St Germains Lockdown

28th March 2020, 36 photos.

One and only one photo of (or from) the gardens of St Germains House, taken each day of Coronavirus lockdown. This is simply to give me a wee project to think about - the personal challenge being to select only one on the good days and try to find something worthwhile on the dull days. Starting, March 28th, 2020.

SGL#1 - Going to be doing a lot of wandering around our gardens for the foreseeable future so to amuse myself I'm going to try to post one photo of or from the garden each day.


SGL#2 - the steps to the bowling green. One of the many "rustic" features around here. The bowling green is long gone though it can be found on early OS maps of the area. #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#3 - the Mean Machine - and a shiny red lawnmower... Some summers, the back lawn is used as a tennis court for the residents. It may not be Wimbledon-smooth, but it's more likely to see some tennis action this summer than Wimbledon is, sadly. #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#4 - the front of the house from the log store. Bringing some logs up fills a few minutes each day - it's a new way of thinking.#StGermainsLockdown


SGL#5 - a little St Germains history - our house was once owned by the Tennent Family, famous in Scotland for its lagers and beers and was last used as a complete house by the RAF as a convalescent home for injured airmen during WW2... The house had to wait, however, until 1964 to enjoy its most famous moment when it was used as the backdrop to the iconic golfing scene in the Bond movie, Goldfinger. Hailing from just along the road in Edinburgh, and a keen golfer and Tennent's Lager drinker himself, lead actor Sean Connery insisted that if there was to be a golf scene in the film then it must be shot in Scotland, the home of golf. The front lawn was therefore shorn, golf flags inserted and "theatrical bunkers" dug and filled with sand to set the stage on which Bond, Goldfinger and Oddjob could strut their stuff. Clever editing cut the remainder of the golfing action scenes back to a real course, Stoke Park, in Buckinghamshire, but St Germains House had nevertheless cemented its place in British movie folklore. Nowadays, the house is split into seven apartments and we live in the topmost flat, number 007, naturally!! #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#6 - the 2nd April now, so sanity can be restored - "The Classic View". When the evening sun strikes the northern elevation spring has officially arrived at St Germains.#StGermainsLockdown


SGL#7 - a rare overcast East Lothian day today, but we did manage to catch a short glimpse of sunshine on this morning's rounds of the grounds... Kim colour coordinates well with the flowering currants on the "long straight" path down our eastern edge.#StGermainsLockdown


SGL#8 - Dear Prudence. We even have art at St Germains, with a resident sculptor in our midst. Prudence watches over us as we don't go about our daily business.#StGermainsLockdown


SGL#9 - well, we'll never tyre of that view - #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#10 - a sunny morning wander around the house though this tranquil looking scene belies this morning's blustery conditions. The camera does sometimes lie! #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#11 - the big distressed pine rises high from the drying green, "which drying green shall be used for the drying or bleaching of clothes and for no other purpose whatsoever"... Well, I sneaked in a little photography this morning - don't tell anyone! #StGermainsLockdown


SGL#12 - new shoots of spring, down by the ice house. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#13 - we have the biggest Monkey Puzzle tree in East Lothian, allegedly... It sits in the middle of the back lawn and has branches all the way down to ground level. These branches are solid and heavy and the spikes are razor sharp with many at face level. Stumble into one of those in the dark at your extreme peril! #stgermainslockdown


SGL#14 - the view from the icehouse - your 19th century fridge-freezer... Icehouses were used for the preservation of perishable foods, usually built underground with thick walls and roof for insulation, and often near a natural water supply - ours is next to the stream that runs through the grounds - which would provide a convenient supply of ice in the winter. The St Germains icehouse is a particularly old example (I think), built into a north east facing bank, constructed as a semi-subterranean dome from large, heavy stone blocks, structurally similar to an igloo, which is apt! At the lowest point there is a drain hole to allow meltwater to escape. The design here is primitive and functional as opposed to the more decorative and elegant styles often used later, at large manor houses and estates. Its simple engineering has stood the test of time well though. The ice would be packed and insulated with straw and would last all through the summer until the following winter - something that's difficult to imagine working so well nowadays in our much milder climate. Most icehouses were made redundant at the turn of the 20th century with the invention of the electric fridge, though some did find second leases of life as ready made air-raid shelters during WW2, their design being ideal for that purpose too. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#15 - it's starting to get colourful down in the dell. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#16 - there she goes again - like a coiled spring - moving up through the gears - an early breakaway! #stgermainslockdown


SGL#17 - round the back this afternoon for the aforementioned Monkey Puzzle from the aforementioned drying green. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#18 - in a few weeks' time a handful of these exotic Gunnera crowns will have risen from the dead into huge prehistoric looking monsters, completely obscuring the icehouse from view... The only other place we've seen them is Inverewe Gardens in Wester Ross. Dramatic, scary things. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#19 - Kim stands atop the old lower steps, only just holding on in their battle with the wild garlic which has all but consumed the terraced garden down by the stream. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#20 - today was a cold and very dull, grey day so instead, here is night. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#21 - had a long wait today, but finally, just before 5pm, the sun managed to come out. By sheer chance, I was home to catch the moment - funny that...? #stgermainslockdown


SGL#22 - there's been some exciting chainsaw action down at the log store today. I hope all your limbs are still intact Steve? #stgermainslockdown


SGL#23 - a couple of shafts of pink light just manage to catch the massive truck of one of the 700 year old sycamores on the front lawn... Moments before sunset it's staggering to compute that these trees must have seen day turn to night more than a quarter of a million times! #stgermainslockdown


SGL#24 - the front of the house lit up by the clean, blue evening air. The lack of pollution to be trapped by this high pressure is a definite benefit of lockdown. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#25 - the annexe. What self-respecting manor house doesn't have a tree-house accessed by rope ladder? Built and subsequently bequeathed to the house by former residents Stuart and Claire. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#26 - it's all gone pink at the end of the garden. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#27 - the St Germains sun dial. This picture marks the sun reaching a compass direction of 240 degrees and first lighting up the front of the house. Catch those nice diagonal shadows from the lintels each day at about 4.15pm - they don't last long... Today the sun was 35 degrees above the horizon at that moment. As we approach mid-summer and that angle gets larger the shape of those shadows will alter accordingly. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#28 - the house has quite extensive grounds jointly owned by all seven properties. Each apartment has its own private garden too though, and this is ours. We're lucky to have a sheltered wee suntrap garden that's dead easy to maintain. #stgermainslockd


SGL#29 - emerging from the shadows. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#30 - the end of the road and I think I'll call it the end of the road for these too after 30 consecutive SGLs - I'll continue, but ad hoc now rather than daily perhaps... Thirty days ago I could never have predicted the perfect conditions for photography that we've just enjoyed, almost uninterrupted, throughout. Thanks to those who have interacted and a special thanks to all those who fell for the James Bond April Fool story - there are too many of those to thank individually! ???? Piccies all logged here if you're really bored:


SGL#31 - a green scene down in the dell. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#32 - the Gunnera have now unfurled to their "evil spiky lettuce look" phase. They will get much bigger yet. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#33 - evening sunshine on a path much wandered. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#34 - this morning's highlight. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#35 - it's a building with character. It's seen a few things. If it could talk, it would have some stories to tell. #stgermainslockdown


SGL#36 - the St Germains tennis court. "It is not in absolutely mint condition but it could certainly be used in an emergency" - Basil Fawlty, 1975. #stgermainslockdown


28th March 2020, 36 photos. View this album in Flickr.