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 – Beginnings

Susan Wales

Susan Ann Wales 2005

I first met Susan Wales near the start of my Civilian life.  Like all I had a childhood, then reality dawned and childhood ended I began to earn a living, still at home.  I started as a delivery lad for local co-op. then got a Job as messenger at British Rail Hope Street office, thence Signalbox lad at Glasgow Central Signal Box, Trainee Signalman, Porter at Williamswood, finally Passenger Guard (I had just turned 18) at Central Station.  I stayed with British Rail for 3 years then enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the age of 21.  I re-entered civilian life in 1993 and had 3 jobs before I was became temporary maternity cover for Assistant Licensing Officer at West Lothian Council in 1997.  It was there I first met Susan. We chatted as work colleagues do.  She was at that time married to Bob Wales.  Susan was a Legal Assistant, tasked with processing traffic orders and looking after the legal library.   If I recall correctly Bob passed away in December 2003.  Susan then persuaded her mom, Mabel, to move from Manchester and live with her.  During this interlude Susan and I would chat as colleagues and meet at lunch

Bruce Monument – 1

with other friends and colleagues.

Among my many interests was photography, but I was never happy with film.  I could see the picture but no matter what I did it never transcribed to film.  I was always disappointed with the commercial processing, but I had learnt a painful lesson whilst serving at RAF Gan,  photographic chemicals and I do not mix.  Alas my interest waned and eventually died away. 1982 whilst stationed at RAF Stanbridge I became interested in the new fangled toy of the year the personal computer, a love affair which lasts to this day.  Two changes occured in 2005. The first was a spur of the moment purchase of a digital camera a Nikon E2000.  I still have it. My love of photography was re-ignited.  Combined with computer software I could at last get the images I saw and print them myself.  My favourite make of SLR was Pentax so I purchased a Pentax *isDS Digital Single Lens Reflex and began the learning curve of shooting in digital raw and “Developing” on digital software to create my final image.  My first ever digital image was taken on 2nd January 2005 at 15:04:24 at Bannockburn.  The bug had bitten, infected the blood and the brain was seduced…I have discovered digital photography which combined with computer software gave me control over my image processing.

Susan - Glencoe- Buachaille Etive Mòr

Susan on her last visit to Buachaille Etive Mòr

In fact it was photography that really brought Susan and I together.  When I left the RAF I lived with my mother, I had been given a compassionate posting after the death of my father owing to the fcat my mother was elderly and disabled.  This in effect killed any further promotion through the ranks.  As I stated earlier I retired from the RAF in 1993 after 22 years service with the Rank of Corporal.  Hey  I got a pension so I was happy. During the spring – Autumn I would walk to work and had camera with me.  I would stop and photograph flowers, birds trees etc. I was getting used to my camera.  Susan was already an avid photographer with her own Pentax SLR.  She, Bob and one of Bob’s workmates would go up to Glencoe and climb/hill walk – her love of one mountain stemmed from those days – her beloved Buachaille Etive Mòr.

Little did I realise or indeed did Susan, our lunchtime walks and chats were drawing us into a relationship.  Our first adventure was just around the corner or was on track so to speak.

Our Colleagues in 2005

Our Colleagues

 

 

 


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20170724 – Stroll Around The Loch

Livingston, formerly Livingston New Town, is situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh and easy to get from west and east.  Being sited next to the M8 and the A71 gives Livingston good road connections to North, South East and west.  Linlithgow (Historic Town) is the other side of the Bathgate Hills and is approx 30 minute drive from my home.

St Michael’s Parish Church

(1) St Katherine’s Aisle Window

Churches dedicated to St Michael have traditionally been placed on high ground and St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow, is no exception. Built on the rise between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch, anywhere else this large church would command instant attention over a wide area. But here it shares the stage with its larger neighbour, Linlithgow Palace, which lies immediately to its north.

(1)  St Katherine’s Aisle Window – Technical details: Canon 500D,  f4.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 28 mm,  Shutter 1/40th sec ISO 100

(2) The Choir Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

 

Stroll Around Linlithgow Loch

A circular walk 2.25 miles around Linlithgow Loch is a nice way to while away some time.  Dependant on how you treat the walk it can take 30 minutes for joggers to an hour for the stroller, even more if you stop to enjoy the wildlife and views etc.  Feeling somewhat housebound Susan and I decided to go feed the swans and ducks – taking seed not bread, and my camera.

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f85, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 100

 

Swans, Ducks etc.

The loch is well known for the water fowl, ducks and swans.  Whilst used to humans around them they are still untamed wild birds, and if you get too close you get one warning, especially from a mute swan.

(4) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

As we walk around the loch the terrain changes to a wilder less maintained landscape.  This of course allows the wild flowers to bloom and prosper much to the delight of the bugs, butterflies, moths and of course THE flower of Scotland – The Thistle.

(5) Bee and Thistle

(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Sigma 150-500mm Zoom @ 500mm,  Shutter 1/840th sec ISO 200

Royal Ruins – Linlithgow Palace

As we walk around the loch the ruins of the once Royal Place of the Stuarts attract the eye.  Birthplace of the last Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart the ill fated Queen.  James V before he died is reported to have said “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (meaning “It began with a girl and it will end with a girl”).

(6) Cross of St Michael’s and Linlithgow Palace Ruins

(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 100 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 125

Gallery

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20170626 – Laugh of the Kookaburra

Walk-through Aviary Re-opened

On our two previous visits to Five Sisters Zoo the walk-through aviary was closed due to the threat/possibility of avian – flu. Being a bird lover I think this is one of the best things in a zoo.  It may not be big, but it has loose flying birds which act naturally and not caged.  Admittedly there are cages birds in the zoo, may hap some day they will join the others in the walk-though aviary. On this visit it was as if the Kookaburra was celebrating the re-opening of the Aviary as his/her laughing call could be heard all over the zoo.

(1) Kookaburra

(1)  Head profile of Kookaburra- Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 155 mm,  Shutter 1/250th sec ISO 100 

What Plant?

As we walked up to the Bears’ enclosure we enjoyed the blooms and bushes which surround the walkways.  Indeed the Zoo has a lovely new walk “The Secret Garden” unfortunately we did not get a chance to walk through it as it was still in preparation.  One of the bushes caught our eye and we have been trying to identify it ever since.

(2) What Plant ? – Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f14, Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 250 mm,  Shutter 1/320th sec ISO 1600 

(2) What plant?

 Walk with a Bear

We have been lucky this year, seeing the lions and the bears on each visit.  Today it felt as if the bear was giving us a tour of her spacious home which she shares with two other ex-circus (rescued) bears.  Believe me when you read their story you will realise that their caged area is indeed spacious.

(3) Walk with a Bear

(3) Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 150-500 mm Zoom @ 500 mm,  Shutter 1/500th sec ISO 800

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Not far from the bear enclosure the ex circus lions have a spacious pad with a view.  However, like all cats the spend most of their time sleeping.  Seeing the size of their paws I’d just let them sleep.

(4) Let Sleeping Cats Lie

(4) Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f5.6, Sigma 150-5000 mm Zoom @ 290 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 200

Stalking Wolf

Across from the lion enclosure the Arctic Wolves normally patrol the perimeter of their space.  This visit coincided with feeding time and gave me the chance to capture a wolf stalking they keeper (who was outside the fence) and the feed bin :).

(5) Stalking Wolf

(5) Stalking Wolf : Technical details: Pentax K-50,  f6.3, Sigma 150-5000 mm Zoom @ 340 mm,  Shutter 1/400th sec ISO 800

Gallery

Baby fascinated by Ring Tailed Lemur