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!

Thursday 15 November 2007

What a difference a week makes

The weather is very unseasonal here for the time of year, so we've been told. Some parts of the country woke up this morning to frost and in some cases fog. Here it is damp mild and overcast. 10c. The loch today looks as if a sheet of glass has been laid over it. The weather was very different a week ago
"Tie down your shed" we were advised, and we were never quite sure whether this was simply a wind up by locals to all new people who move up from the south thinking they can cope with country living and adverse weather conditions.  But we took their advice as the shed isn't pinned, and
 duly tied it up; now it looks like a 
tent shed but it can't run off and apparently next door lost their shed roof in the
 pursuing gale - if only they'd followed our example!

It was wild and windy and white horses and spray shot across the loch. I went outside, it was difficult to hold the camera still.  There had been growing concern about a tidal surge in the north sea causing flooding on
 the east coast. It wasn't that severe  
here but it was exhilarating never the less.

Our little house has seen it all before. It stood like a rock, not a door nor window rattled. Once inside it was warm and cosy and we felt very protected from the howling gale outside
This is a holiday let and I would recommend it to anybody wanting to come up and explore this part of the world. I'll try and leave it nice and tidy before we go!

Sunday 11 November 2007

The sad demise of the Yukka Plant

Once upon of time I had a Yukka plant, seen here on the right. It wasn't very big and it leaned over a bit, but it seemed happy enough. Then we moved to Scotland...

and over night it became a Yukka stump

I looked out of the back door one morning last week and a couple of sheep were trying very hard to be interested in the grass - but I know
They've had a nibble at the rosemary too, I wonder if they like mint..?

Thursday 8 November 2007

Reasons to be cheerful

Jo has got engaged to Aly. A really great chap who is prepared to put up with our daughter! The ring is very pretty, the stone is an emerald with a little cluster of diamonds set on each side.

She arrived yesterday from London on a flying visit. We haven't seen her for 6 months. She has been travelling in South America with her boyfriend Aly. He proposed towards the end of their trip. We think it's wonderful and are very happy for them both. She looked radiant and very brown, and with a new haircut - I almost didn't recognise the young woman in the baggage hall, waiting to collect her bag - for a moment she looked like a grown up! Apologies for the photo, it's out of focus, it was difficult to hold the camera still!

We drank champagne, her dad was so excited he couldn't sit still!
Neither could Jo it seemed. What better time than to practice her yoga?!

It was wonderful to see her again. She pinched our bed and caused that general confusion that only daughters can manage. Tomorrow she returns to London to the Royal London Hospital where she nurses. Congratulations and lots of love to Jo and Aly

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