Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Winter Wonderland

The children together with Jo's boyfriend arrived safely and in time for Christmas, and a jolly good time was had by all. They say Christmas is a time for children

and our children spent the time running up and down mountains!

Robin took most of the pictures here (apart from this one, taken by Ollie)
I've spent two days going through them all and trying to pick out the best - but they're all brilliant and I've had trouble narrowing them down. Here is just a small selection, and that's still quite a lot, so if snow and mountains aren't your thing, now's the time to look at another blog!

Just before Christmas Robin and Ollie climbed Quinag

and although they only completed one of the peaks they agreed the scenery was breathtaking

On Christmas eve the four of them climbed Stac Polly

Jo, pretending it's summer

On Christmas day they made do with the garden slope and 'played' tobogganing
But by Boxing day they were restless again! Jo and Matt flew off to Vienna and Croatia to see in the New Year. Robin and Ollie decided to climb Sulivan

Seen here from Stac Polly, Suilvan is certainly impressive. Its massive bulk dominates the wilds of Sutherland

Here in the cold light of early morning. They had to leave home at 6am to ensure they got up and down in daylight. They restricted their climb to the dome, Caisteal Liath, that rises up and looks in shape like an old fashioned policeman's helmet

A long way up

and a long way down

Up on the saddle, there is a wall that runs over the mountain

believed to have been for keeping deer out

Nearly there!

Isn't it wonderful

It makes my mouth water - a giant meringue on the top of Suilven

 Ollie made it complete with Christmas hat

And Robin, brilliant, your photos are amazing. Well done both of you.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Getting to the airport

My first attempt at getting to Inverness airport on Monday to pick up Ollie our youngest son proved a bit of a mission. The car in front was stuck and moments later

the lorry coming the other way drove into drifting snow. The A835 is the main road into Inverness - the only road into Inverness and at Loch Glascarnoch there was very little to stop drifting snow blowing across the road. I should turn round and go back home again was the advice, and besides, the airport was closed. 
I drove home and had a cup of tea. Ollie phoned to say he was sitting on the plane at Luton airport, they hadn't taken off because as well as delays due to the weather the plane now had a puncture, but he expected they would leave within the hour.
I set off again, this time with Robin our oldest son, who managed to get here by train the previous day from Manchester, and a shovel and layers of extra clothes!

The snow plough had been, and this time the road was passable with care. Ollie rang to say he was on his way. It was a close shave. Shortly after take off Luton airport was closed but Inverness airport reopened and in that little window of opportunity, we got him!

And now the weather is beautiful

Icy cold and sparkly clear.

Ullapool goes about its daily business as the last minute Christmas shopping is done.

Today, Jo our daughter and boyfriend Matt fly up from Luton. There will be another drive into Inverness, keeping an eye on the weather and airports and hoping they get here without undue delays, safely.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A white Christmas?

At first light the birds were at the feeders.

This morning the snow was just about as perfect as perfect could be - deep and crisp and even. But it's since turned to sleety rain. I'm torn between wanting the snow to get deeper and thicker and being able to get in to Inverness later this afternoon to pick up the first of the family arriving for Christmas.

And talking of Christmas. Do you remember the wood burner this time last year? It's come a long way since then. Robin came last weekend and helped his Dad install it

and Niels was then able to finish laying the floor.  And although the house isn't finished yet
I love it!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The tree

We've been given a Christmas tree! It's a tree top from a much bigger tree that has had to be chopped down from a house site further along the lane

It's wonderful and comes complete with its own designer fir cones and smells of a pine forest

Now all we have to do is fit it into the house!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

At last!

And I hope not too late! Yes of course,  I should have done these weeks ago! I should have been sensible and bought Christmas cards, when I realised time was running out. Instead I've had this half baked notion that I've still got time to make my own! 3.30am this morning and 'ping' I had the idea. I made the Father Christmasses a couple of years ago using red and white card. So then, it was easy, just line them up, take a picture, bung them into photshop and  print them!
Me and the printer, don't get along too well! here, but after numerous cups of tea and a bit masses of  help from Niels who got the 'Merry Christmas'  the right way up and on the right side of the card I think I've we've cracked it!
I'm starting earlier next year!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lochinver Pies

On Monday we went to the pie shop. You don't need to like pies to go there

it's enough just to enjoy the drive to Lochinver through the ever amazing landscape that unfolds before your eyes

It's empty - apart from my shadow.

as is the pie shop - but the pies are very tasty and in winter the people who work in the pie shop increase their  'pies by post' service (if the people won't come to the pies take the pies to the people) and people from all over the world sit down and enjoy Lochinver pies with their ample and scrumptious fillings and light shortcrust pastry - no gaps between the filling and the pastry. I bought a dozen for the freezer.

and had the added pleasure of driving home again. Lochinver on a busy Monday afternoon is tough going but we managed.

Eighteen miles out of Ullapool at Ledmore junction, three cows stood in a field

and watched as the world went by - happy not to be stuck in the  rush hour traffic, happy to be out of the rat race. 

Friday, 4 December 2009


At this time of year the sun is low in the sky. It barely gets over the mountain tops.
At the head of the Loch the sun appears from out of the side of one mountain travelling a few feet before disappearing into the side of another. It gives an hour of intense sunshine in the morning

 Streaming in through the windows
 casting shadows on the walls,

and highlighting that Christmas preparations haven't even begun to get underway in the Hoff house! Today I was going to make Christmas cards, get ideas, get focused, get planning  argue with the printer machine.  Instead, this post on my blog assumed enormous importance, and out weighed any sensible idea to get on and get going with matters more pressing. And it's not that I don't want to make my own cards, it's just I'm so very good at procrastinating and in fact excel at it especially when things really need to get done.
Tomorrow Niels starts laying the floor and I'm making Christmas cards - unless, maybe I should clean the bird feeders, tidy the cutlery drawer or iron the fitted sheets.
Maybe I'm just in denial!
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