One thing to make clear before this blog goes any further is that I love Aberdeen. The granite buildings and the chiefly early Victorian architecture give it at first glance a monochrome gravitas, like an old black and white classic film. However, look beneath the surface and you realise the granite sparkles in the sunshine, transforming the city into a jewel in the Scottish crown. The city reflects the character of its people – not always easy to understand, but with a warmth of heart that shines through when you take the time to look.
The city is surrounded by stunning countryside, where castles, covered in a fairytale pink harl sit proudly on the hilltops and red squirrels play in the trees. The Cairngorms are only a stone’s throw away for skiing or climbing (a bit energetic for me, but close enough to at least think about) and, as if countryside weren’t enough,the city also famously sits on the North Sea coast. I had a sea view on my daily commute and, whenever I felt stressed, I would go down to the beach and blow my cares away with a bracing walk down to the quaint, other worldly village of Footdee (pronounced Fittie) that was hidden away at the edge of the harbour, just waiting to be discovered.
There is a lot I miss about Aberdeen and, if it had been located closer to my family, I might never have left. However, the one thing I was looking forward to leaving behind was the wind. I mentioned bracing – and bracing it was. It never really stopped either, bringing welcome coolness on a hot summer’s day, but a piercing coldness that could take your breath away the rest of the time. One thing I was really not expecting was that we would take it with us.
Safely land-locked, I foolishly assumed that we would feel more sheltered in Yorkshire. The reality is that we live in a valley that acts as a wind tunnel and the prevailing wind direction is clear from the jaunty angle of all the trees. However, in our amateur enthusiasm, we decided that shouldn’t stop us from planning the garden of our dreams almost before we had cleared away the Christmas decorations.
As soon as New Year was over, we subscribed to a gardening magazine, in the hope that we might learn something from it, and set to work, clearing the vegetable beds and starting to prepare them for the new season. One thing we agreed on was that we must need a greenhouse – surely every gardener had one? I had romantic dreams of a glass one, that we could walk in freely, but common sense (otherwise known as my ever-practical partner) prevailed – did we really want to spend a fortune if we weren’t sure what use we would get from it? A week later, a flat pack metal frame, with a folded plastic cover arrived. Not quite what I had in mind, but I couldn’t fault his realism.
Putting it together was easier than we had feared and very soon it stood proudly behind the shed, waiting to be filled. It was filled perhaps quicker than we had planned – 2 days later, it snowed overnight and our greenhouse disappeared underneath a flurry of the stuff. Oops! Maybe we put it out just a bit too early?
Undaunted, we cleared the snow and went back to waiting until Monty Don told us on Gardener’s World that it was time to start planting. A few days later, the gales struck and we woke to find that it had disappeared altogether – blown across what we are calling the orchard (3 fruit trees count, don’t they, even if one if them might be dead?) towards next door.
Fortunately, there were no wicked witches (or even cats) around to be squashed by our flying greenhouse, although the brand new cover was torn before it could protect anything and had to be replaced. Once the new one arrived, we decided there was nothing for it but to take drastic action. Watched by two bewildered cats (and probably some highly amused neighbours) we dug a shallow hole where we wanted the greenhouse to go and buried the base of the frame, effectively planting the whole thing. We then paved over the top.
Was this an unorthodox solution? Undoubtedly. Will you ever see Monty Don recommending it on Gardener’s World? Probably not. But you know, it worked. The greenhouse remained in its place even when further gales brought down part of the fence. The day we planted our first early-cropping potatoes in a bag bought especially for the purpose was a very proud day indeed.