Tuesday 31 August 2010

I'm back!

I didn't mean to be gone for so long! We have had an invasion of family with off spring and their foster children visiting. I find it impossible to combine visitors with blogging. Any spare time is taken up meal planning, shopping and rushing around attempting to tidy up between getting up and going to bed! Now, however there is a lull for a couple of days before the next visitor. But, I miss my blog so instead of changing sheets  washing towels and cleaning bathrooms I'm blogging!
Niels took a small but keen party of paddlers into Ullapool by canoe. They set off from the end of the garden with masses of energy and enthusiasm
The 'non paddlers' went into Ullapool and waited for them to appear
and waited....
and eventually the dot on the horizon
grew into a canoe
I think the expression is 'Knackered!' They were worn out. Mutiny broke out on board and the two youngest crew members jumped ship! It had been a long tiring journey with the wind and tide against them 
Later on Niels and I paddled the canoe back to Letters, all part of the holiday service!
These seals seen here basking in the late summer sunshine were viewed from the deck of an all together
easier boat trip the family did on the "The Summer Queen"  We were treated to glimpses of porpoises  kittiwakes, gannets, shags black-throated divers (I think) and skuas.  My camera failed to capture photos of them but it was a fantastic display of some of the rich wildlife to found in and around these waters.
 We soaked up some welcome sunshine at Inverewe Garden
and the older more confused relations among us tried to work out how their cameras worked!
My brother says he never reads my blog - let's hope that's true!

Monday 16 August 2010


The beach was packed
All that blue sky..
..took everyone by surprise.
It was difficult to know what to wear!
Beach cricket
and castles..
..in the air
Stac Pollaidh soaking up the sun. Two months ago I sat up there
at midnight drinking hot chocolate and eating biscuits
When it's good it's very very good.
When it's good you simply can't remember what it was like when it was horrid.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Test run

 We were out on the Letterewe Estate last weekend, where we met some very friendly ponies. They ambled round on the track and came over to say hello.
 They're much bigger in close up!
Mary and me are taking part in the 'Great Wilderness Challenge' next weekend.
 The GWC is a walk, or for the very energetic a run, that takes place to raise money for charity. We have opted to walk the thirteen mile route from Aultbea to Poolewe. Last Saturday we had a practice run and together with Niels walked the thirteen mile circular route starting and ending in Poolewe. We could have run twenty five miles from Dundonnell, but didn't want to show off!
It was here we met the ponies.
They seemed convinced we were some sort of mobile snack bar and when Mary rustled a bag containing her camera it was all she could do to prevent it disappearing inside one inquisitive mouth.
Despite the ever present low cloud which at times looked as if the sky was falling down it remained dry.
We agreed this was where we really wanted to go. It looked so amazing and so empty
but the map said turn right
 so we did
There were streams and waterfalls
Bog Asphodel
 We saw ducks
  and chickens.
We completed the walk and didn't feel exhausted, just that good feeling that we'd done it and could now stop and take our boots off!  We felt confident we can walk thirteen miles next weekend.
As we were  getting into the car to drive home
the thick cloud began to break up and the overcast skies took on a blue tinge.Colour returned to the surrounding landscape. The heaviness lifted.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Brackets and plastic 'bits'

I have a perfectly nice bathroom upstairs
But, it isn't quite finished and this last week we have decided to get on and add the final touches.
So far so good
The loo which had a slight drip from the cistern, now sits neatly and snugly
on the wall, drip free and supported by a concealed frame
The sink sits on a unit that will hang on the wall
We have the instructions
and any number of bits and pieces in little plastic bags that came with the unit.
But we don't have the most important bits. We've lost them.
The brackets that fix the unit to the wall are missing
When we moved in (and we were in a desperate hurry to get into the house) Niels did a temporary job of sitting the unit on a make shift frame. You know the sort of thing, a work around, no more than a month or so until we'd do it properly!
Well time has gone by.
I've been in touch with Roca.  They can't deal with us personally as we're just 'ordinary'  We need to be  plumber's merchants before they can talk to us.  I phoned the plumbers merchants and asked if they might phone Roca and talk about brackets in a plumbers merchant's sort of way. Later that day the plumbers merchants rang back to say they'd spoken to Roca and they were going to fax the relevant bracket code numbers to Barcelona which is where they keep all their spare parts  - I hope they can remember where they've put them.
In the meantime, and I'm sorry if this goes on a bit, there are other, almost finished, but not quite jobs, to do in the bathroom while we wait for the brackets.
 After we'd moved in, and in our haste to fix the blind to the bathroom window, one of us (and it wasn't me) removed a vital bit of plastic from the window frame. At the time a kind man at Velux said not to worry, he was sure he had just the bit we needed in his desk drawer (I recognise that filing system!)
only it wasn't the right bit it was the wrong bit, and this week in our drive to complete a further room in the house I rang Velux. They too noted how 'ordinary' we were and said we needed to go through a builders merchant. However, they relented a little when they realised the nearest builders merchant was thirty seven miles away. I emailed them the above photo thinking how helpful I was being and on Friday they were going to 'pop' the right bit in the post to us. That was nearly a week ago. Maybe the chap at Velux tidied out his desk drawer? But never mind while we're  waiting for the brackets and the plastic bit there are other jobs.
Wood is much simpler - in theory.  We've taken down the clunky bit of 'temporary' pine shelving we put up running along under the window and have ordered a piece of sycamore from the wood turner
They say you should never live in the first house you build! When we ordered the bath we failed to notice it had the wrong profile for the bathroom! However with the help of the wood turner and Niels' expertise as a carpenter, the end of the bath will be boxed in and a smart sycamore shelf will finish it off.
I feel 'finished off' just writing about this! It takes ages, or takes us ages at any rate. All last year Niels worked on a contract he had to complete and anyone who visited us in that time will remember that for the most part he shut himself away with his computer and just worked.  We are getting there, and every time we tick off another little job completed we feel so good.
Just waiting for the brackets, bit of plastic, and the wood, and then I shall take a photo and post it here to show the finished bathroom!
Then we can start finish the shower room!!

Monday 9 August 2010

Loch a' Mhuilinn

And the reason we could sit out yesterday morning in the garden in the sunshine and have breakfast was of course
because on Friday after almost twenty one days of cloud and drizzle it was time to return the lens I'd hired!
In the meantime I shall continue to enjoy the cameras and lenses that I do have while saving (it may take a while!) for the wonderful Zuiko digital 12-60 mm SWD lens.
Undeterred and with camera in hand we came here yesterday afternoon, to be out in the sun and in a place of spectacular beauty. Loch a' Mhuilinn is a 
 National Nature Reserve
The plan was to get out on the peninsular and see the ancient and windswept woodland. Apparently here is some of the most northerly oakwood in Britain - not to be missed. Only we did - miss it that is. We normally stray off footpaths, the exception being yesterday  when we should have strayed off to the right, but instead kept to the straight and narrow.
Unbelievably this was the main road to Durness until it closed in 1976. Now, it's very over grown, though would only ever have been single track with passing places.
Heathers and bog myrtle creep out over the old tarmac. Rowan, hazel, birch and willow line up on either side.
It's difficult to describe the absolute peace and quiet to be found here. The wonderful  tranquil sound of buzzing bees and dragon flies.  Butterflies, hover flies, a multitude of tiny insects, a shiny black beetle scuttles across the path. A froglet hides in the grass. A warm sunny, lazy, entirely slowed down and intense summer afternoon - food for the senses.
We found a small cove 
Home to a little creature
I don't know what this is?  I thought it may have been sea carrot until I saw that sea carrot only grows in the south west!
and honeysuckle
The lochans sparkled in the light
It won't be long before the water lillies are out
We sat on some rocks looking out over the sea, drinking coffee and eating chocolate contemplating the possibility of launching the canoe from down there.
It's a long way down and though not especially steep very rough underfoot and getting the canoe back up again would be a bit of a nightmare.
We did two walks at the weekend. The one on Saturday was to do with the 'Great Wildernes Challenge' that Mary and I are doing. I want to record that too. But just for a change wanted to show some pictures that weren't entirely overcast!
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