Now the local festival for Braemar night and the Highland Games is over there’s a distinct smell of autumn in the air and the nights are fair drawing in! That means Christmas Tree harvest time is in the post. Here’s a wee blog to keep you up to date on what goes on at Sholach Christmas Trees.
It was a good to start New Year with a brisk walk and to play with new toys and that’s not just the kids! Craig was loving his new drone and I’m looking forward to using some of the footage in future video blogs. Thats if it ever stops being windy out here as it’s difficult to control it.
Pretty soon it was back to the real world but we were both lucky to have had 2 weeks off work. Made the thought of returning to work even harder to bear. I was the lucky one though, going back to the office with the log burner on, preparing for new filming projects. Craig had the onerous task of starting to prune the trees, seven thousand of them! He had some company as Willie was using his hard earned week’s holiday to come up the road, to prune trees. More of a novelty as he’s usually stuck in central London driving trains but still a chore. It’s an all year round job looking after Xmas trees. There is also the business side to deal with, the yearly tree care plan, organising buying new trees and looking into pot grown trees to suit demand. I joined them for an hour to document it and I was so lucky that a wedge of swans arrived to the loch just as the last of the sun was hitting the calm waters and a mist was rising. Here was me disappointed that I hadn’t made it down when the light was still on Willie and Craig but that more than made up for it. I’d like to say that I helped them out a bit with pruning a few trees but that would be lying. Here’s a wee short film of the boys at work with a bevy of swans minding their own business in the background.
I’ve been making a rough cut of some the footage I shot at our Pop Up Christmas Tree shop. Yes, I’m already making a video to advertise next year’s Christmas tree harvest, no rest for us! At my work I’ve been working on short films for the local council, taking wedding photography bookings and had a lovely pregnancy photoshoot. On top of that I’ve discovered my passion for Kundalini Yoga – Yoga by the Loch, you can’t beat it! Although it was a bit nippy this week at -2 but so far this year we’ve been lucky with a mild winter. I’ve been working with the lovely Calista filming some of her classes for her Kundali Live online Yoga videos. You can get information from one of her pages here: Calista Ascension or Kundali Yoga Live
The committee at Clunie Hall are also busy organising our February Ceilidh to raise funds for the hall. Live music, stovies and lots of fun guaranteed. We’re trying to raise awareness of the community hall for people to hire for parties, events and training days. Dating from 1912 it has served the community of Clunie, Craigie, Forneth and we’d like to see it used more regularly. It’s a great space and fingers crossed we may have a wedding there in April :)!
It’s been an adventure this year at Sholach Trees. Our Pop-up shop was a new venture and we had no idea if it was going to be a hit or not! So much apprehension in the months/ weeks/ days/ hours leading up to it but thanks to you all, it was a great success and we’d like to say a massive thank you to everybody for their help and support. I know some people were trying a real tree for the first time in years and I hope we’ve rescued you back from the darkside! There were friends and family, friends of friends and family and loads of new faces. Great to see you all. Cheers, and we hope to see you all again next year. We enjoyed catching up with you all new and old, having a banter and seeing the photographs of your fine trees in all their Christmas splendour.
It was a lot of work preparing the stands for the trees and rigging and de-rigging each day. Well done Craig, Conall and Sam for their hard work! And I feel I did a great job of turning on the urn, prepping my homemade shortbread, checking on the boy’s progress and putting the price lists out, no easy task 🙂
Thanks to Alec at The Gig and Dreadie Blairgowrie for letting us loose in and around your establishment. To mum for making sure the tree was well decorated and the baubles were symmetrical. Also for looking after Seren every weekend!! To McSanta for helping on the stall and also for delivering trees. To our good pal Bert for letting us store trees. To John Mac for his fine Christmas decorations that added to our stall and sold out every week, better get whittling for next year John 😉
Now every weekend has its highlights but at the kids Christmas party in the Gig I really got to shine! When asked if I’d mind getting dressed up to help out then I’m sure they knew what the answer would be, well I was already dressed as a Christmas Elf. The party was bouncing with young kids and parents and I’m happy to hear it will be a regular event. I danced my socks off and the little kids were in awe of us, it was truly heart lifting. Don’t think I can give up the day job just yet! McSanta was more than happy to lend a hand too. As you can imagine there was a fair bit of hilarity in between our entertainment time in the party. I particularly liked my Costume that was far more ‘Cameo -Word Up’ than ‘Kelstar as Iron Man’. Being an Iron Man novice at putting on the costume meant that I was dropping my armour all around the dancefloor, a fair bit of comedy from that too!
But as much as I enjoyed our Christmas Tree selling I would be lying if I didn’t say my Elf costume was off as soon as I got in the door that last night and replaced with my pajamas and baffies, be gone Kelf the Elf but I look forward to seeing you again next year.
We chose the nostalgic Norway Spruce as our Christmas Tree. They have such a beautiful full shape and that traditional smell of Christmases gone by, a real vintage look and feel. Yes they do drop their needles more than the Nordmann Fir but we kept ours well watered and it’s been gorgeous all Christmas. We have bairns and dogs so lets face it the hoover is out every day anyway and there’s something relaxing about hearing the pitter patter of pine needles on the gifts under the tree.
I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I celebrated in style before I finished work with my friend and colleague Pete. We pushed the boat out this year and had ‘pigs in blankets’ on a roll with Branston Pickle for our festive breakfast at Keathbank Photography. After finishing ‘work work’ and Christmas tree work it was time for the usual Christmas runaround – last minute gift buying, wrapping gifts, delivering gifts and braving the ‘pre-apocalyptic event’ that is our local supermarket, I mean the shops are all shut for One Day, better stock up for the week! My favourite part has to be Christmas Eve. Scraping Hyper bairns off the ceiling, scattering Reindeer dust with a carrot or two and leaving out Santa’s Christmas pie and glass of milk. Hanging up your stocking, I still remember how I felt doing that as a child and love it now. I don’t know who was more excited – me, Conall or Seren. The stockings are bigger now, custom bought, we always raked for the biggest one of dad’s socks we could find – oh the smell of berryfields and new toys 😉 Then we got to put out the presents and try and get to sleep before Santa comes. I think we may be lucky in this family as Craig was waiting for the bairns to wake up at 6 am, Conall was waiting for Seren to get up and I was just sleeping. 730am, now that’s a good Christmas morning time!
I think the best thing about the Christmas holiday is spending it with friends and family. It’s a time to catch up, chill-out and appreciate all the special people around you. Ok so presents are an added bonus but being with my family and eating good food, drinking fine wine (We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!, always space for a Withnail & I quote) and having a generally good craic is priceless. I don’t see friends enough and Christmas is the time to see them ‘back in Blair’ and to pick up where we left off.
So Hogmanay is in the post, so many memories of good old New Year Parties at our house. We were brought up with them. I can remember us running about in our jammies misplacing folks jackets etc in return for finding them for 50p, it was a childhood money maker, an easy way to make dosh fae inebriated guests.
This is the first one for many years that we haven’t spent at Grandad Seggies. For years the whole family spent the 2nd at Gran and Grandads for over-cooked beef and well boiled veg until the family got too big to fit. Latterly it was replaced with Hogmanay for his legendary ‘grandad nips’ – a wee bit mixer and a large dunt of alcohol of choice. I’m so chuffed that many of my friends joined us and experienced a true Hogmanay at Grandad Segs. Music, dancing, chat and a huge appreciation of good friends, family and scottish tradition.
We had the final shindig with him last year, the end of an era. It was how he would of wanted it, unfortunately he was bed bound but in true Seggie style we sung and danced and were all there with him. All the family, everything he loved and was so proud of. So tonight Grandad we will be lifting a glass and celebrating your life. We miss you. You were always so proud of everything we did and I know you would be loving our Sholach Trees antics and our bit in the Blairie (or the two minute silence as you called it 😉
So on this Hogmanay we wish all our friends, family and customers a healthy and happy new year. I hope you have your family close and your memories of loved ones even closer.
In memory of Faither and Grandad Segs, much love
It’s been ‘all go’ at Sholach Trees since October. Marketing material to design and make, organising our Pop-up Shop, updating social media, marking trees for different orders throughout the country and then of course the harvesting! cutting, netting and delivering.
The whole family were onboard to get the marketing material out there. Mum and Sam were all around the town to get the word out in lots of local businesses. Seren especially enjoyed helping put the stamps on the envelopes for our wholesale marketing.
To get everything organised for our Pop-up Shop we had to work out the best way for people to view our lovely trees and make the decision on what beauties would make the final line up! It took Craig and Willie a couple days to prepare the sleepers, logs, and the trees for display. Local craftsman John Mac came onboard with his handcrafted Christmas decorations, Snowmen and Rudolphs. They’ve sold out every weekend so far. McSanta has been along to help at the Pop up Shop and also out with his Sleigh & trailer, to deliver all the trees locally. Here’s a glimpse at how it all looked.
I dusted off my Elf dress and got in the Christmas Spirit when helping people to choose their trees. I also gave a little harvesting hand with my wee tractor on the farm! Thanks to Sarah Marshall for taking the photographs when collecting her trees for Summerhall in Edinburgh. She is going to be working her arty magic after Christmas recycling the trees to create life long decorations and a festive momento.
This year, with my business Keathbank Photography, we made a series of films with local charity PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service) They do a huge range of amazing work in the community and these films show examples of some of the work they do View films here We chose this as one of our local charities to support with the donation of Christmas Trees at their main office in Perth and also at Wisecraft Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub in Blairgowrie. Our trees were also donated to Strathmore Centre for Youth Development SCYD, Rattray School & Nursery, Newhill and Coupar Angus School Nurseries.
We’ve one weekend to go at our new venture the Pop up Shop! It’s been a great success so far, but it’s still at least a week to go until Christmas so we definitely expect plenty people down to pick up a lovely tree straight from the fields of Sholach Trees! It’s been great to see everybody who have bought their their tree from us this year. We usually send the majority of our trees away to the wholesale markets in November and would see a few people out at the farm in the run up to Xmas. But this year we’ve met a lot of new customers, and enjoyed helping out those who have decided to go with a real tree after years over on the ‘Dark Side’! As always we look forward to Xmas day coming, not least because the trees are then ‘done’! So we’d like to say to everybody, thank you very much for all your support. Merry Christmas to you all!!
At the end of October I always think of Halloween and Guy Fawkes night before the harvest starts but not this year. We had our first order of 176 trees to be harvested and sent to London. These special trees are going to famous! They are to be delivered to television studios and magazine offices so they can start their festive filming and christmas advertising. Christmas is ‘in the post’! Trees need to be supplied slightly out of season so they can be prepped, decorated, filmed and photographed for us to view’ in-season’.
We had some huge trees to harvest, also making their way down South. It took some machinery to sort these big boys out! Watch this space for some photographs when they’re up and decorated.
We are selling our trees in the Gig Carpark every weekend in December! We would love to see you there. We’ll have a selection of lovely fresh cut trees for you to choose from. Choose from the ever popular Nordmann Fir and the ‘Retro’ Norway Spruce. Sizes range from 4ft-7ft for Fir trees and 4-6ft for Spruce trees. If you’d like to pre-order for collection then please let us know. I have dusted off my Elf suit, and please watch Sholach Facebook Page for times when Santa will be joining us.We will have hot drinks to help keep the winter chill at bay. Come along and speak to us about all things Xmas tree, with advice on how to get the most of your tree through the festive period!
The last big load is due to be loaded and sent down south tomorrow(hopefully one lorry will do it!)
Then it is time to concentrate on all the local sales, and getting those fresh cut trees straight from the field to your homes for decoration!
Well we finally got our first week of nice May weather. I declared the loch open as I usually do with the first swim of the year. Boy it was refreshing, well actually freezing! There’s no where else I’d rather be when the sun is shining loch side.
We had visitors camping for a few days. My cousin was over from Canada with his friends Aaron and Jolene and his sister and niece from Fife. They set up camp by the Loch and I made the customary barbecue. The meat came from The Old Piggery, a farm outside Alyth that sells their meat straight from the farm. They deliver once a week on a Thursday. The burgers and sausages were fantastic, really tasty and meaty – the burger not shrinking to nothingness when cooked. I like to know where my meat comes from and that it’s had as nice a life as possible before ending up on our loch side barbecue. I’ve got the mince in the freezer for another day – mince is always handy when I can’t really be bothered cooking. It’s easy to knock up a Bolognese or a chilli with a few choice herbs n spices and a tin of tomatoes from the cupboard.
Conall had 7 friends out to camp on Friday night. Myself and Craig only cramped Conall’s style for a wee while as Seren wanted to go down to hang out with his friends. She was well looked after by the girls. Conall, taking after me of course, was out for a swim with Robbie. Nobody else was that keen and I don’t really blame them.
We then welcomed more friends out for a boating session. It’s great being out exploring the loch in canoes. The photo below shows them canoeing past the small island, the site of a former Crannog. I found this out on a visit to the The Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay . Next adventure is to go to the island on Clunie Loch along the road. I’ve never been there. Dad and Craig walked over to it on the ice a few years back and lived to tell the tell.
Craig has been out in the tractor cutting all the grass around the trees. It’s all looking very neat and tidy. He noticed a bird following him around the whole time and it wasn’t until he moved the seat that he noticed a bird’s nest underneath it with eggs in it. Thankfully when he checked later the mother bird was back sitting on her eggs. Now her chicks have hatched, I didn’t disturb them for long when taking this picture.
Late spring is time for the ‘bud rub’. Bud rubbing is a technique used to stop new year’s lateral growth. Just one of the many ways we ensure all trees are more Xmas tree like! By removing the lateral bud from last year’s top whorl-the set of branches nearest the top of the tree, we can keep that year’s growth focussed on the internal branch and stop the tree from creeping out and make sure the energy is put in to growing the tree internally. Just one of the many ‘tricks’ growers use to make sure you have that real Xmas tree look. With up to 20,000 trees to be done it’s one of the first big jobs of the growing season! All hands on deck for this job with Willie up from London.
The latest of our trees were planted about this time last year. Back breaking work but certainly more enjoyable on a sunny day… I think so anyway as I didn’t have to do it! I just appeared with my camera, took a few shots then sat back and enjoyed the sunshine. The planting crew that day were ‘The Legendary’ Tom Sutherland, Mike ‘mobile valet’ Stewart and my lovely husband, and ‘gaffer’ Craig Davies. These wee trees have about five years to grow by the loch before it’s their turn to get dressed up for Christmas.
I have to admit that I was always more interested in ‘the berries’ than christmas trees. Probably because we had been brought up with ‘the berries’ and at ‘the berries! ‘They were an integral part of our life. That has changed now. The berries have gone and Christmas trees are the priority.
I could see there was a lot of work involved in Christmas Tree upkeep but michty me, I dini think any of us knew how much.
It’s still wintry but thankfully there’s a wiff o spring in the air. Check out the snowdrops! We have thousands of trees to care for and this is the time of year that they need love and attention. There have to be repairs carried out; winter pruning, bird pegs and pest spraying (I hate spraying but it has to be done unfortunately… still, the bees are safe with this one.)
Repairs involve trying to fix the damage caused by deer marking their scent. Stopping the itch of their new growth antlers by rubbing their neck or head up against trees, which removes their bark and causes the sap to stop rising. Therefore, there’s is no growth on that side of the tree. Who would o kent it?? Winter pruning stops them growing too wide and opens up the tree to let the air in. Bird pegs stop large birds, crows or pigeons, landing on the top leader so they don’t break them. The leader is the top shoot where the star or angel sits adorning your tree.
Spraying: Craig discovered Woolly Aphids which can damage a lot of trees. Nowadays Craig gets on a mission after discovering these beasties munching away… It reminds me of my dad spraying the berries for aphids in the evening, always mindful of the bees.
Welcome to my blog. Not just keeping you updated on the life, love and damn hard work bringing up our christmas trees but my general meanderings of home, the surrounding area and things I enjoy. Whether days ‘oot’, recipes, my own ‘wee adventures’, thoughts o ‘Berry times’ past or just ‘blethers’ this is where you’ll find it. Enjoy it or ignore it, the choice is yours but I’d love you to tag along. As a photographer and film maker my ‘havers’ will usually be visually illustrated with images still or moving, shot on either my phone or camera.