Pictures by Walter

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Metamorphosis – Complete

Day 6 of Garden Make-over :  Jamie, Terry and Brian took us on a transformation journey over 5 days (Day 1 was the prologue/planning), they were joined by Martin on days 5 and 6 to metamorph my overcrowded, claustrophobic garden of potted plants (See image on left) to  one with bedded plants and open space. (See image below).  During that journey I watched 3 magician work their magic and a elderly wizard create his magic for the centerpiece of the made-over garden.

The quartet from “Gardens R Us” exceeded their brief and as a result I now have a garden of tranquility  as well as one with space. The physical cost of this act of magic was £6000 – and to me worth every penny.  The fact that the profit from this venture goes to help Susan’s and my favourite zoo “Five Sisters Gavieside, West Calder EH55 8PT” was one of the attractions to hiring “Gardens R Us”  the others were seeing the transformation they had carried out on similar projects during 2019.  I was not disappointed in anyway.  They grafted hard, worked as a team and created to use their phrase “A Mint” of a garden.

I have no hesitation in wholeheartedly recommending “Gardens R Us”  for any of your garden work or indeed any building work you may be considering.  I have not been paid too make such a recommendation just one very satisfied client.  I will be using them on any other project I may have in the future.  Meantime they are providing a monthly garden service at very reasonable rate – just as well as I am not a green fingered person – more like weed finger.  To Brian (the gaffer), Terry the Layer of the slabs, Brian (the Chippie) creator of the raised beds) and Martin the wizard of bricks thank you  all for your marvelous efforts on my behalf and providing me with a place of tranquility and rest to enjoy.

 

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Design Central – Centerpiece

Garden after major clean up May 2017

Day 5 of Garden Make-over :  One of my requests at the initial discussion was to replace the centrepiece as seen on the image to the left taken after our clean up in May 2017  today that request was to be fulfilled. The trio from “Gardens R Us” were joined by Martin the brickie. A general discussion took place with regard to design for the central area was to be.  BrianI knew it was suggested to be kidney shaped but I had no idea how that was to be achieved.   I left the team to work out the design and to let me know when that had been decided.  Martin, Terry and Jamie set off for slabs and bricks whilst Brian came up with an outline for the revised centerpiece.

Whilst Jamie, Terry and Martin were away to get bricks, slabs Brian took on the designing of a kidney shaped Centrepiece.  The centerpiece was to be moved slightly into the centre of the garden area on rebuilding.

Upon the return of the rest of the crew, Brian (Chippie) had come up with an outline and team had a discussion with me. as I had final approval.  You can see the outlined centrepiece in the image above.

The three lads continued with the  laying of slabs.   Moving a shed around to sit back against the house wall instead of side on.  T Continue slabbing to the gate they had to remove concrete base, rebuild a set of steps to back door and slab the area to the rear garden gate. The three raised to the challenge and delivered the goods.  Whilst all was chaos around him Martin continued with his  task to change the appearance of the square centrepiece.

By the end of the day the garden had taken on a new look and feel.  Martin had completed three-quarters of the Centrepiece and the three grafters had slabbed the garden, put in temp steps to back door, moved shed into new position and completed slabs to rear gate, placing a step at the gate.

 When I stepped out to get the last few shots I was taken aback as the garden appeared to have expanded in size. The old shut in claustrophobic feel had gone.

I look forward to tomorrow when the work on the centrepiece has been completed, the plants placed into the raised bed/planter and all work completed. Some plants have to be replaced but that was to be expected. I am so impressed with this team and the change they made to my garden, Susan would be over the moon at the new look. What a change in five days!

Loki and Felix gave the makeover their seal of approval. 

 

 

 

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Building Site – Garden Rebirth Imminent

Day 4 of Garden Make-over : The team from Gardens R Us arrived at 8:15 and immediately started to work on the extended raised bed/planter. In order to carry out the extension they had to clear out the contents of the shed, demolish it and then take all the residue down to the tip. Upon return they built the extra length taking it almost to the end of the fence. Next was prepping the ground to have the slabs relaid, as well as line the side of the planters. By lunchtime they had the planter filled with soil, hardcore spread in garden area . then it was off to get soil and slabs. then from 1:30 until 7:10 they slabbed 3/4 of garden area..

Again I was impressed by the teams work rate.  They covered a lot of tasks between 1:30 and 7:10.  As they worked I began to see the garden take a new shape  The addition of the raised bed added space by allowing the transplant from pots and very large pots at that.   The transplanted plants being at a higher level immediately removed the claustrophobic feeling of overcrowding.   I’m looking forward to tomorrow when with luck all should be completed and the grand unveiling of the reborn, made over garden shown to all

 

 

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Building Site – The Rise of the Beds

Day 3 of Garden Make-over : The team of three arrived just after 8 a.m. and immediately began to clear the site and prepare the area for the Raised Beds / Planters.  Jamie and crew wasted no time working straight through till just after 1 p.m.  The last task was setting the support posts in concrete and that was it.  The concrete had to be giving time to set so they went for lunch and onto another site.  Early start tomorrow to continue preparation for re-laying of slabs, laying them, powerwash and seal plus add extra 2 tier bed to top left hand corner as seen from gate.

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Timber Yard- Site Clearance

Day 2 of Garden Make-over : The plan was to start work a 11:30 am when the timber was due to arrive.   The timber would be 21 lengths of sleepers and some wood battens to protect fence.  This time things did go to plan, but not for long though <grin>.

Jamie was by himself and he unloaded all the heavy timber by himself.  Unfortunately the driver  was unable to assist and Jamie’s fellow colleagues were at another site which had a problem.   Prior to waiting the arrival of  his colleagues he cleared out the proposed working area ready to  create the protection batten and installation of the timber to form the  Raised bed or as they term it the planter.   Fate had other plans, Jamie received a call requesting his assistance at the other site as the problem was bigger than previously thought.

Full of apologies he explained what the problem at the other site was and made arrangements with me for an early start on the building tomorrow.  He assured me that the planters would be in place and the garden fully slabbed by Thursday with hand over by Friday.  Mind you I think one cat was pleased that the work came to a halt as he then spent most of the afternoon in the unfinished garden.  He had explored the changes to the garden this morning and passed his approval at the new design by have a roll in the sandy soil then settling down for a nap.  The current state may meet Felix’s approval but as he is not paying the bill the garden will be reconstructed (but I’ll make sure he has a wee dirt patch for himself) 🙂

 

 

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Timber stacked for start in Morning

 

 

 

 

 


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Demolition Site – Garden Goes West

Day 1 of Garden Make-over : The plan was to start work a 9 am, however, like all plans that went astray.  Brian (Garden R Us)  advised that one lad would soon be on site.  Not an auspicious start I thought.  I was soon to change my mind.  The one lad arrived full of beans and started to dismantle the garden that Susan and I had created.   He arrived at just before 10 am and by 11:30  he had gathered the trash that was to be dumped and headed off to Civic Amenity Site to dispose of it responsibly.

Upon return from the dump he was accompanied by two other lads.  The work began in earnest then.   By 1:30 the potted plants had been removed to a safe place as they would be brought back to be transplanted into the new raised bed or planter as they termed it.  Whilst two went with the load the other started to life the slabs, I was amazed at the rate of work he was doing.  By the time his mates came back he had approx half of the garden slabs lifted and stacked awaiting their return

By 17:10 all the slabs had been lifted and taken off site, partial preparation was started for the arrival of the sleepers to make the raised beds and leveling of the ground for the relaying of the slabs.  It may have been a slightly late start but the work rate of the 3 involved was very high and good time was made.  So much so the had finished by 5:30 though it was planned to work till 7pm.   On leaving the site site the cheerfully advised I could have a late lie as they would not be back until 11 tomorrow which ois when the timber will be delivered  and work would recommence.

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The next stage prepped for start in Morning

 

 

 

 

 


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It’s a Jungle Out There – Tamed Garden Goes Wild

Life is full of choices, some are good some are bad, but each choice has a knock on effect.  Susan and I agreed in 2015 that we would amalgamate our houses and she would move in with me.  In doing so Susan gave up her home not just her house and a her lovely front garden.  My house had a small garden which was once the pride of my late father.  However on his death my mum was advised that her pelvis was wearing away and that she would need walking aids and eventually the use of a wheelchair. This meant that the garden had to be slabbed over to allow a larger ramp that could take a mobility scooter be fitted and the back gate redesigned to allow said scooter to exit.  It had to be the doors from the living-room in order to allow a larger platform that the sidewalk could take.

After my mum passed away in 2010 the ramp was removed and the garden remained slabbed, it was easy to keep clean just a power wash every two months.  Potted plants appeared.  and a potted garden was established.  When Suan moved in the central slabs were removed opening up a small area for plants and the garden became Susan’s domain.  3 times a year it would get the slabs washed and tidied up, Susan looked after her plants with tender loving yet ruthless care.  This care came to an end in the latter half of 2017 as her cancer became more aggressive.

The choice made to provide Susan with the care and attention meant that the garden would be left to survive whilst we attempted to give Susan not just extend life but one that had quality so gallevants became more important right up to the week before she passed away.  Our last trip out was an Intrepids’ Trip to Rest and Be Thankful then onto Butter Bridge in Argyle:

Butter Bridge 20190907

The last choice was not mine to make it was life’s – how to deal with the intense grief I felt with the loss of my wife of 6 weeks and 2 days!  We had been partners ,longer that Husband and wife, 10 years and friends for 12.   All I can say is I bumbled my way through the fog, lackluster will from then until  two weeks ago.  Whilst the country and most of the world was in lockdown I had no need to think, to go out etc.  It is not trite but true that you will come to terms with such a loss, you will never forget but you will carry on with your life that is the choice you make.  Having unconsciously made that choice I realised I had a lot to do on the domestic side and did so.  House cleaned inside my attention turned to the garden.  My heart sank at the overgrown state as the once tamed garden had gone to the wild.  Susan and I had discussed a way forward for the garden and it was time time implement some of that Discussion – Cue in Garden’ ‘R Us

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Adventures with Susan – A Walk In The Park October 2005

As 2005 wound it way to 2006 our friendship was deepening.  Having discovered digital photography I always took a small camera into work with me.  On days that I walk to work I would stop and take photos of Sunrise, how the light changed the shape of trees and images which pleased me.  At this time I was using a simple point and shoot Nikon E7900 a 7 mega pixel camera that fitted into my pocket. In fact that little camera was responsible in re-awakening my interest in photography.  Looking back to 2005 images I rediscovered a set taken on the Wednesday 5th October 2005 during a lunchtime stroll along the river Almond (Now Almondale Park.   Looking at the images I realised that the landscape then was a lot different as were the amenities.  Under the  Livingston Development Corporation (LDC) the town was developed in stages.  The riverside was retained as natural as possible with an open air bandstand/Antitheater, Pitch & Putt course (Now the site of the Civic Centre). Walkways, seats placed alongside the river. In 2005 a lot of the sites were dilapidated and in need of restoration/replacement.

However, the walk along the river was a pleasant walk on a nice with plenty to see if one looked carefully.  I found to my pleasure that Susan like to listen to the birdsongs, and nature watch  We were slowly finding out that we did have a lot in common as well has having different interests from each other.

Being Autumn the foliage was autumnal in colour, gold, bronze and the birds were singing or even trilling their songs. Squirrels were dashing up and down trunks, scampering along branches looking for nuts etc to take to their store for the oncoming winter.  I found on these walks that Susan loved nature in all its forms,  she was perfectly happy to sit and just listen to the sounds that surrounded us.

During good weather days we would take many walks along side the river Almond and the many country parks surrounding Livingston over the 14 years we were together.  Our last trip was on the 14th June 2019 when we went to look at the changes made to the old weir at the road bridge on the B7015 Calder Road.  They had made changes to reduce the force of the water flow from the weir and creat salmon ladders and pools to allow salmon to get up river.  We had seen the Almond change from a dirty, frothy, contaminated river to a cleaner river that salmon had returned to.  That was just the latest change we had witnessed over the 14 years.

Link to the album of our walk on 5th October 2005


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Adventures with Susan – Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre October 2005

Perthshire hills

Looking back at pictures taken in 2005 it would appear to have been avery good year weather

Susan acting her age.

wise.  I am judging by the fact that on the 2nd of October 2015 Susan along with my young cousin Caitlynn headed off to Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre.  If I recall correctly it was known as Auchingarrich Wildlife Park then and the sky was blue and the sun shone.   I had found out about this hitherto unknown wee gem of a place in Undiscovered Scotland.  The park was nestled in the Perthshire Hills near Comrie.  It was a wee bit of an eye opener, in more ways than one.  As well as the park it was also a farm, a Bird of Prey Centre with indoor playing areas where kids of all ages can have fun.  I discovered then that Susan had a zest for life and refused to let decorum or other restrictions on how adults should behave stop her from releasing her “inner child” (see picture on left).  Caitlynn was surprised at first as was I.. shocking behavior in front of my young cousin  ;).  We headed to the cafe (which would always be our first port of call on any visit), to enjoy coffee and a bite to eat before we set off exploring.

Susan posing at Standing Stone

Outsider the cafe to the left as you leave is a small hillock with a standing stone on a small hillock. I forget how old it is, but it has been there since the year dot as we say.  I posed Susan next to the stone to proved scale, and as I suspect that many of use would do, Susan reached out and touched it (see image on right).  As she turned her back to the stone, I looked up with a look of horror on my face and indicated that the

Kookaburra

stone was falling…..   I got laldy from her – she discovered I had retained my service humour.  We did have a good laugh over that over the years.  It was here we both saw our first Kookaburra – the Australian King Fisher, funny it would be another 8 years before we say the British Kingfisher and that was on our trip to Bath via Stratford on Avon.   We had a right laugh at the sign pointing “This way for the Tartan Sheep”, we ignored as we were sure were were not tartan sheep or that gullible.    There are many exotic animals at the centre/park and all well looked after.  We wandered among geese, ducks, hairy heiland coo (that ate bananas as a treat), the outdoor play park where the kids had fun:

Susan on the ball, Caitlynn the catcher

Sited among the Perthshire Hills Auchingarrich provides good opportunity for landscape photography as well as wildlife (captive or otherwise).  What of our younger member Caitlynn?  Apart from attempting to keep Susan under control she was enjoying the experience apart from birds flying near her.  She told us that she had a fear of birds as did her mother.  However, she had no objections to walking through the Birds of Prey section as she was assured there would be no birds flying loose there.   As we wandered around the central arena Caitlynn spotted a small “Kestrel” it was being held by its handler.  She backed away from the bird which had fluttered as it was startled by some noise.  The handler placed the bird on its perch, amd went to reassure Caitlynn that the bird was more afraid of her the she of it.  Susan and I looked on as the handler slowly talked Caitlynn into approaching the bird, but not too near.  As the handler told of the life of the bird Caitlynn began to relax and ask questions about the birds in general.  After a while the handler asked Caitlynn if she would like to have the bird on her hand?  Hmm, bad idea I though as I had experienced the effects of her phobia when a wee budgie escaped from the cage at home.  To my surprise and to her credit Caitlynn did indeed hold allow the bird to perch on her hand, but as the picture shows she was still wary of it.  Susan and I were so proud of my young cousin that day.  Mind you she went with Susan to the cafe as I took a few shots of a  falcon in a flying display.  In all we had a great day out and as the weather was beginning to change we decided to head home after we had some tea of course.  As we left the cafe and headed for the car I took one last picture.

A promise for the Future

 

 

 


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Adventures with Susan Part 3B – Deep Seaworld (2005)

As our ramble around Kinross Gardens was a bit too quick and the day was sunny we decided to spend a little time in a cooler place.  After a short discussion we headed for  North Queensferry and Deep Seaworld as Caitlynn and, if truth be known, Susan wanted to walk under the sharks.  So we headed back south and entered the undersea world.

Walter walking under the sharks at Deep SeaWorld

I am saddened to state I have very little memory of the visit, I know I was there and took pictures in very trying conditions.  Susan took a few, one of which is me walking under the sea tunnel with camera glued to eye as I attempted to take pictures.

I do wish I had more memory of the visit and I’m positive we did go back on another day. I do know Caitlynn and Susan were really excited, no surprise there with Caitlynn, but Susan displayed the joy and wonder she felt so openly in her face.  I came to know that look as so often she showed it on our outings, sometimes the simplest thing would light up her face.

One thing – we found Nemo before he was officially lost, as the picture below reveals: (click on image to see album of visit)

Nemo Found

In all we had a good day visiting Kinross House Gardens and Deep SeaWorld.