Saturday 30 May 2009

Breakfast on the Terrace!

It was a beautiful morning - too good to be indoors
so we breakfasted on the terrace! Now I've seen blogs, I know how it's done, and I know it isn't done like this! 
Where's the cafetiere? It's empty and out of view, behind the juice carton. It should be full with a casually placed napkin beside it  and pretty little second hand vase with buttercups and daisies to compliment it.  I blame Niels he set the table! This was taken after we'd finished eating, that lull, while we both tried to persuade the other to take the dirty plates to the kitchen. My plate is the one with the licked jam and honey spoons.At least we use jam spoons, we might be dining on waste land but one still has to have standards!
The eggs are from the hens along the lane and get left  in our  post box on Wednesday mornings by the egg lady
Once we left the breakfast table the sheep moved in. I'm not sure but I think theses are last years lambs. They won't get shorn until around July. Their coats are really thick; the same coats that got them through their first winter in minus temperatures. Now they're quite desperate to get in to the shade, provided here by the caravan.
She turned around again and again before finding
the optimal being in the shade position!
 This chap moved in under the table.
The shoes on the table are mine. Yesterday I washed them - yes, I know it's bad luck to put shoes on the table, or is it just new shoes?  I don't remember. Anyway they used to be my boating shoes
seen here, sailing on the solent with friends. Now they're my painting and decorating shoes that pinch a bit since I washed them.  It's just too warm to decorate and as a way of delaying it further I've joined this group. It's not a good idea when there are so many things that need doing in the house
but yesterday afternoon I whiled away the time (fatal) doodling. The garden has literally  thousands of foxgloves that are just coming into flower. They're wild, mainly pink, but they'll attract large numbers of bees - and, so it seems, me!

Thursday 28 May 2009

All dressed up and somewhere to go

      This is me preparing for my birthday treat! It looks serious.
At least I don't look as silly as these guys!
Just over a week ago, the day dawned overcast and cold freezing. I have always wanted to go for a ride in an R.A.F fighter plane, like the ones that flash past our house faster than the speed of light, zipping above the loch before veering off and up over the hills. But I don't think they allow old ladies to loop the loop and roar through the skies in such gay abandon -  even if it is their birthday!
 I had to settle for a birthday treat that was slightly more down to earth
and this looks pretty down to earth! It also looks very small, and I wondered how twelve of us would fit in.
but we did, and this is me - thinking I'm the birthday princess! I think my smile had frozen on, it was jolly cold, and we still hadn't left the shelter of the harbour!
but it was good fun, and even with foreboding skies, still very beautiful
and at times the boat came out of the water before crashing back down on the waves again - almost like flying! Apart from the spray, numb fingers and toes!
If you look very closely, (you may have to put your nose up against the computer screen!) it was quite a long way off, you can just see an eider duck. It's black and white and disappearing.
and this seal looks at an orange dinghy full of yellow and orange shapes not unlike it's own and wonders what on earth they're doing - and why!
    Cathedral Cave. The colours  were extraordinarily  bright and beautiful. The whole experience could only have been improved marginally by slighter warmer and less overcast weather. The following day the weather was ideal for this highly unusual and fun trip out on the sea to view the wildlife on and around the Summer Isles
The booking office for Seascape Expeditions is straight out of Legoland - or is it just me?!
It's located next to the harbour in Ullapool. This was after the trip and shows us struggling to get out of life jackets with our numb fingers.
And this is how it would have been on a sunny day!. It was still enjoyable though and I'd go again. Our friend Edith has been many times!


Friday 22 May 2009

Thank You

There has been a bit of a delay on my blog, due entirely to my birthday!  I had a brilliant birthday and will post some photos - later.  In the meantime, I just wanted to say a big "Thank You" for all the cards, phone calls and presents I received and to say I am writing 'thank you' letters.
This morning I got off to a good start and made the above 'thank you' card. It's from a photo of  some lesser celandine I took a few years ago in our other garden - the one with flowers in it!  I put the photo into photoshop and had a play - that was the easy and fun bit, but I can't tell you how many bits of screwed up paper there are around the printer and how many variations on a theme there are to the placing of the words 'Thank You' in on around upside down and on the back of card! I think you need a special  'this looks completely wrong, so it's bound to be right'  sort of brain to work out which way  the paper needs to be fed into the printer.
But at last, by late this afternoon,  it says 'Thank You' the right way up, and on the right side of the card, when you open it! Now I shall start writing in them.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Achnahaird beach

We've had sunshine! It's been glorious. Inverness  got a mention on the BBC weather forecast yesterday for being the warmest place in the country! Never mind the high and low pressures, I put it down to not having had visitors  for a week or two!  And to prove it,  it's due to change this coming weekend  as the kids arrive for a few days!
Of course I should be decorating and other such indoor pursuits, but when the sun shines here you simply have to be out in it. This is Achnahaird beach a little north of Ullapool
I left Niels behind (poor chap), beavering away in his office doing things with computer software, which is good for the business,  but not necessarily good for the soul!
The beach, with a backdrop of hazy purple mountains
  and blue sky was just breathtaking.  I'm running out of superlatives! My daughter asked the other day if I was still "banging on" about the Scottish highlands! Well yes I suppose I am. There are many places that are beautiful, but the Scottish highlands are remote and empty. There is no light pollution and its northerly location gives a quality of light that is crystal clear. Even on dreary days there is much to see that is beautiful, though of course when the sun shines the surrounding landscape is elevated to new levels
Achnahaird beach has pebbly bits
and rocky bits
and pink flowers, which I didn't recognise, and yellow flowers - primroses, which I did
a piece of seaweed  thinking it's camouflaged  and a seaweed tree. 
                                    It was an altogether beautiful morning spent on the beach. When I came home I sat out in the garden wasteland and tried to identify the different birds I'd seen (notice its clouding over!)
I should have taken binoculars with me on my walk of course. I'm soon going to have to put a roof rack on the car as the list of things I need to take with me when I go out grows!                        
On a down to earth note.This morning I need to go to Tesco's supermarket - I hope this doesn't happen again! I'm shopping because 'baby Ollie' our youngest son is coming  to stay for a week. He says he's driving himself to Gatwick airport and leaving the car in the car park before flying  up to Inverness
 Well I hope he stays on the pavement!
Sorry Ollie. It's just your mothers sense of humour. But it seems only last week you were like this!

Monday 4 May 2009

Beinn Eighe

Yesterday, we went to Beinn Eighe.
As the crow flies (the black splotches are crows flying!) it isn't very far from where we are, but, being in the highlands, all journeys, (unless you're a crow) start in the wrong direction and involve a lengthy drive going the other way. Ten minutes if you're a crow, one and a half hours if you're not. But it's well worth a visit.  Beinn Eighe, A National Nature Reserve  
is situated just outside Kinlochewe. It has a visitor centre and two remarkable very well maintained trails. The woodland trail and the mountain trail. Both the walks pass through the remains of the great Caledonian forest. The Scotch Pines are of an outstanding beauty.
          We'd done the woodland trail some years ago, this time we opted for the mountain trail. It's a four mile route that climbs 1800 feet
      We had a lot of this on the way up! But sometimes the rain is a plus and combined with the sun produced the most amazing light and colours  
We climbed and
we climbed
and eventually, left the trees behind.
  But even here among the rocks there was colour. Rocks covered in vivid pinks and greens. The rocks were quartzite, but I read in my little pamphlet that the landscape  is also made up of  Lewisian gneiss (very very old) and Torridonian sandstone (just very old) The rocks provided shelter for tiny plants
Which way?
This wasn't quite at the summit, but here we noticed
the next dollop of weather coming along about to drop on us! At this point I put the camera away. My hands were too numb to use it. I'd foolishly left my jacket at home. The rain turned to sleet, I put my head down and  marched (to keep warm) to the top!
 Talking of heads! On the descent, Niel's head made a perfect way marker! I saw it from time to time, bobbing up and down in and out of the rainbows.
I don't know what he's got to look so wet and  miserable about - one of us isn't wearing a jacket!
 Intermittently the sun shone and the light and colour was spectacular
 The loch turned navy
and the newness and freshness of spring
shimmered and sparkled
"Look at us in our spring finery!" they seemed to say
It was difficult to know where to point the camera
everywhere was a photo opportunity. Another amazing bit of the highlands. It's all too easy to roll off  reams of superlatives when talking about the west coast of Scotland, but there is no doubt that the quality of light combined with the stunning scenery here is perfection for photographers, and artists.
And after the walk? A warm up in the car with a hot drink and a Tunnock. We steamed up the windows! It was a great end to an incredibly beautiful wet and sunny walk.
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