house rather than put on a coat to come outside and speak to the men from the power company, he stood in the icy cold in his sweater. He did not figure out how to use his log burner and would rather sit indoors moaning that it was cold.

“He’d cut off his nose to spite his face” as my grandparents used to say…

We did have some light it was so dim that it was little more than candlelight and it wouldn’t even power the fan heater, or the electric blanket on the bed. We put on extra layers, extra logs on the fire and can boil a kettle on the gas in the caravan if need be. Although everything took twice the time to achieve it didn’t much matter to us, we were not on a schedule, however for the folk who are, it must have driven them crazy.

Going Native

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The Back Garden…

 

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From the Front Step.

This is our view as we arrived at the cottage. It’s overgrown, more so than last year when we arrived midsummer I think, but it will soon die back again and we won’t have time to clear it all on this short trip.

But we are home.  I wonder how long it will be before we have gone native.  It used to take Kato about 24 hours, before he got used to the sights and sounds around him.  A huge sleep in our house and out to his favourite spot to look at the view, followed by a walk around the perimeter.  Figuring out what had changed whilst he was away.

This time it was just us walking about. We opened the house up and got the luggage in made a cup of coffee and sat out on the step. Looking at his favourite spot.

Suddenly my partner jumped up, come on. It’s time.  He got the ashes we had saved for the purpose and we stood by his favourite spot and said Welcome Home our Darling Boy, you will always have a part of you in Scotland as we scattered them to the wind.  I prayed that he would be happy to be here, that he would now rest wherever he wished to be and that we would still feel his presence whenever we needed to.  We wiped away tears, as we have done every day since then as we spend time here, it hasn’t got any easier for us that he is no longer here.

He is in our thoughts constantly. I guess that we are still in grief for our boy, despite our attempts at carrying on.

So, about going native…

How long did it take? Well we still felt like holiday makers for a couple of days, we got supplies from the shops and funny looks because our accents are so different coming from the south.  But within about 24 hours, a few of the local phrases and the hint of an accent had begun to creep into the vocabulary.

The water up here is different in taste. The air is clearer and the light brighter, but it always feels like home at a slower pace and we settle right back in.

I realised yesterday that I have not looked in the mirror for five days, there is one on the wall, but it’s positioned a little too high for me to see into, so I haven’t bothered.  Normally this would bother me, on trips to the shops etc, but this time it hasn’t.  I only put on Mascara to go and visit one of my friends the other day, other than that, my face has been completely free of make up and it hasn’t bothered me at all. But I do remember to use moisturiser each day and cleanse the soot off at night.

I did look in the mirror yesterday after that thought occurred to me, but only since I had been collecting kisses from puppies at the supermarket and needed to wash it.

I have the wild hair to go with it, but am happier than I have been in months.  It’s so good to be away from the normality, back to basics and thinking about what we use and recycle up here.

I saw a field mouse run through the back of the house the other night in the old croft. It was only out the back but I will have to keep an eye and make sure that our food supplies are kept secure, last night as I sat in the caravan one ran over my foot out from under one of the seats, startled that I was there.  Usually by this time of the year, it would have the caravan to itself and all would be quiet, almost hibernation. I don’t see the point of setting traps when we do not live here all the time, it’s only one or two in different places and as long as I don’t keep food where they can get to it, I see that they have as much right to shelter here as I do.

Meanwhile we are enjoying the peace and serenity of the place with all the wildlife that surrounds us.  As my partner sat enjoying a cup of coffee, a whole family of deer, Stag, Doe and Fawn wandered up to take a look at him and meet him on the path outside our door.

Last night in the twilight, of a beautiful moon we heard the owls as they flew across the garden, over the trees which bend to the wind calling out to each other, life continuing and nature at its best.

This morning, he called me to “Quickly come and look,” there was a beautiful bird of prey swooping down into the field, it was there for a while.  We stood and watched it in the sunshine before the rain came. I always collect the beautiful speckled flyaway feathers that I find, as there are often hawks here, occasionally Eagles fly overhead, but usually the smaller birds. I take the feathers back South to remind me, but it’s good to be back here in the midst of it all.

It is raining again, for the umpteenth time today, we have mist across the fields and the wind blowing the clouds across, it will pass and we will be warm inside.

The Daily Post – Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

From South to North – Part One Welcome to Scotland or Failte gu Alba

This post is one of two about our long awaited journey northward. I am writing it up posting when I have a connection.  There will be more to follow:

Having travelled late night and slept, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day in the North. Sunshine and Warmth, two of my favourite things. It was hard driving along the motorway, our first trip towards the hill without our little bear. I’d become very distressed at the thought of leaving him behind and we had decided to take him. His casket, safely wrapped in his bedtime blanket in a holdall in the back of the car. His rightful place as we travelled north. I just wasn’t ready to do this trip without him.

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I’d made him a promise you see, that we would all go to Scotland again together, to his house and say Hello to his Moo Cows. It was one of the last things that I said to him as he went off to sleep.

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So we all set off, packed the 30 year old caravan as a trailer and loaded it to the gunnels. There is always too much to take on this journey, having been burgled, I am loathe to leave things behind and I do not pack light.

We set off at 10pm and arrived in Yorkshire at 2am, sleeping from 3am till 11am. Then I woke up to a lovely cheerful message from my friend wishing us a safe journey.
As we set off again in the sunshine, we hit Wetherby in a heatwave. So sun warmth and a bit of brunch. The West Cornwall Pasty Co, is an essential part of my journey and is significant in marking the start of the holiday for me. I don’t know exactly why, but on the occasions we have arrived there and they have been closed, it is a kind of nonentity as though something is missing.
Their meal deal marks the holiday spirit for me, it is a treat that I only have on this journey. No-where else. Strange but true.image
I ate my lunch as my partner attempted to swap caravans with a Romanian man who was headed back to his home country with his one. Our journeys are never dull!
My partner was certainly sick and tired of ours by then, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the journey ahead. The vehicle struggled to pull the long caravan with it’s luggage uphill and was taking all his skills in the wind, to keep it steady.
At Wetherby we were just going to head off again, when a couple pulled in alongside us with a beautiful five month old Labrador puppy on board. We complimented them on their gorgeous pup and I asked if I could pet her. About half an hour later I still was and as the men talked I told the lady about our boy and that he used to wave at people and everybody loved him. We missed him so much. It was really hard.
The Puppy, called Bailey wiggled in for more kisses and cuddles and barked to tell me off when I stopped. She was lovely, the lady asked me if we would get another dog. Definitely and Soon, I said. We were just waiting for the right time and the right dog again. We climbed back in the car and headed off up the motorway in the sunshine.

Kato would have loved this journey, thoughts of “Are you OK Fluffy Ears?” rang through my head. I looked into the back of the car, our beloved boy replaced by luggage. It was too strange and brought tears to the eyes.
Dare I tell him that I had brought a lead, harness and collar with me, just in case?
Just in case there was a dog that was abandoned, roaming the streets and needing a loving home. Or a pup that caught the eye whilst we were away. How would he feel?
I also brought a spare blanket, but no toys or chews. I did not want to bring all the Kato things with us. It didn’t seem right, but would not leave without putting the blanket in the bag and telling him that “it was OK, he was coming too” as I packed. Kato always became sad until I said that, the arrival of travel bags disconcerted him and he needed to be reassured that we were all going together. Why he thought I could leave him, I don’t know. Since my partner returned to Scotland in an emergency when he was a pup, he’d always been nervous of the bags.

As we drove along, we talked as we always do. My partner decided to tell me that his doctor had warned him that of his health, further concerns and asked when? He told me when his mother had died. So that was 18 months ago and he regularly gets confused and forgetful, especially under stress. Timing is everything. But when you are the only one who can tow a 20 foot caravan on a 600 mile trip it can be alarming news! I am the navigator these days, he says he gets confused and doesn’t always see what he should or read the situation how he should. Was I worried, Yes and maybe that is what continues as I woke about 3.30am or maybe it’s some other reason. I’d better learn the stuff he can teach me, before it’s too late like learning to tow a caravan. Why do we take so much stuff on a trip, he asked. Well Darling, we don’t have a lock and leave, when we do we won’t have to take it and bring it all back.

I hope that he gets there, to the lock and leave one day. Is time running out? He seems to think so in some of his more thoughtful moments. So, even if we sold it all right now and moved to France would we cope?
Well, we’d have a pretty good try at it. We’d be learning new things together and without the back up of family or old friends I do not know how I’d cope with the challenges, but I guess we’d find out.

Meanwhile, this journey is very tiring for him. He is exhausted, mentally and physically drained and as we arrive for our second night at the hotel. It is one where they know us. We were last here as a family at New Year after a journey from hell back down from Aviemore in the Highlands. I was so proud of my beloved his driving skills got us through floods and horrendous situations, over mountain tracks and crumbling roads. It was a scary journey for us all and the dog had nightmares, he was frightened and so was I at times and yet we put our trust in him and he got us through it with our trailer making it to safety. It’s supposed to get easier not more difficult in time. We were so relieved to be safe that at New Year, we celebrated that we had made it, exhausted but safe with a tipple and that we were all alive and together, letting our friends and family know. It was all that mattered to us.

This time as we arrived, I told the night porter that we had lost our boy. She remembered him and had wondered where he was. I didn’t go into all the details, it was hard enough and I chose to tell her when my partner went to the car for something. He came back and tried to tell her and got upset.

Once in our room, he said to me, “This journey is so hard” Yes, I said “without him it feels strange”, Yes. I do not know what we will be like when we reach our house. The usual hotel room has something missing. He’s large and furry and usually bouncing around the room at this point, having had a huge drink, a big cuddle and is so pleased to be out of the car, delighting in the knowledge that tomorrow we will reach our destination. His House!
But this room is empty, the holdall is in the room with us, I could not leave it in the car another night. I could not sleep for worrying that someone might take him, it was one of the things that my partner had said to me when I said we had to bring him. So our boy is here with us. I did not get to kiss his casket, have our goodnights before we fell asleep. Yes I have things on my mind these early hours, it is worry that our belongings are safe in the caravan in the car park, but heartache and loss which keeps me awake tonight. My digestion is off track, I did not drink enough fluid on the trip, none of us do.

The Daily Post – BorderIMG_2565456989792

 

The House with the Green Door

Our first house with it’s green door
Where an ear of corn, grew through the floor.
Only one ear, it would yield,
Although I hoped to grow a field.

Thinking of all the times with my brother I’d play,
Bike and scooter races along the pathway.
Chips on the TV or Starsky and Hutch
Followed us into our games so much.

An office and workshop both he had,
Where he could hide and not be Dad.
Packed with tools and random stuff,
Would venture in there when he’d had enough.

The larder cupboard, where deep inside,
I would sit with my friend and hide.
Eating sweets and cubes of bread,
If we’d got caught, we feared we’d be dead.

One day outside a picture we would take,
Of Mum and Dad’s wedding cake,
I wondered why we couldn’t eat,
Kept for years was no mean feat.

Cooking together, or knitting a hat,
Next door had a beautiful cat.
It played in the house and sat on the stair,
when you wanted to stroke it was always there.

Would walk through the garden taking a look,
Sit under a tree with colouring book.
Colouring in the pictures and drawing,
No sign of me when day is dawning.

The cupboard where I would sit and read
When some of my own space I’d need.
A box room so small, to call my own
Drawers so full that they would groan.

With everything there so close, Oh my
Teddies and dollies standing by
A King, A Queen a Copper or Thief
Sometimes a Squaw or and Indian Chief.

The games we play, when imagination runs riot
Mum was worried when we went quiet
Fought with my brother he was so strong
Our garden was wide and very long.

Tennis with the kids next door
Over the fence rolling on the floor.
A net across the bit that was grassed
Fun Summers there, endless passed.