Posted by: christinelaennec | September 5, 2015

Into September

Once again Tilly enjoys the sweet taste of victory over her catnip-filled squirrel toy.

Once again Tilly enjoys the sweet taste of victory over her catnip-filled squirrel toy.

On August 28th (ca 1994), Katharine Stewart wrote about Games Day in her Highland Glen.  “In years gone by it was a time, between harvesting the hay and cutting the corn, when folk could meet, engage in feats of skill and endurance, sing, dance, exchange greetings and news.” (A Garden in the Hills, p. 104)  She describes the races, the tourists, the young Highland dancers, the pipe bands, the “heavy” events.  “The ‘heavy’ events have their origins in everyday doings of former times.  ‘Tossing the caber’ is a feat demanding unimaginable strength and skill, when something like a telegraph pole has to be lifted and flung so that it goes up and over in as straight a line as possible.  This, at one time, was found to be a way of getting felled trees clear of the wood, when they were needed for buildilng or other purposes.  Weight-throwing was said to be a pastime enjoyed by men waiting at the blacksmith’s for jobs to be completed at the anvil.  Testing your skill and strength against another’s has always been attractive to the young.” (p. 105)

That last sentence amuses me:  it isn’t condescending, but it reflects the perspective one gains with age.  I think (frozen shoulder aside) if someone challenged me to arm-wrestle now, I couldn’t be bothered.  But at one time I would have enjoyed it, because I used to be quite good at it.  (Scrabble is a different matter.)

A house that seems to be being swallowed up by the garden!

A house that seems to be being swallowed up by the garden!

Stewart describes how, at the end of the Games, people bid each other a fond farewell until the next year.  “Then it’s back to ‘auld claes and parritch’.”  This is a common expression in Scotland.  It means getting back to routine life after a special event.  Literally, back to “old clothes and porridge”.  Over the summer, a friend told me that he and his wife had had their grandchildren staying for the summer, which had been wonderful, but he was glad to be back to “auld claes and parritch”.

On the 2nd of September, Katharine Stewart wrote:  “It’s difficult, this year, to accept the fact that summer has gone, for it seems as though it never really came.” (p. 106)  Twenty-one years later most people in Scotland are saying the same thing.  I myself usually love the autumn, and feel glad to be back to “auld claes and parritch,” glad to be at the start of another school year.  This year I was sad to see September come.  Is it because I haven’t worked for a few years now, or because the summer weather was so poor?  It doesn’t matter, because I will trim my sails to the wind and enjoy myself.

And in fact, the past few days have given us some beautiful sunshine.  We are enjoying an Indian Summer.  The garden is still providing bouquets:

Claire Austin climbing rose, end of August 2015.

Claire Austin climbing rose, end of August 2015.

The bench and bower has been coming and going over the last year.  It was made for us by a community enterprise called GalGael.  GalGael (which loosely means “Lowland/Highland” in Gaelic) allows people with problems such as addiction and homelessness to learn woodworking crafts.  They designed and built this bench and bower for us to fit into the small space, and after a few tweaks it is back just in time for me to start training the roses up and over it.

Roses and sweet peas by our bench and bower.

Roses and sweet peas by our bench and bower.

A friend gave me a packet of wildflower seeds, and some pretty flowers have come up.  Does anyone know what these are?

Mystery plants from a packet of mixed seeds a friend gave me.

Mystery flowers from a packet of mixed seeds a friend gave me:  wee purple blossom and larger purple blossom.

Stewart writes, “Autumn is the time for planning.  … The clematis I planted two years ago, and had almost given up for dead, is thrusting nicely up into the ivy in the corner by the porch.  I decide to cut back other climbers, put in more spring bulbs – crocus, scylla, miniature iris – and low-growing plants – thyme, alyssum, aubretia, campanula, all well-loved flowers with manageable roots.” (pp. 106-107)  I, too, have been planning for next spring.  I’ve ordered more plant supports, and spring bulbs.  And I have been tying thread around certain poppy stalks, to gather the seed once the pods are ripe.  Next summer’s garden starts now!  There’s lots to look forwards to.

The other thing about autumn which I increasingly treasure is that it reminds me we all need to rest.  When I was younger, I really felt that the trees losing their leaves was almost tragic.  Now that I am older and wiser, I worry when the winter storms come early and the trees haven’t lost all their leaves.  The bare tree branches can withstand the storms, but the heavy laden branches are soon snapped off.  There is wisdom in taking time out from being productive.

The other day, Michael gave me part of a weekday off from my caring duties, and I went on a little adventure.  (I will show you that soon, along with a few other posts from the summer that I want to share.)  I particularly enjoyed going through the city centre at the front of the top deck of a double-decker bus:

Glasgow's Central Station, with the Grand Central Hotel curving off up the street. Early September 2015.

Glasgow’s Central Station, with the Grand Central Hotel curving off up the street. Early September 2015.

Glasgow's "Hielanman's Umbrella". This place, where Argyle Street passes under the railway station, was where Highlanders congregated, hence the name.

Glasgow’s “Hielanman’s Umbrella”. This place, where Argyle Street passes under the railway station, was where Highlanders congregated, hence the name.

Central Glasgow, beginning of September 2015.

Central Glasgow, beginning of September 2015.

This morning the sun is out again, though it was chilly first thing.  The Dafter is doing pretty well but has had some physical challenges.  After a meningitis vaccination, and a few days later surgery on her mouth, she has come down with a cold.  But she has battled on and only missed one (half) day of school so far.  Fingers very tightly crossed she will get back to where she was sooner rather than later.  The sunshine will help.

I wish you all a good weekend, and for those who start school after the Labor Day holidays, happy Back-to-School!



  1. Never realised before that beautiful Tilly is autumnal coloured. Gorgeous. Love to the Dafter. Fantastic how she is’ in their fighting. She will win. x

  2. Tilly is so cute, and I love the Claire Austin. 🙂
    It’s so nice to still have flowers blooming in your garden. My sweet peas are done, gone to rest, as I will too. 🙂
    Hope the Dafter is better soon.
    Enjoy your weekend.♥

  3. I sympathise with the Dafter-I am laid low with a stinker of a cold that came on overnight and has floored me this week. Your garden is still looking lovely as Autumn comes and the bower will be a beatiful spot to sit in the perfumed air from the flowers. Photographs are ver evocative of Glasgow and just a tiny sample of the wonders of the dear green place.

  4. Love the bower and admire the scheme that provides work for people going through difficult times, giving them a purpose. It certainly looks well crafted. Your garden is still looking pretty, mine needs some work I am afraid. Hope the dafter is feeling better and stronger soon.

  5. I hope The Dafter gets over this wee bump and feels good again soon. I must admit, because here August 31st was just like summer, September first was a genuinely autumnal day and I didn’t mind so much. Time to abandon the foolish hope that those thin “summer” clothes would actually keep me warm, and pull on the cozy, deep-coloured autumn garments that really do the trick!

  6. Your garden is truly amazing. How I wish I had good soil to plant such lovely plants. It’s always a joy to read your blog and learn new things. You are so fortunate to live in such an historical area. And, I’m so pleased to hear that your dear Dafter is doing well albeit the cold. Please give her my best wishes. And, Lilly sends her meows to your adorable Tilly! Pat xx

  7. Your Central Station photos are very special, your known and mystery flowers and new bench so lovely, and it would be a pleasure to give Miss Tilly love pats. Last night I watched a PBS program about the highland games and two nights ago I read from cover to cover the cookbook “A Feast of Scotland” by Janet Warren which a dear friend had just sent me. I found myself wondering how many of the recipes you have tried, Christine 🙂 Wishing you and yours well as we drift into Fall! xx

  8. I like the look of your bench seat and bower. I wonder if you’ve had the good weather we’re having in Perthshire today – 20 degrees, according to the weather station. Good point about the leafless trees being more able to withstand winter storms, I’d never thought about that before. Like you in your youth, I feel it’s sad when the leaves are gone, but the idea of much-needed rest makes me feel better about it. I hope the Dafter soon improves, it sounds as if her body’s had a fair bit to cope with lately.

  9. Hasn’t the weather been lovely for a few days, in fact writing that reminded me I must go back outside to water my tubs, some of them are looking decidedly dry! A first this summer!! I picked the first of our apples today and they are delicious, our summer being so wet and cold had me worried for them but they are good. My daughter also has a cold just now, it seems to be doing the rounds, I hope Dafter shakes it off soon and gets back to doing so well. Sorry don’t know the names of your plants, hopefully someone else will know. Lovely post as usual.
    ps, we took the dog up to Cathkin Braes today for a run and it was lovely, it was so clear we could see Ben Lomond and beyond. x

  10. The larger pink flower is a mallow and you have 3 foxgloves which flower the year after sowing. Not too sure about the rest!

  11. Autumn being a time to rest … so true. I have always loved the Autumn. After the heat of the summer and all the activity, Autumn for me has been a breath of fresh air … literally … and a time to nest. I love that we have 4 seasons. It is a blessing.

  12. Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments. They are such a pleasure to read. The Dafter is battling her cold but has been able to go to her classes, so my fingers are tightly crossed. She thanks you for your good wishes!

    Jill, yes, she does! Her markings are particularly suited to Halloween, but you’re right, she has autumn colours.

    Anne, I regretfully chopped back most of my sweet peas yesterday as they were infested with aphids…

    Catriona, there are quite a few people with colds at the moment. I hope yours goes away very soon. And I’m glad you like the photos. The “dear green place” has so much to offer.

    Lorraine, I have a lot of admiration for GalGael and the work they do. When people use imagination, so much can be done!

    Gracie, I’m afraid that cooking is not something I enjoy very much these days. Baking yes, but not really making meals unless I have plenty of time, which is rare. I have been spoiled by having a husband who loves to cook and feed us – but he doesn’t enjoy sharing the kitchen. As a consequence I am very out of practice and find it stressful! Perhaps someday when my circumstances change and I have more time, I will be able to make friends with cooking again.

    Fiona, Lorna, Marksgran – down here we’ve had a few absolutely wonderful summer days. Monday was quite amazingly warm! Now it’s cool again. And we’ve hauled the winter clothes down from the attic… as you say, no hope of our thin summer clothes keeping us warm now! Glad you got such good views, Marksgran.

    Lynn, thank you – a mallow! I thought they were only large bushes. The foxgloves are old friends of mine, but these other flowers have just sprung up from the packet of mixed seeds.

    J2 Scotland, I couldn’t agree more about the blessing of having four seasons. You will be discovering a whole new array of seasonal weather in Nova Scotia!

  13. Could the little flower be candytuft?

    • I think that’s it, Jan – thank you very much!

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