Monday 28 September 2009

The last visitor - for a while

The last of the visitors went home at the weekend, seen here enjoying the views from Stac Pollaidh  (Stac Polly) blissfully unaware that his banana, which at this point he's still looking forward to, is being sat on!

I took this picture last November on this walk.  It's not quite so Autumnal here yet, although this last week has felt like the  middle of winter at times. It shows where we sat and ate our squashed bananas last Wednesday

We climbed up in sunshine and came down in severe gales and rain! 

It's one of the easier walks to do here in as much that you can park a car at the foot of the mountain. It takes a couple of hours and although the 'real' summit involves a bit of a scramble there is a sort of summit a little lower down that still feels like an achievement!

Isn't this beautiful? Lichen grows on rocks in many different forms and colours. It was on the path, and too big to carry home!
After our visitor had departed for warmer and gentler climes in the south, the weather improved - just a little, and on Friday evening there was a sunset

It started in the usual  unassuming way

before exploding in a riot of colour.
A sight our visitors rarely see!
 Now, apart from the children, there are no more visitors expected in the near future, and I have started to dig out the paint brushes, plaster, sandpaper, primer, ladders, dust sheets, white spirit etc - honest!

Saturday 19 September 2009

The weekly shop

Yesterday I drove to Tesco in Dingwall. Dingwall is forty miles from here and in the direction of Inverness. There is a Tesco in Ullapool, but it's tiny and sometimes, most times, not enough. On the way to Dingwall I drive past Rogie Falls

In the time we have lived here I have only visited Rogie Falls once. Yesterday I stopped the car

and followed the woodland trail down to the waterfall


This was  more enjoyable than pushing the old trolley up and down the supermarket aisles. Is it my age? I'm beginning to find supermarket shelves full of things I don't understand. Looking for black olives (they'd moved to the tea and coffee section) I picked up a tin of 'jerk paste' in the continental food section. What is it? What's it for?  It isn't something you put in shepherds pie.

Nothing so puzzling here, just me and the sunshine, mossy mounds and heathers       

There is just the merest suggestion of autumn beginning. The days (when not raining or stormy) have a softness. The urgency of spring and the long days of summer have passed. There is a maturity to autumn as it slowly makes way for winter. The combine harvesters have been busy and soon there will  be blackberries to pick.

I could have whiled away the day here, playing with the camera, and shutter speeds, getting things in and out of focus, but eventually I came back in to the real world and got some shopping done. It always amazes me that I lug all the shopping home, spend ages putting it away only to find there still isn't anything for supper!

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Pottering and poor Lamb Chop

With the arrival of the fence, the pot plants are making a slow recovery, free from the onslaught of sheep.
some remain traumatized!
The garden is now so overgrown I despair we'll ever get it under control, so yesterday  concentrated my gardening efforts close to the house and planted bulbs in pots instead.
Next spring we are having a 'painting the outside of the house party.' We learned too late that the top coat of paint should have gone on within a month of the primer, so need to begin again. (sorry Jo, Em, Robin and Dan) 
The driveway and hardcore area around the house still need a final top surface (to be decided) and the front door step, (two breeze blocks and plank of wood!)  will be replaced with a ramp - building regulations! When we're old and infirm (about now!) we'll need to get in and out of the house easily in our wheelchairs - providing we haven't  overshot the drive and landed in the loch instead!
And now to the sad part
Poor lamb chop. Here she is just before the fencing was complete. In May she had a lamb that was either still born or died shortly after birth. It went unnoticed. She eventually turned up in the garden looking very ill. We rang the farmer and he came and treated her with antibiotics. Unfortunately her udders had become so engorged they never recovered and retracted (see photo).  After the fence went up in July I still went, complete with slice of granary bread and apple, and talked to her over the fence. I told her everything and as ever she remained completely uninterested.  She put on weight and began to look much better. I recognize I'd make a terrible sheep farmer, the place would be  over run with pet sheep, but I also recognize that the sheep here are part of the food chain. The sheep farmer told me Lamb chop couldn't  lamb anymore. As I now haven't seen her for several weeks and as the farmers have been along the lane rounding up and singling out sheep, I strongly suspect I won't see her again. She was very unlucky, there are so many lambs born here in the spring and most appear to thrive. She was five years old and if all had gone to plan she would have continued to roam the hillside here, together with sisters aunts and cousins eating apples and granary bread while producing lambs for market. She seemed a 'one off' slightly at odds with her lot as a sheep. From the first she was the sheep that ran up where others ran off. I do miss her.

Tuesday 8 September 2009


 I've blogged twice this morning - about the weather! 
There are sixty mile an hour gales blowing.  I had to hold on to a fence post to take these.
I said to a friend once that we sometimes had walls of water coming up the loch. "Didn't I mean rain?" she replied! Raining the other way up I suppose!
. It's meant to be raining but it's lovely and sunny - and windy. You can see our new fencing and very smart gate put up in July. Nothing has blown down - yet!

Unsettled and changeable

It's been a  bit overcast just lately! But undaunted we walked, accompanied by the 'swishing' noise that comes when clad  head to foot in  wet weather gear. 
and bit by slow bit the weather got better
the contrasts and colours

when the weather is torn between rain and sunshine

 The track was flooded in many places
and there was water and much sogginess every where!    
We plodded on, and finally, the sun won
A  white rock, or maybe a boulder?
  made a good home for moss and lichen
Back tracking, homeward bound
looking back the rain clouds regrouping
Ahead a big undecided sky. An excellent and well needed walk. It always feels so good to be out in the open
Living here it's best not to let the weather intervene....too much!

Thursday 3 September 2009

The old and the new

On the 21st August we drove to Brookwood in Surrey. The other Brookwood, the Brookwood where we lived for nearly thirty years before upping sticks and moving to the far north. Brookwood with possibly  the largest cemetery in Western Europe, 
combining the upright precision of military graves
with the tumble down, neglected wonderfully overgrown graves of long ago.Ramshackled and in disrepair. Angels with missing limbs, hands and sometimes heads.
The Basingstoke Canal ambled along at the end of  our garden
      and disused machinery,  no longer working, sat on the towpath.
But this wasn't a visit for nostalgia. We came to celebrate a most important occasion.
  Mrs Lambert's 100th Birthday!
Mrs Lambert wasn't exactly outside Buckingham Palace when she showed me her card from the Queen, she was in the Brookwood Memorial Hall - just a bit of artistic licence you understand!
Mrs Lambert was our neighbour for many years in Brookwood. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying she was already old when we first knew her. She still sends our children birthday cards. She's amazing and it felt an honour to be part of her birthday celebrations.
By contrast as we returned home to the new Brookwood we had a visitor who is right at the other end of the scale
Baby Olek brought his mum and dad, Em and Dan to stay for a few days
 He has the biggest eyes, and although I'm not his real granny
I felt very proud of him and every time I looked at him went 'Aaahh'
Mummy's are best 
Now there is a lull with no more visitors or travelling for a while. And I know I have to turn my thoughts back to the house and all the jobs that still need to be done. I've put off even thinking about decorating through the summer, but I'm running out of excuses not to start!
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