Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Oh Joy...!

I'm sorry I realise that cement mixers don't make the most attractive of pictures especially for those of you who look at this blog mainly for  the stunningly beautiful landscape that is the north west highlands of Scotland!   I'm not trying to turn this into 'Concrete Weekly' magazine or anything!  It's just that we've waited so long to get a garage that I feel hugely excited when an event happens that brings its completion just  that tiny bit nearer.
The garage/cupboard sits and waits. An enormous flat pack, complete with trusses and gable ends and carrier bags full of nails and bolts and screws and hinges, and all we do is 'pop' it together! It's very heavy so 'pop' might be a slight under exaggeration! 
We've designed it ourselves - actually it isn't that hard to design a garage! But in terms of strength it needs to be able to support roof tiles, we've a number left over from the house and it would be nice to be able to use them and keep the garage in keeping with the house. 
Our neighbour Dodo arrives to give us a hand, and at this point, feeling guilty I put my camera down, and pick up a shovel and get stuck in
 which is why there are no more photos until this one, which is just about at the end, except of course no laying of concrete would be complete without the obligatory dog to run across it just as you think you can down tools
Poor James, he got such a telling off and looked so incredibly sad and forlorn. He did wag his tail again though before he went home. It reminded me of when the house foundations were being done. James' dad Cole did exactly the same thing here!
People say we're amazing to do such a lot of the work ourselves. But simply living here you can wait forever for workmen to be available. Old Black queried where our nearest quarry might be. Actually it's just on the other side of Ullapool, eleven or so miles from here. The Scottish highlands are sparsely populated with large empty spaces between small hamlets. But there is building work going on. We attempted to get a local builder to do the footings for the garage for us, but he is booked up with work for months to come and even then there is no guarantee that you'll get the man on the job. We've simply learned to try and tackle what we can ourselves. And when it goes right it's enormously satisfying, if enormously exhausting at times.
Last weekend we went to a very beautiful beach and I promise I'll put some photos on of that before I show  you us 'popping up' (propping up even!) the garage.

Friday, 21 October 2011

No concrete evidence

It's turning a bit chilly here

 I love the winter and cold crisp days and fires and being cosy and warm indoors
but just at the minute we're outdoors, and could have done with winter delaying its arrival by just a little bit.
Finally we're building the much needed and much longed for garage. Not to put the car in - what a silly waste of space that would be! I see it more as a large cupboard. We've worked and worked, dug out, levelled, built the frame (and it's straight!)
and this morning at first light we were out applying the finishing touches, plastic membrane, steel mesh for reinforcing the concrete - I know my footings and foundations!
Ready for the arrival of the concrete at 9am.
At 11am we rang the concrete man, it was raining quite heavily by now
it appears his concrete delivering lorry wasn't working. I'm sure they had  meant to tell us that  delivery had been postponed until Monday
It was a bit early in the day for one of these, especially as the garage is being delivered tomorrow..... apparently!  I resisted the temptation
but, may just sit outside round the new paddling pool at the weekend in my thermals with a glass of mulled wine waiting for items of great importance to be delivered!

Thursday, 13 October 2011


I'm becoming weather obsessed! But yesterday morning it was simply quite lovely.
and in a moment I forgot the rain and clouds and wind and constant running and dripping of water
just one day when I could stand in the garden and soak up the surroundings rather than the rain
I know snails aren't everyone's cup of tea, but at least he wasn't on my hoster plant, and the thing that struck me about snails is how slowly they go until you come to take their photo. They can travel at speed while you change camera batteries and fiddle about with camera settings, I was tempted to move him back a few paces, but knew I'd have to wait an age  before he dared  poke his head out from inside his shell again.
I don't know what this is? It's self seeded on the bank. I shall leave it be, hopefully it's found a place to thrive
The mushrooms (if that's what they are,) are now slip sliding into decay, but they still look amazing even after having been rained on constantly
They're  beginning to disintegrate
and go sticky and fleshy
These were much lighter in colour and were well hidden and protected  from the rain
The good weather brings these chaps out. Some days they fly so low they are below the house. I don't think we get many of them, but opinion is divided on how annoying they can be
And yesterday evening the sun set having put in an appearance all day long  - it must have been tired!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Swan Lake

The start of our lane runs  through the middle of several large fields. Used mainly for sheep and occasionally cattle. At this time of year geese move in and graze, and as and from yesterday.... 
A Whooper Swan dropped in. I wasn't sure at first
He was a long way off. He could have been a thin sheep with long legs
but then he became very swan like and glided up and down  on an extra large puddle in the far field. When I got home I 'googled' Whooper Swans;  they like wet grasslands which is perfect, as the grass here is wet in the extreme.  He may have flown in from Iceland. It must be warm, sunny and dry here by comparison? His  puddle is unlikely to dry up within the next few days....
the rain arrives up the loch at regular ten five minute intervals
and pours off the hillsides by the bucketful
It does have a certain beauty, and I'm trying to look on the positive side. The house doesn't leak
which is more than can be said for some of us....!
I passed these two in the lane as I was walking home
It doesn't matter how many cars and people the sheep see, they always fly into panic mode and behave as if they've never quite seen anything like it before!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On the move

We've moved our shed from here
to here
with lots of heaving and shoving and help from a neighbour. It was possible to move the shed without having to dismantle it first. It weighed a ton, the base had become waterlogged and the wood is solid  from a local sawmill. I remember when we first built it here. This is the third and final resting place for the shed!
I now have the best view from a garden shed ever - even on a gloomy wet and  somewhat miserable Saturday morning. The plan, when it stops raining, is to build a garage where the shed used to be
There isn't room in the sky for all the clouds, so some have to make do with sitting on the mountains instead. Two days ago there was snow on them there hills, now,  just gloom!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Slightly warmer, slightly colder

It has to be said we haven't had the greatest of summers up here in the frozen north!  While the south copes with wave after wave of heat, up here we've had just slightly warmer than average temperatures for the time of year! But, when the weather does get it right it does it in splendid fashion.
It's the ginger time of year
the heather has all but gone
and now grasses dipped in pots of burnt sienna and yellow ochre deck out the hills and mountain sides
On good days the light is intense
Peacock butterflies
and dragonflies sunbathe
mummy mushrooms tend their young
The last of the camper vans make their exit
and life settles down to await the arrival of winter. The first snow fell on the mountain tops in the night, and today the temperature feels just slightly colder than average for the time of year!

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