Tuesday 27 April 2010

Back down to earth

I don't know what this is called. Here in the highlands they call them rushes and they can be seen growing on hillsides and verges AND in their favourite place of all - our garden! A thick tough unwieldy stalk like grass that spreads and takes over everything (even as I type this it's happily advancing across the garden) and is decidedly unlovely. I decided the best way to deal with it was to attack it with a good strong weed killer. But then I saw this pushing it's way up through the tough stalks
A Scottish primrose (I've been told.) They grow in abundance in the Orkney islands and I rather feel they might like  growing in abundance here but they face stiff competition from the rushes
along with these dear little field daisies. They've fought their way through builders rubble, snow, ice, wind rain, the sheep and now the rushes
This wood aenome too. There are three of them in the garden and if it weren't for the rushes I'm sure there would be a wildflower meadow by now!
I don't know what they are peering out from behind their prison bars, but they've made it too and it doesn't seem right to zap them with weed killer.
And then there are the bees to consider. This little bee has been extremely busy. I don't want to interfere in any way with its habitat, so I have been re-thinking  my strategy for dealing with troublesome invasive tough ugly not nice bothersome rushes! Digging them up is going to take forever and besides as quickly as you dig one out another takes its place. Yesterday I felt so exasperated by it all I fiddled around in photoshop
and made a birthday card for a friend, with not a rush in sight!
But I must sort out what to do soon, maybe a compromise. Maybe it's possible to move the wild flowers, or just put down selective weedkiller in areas where there are only rushes but even as I'm saying it it seems doubtful. I just have to accept that whatever the outcome it's going to be hard work with as little disruption to pretty wild flowers and bees as possible.

Friday 23 April 2010

Getting in the picture.

'Coheee - over here'
We have any number of excuses not to get on with all the jobs that need doing in and around the house and here is the latest one!
It's called 'getting up close and personal with the view out of the window'. I've always wanted to climb up the gorge over there. I see it every day in all weathers and colours and shades and what better time to down tools and explore than when the list of jobs is so long it goes twice round the moon and back!
We climbed up alongside the old wall
The gorge is huge. One can only wonder at the power of water and ice that caused such erosion deep into the mountain side.
An Teallach towers above our hillside. That will be a brilliant climb hopefully later in the year when the snow has gone.
 Ullapool appears as a thin white line stretching out into the water
and while the views are rich and colourful, to reach them involves much trekking over large areas of peat and bog and heather. We didn't see another living soul apart from
this little chap. I told him I'd met one of his relations over on Ullapool Hill earlier in the year.
Made it! 
Up on the top where it feels so free and the list of jobs seems so small.
and the road looks tiny and so does our car parked in the lay-by.
and Sgurr Mor in cloud
Phone home. What if someone should answer?  But I think it's just a photo opportunity.
'Letters' in gaelic means hillside, aptly named I think. Our house is down there nestling on the slope.
  Time to go home
Up there - where the list seemed small.
I love being up in the hills it frees my mind and puts all things back into perspective - the list may be long again,  but somehow it's more manageable

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Woke up this morning

"And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses"
Chelsea Morning, by Joni Mitchell.
My 'Clouds' album is up in the loft.
If I had a record player I could play it!

Monday 12 April 2010


What a wonderfully warm and sunny weekend it's been.
At last the intensity of spring, summer even, has arrived in force
On Saturday afternoon we drank tea and nibbled homemade shortbread together with Edith at Maggie's tearoom. Edith has been away from the lochside for a while having treatment for her eyes. I first put Edith on my blog here. And I for one can't wait until she's back home again skipping about in her trainers!
Maggie's tearoom over looks little lochbroom. I'm not certain but I think little lochbroom is actually bigger than normal sized lochbroom where we live.
The late afternoon sun tinged the hills a delicate shade of pink.
 There is something so special about the Highlands.
Coachloads of holiday makers come to the Cairngorms and up as far as Fort William.
But they need to come up here! It's a big beautiful clean clear empty space!
This morning I did bottom of the garden inspection!
The pearly kings and queens of the mussel community lapping up the sun
Clear water with hardly a ripple
On my way back up the garden I passed these two ladies. They were watching their friend
trying unsuccessfully to push through a partially opened gate, but the opening was too narrow and she waddled off. Lambing has just started here and the sheep are extra wide  swaying from side to side making their way to nowhere in particular on their stiff unbendy legs
At my feet this male chaffinch. Not looking well, or just old perhaps. I left him quietly. I'm never sure the best course of action, but think nature is probably best at dealing with the situation.
Meanwhile back at the top of the garden, Niels was busy planting  Hazel trees - some of the time!
 Seeing him there reminded me of when we took down the old telephone cable
that ran across the top of the garden.

Friday 9 April 2010

Des res

Right at the bottom of the garden, by the edge of the loch we have our second property. A very desirable residence!
How grand that sounds! To be down to earth and much nearer to the truth I'd better call it a ruin! It is - very ruined, and hasn't been lived in for a hundred years or more. It came with the land and we were told at one time it had been a shop. I like shopping.
Maybe they had a sale? (I've seen the first day of Harrods' sale) they certainly cleared the shelves, there isn't a bargain to be had.
 Niels thinks it has potential!
It does have a certain  rustic charm
Niels says this could be the music room,  (I think he's got a lot of imagination, I also think he'll need an umbrella)
But it does have a lovely outlook over the loch
  and a skylight
and peace and quiet - at least until Niels starts playing the piano!
Down in amongst the bluebells and wild garlic this little house ruin nestles. I can't imagine how it must have been as a shop. People must have come to it by boat and stocked up on provisions.
I took these photos last May - we haven't quite got leaves on the trees yet!

Saturday 3 April 2010

On the home front

I can do this sort of thing all day long. Views, when not hidden by weather, are all over the place up here. I took this photo with Suilven in the background mainly to show the wonderful winding track that is  the main A837 running from Inveran on the east coast to Lochinver on the west. Much of it single track complete with cattle grids and passing places - and empty!
But I've been feeling a little guilty lately and think I should at least do the occasional view of the house! This blog started really to show the building of it. And while it's finished in as much as it's built, there is still an awful lot left to do on the inside, which is probably why I don't record very much of what's going on (because often it's not!) I want to show pictures of finished rooms. But I realise that may be some way off and besides I'm not sure I've ever lived in a house with 'finished' rooms!
So here is the almost finished sitting room.
When I get despondent and think what a couple of slow coaches we are I look back to this and then I don't feel so bad!
Ollie, our electrical son, says he can move the sockets out of view for us. They were never meant to be a feature! But it was very difficult when faced with the floor plans to know exactly where to put in sockets and switches, especially as at the time we had very little idea as to the layout of the rooms. I'm amazed we didn't make more mistakes. In the foreground my favourite little lights.
Four of them (yes,four - I don't know where it's gone!)  hang over the dinning room table
  and give a light that goes from a mellow yellow to bright white
and this light too. I love it. A Louis Poulsen light. You can still get them. I bought this in Denmark in 1977. I'd never spent so much money on just an old lamp shade, but it gives a wonderful diffused light and looks as good today (I think) as it did then
But to return to the imperfections!
I was going to replace these two stools with something altogether more trendy but we bought them in a hurry when we first moved up here,  just to have something to sit on and somehow I'm attached to them! and they've become part of the furniture - I shall paint them white and keep them.
Now, brace yourselves! This is the hall and is untouched apart from a lick of paint.
I've decided to show it warts and all! This is under the stairs. When we've built a cupboard it will be 'the cupboard under the stairs!' Because we haven't a garage (still to be built) we're very short of storage space. I'm showing all this really as an incentive to myself to get on with some decorating.
And the stairs. The famous stairs, still to be done. We have an idea of what we want, and when Niels finishes this last bit of computer sort of work he's doing (now where have I heard that before!) we shall turn our attention to finishing them. I remember the week the kids put them in, here.
Even though the house isn't finished yet I do appreciate how lucky I am and enjoy it even in its unfinished state - only don't tell Niels that! 
The house is a 'zero energy' house and I mean to elaborate more on this blog later. We do use energy it's true but have no fuel costs or radiators to run and are able to keep the house warm with just the wood burner which unless it's very cold in the winter we don't need to light until the evening.
And now I've alleviated some of my feelings of guilt by showing some pictures of the house I can make myself feel guilty again
We're off to a tea party. Our friend Edith has been away having some treatment on her eyes but is back on the lochside for a few days and because so many people wish to see her, some friends along the lane are holding a get together for her and I've made a squidgy chocolate cake. And in spite of my diet I shall have to eat a piece just to see it tastes ok.
I hope you're having a Chocolaty Easter.
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