Monday 31 December 2007

On the way to the Summer Isles

We had a lovely Christmas. Family and friends came up to spend it with us in our cosy little house on the hillside. The weather wasn't at its best although Christmas Day arrived with some sun shine, and we managed a walk on Gruinard beach (the day I forgot to take my camera!)

Now our visitors have gone and the weather, of course, has improved - not much but a little.

Yesterday we took advantage of a break in the clouds and drove out to the Summer Isles. A region some 20 miles from here by road - less by water

The Summer Isles Hotel is situated in Achiltibuie and as its name suggests overlooks the Summer Isles. It is noted for its home produced or locally caught food. We had hoped to book a table there for friends arriving this coming weekend. Sadly the hotel is closed until March 2008, but the drive was beautiful and worth the effort

The sun sets at around 3.30pm, although we've now had the shortest day and have longer days to look forward to

A Happy and Peaceful New Year to you all

Saturday 29 December 2007

Christmas 2007

It's the Christmas present you barely consider that often gives the most pleasure!
I keep finding furry eyebrows and moustaches stuck to the inside of cupboard doors and bathroom mirrors! Children can be such hard work!

Wednesday 19 December 2007


Two weeks ago I was helping to clear trees from our land so the digger could get on with his digging. In the process I hurt my back and ended up in bed with a slipped disc. It's much better now and after many days of quiet contemplation and reflection spent on my back I've concluded that a career in 'logging' is not really for me. Sadly as a result we had to cancel a weekend in Devon celebrating a dear friends birthday along with a stop over in Manchester to see our son who has also just had a birthday. I missed lots including....

this. This looks like a road. This is so exciting. I've walked up and down it pretending I'm in the car

Never mind that we can't get into the shed.

Driving nicely round the bend, with my Waitrose shopping in the boot (this is also just pretend - there isn't a Waitrose in the Scottish Highlands)

This is why we're here of course, to build a house. It's easy to forget as everything seems to take such a long time to happen.

The danish house agent flies up on the 7th Jan. with his site manager to meet the building contractor. They want to talk about foundations. I want to talk about fitted wardrobes and curtain tracks - maybe I should hold back a bit..?

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night I try and remember what things are packed away where, and in which container - it's just a variation on counting sheep I suppose. But at times I do miss the contents of my home. It will be nice to see them again. Of course I've forgotten how shabby most of it is and will wonder why on earth we kept it all when it finally arrives!

Winter Sun

The sun is very low in the sky at present. It barely gets over the mountain tops (in most cases it doesn't.) The days are short. The sun rises at 9.00 and sets at 3.30. On our hill side in Letters we only see the sun for about an hour each day. It appears from the side of one mountain at the head of the loch travelling the short distance before disappearing into the side of the mountain on the other. This photo was taken yesterday morning at around 10.30 on the way into Inverness in a vague attempt to deal with the christmas shopping! It was cold and the sun cast l o n g shadows, The temperature was -6.5c. There is little if any snow though and the forecast for the weekend is more rain!

Sunday 16 December 2007

The Weather

There has probably been a mistake at the weather centre, but if you wanted to take your summer holiday now, this coming week looks as if it might be quite good - sunshine everyday not too hot, not too many summer visitors, nor midges - nor camper vans. It does get dark quite early though.

Thursday 6 December 2007

And he's off...

If you're not much interested in Diggers, now might be the time to look away

I can't believe in the space of half an hour what
total destruction it caused I have two concerns. One, is for the frogs that were happy and carefree last month hopping about looking for a good spot to bed down for the winter. They are going to wake up in February and wonder where on earth ('in' earth?) they are. And two, our digger driver never gets out of his cab. All day long he sits and drinks water. He has a break for lunch (I saw him eating a crunch corner) and yet I never see him get out of his cab? I have offered him the usual facilities one does to someone sitting in a confined space all day but he seems quite happy and able to 'manage!' I would be in and out of the cab on the hour.

This is the stream that has been diverted away from the center of the land to run along side the access road to join the main stream further down in the wood

This is the house site! I think the digger is in the kitchen (maybe the downstairs cloakroom!)

Tuesday 4 December 2007

The Digger's here!

The Digger arrived in the dark this morning. I don't suppose you will feel as excited by this as we were! We grabbed the camera and rushed out in our water proofs, and boots (It's raining hard here -that's the polite way of putting it) ready to see the action. There wasn't any of course, but this is the most hopeful positive sign we've seen yet to suggest we might have a house here one day. Yes seriously!

For those of you who are passionate about diggers I've done a collage. You can print it out if you like and pin it on your bedroom walls. I don't have the specifications, but I can tell you it's a lovely bright yellow colour and comes with buckets and scoops and a fork thing

I do hope it's still there tomorrow. What if it's just been parked (Is that the right word - maybe one dumps a digger?) to be used elsewhere along the lane on a more pressing and urgent job?

Friday 30 November 2007

The unexpected.

On Tuesday evening I was invited to a craft evening at Emma's house at the end of the lane. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Memories of craft tables in village halls displaying gifts, and knitted things you wouldn't want anyone to give you, flooded back. And worse, a craft evening held in someone's home. A trapped feeling that you'd buy out of courtesy, bath bombs that made you sneeze when you picked them up, finger puppets, peg bags jewellery of a dubious nature and knitted Christmas puddings.
But I was very wrong! The Potter's pots were perfect she had perfect seconds too. The chocolate maker's chocolate yummy, I tasted it all before I bought. Her seconds and thirds and fourths all hitting the spot. The boxes on sticks are to stir into hot chocolate.
How could I have had such pre-conceived notions? I imagined a group of women living in a lane miles from anywhere wouldn't be able to come up with the 'wow factor.' I over compensated of course to alleviate my feelings of guilt by buying from everyone. I justified each purchase as a Christmas present. That's the down side I shall know what everything is when I unwrap it on Christmas morning!

Monday 26 November 2007

Oh we know how to have a good time!

A lot of people ask what on earth we find to do up here stuck out in the back and beyond. The truth is there's a wealth of events to chose from. We've recently been to two concerts. This one on Friday evening was particularly enjoyable. Tim Kliphuis at the Ceilidh Place, a popular venue in the highlands for a variety of musical events. The Ceilidh Place featured recently in a programme by BBC Scotland on BBC 2 "MacMusical" A documentary about the creation of a musical to celebrate the 2007 year of the Highlands.
At the beginning of the month we went to an illustrated lecture given by Doug Scott. The first Briton to climb Mt. Everest. He now runs a charity he set up C.A.N to help ensure regular wages for the Sherpas and porters of Nepal for the work and commitment they put in on mountain expeditions. He combines this with a travel company C.A.T specialising in trekking and climbing in the Himalaya. An enjoyable and interesting evening. He recalled the most terrifying experiences hanging off the edges of mountains, breaking bones and frost bite. I'll just stick to hill walking I think!

Friday 23 November 2007

This makes my mouth water

Today it was cold. The snow is just beginning to settle and stay on the mountain tops.

I stood feasting on the colours and the light
It was simply like being pulled into, and enveloped by a painting.
There was something both intangible and intimate about it
At the risk of wittering on! The colours of peaches and apricots pinks and greens and blues with the white of the snow on the peaks was simply amazing
This is Stac Pollaidh. In gaelic that means Peak of the Peat Moss.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Back to work

Look at this picture closely. In the next but one picture I'm going to ask you what's missing!
Here's Niels up the ladder about to perform a dastardly deed

Now look. What's different? Well OK apart from Niels has fallen off the ladder what's missing?
It makes such a difference, look, we've

cut the old BT cable down! I have had numerous 'chats' on the telephone with the special department at BT for removing old poles and defunct phone cable. They told me in September when I asked if they could be collected that I would be sent a special form! I've looked forward to that but it hasn't arrived, and the building contractor (when he starts next week!!) won't be able to get his machinery onto our land. The overhead cable stopped being used 4/5 years ago. They had 25 overhead lines but with more houses being built it wasn't enough. Then they laid new cable underground with 50 lines. Up until then they still had a 'party line' system
These are the trees we chopped down a few weeks back - now completely stripped of bark on the one side.

This is so pretty. It's the teeth marks left by the sheep after they have stripped the bark. It's very uniform similar to a herring bone pattern.

I couldn't resist this! They look like the chocolate coffee beans you can buy in Whittards, or those little chocolate Easter eggs! They are also incredibly uniform. How do they manage that I wonder? Well, it's all over our garden and probably made up of tree bark and my Surrey patio pot plants!

Saturday 17 November 2007

On dreary days

Yesterday Niels had some work to do, so I took myself off to Assynt, a region a little further to the north from here. I suppose the weather by most peoples standards would best be described as overcast and dreary; but there is a quality of light here that appears to give even the dullest of days a shine.

It was glorious. A huge expanse of moor and mountain, with colours of gold and purples greens and blues. The clouds barely able to muster the energy to stay above the mountain tops.

There is a sense of peace and tranquility here that is hard to define

A vast silent beautiful space

Lippety lippety - I think that's how rabbits go. They certainly went lippety as I clomped over the hill trying to get a better picture. There were over a dozen of them enjoying their own little bit of peace and quiet. By the time I took the picture I was down to 3 pairs of ears - no not me the rabbits!
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