Tuesday, 25 May 2010

An Teallach

I've done it! I've finally got up on An Teallach!
For some the finest mountain in Scotland.
After the painting party had dispersed the climbing party arrived.
Ollie, our youngest son, stayed with us for a further week joined by two of his climbing friends  from Surrey.
On their last day before going home they agreed to a mountain walk as opposed to hanging off a cliff face or sea stack on a piece of rope
something easy....
 Mmmm....I see.
It's still a long way off, it looks small.
"You don't climb up Mum, Just walk up, once at the top the rest is easy"
Thanks Ollie.
I noticed young men walk much faster than old ladies!
 I nearly gave up, even a cheese and pickle sandwich didn't 
revive my spirits or achy legs. It was cold, wet and misty. Looking upwards only showed more boulders to walk climb over and a thick mist.
People ask 'why do people climb mountains?'
The cloud cleared, and  the answer  spread out before me. The energy returned. The stunning views did more to relieve tired achy muscles than a bag of cashew nuts and a banana ever could. Looking out over real wilderness, no roads, houses, cars neat hedges but incredible order and beauty nevertheless.
An Teallach has many ascents and descents. A skyline of knife-edged crests and rocky pinnacles. I looked over to the next ridge where the three fittest youngest members of the team had got to and determined to get there too
Oooops - but it's a long way down. The guide book says you can run down there. A fine line I think between running and rolling.
 We looked back to where we'd come from
and forward where we still had to go. It's amazing. I so want to continue. There is a path round the pinnacles that avoids scrambling. And I know I won't be tempted to sit on Lord Berkeley's seat!  But it's growing late and still a long way to the finish.
Richard, one of the climbers stays with us. We agree we haven't given ourselves enough time to complete the circuit. At this point we're not even a quarter way round
It is so very beautiful. Mountains are amazing. I feel privileged that I'm able to climb some of them, albeit very slowly!
The boys go on. We decide to turn back  and retrace our steps back down the mountain
Coming down I meet this perfect little frog which stayed very still and waited patiently while I twiddled and fiddled with the camera. By way of a thank you I told him I'd put him on my blog - he  looked a bit worried.
I'm determined to come back and complete this expedition. Next time we shall pack our bags the night before and get off first thing in the morning.  It has been a truly brilliant and worthwhile day.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A lick of paint

We've been having a house painting party which explains the silence on this blog for the past two weeks!
The scaffolding tower is erected
Robin gives the house the brush off!
 some of the painting team try on their painting outfits!
while others play on the scaffolding!
Once the primer had been re-applied, (re-applied, because we left it too long the first time round before painting) the serious work of painting the house gets underway.
We were twelve people sharing two houses. We rented Tigh na Alt  along the lane, highly recommended as a holiday cottage (we stayed there for six months when we first came to Letters)
 Em and Dan, baby Olek and Em's Dad Peter stayed there and Jo and sometimes Ollie and Robin.
and Peter cooked a wonderfully tasty curry for us one evening. Em would want me to say that Dan doesn't normally look like this - he's really very handsome, just overwhelmed with the curry - as we all were.
With so many painters we needed a foreman. Olek fitted the bill. He liked the occasional pint and had a very fine way of showing disapproval if the painting failed to meet his exacting standards
But he allowed tea breaks. Pauline and Michael sitting with our kids and Peter came all the way from warm sunny Surrey to help with the painting 
 Occasionally the foreman grew tired of overseeing the days painting and wanted time out to look at his frog book
 and bit by bit the house transforms, and while local opinion had been very much against painting the house white I think this will look good, antique white with white door and window surrounds
Myles as always was marvellous and just kept on painting.
Dan paints the very last bit of bare wood with this tiny roller!
And we celebrate, although one of the team, Pauline's husband Michael, is having a lie down - exhaustion I expect. Anyway the foreman looks happy - I think! And I would just like to say a huge 'Thank You' to everyone who gave up a week to come and help paint our house
four lads admire their work, though I'm not sure what the fourth lad is admiring!
As a treat, and because it coincided with my birthday we took the foreman to the beach last Saturday once all the painting was finished.
I think he enjoyed it,  but it was cold wet and windy - the warm spell in the south hadn't quite arrived here at that point, but at least he didn't have to inspect walls and door surrounds, cutting in, and glossing up!
And the house looks lovely
And now it's on to the next job!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Down town

Today I went into UllapooI to vote. Will it make a difference?
I hope so.
The village hall had transformed into the polling station. The last time I was here was for the Christmas craft fair.
Either way it had that typical unhurried Ullapool feel about it!
Suddenly a rush of voters, although the lady with the push chair 
was only passing by.
I met two ladies from Letters when out, and thought how nice it feels to meet friends when in town (so to speak!)
And thought this really is home now

Monday, 3 May 2010


It's been a while since we did this. In fact it's only the second time since we moved here that I've been out in the canoe. The first was not long after we'd arrived in Ullapool

First thing the weather looked promising.
We set off. The canoe is 17ft long. Niels knows real joy paddling about in boats
Here he is in a former life! When we lived in the gentle south and had the Basingstoke canal running along at the bottom of our Surrey garden
This couldn't be more different
gentle surrey canal bank 
towering lochbroom rock face. The tide difference is huge. Seaweed and mussels clung to the rocks high above our heads.
Bridge ahead.
Cormorants ahead - oh no - my mistake, just some ancient tree remains pretending to look like cormorants.
We pulled up on the opposite shore and I saw my first
violets of spring.
I couldn't get a photo but we also saw two great black-backed gulls. They were enormous. They were by the shore at the edge of the loch. Large heavily built birds with strong contrasting black and white plumage. Fiercely predatory and dominant over all other gulls.
It was getting cold and the breeze had turned into a wind blowing across the front of the boat. We paddled on the spot for about an hour until bit by bit the garden came into view. We climbed the hill and home to a warm fire and supper, feeling just ever so slightly achy!
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