Thursday 31 January 2008


A new digger!

This is the tractor carrying the cement and cement mixer to be used when building the retaining wall.

I wanted to say this is the tractor with its easy to remove attachments, but I think these go with the digger, they've just got muddled up as attachments do

These are thermal sheets that will go down with the foundations. The breeze blocks (aptly named) have been placed on top to stop them blowing away.

Our very own bottle bank! When the site was being cleared, the digger threw up an array of old bottles, pipes, fencing and shoes. To be dealt with at a later date.
Meanwhile in the back garden, it looks as if there has been a landslide.

The stream which has been diverted away from the center of the land to a cutting at the edge

senses its freedom and seeks out the quickest route from top to bottom

It's now horribly wet and muddy on the slope . When we first came here the land was a beautiful green and pleasant place. It hasn't taken long to wreck it! But on a positive note the house is due to be delivered on the 13th March - is that a Friday I wonder?

Saturday 26 January 2008

One day

Our house! One day - March seems likely - it will be built, and from the outside it will appear complete. It will only become apparent once through the front door that the inside is missing!
And so stage two will begin.

I just want stage one to start. Today has been a grey day, the same colour as the breeze blocks and gravel that appeared at the top of our drive earlier in the week (no, I haven't been on a spending spree with my Travis Perkins catalogue!) Everything just seems to take so long to happen and my mood today became greyer to match the weather as I've struggled to get to grips with the quarterly figures due in at the end of the month for the Accountant. We only have a tiny business to run. Goodness knows what I'd do if it ever got up to full strength! Can we be the only husband and wife team who simply cannot agree on anything to do with paper work!

Wednesday 23 January 2008


Yesterday morning at 8.30 taken from the bedroom window. The snow covered mountain is Beinn Dearg (red mountain). Aptly named! Sadly the red sky in the morning was indeed the shepherd's warning and later we had rain!

Tuesday 22 January 2008

I can 'do' culture!

On Saturday we came to Inverness. Yes we do look a bit like seagulls. We needed to open an account with Travis Perkins. I've always wanted a John Lewis card and once I had an M&S card but cut it up for fear of temptation. Travis Perkins doesn't have quite the same ring to it but we had our own personal shopper who showed us round and they do a great range in aggregates and wall insulation and they sell bags that hold a ton - that's a lot of shopping, and it's nice knowing that if I'm having an off day I can just ring up, order a bag of cement and have it put on the account. Next we went to City Plumbing to look at our plumbing needs - you'd think choosing taps would be simple!! And a loo is, after all, just a loo, but it all depends on whether you want it wall hung, high level, low level, back to the wall, close-coupled, half flush, full flush, siphon jet, reverse-trap flush and at about that point we had to leave as I really needed the loo so we went to Pizza Express for lunch, and had a bowl of olives and some garlic bread and pasta and drank red wine and felt very cosmopolitan! And their loos were very nice, but I didn't like to take a picture in case I was asked to leave.

The River Ness Very full and fast flowing, it flows into the Caledonian Canal

We went to have a look at the newly refurbished and recently reopened Eden Court Theatre

This is a snake (I think) in the garden of Eden

The roof of the theatre is made up of triangle shapes. It reminded me slightly of the Barbican Centre in London, though I don't know why as I don't remember the Barbican Centre being triangular. But it has a light and spacious feel to it with a good use of natural materials.
And something to look at on each level.

I liked this. It looks as if it's been drawn on a sheet of braille. Hopefully by clicking the mouse on the picture it will enlarge, and make it clearer.

Maybe the braille describes the portrait, but behind the glass, it wouldn't be much help to the person who couldn't see.

And - No, before you ask, I'm not looking in the mirror, but I think she's got a great face.

Here I am though. These are the nice clean sinks in the ladies' loos in the Eden Court theatre. And nobody around to escort me from the building. I think if we had these in our new house we'd make a mess, we need something bigger, more trough like. We won't need five of them though or the bathroom may end up looking like a cow byre.

Monday 21 January 2008


I 'popped' into Ullapool this morning to post a letter and pick up a couple of bits from the shops. As I came out of Boots the chemist this was in front of me. Not bad for a busy Monday morning eh!

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Men at work

It's easy to lose sight of one of the main reasons for this blog. To record the building of our house! It is happening bit by slow bit. A week ago today the Trelleborg agent and his site manager were here from north Devon for a meeting with our building contractor.

A bunch of blokes, talking about our house! I must try to remain calm.

Now I know how important this bit is. I've watched Grand Designs on television and if the foundations are too high, too low, too far back and in the wrong place all together, it has a disastrous knock on effect. It means the delivery date for the window frames and doors gets delayed by 6 months, the bad weather sets in, the chipboard goes soggy, the underfloor heating gets damaged the roof timbers are the wrong size and a vital interlocking part of the structure doesn't arrive. And worse the budget goes through the roof (if it's been put on that is) So I hope these two are taking it seriously!

Back to our place to drink 9,347 cups of tea and discuss 'things'
We think it went well - the supporting wall and foundations will be done next. Then Trelleborg if all goes to plan will arrive in March to erect the house which will be coming on a lorry from Denmark! The equipment needed to off load the building materials has been discussed and a suitable turning point in the lane found to enable the lorry driver to turn round and drive home again. Fortunately the bridges in the lane with their weight restriction of 7.50 tons were reinforced last year. Finally room has been found to put the house whilst it's being built - I wouldn't have thought of that. But I can remember all those Lego building bricks scattered over the floor when our children were little. I hope they don't lose the instructions.

Monday 14 January 2008

The Postman's Path

On Saturday the weather was wonderful. Very cold with bright blue sky and sunshine. We don't see much sun at present on our hillside. We know it's there, tucked away behind the mountain. As the days slowly lengthen though the sun climbs a little higher and hangs around just a little longer. We decided to go for a walk.
The post man apparently used to walk this way to Achiltibuie. They've build a road and given him a post van now, he must be very relieved. All those heavy shopping catalogues. It's quite an arduous route along steep edges of cliff and in places necessitates scrambling over rock and boulders which on Saturday were treacherous with ice

It was beautiful. I walked along taking in the views and the sunshine and was just in the process of thinking that although the ice made walking over the rocks perilous, it was a great help when negotiating the 'boggy' bits when I heard a 'slurupy' noise and looked up. Some of Niels was missing, he seemed shorter and wasn't moving (well not forwards at any rate!)

Honestly, he needs gaiters up to his armpits! He pulled himself out with a 'plopping' sound. I dutifully held back from making it a photo opportunity for this blog. But for the record this shows how far he stepped into the quagmire!

These signs have been put here since the postman used the track. It's rare to have signposts on walks in the Highlands. The signs and the footpath have been funded with money from the EU, The National Lottery, Scottish Heritage and Royal Mail to name but a few.

They don't look too muddy from behind do you think?

The ever amazing view. The sea barely had a ripple on it

The mountain in the background just visible with a covering of snow is Ben Mhor Coigach.
A well earned lunch break, and a chance to dry out!

Not a bad spot to eat your sandwiches!

The descent and the journey home for clean clothes.
A brilliant walk even though one of us got messy trousers!

Friday 11 January 2008

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Across the Loch

There is a small white cottage across the loch that I can see from the kitchen window. It's typical of many of the houses in the Highlands. Small, neat and plain, tucked into the hillside. No frills no fancy bits. Probably built about 100 years ago. Although I would call it a croft I think it's really the land and not the house that is the croft. Anyway this morning with howling gales, sleet and rain whipping across the hills I could just see this little house on the other side of the water, sitting tight on the hillside with light shining from the door and windows - the epitome of the perfect, safe, warm and happy place to be! Cups of tea, logs burning on the fire, children playing, mother baking, father mending his bike on the kitchen table - and nobody minding!
Real life isn't like that I know. It was probably chaos inside . Nevertheless I leant on the kitchen taps with my Tesco's water colours and dreamt on!

Monday 7 January 2008

Lochbroom Prawns

I was quite excited when Niels came home recently with a bag of these chaps. They had been given to him by Murdo, a local fisherman. They are known as Lochbroom Prawns. I think they are Langoustine, a spiny sort of lobster. I was slightly less excited and rather more flummoxed when I looked in the bag and they started waving. I'm afraid I then did a terrible cowardly thing. I closed the bag and put it in the freezer. I thought living in the loch they would prefer the cold to the heat, and wouldn't notice the gradual drop in temperature. I felt bad for a while but when I plucked up courage and took the bag out of the freezer a couple of weeks later they looked quite happy and relaxed encased in ice. And I have to say when cooked they tasted delicious.
Sorry prawns!
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