Wednesday 24 February 2010

Keeping the home fires burning

The weather has been glorious. Indescribably beautiful. Iridescent blue sky
  and almost turquoise at times vivid blue sea with a back drop of snow white capped mountains. There can be no doubt that the light lightens the load.
 and talking of light and loads!
The wood burner requires feeding! There is a large log pile of felled mainly thin trees in the garden. Niel's job is to carry
to saw
and to chop.
 I tried hard to get the moment of impact as the chopper made contact with the wood. It should have been a wood splintering moment - but Niels grew tired of chopping and wondered how many retakes needed  before he got a back ache and I got the perfect shot!
As it is, on closer inspection, it's possible to see two and a bit bits of wood hanging in the air!
My job is to arrange the kindling tastefully in the basket!
and take pictures! But to be fair to me I do clean the grate and make the fire up and light it and scrabble about in the garden gathering sticks - and tidy up after Niels!

Friday 19 February 2010

Over the hill

Jo, our daughter, came up from London for a few days to get away from it all.
So we took her away from it all, and went over the hills at the back of our house to Dundonnell. The hills aren't especially high, no more than 400 to 500 metres but climbing up from sea level gives good exercise and a reminder that we I need to be leaner, fitter and meaner (or something like that!)
We quickly left Clachan behind with its church, manse (vicarage) and farm house spread out like a little toy town below.
up we went......and then over.....and across and back again
The yellow marks the official track, while the red shows the alternative less hurried route, which was the way we chose but not necessarily by choice!
but certainly the more scenic route with tumbled down dwellings 
and February colours that didn't disappoint
eventually, after much coming and going we reached the snow line and thought if we turned right left at the top we'd meet the official track...again
We're agreed. We're on the top and back on track....almost
and how different the world is up here and what a privilege it feels to be in it
It's silent. No sound. No running water,
no bird song no breeze. Just silence and it's deafening
 On we plod across a vast icy, and eerily silent, landscape
Until eventually we start down on the other side.
Life returns, there are sounds of birds and running water
crashing and thundering water. I need a tripod I can't always find
a convenient fence post or rock to lean the camera on!
Niels says that's more for him to carry and it will be midnight by the time I've set it up - but I think he knows he's lost the argument!
Trees that have stood since the beginning of time
 apart from this one that's fallen over
and covered from head to foot in out of focus lichen!
The Dundonnell estate and the end of our walk.

Friday 12 February 2010


Driving out of Inverness on Wednesday evening there was a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately the best view was from Kessock Bridge where it was impossible to stop.
and by the time we could there were too many trees - gggrrrhh!
Yes, I know, you can't have too many trees - just misplaced ones!

Sunday 7 February 2010

The light is back!

Today we walked up our lane, the sun shone and put the colour back that has been missing for the last two weeks. Just the tiniest hint that winter is, maybe, giving in and while not entirely  giving over to spring, nevertheless, there is the merest suggestion that the next season is lurking, not too far away.
Yesterday the weather all but fell into the loch and while still beautiful,  I just so wanted and longed for some ordinary common or garden sunshine to lift the weariness that can be winter.
Today, blue sky, blue loch
  Red phone box. Does the breeze block mean it's engaged?
The melted snow hurries off the hillside before winter changes its mind
and we hurried home to Delia's Chicken Basque - she'd left before we got there!  Please note the clean tea towel, ironed last week whilst watching the tennis.
and on a footnote. How I love Anemones. They don't have the wafer thin, tissue papery feel of poppies but are somehow reminiscent, and seeing them squashed in the flower bucket in Tescos I couldn't resist.

Thursday 4 February 2010


There is a time in the day, just as the sun is setting, between daylight and darkness, the soft light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon - twilight, that drains the colour from the landscape.
Late yesterday afternoon from my window, I watched as the hills on the far side of the loch transformed into a pen and ink drawing moments before night-time washed them away.
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