Listen up, don’t buy a house in France

Listen carefully. DO NOT buy a house in Northern France.  Do not be seduced by old stones, a deeply-rustic position, cheaper house-prices, friendly natives, quiet roads, sandy beaches six miles long, or the availability of fabulous wine for tuppence-ha’penny. If you fall for these sirens, you’re in trouble.  You will be condemning yourself forever to endless ferry-discussions, and indifferent weather, huge long car-journeys to get anywhere at all, a project that occupies most of your waking thoughts and many of your sleeping ones too, and ……and…..cacophonous birdsong..and……oh I can think of many more….. We bought our wreck of a manor-house

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Scotland is a gardener’s paradise – it’s a matter of flax

Still in recovery from the rigours of making my garden sufficiently presentable for its open day,  we’ve taken a few days off. Being a farming family we endlessly enjoy the British countryside so our holidays are invariably taken here in the UK.  With five of our seven dogs we are currently on the Isle of Islay in the Southern Hebrides, a rocky and windswept outpost of the British Isles with actually nothing between us and America. A less hospitable environment for creating a garden would be difficult to imagine. But put up a wall and something magical happens. The passing Gulf Stream provides a mild climate,

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Jack russells dusted; chickens briefed: the garden is open!

So the scene was set. Glasshouse (Alitex – the best!) was swept and decked out in bunting; Growbag sister Elaine was installed on plant sales; son’s girlfriend, Emily, was put in charge of tea and cakes (son couldn’t be trusted, it needs someone properly organised for this key role, ergo someone female); family friend Anne was installed on the gate; radio contact was established with the four other gardens open in the village that day and we were off ! A detectable frisson of nervousness ran around the team when we realised that we had been successful in getting our little village event

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