Chippy Baker with Green Fingers

It is no secret that I have never been much motivated or had time to develop an interest in gardening. However, life at Powdermills Bed & Breakfast has necessitated that I ‘work’ on the garden. The reality is that this has largely involved cutting, mowing, pruning, digging, gathering and tidying. I have to admit that I have enjoyed the hard physical work and the pride in ensuring that the gardens and grounds are maintained. Moreover, I have learned what wonderous trees, plants and fauna are at Powdermills, albeit from from an iPhone app.

Planting or developing my horticultural skills were not really on my agenda. That is until Covid 19 and lockdown arrived. I was looking for projects to do to alleviate the boredom. Actually, the first project was to tidy up the garage, which had large amounts of timber taking up space. My solution was to build a raised bed. It turned into a …….very large, elevated bed as I was fearful the dogs would destroy any planting.

Measuring, sawing and constructing the raised bed was a feat for me in itself. My late father was a fine joiner/carpenter but not the greatest teacher. My only involvement in his ‘projects’ was to ‘stand here’, ‘hold this’ and occasionally ‘hammer this’. The fact that my raised bed timbers connected together and were not too out of line was a huge confidence boost.

Planting the bed was complete pot luck – what seeds do we have (some very acceptable seedlings from green fingered neighbours) and what looks pretty at the Loch Fyne Garden Centre. Everything was planted in a haphazard way, as I had no idea if anything would grow. Well – everything did grow and this ‘Smorgasbord’ emerged. The produce has been put to good use – Thyme, Spearmint, Chives, Lettuce and Rhubarb. The latter has been harvested and has been part of the Campbell dinner table.

Furthermore, the flowers such as Sunflowers, Roses, Marigolds. Lupins, Poppies and Heathers have all emerged.

The other project that I have progressed has been baking. My repertoire is mainly breads. It started as a bit of fun and now Powdermills B&B we haven’t bought a loaf of bread for the last nine months. It does make me laugh, however, when I think of the many colleagues I worked with in the food industry for over thirty years who were Master Bakers who would become frustrated when we discussed ‘mixing rates, proving or oven temperatures’ and my eyes would glass over! At work I was interested, no obsessed with the numbers. Not now, I love to try different flours, bake Focaccia or Scottish morning rolls. To me, manufacturing was always about thousands and hundred of thousands of units. Nowadays, I can marvel at the bake on a white loaf!

And the project plans for 2022? More raise beds, albeit not quite as formidable. One for vegetables and herbs and the others for flowers and particularly roses which were my late mothers favourite. As for the baking – it has to be cakes. Sue is still the master baker so it maybe sometime time before any of our guests at Powdermills B&B are given the opportunity to taste my wares!