13 June 2016
We’ve just got back from a wonderful, happy few days North.
We called in on the way up with our friend Issy in the Scottish Borders. Heaven.
June feels like May in Scotland. Spring lasts a long time. Just as Dorset is turning into that drowsy, dusty darker green of high summer, Scotland still feels fresh and bright and cow parsley overflows in the hedgerows.
Issy and Piers were about to leave on holiday themselves so to get out of their hair we went exploring. Floors Castle has a beautiful walled garden.
The greenhouses are heated and were growing nearly ripe grapes and peaches.
No photography in the house but I adored this interior of the 19th or early 20th century porte-cochere in stone and limed oak. Serene.
In the afternoon we wandered around Jedburgh and the beautiful abbey, ruined since the reformation.
Jedburgh is the perfect small town.
Still with shops that are called ‘Radio & Gramophone’ with signs like this.
Dog walking in the evening. London thoughts slipping away.
We got up early on Friday morning and left to find the lanes that the day before had been bathed in warm sunshine were covered in thick fog.
But the mist slowly cleared and we had a fine drive across to Glasgow, and up to Helensburgh for a brief stop at Mackintosh’s Hill House.
Beautiful. And then on north, to darkening and dramatic skies.
We stopped for a little while in beautiful Inveraray….
And day dreamed about buying a small cottage somewhere in Scotland, looking a bit like this I suppose:
As we arrived at the Mull of Kintyre, nearing our destination, it began raining. That is Scotland for you.
But as we arrived at Saddell and found our way to the little cottage we were staying in for three days, it cleared (which is also Scotland for you). The place was beautiful. I’m sure many readers know it already, from the Landmark Trust, and doubtless many will have stayed and know what I mean by a little slice of heaven. Clouds rolled off the mountains across the water, on the Isle of Arran.
The next morning we visited Campbeltown, which like all port towns has fine bones but a nicely roughish exterior.
And then to Southend and Carskiey, dreamy.
We returned to Saddell and took a little walk up the beach, discovering first the magical sculpture by Anthony Gormley that was one a group commissioned by the Landmark Trust to commemorate its 50th anniversary last year. We were slightly expecting it would have gone in May, but wonderful that it was still there. It’s a serene piece, beautifully positioned.
Saddell is all about texture, colours and patterns.
The seal popped up while we played with Mavis on the beach…
Who spent much of her time running this way…
and dark leafy dells.
The ancient castle is serene. You can also stay here with the Landmark Trust.
We walked up the drive to Saddell Abbey,
Now a fragmented ruin, with a graveyard in the ruins. Foxglove time:
Mavis is not entirely sure about the sea, still. This was as far as she was prepared to go.
And then we got home and found wood for the fire…
Charlie had been at work with the kitchen flowers:
Supper on our second evening…
Everyone wanted a seat.
Gormley at a rising tide.
The Isle of Arran had the sun that evening:
On Sunday we went wandering after breakfast.
Seals at Machrihanish.
but after a little while we came home and went rock pooling with Mavis.
Our little cottage is the tiny white dot to the left of the white house. The Castle in at the right.
We clambered over the rocks,
and watched gannets diving for fish…
This is Saddell House, a fine classical house built in the 1780s, where you can also stay with the Trust.
The long lazy afternoon was spent writing postcards, eating lunch, taking the odd walk and sleeping in the sunshine.
And then it was our last evening.
The seal popped over to say goodbye. And we watched great golden clouds rise over Arran.
It was a long way to go but the drive home was easy, the miles unfolding as we travelled back through Scotland and down through Cumbria and south. Saddell is the smallest slice of heaven; no phones, no computer, no wifi, nothing – in a sense – to do. Charlie went for the longest sleep on Sunday afternoon, which is completely unheard of in Dorset, where there is always something to do in the garden. Bliss. And really, the perfect place to completely and utterly unwind.
We arrived back in London, sad to hear the news of Orlando, which racks up as another atrocity in a world which I still contend is far more full of love and happiness, honour and decency than it is with hate.