Thursday 19 May 2011

Going dotty

It looks so easy. You could surely just run up there, scramble over a few rocks and be up on the top in next to no time!
It isn't until you start to get up close and personal you see just how vast Stac Pollaidh is. It isn't that it's so high it's just so  much bigger and steeper than it first appears. The little dots are the two boys and their climbing partners. Two of the dots were in 'the chimney' bit but we could see their ropes, if you double click on the picture you can just see.
We had gone with them for the day, to keep them company we said! But I'm not quite sure why we said it, they stayed as dots for much of the day.
Where's Wally Niels? His head looks like a small white pebble in the middle of the picture. He thought he'd 'pop' up and wave to them from the base of  the stac, I was worried that by waving in response  my 'children' would lose their footing and fall off, but I needn't have worried, Niels soon reappeared admitting that even at the base they were still beyond the reach of communication!
He contented himself by peering up in the sky with a pair of not very strong binoculars and getting neck ache.
 I on the other hand to stop myself being that worried mother spent much of the day looking down and concentrating on my feet and their surrounds.
My trainers I thought  (not that they're very exciting) blended in perfectly with the mosses and grasses
I'm sorry I got a bit carried away with the macro setting
These were very little and growing right down in a rocky crevice. I looked in my wild flower book I think they may be bog bilberries
A tiny safe miniature world.
I did come up for air from time to time and looked at the bigger picture. So many people come up to the Scottish Highlands and see only rain and mist, but when it's glorious it's truly spectacular.
I glance up and notice a red dot on the top right hand corner of the stac. Two dots had made it to the top, the other two dots did a bit of traversing - that's sideways climbing I was later informed . Maybe they traversed round the other side of the mountain and I missed them.
It was getting towards early evening and the sun climbing lower in the sky. We hovered around the base of stac pollaidh  waiting for the dots to return
The nice thing about climbing....watching climbing,  is that you can stay still for much of the time and simply soak up the surroundings on the spot
It isn't long though before we hear a familiar jangling and clanging
and the first two dots appear - the traversing dots
 They discuss where they went wrong, why they went sideways, and came off the route they had planned. Fortunately Dad, who'd watched it all could point out exactly what they should have done!
More jangling and the next two dots appear followed by Richard, a friend who came too but didn't climb.
I know they were safe really, they take it all quite seriously, but it's good the mountain returns them in one piece.
Back to the car and supper and a welcome drink in the pub!

Tuesday 10 May 2011

This year's theme

I can't help but notice that fellow blogger's blogs at the moment are full of wonderful and beautiful photos of their gardens and all the lovely flowers presently in bloom.
Not wanting to be outdone, I shall show a few of mine! If you squint and look up closely you can see some bluebells. This Spring, the theme is bluebells, buttercups, one or two poppies lots of bracken and a fern!
and a foxglove or two, but they're not in flower yet
the welsh poppy is though
and seems quite at home in the muddle that is our garden. Maybe it's like that in Wales too?!
The bluebell theme continues down through the garden but once in the wild wood away from the protection of the fence, the bluebells take on a  'sat on' look. The sheep like to sit here during the evenings, chewing and ruminating on the nature of existence,  and other things that sheep like to do - constantly, I sometimes think.
Further down still, where the trees overhang and shut out much of the light the wild garlic is just coming into flower
The burn, which, at the moment is empty makes an ideal home for the wild garlic and it creeps over the damp mossy and  rocky bed which just a week or two ago was full of water rushing down on its way to join the loch.
A casual throwaway branch is all the rage this year in the garden don't you know!
 Between us we've dug out masses of rushes which overrun this garden - they still do
and we're still at it and as fast as we dig, the faster they reappear. The plan is not to let them seed and by digging them out we hope to weaken them, and win the war!
On a footnote our neighbour told me the other day that when she was a little girl she used to come onto our land, long before we plonked a house on it, and pick the wild flowers - she won first prize at her primary school for the best bunch!  It was many years ago, and today I know the picking of wild flowers is not to be encouraged!

At any rate her story strengthens my belief that it would be wrong to use weed killer in the garden. We'll keep on digging and hopefully in time the rushes will surrender and the wild flowers will multiply. 

Thursday 5 May 2011

Lady Jane's Garden

I appear to have had a bit of a 'blogging break!' It wasn't intentional, and I hadn't realised I was having one until the weeks just slipped away.  Since arriving back from Sussex,  life has just seemed hectic, although I don't suppose it has been. We had friends and family staying, and then, when I thought I'd start blogging again, the weather changed and the sun shone, so I've been out in the garden -hardly making any impact,  but pulling up weeds nevertheless, and rushes, and strimming. But please note the wonderful blue sky and wall to wall sunshine!
And talking of gardens....
I must show you Lady Jane's garden. On the other side of the hill from us, Lady Jane lives in her beautiful 18th-century manor - Dundonnell House. And each year she opens her garden to the public.
Lady Jane Rice is tiny. She sits at a tiny table wearing a smart blue cardigan and sells tickets for the entrance to her garden. She is the estranged wife of Sir Tim
 and her garden is beautiful. These were taken last month at the beginning of April just as all the spring bulbs were in flower. I went with two friends from the Lochside, Alison and Mary and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
I don't suppose Tim, when he visits, does much in the way of gardening, but Lady Jane is passionate and has a gardener to help her and give advice. Between them they have restored and added to the garden which apparently had been much neglected over the years.
The beautifully restored Edwardian glasshouse.
It isn't too tidy and it isn't too neat
Some of the garden wall has fallen into the river
and while waiting for repair a rope takes the place of the wall and serves as a reminder not to go too near to the edge!
Two little cherubs pouring water out of a jug - I think....!
Wobbly hedges
The newness and freshness of spring
These pictures were taken a month ago. The trees and shrubs are now in full leaf and flower
The most wonderful thing about Lady Jane's garden is the magnificent An Teallach mountain which provides  the perfect backdrop to the trees and flowers.
Lady Jane doesn't just potter about in her garden, she has worked hard on a project to re-establish red squirrels  in the Scottish highlands. A recent count showed that the red squirrel population on the Dundonnell Estate is on the increase. I've planted Hazel trees in our garden in readiness should any brave little squirrel make the journey over the hill from Dundonnell to Letters.

It's nice to be back. I've missed having a bit of a blog!

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