Friday 30 December 2011

After Christmas

Well, Christmas seems to have been and gone without my having 'blogged' about any of it! I thought about having a little blog over the last few days, but realise I haven't actually very much to blog about! Maybe that's a good thing?  We had a wonderful Christmas with family, though for the first time ever Jo didn't spend it with us due to her work commitments not helped by her parents moving six hundred miles away to the Scottish Highlands which makes it nigh on impossible for her to 'nip' up here for forty eight hours with her boyfriend - sorry Jo. Your parents are inconsiderate! However the boys made it together with Ollie's girl friend Anna, and without wanting Anna to feel like the 'token' girl or Jo to feel she's being left out, we did all have a very enjoyable and relaxing time. 
The best Christmas tree decorations from Olek and Jarno  arrived in the post as I was decorating the tree. 'Thank You Olek & Jarno' (and possibly Mum & Dad!)  they're wonderful and weigh the tree down nicely! I suspect we could even have stood the tree outside and it wouldn't have blown away despite the constant Christmassy gales and rain we've had we're having.
Among my presents was a very smart compost bin for my compostable peelings
And a lovely lovely grey and white striped table cloth - 'Thank You' lovely children. And being your Mother I've gone on and on about it
And on! I couldn't resist this jug, I thought it would look very lovely standing on the table cloth - and it does - and it doesn't drip!
On our journey home before Christmas from the warm and sunny south we diverted to wet and soggy  north Wales and bought a piece of slate from a Quarry with a name we couldn't pronounce
It sits on a low wall dividing the kitchen from the dining area and looks very lovely 
- and needless to say goes very well  with the table cloth! I probably need to get out more!

Here is the Christmas card I eventually sent, just in time (hopefully) for Christmas! I drew it from a photo I'd taken, then  scanned it into photoshop and added a few more lines and some colour and after lots of getting very cross and with the help of one husband (who's much better at these things than I am) printed 'Merry Christmas' the right way up on the right side of the card!
I'm sorry I didn't get to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I had some lovely comments left on my blog and felt very undeserving. I've even been given an award I must post it on my blog. But before I go and prepare supper I just want to wish everyone a very 'Happy and Peaceful New Year' And 'Thank You' for your lovely comments, they really do make a difference.

Monday 12 December 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

We've had storms here recently. We were away last week down in Surrey in the gentle south visiting family and friends. We came back home to snow and ice and last Thursday night we were battered by storm force winds
Sadly this dolphin washed up on the beach looked as if he may have suffered due to the stormy weather
In spite of his ordeal he still smiled
and I like to think his ending hadn't been too traumatic.
I bent down and touched his skin, it felt like neoprene. He was rather lovely and quite perfect.
Another casualty this week caused by the storm was Edith's boat and boat-house down on the shore of Lochbroom
The remains of Edith's boathouse were scattered far and wide
This was the boat-house last year
and here was the roof today flung 100 yards or more along the shore by the wind
The boat was rescued and taken further up the hill to safety
And the willing bunch of helpers who restored some order to the chaos. Fortunately the boat-house can be rebuilt and the boat repaired. Unfortunately this isn't the boathouse they are standing in front of but another casualty of the storm, a  neighbour's shed brought down by the wind. There have been outbuildings, porches, greenhouses, fences and trees that have all come down. It's the worst storm we've experienced since moving up here. But we've seen how neighbours simply muck in and help one another in time of trouble - and that's a good feeling.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Lighting up time

The wood burner has received one or two compliments of late, and without wanting to make him (I'm sure he's male!) big headed I've decided to let him have his own center page spread!
Sometimes he does a bit of modelling.  I'm not very good at drawing him - I can't say it's because he doesn't sit still!
In Christmas 2008 as we moved into the house worn out and completely exhausted he doubled as a Christmas tree. He wasn't  plumbed in then (see, no chimney) We used him as place for putting things and hanging decorations on
I painted round him in 2009
and later that year we put a wood floor down and promised he wouldn't have to wait too much longer before he could be a real fire and not just a table or a cupboard or a Christmas tree.
In December 2009 we fitted his chimney
 and laid a hearth for him to stand on
The first time we lit him he showed off rather and within half an hour we had to open all the doors and windows downstairs as it was so hot - we've since learnt not to feed him too much  in one go - a little and often seems to work best.
The house is heated with an air to air exchange heat pump. We have no central heating, so no oil or gas prices to contend with. When we were building the house we stuffed it with insulation
and encased it in a large plastic membrane. I remember how horrible it was to do, feeling itchy and scratchy for weeks afterwards
But it paid off. The wood burner does a brilliant job. He's clean and efficient (I wish all males were the same!)  When the lights go out, which they sometimes do living here on the lochside, he keeps us warm and very cosy, we've even boiled the kettle on him. The house is well insulated and combined with the heat pump we need only light him when it gets very cold. He just burns wood, though you can get multi fuel stoves too. He comes from a company in Denmark called Varde. Niels went over to Denmark to buy him in 2007 and brought him back to England in his van where he was put in storage (the fire, not Niels) while we built the house.
Those days seem a long way away now. And I've forgotten how tough it was at times, but it has been one hundred percent worth it and bit by bit we are getting on with the rest of the house - I think (Niels are you reading this?)

Friday 25 November 2011

A random sort of day

The recipe says to take two medium seized eggs, the hens along the lane do their best to comply, but they're not too sure about size regulations!
It was a windy stormy old night last night
but a drop of sun arrived for breakfast
and later a drop of snow
and later it was time to light the fire and think about hibernating!
It's been a bit of a random sort of day, here are some pictures to go with it.

Sunday 20 November 2011

The Roof Garden

When I was a little girl my granny used to take me to The Derry & Toms Roof Garden in Kensington High street in London where we lived. It was, and probably still is, a magical place. A garden growing on the roof of a large London department store. I remember being intrigued by trees growing seemingly out of nothing and wondering where their roots went. A Woodland Garden with a running brook, and a Spanish Garden with a pink tower and archways all sitting 100 feet above Kensington High Street. It was another world up in the air and I loved it.
Well, we don't have that, but we do have our own roof garden (sort of)  up on the hill  at the back of where we live. The lifts were out of order the day we went so we took the stairs! You can just see the roof of our house poking out through the trees on the right
Going up
Once up on top the landscape levels out, as one would expect from a roof garden and an enormous vista opens up showing the 'Highland Loch Roof Garden'
The air sea rescue helicopter flew overhead as we walked towards the loch, we tried to look casual and not give the impression we needed lifting off the roof  - especially as it had taken us a while to get up there!
The Highland Loch Garden doesn't have archways and walkways or even palm trees and sadly is without a tea pavilion, but as the sun starts to sink below the horizon it lays on a light show which is worth struggling up onto the roof to see.
We walked round the edge of the loch admiring the sculptured water features
and out over the loch towards the impressive backdrop of An Teallach powerful and dominant as ever in the setting sun. We waited....
and then the light show began.
 what had been mundane and colourless lit up in glowing yellows and golds, russets and reds
With the sun so low in the sky at this time of year our little bit of hillside where we live is in shadow by lunchtime, but up here on the roof the sun pours its heart out and the grasses and lichens soak it up gently swaying in the breeze - it's like a sea of gold.
Even if the lifts are out of order it's still worth coming up here to the sun drenched Highland Loch Roof Garden.

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