Saturday, 3 December 2016

Best Place To Live In Britain?

Apparently, a recent survey by the Rightmove estate agency group has revealed the Isle of Skye to be the most desirable place in Britain to live. Hmm... I think there are a lot of these surveys. Is there anywhere in Britain that has NOT been included in a list of 'healthiest', 'happiest', 'cheapest' or 'most dog-friendly'? I don't imagine the Skye vote will result in a flood of new incomers rushing to move here.

Having said that - as regular readers of this blog will know - Sue and I love it here. Skye life suits us well. The winter weather so far this year is being very kind. We've had a bit of frost and a bit of snow and even a bit of fog, but it's not been especially wet or windy yet, and the sun has been making quite frequent appearances.

At this time of year, the sun never gets very high in the sky, so the low angle of sunshine enhances the rich browns and oranges of the winter vegetation and long, deep shadows all combine to give us the most glorious of light shows. The landscape seems to vibrate with beauty. There's no explaining it in words, and photographs don't do it justice - you have to be here and experience it for yourself!

But if you have read the survey, and are rushing to get your house on the market in preparation for moving here - remember - it's a long way to the shops...!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Let’s Hear It For NHS Scotland!

I received a letter the other day, inviting me to attend Portree hospital for a screening scan for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurism. All men aged 65 in Scotland get this letter. The accompanying information leaflet told me that about 1 in 20 men aged 65 have an aortic aneurysm. Small and medium aneurisms may never need treatment, though they will continue to be monitored. Large aneurisms can rupture, which often leads to death, but if spotted soon enough, may be treated to prevent rupture.

But enough of the health-scare stuff…

My appointment was for 2.40pm. I arrived at the little Portree hospital at about 2.25pm, and was greeted by a helpful receptionist who showed me towards the upstairs reception, where the patients for scans were registered. ‘Do you need the lift to get upstairs? I was asked…OMG – I must be beginning to look old…!!!

A further friendly and smiling receptionist at upstairs reception took my details and pointed me to a seated waiting area. Just one other person was sitting there, among about a dozen empty chairs. I took off my coat and was about to sit down when a nurse called my name, and showed me to a treatment room.

‘I’m Christine, and this Is Janice’, said the nurse, showing me into the room. I was given a little information as to what was about to be done, and asked if I had any questions. I did not, so I lay on the couch and my abdomen was squirted with a rather chilly jelly. A few minutes of ultrasound scanning took place, and I was then told by Janice that my aorta was well within the ‘normal’ range, and I was filled in with a few further details by Christine. I was then ‘free to go’.

I wandered out of the hospital and back to my van (parked in the hospital car park, right outside, and for no cost, I should add), and as I turned on the ignition, noticed the time was 2.37pm.

Yes – I had attended my appointment, received top quality treatment, and was back out of the hospital BEFORE the time I was due to even be there.

I award 10 out of 10 to Portree Hospital, NHS Scotland, for their friendly and efficient care.  Thank you!

Portree Hospital

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Historic Roskhill

Ever since buying Roskhill Barn, we have been fascinated to learn more about the history of the building and the local area. Very little has been written down. Our deeds provide the names of two previous owners, going back to the 1950s, but we are pretty certain that the Barn was built towards the end of the 19th century. There appear to be no written records to confirm this. The oldest map of Roskhill I have found dates from 1877, and certainly shows buildings on the site of the Barn and Roskhill House (which was the farmhouse to which we are the barn), but the footprint of the buildings is not quite as they are today - so there is no knowing if they are the same buildings.

1877 map - the Barn is under the pink dot.
A new road was built in the 1960s, which bypasses us and the sharp bend at Vatten Bridge.
Note the Erd House (at the foot of the map).
This would have been a bronze-age souterrain - there are several on Skye.
The Roskhill one has long since collapsed and no sign of it remains today.
As for the slightly more recent history - we do have some first-hand tales told by elderly local residents. One recalls the days when the Barn was a cattle shed - probably about 1950 - and one night, the building caught fire, destroying the roof and sadly killing some of the cattle. Charred timbers were found in one of the walls when our rebuild was undertaken. At some time, possibly in the 1920s, the farmhouse next door opened a shop with a petrol pump outside. It was also a Post Office for a while. Our postman's sister worked in the shop in the 1960s. The Barn was then used for storage and for anyone buying paraffin oil, a trip had to made from shop to Barn where the oil was stored. The doorway of the barn was in what is now the back wall, and the wood lintel is now visible inside, being the beam above our kitchen window.

In the 1970s, the Barn was converted for residential use as two flats. These were let as holiday accommodation. The roof was raised slightly, and an outside staircase built to provide access to the upper floor. Another local resident used to do the turn-rounds. She visited here recently as was able to recall the location of the ground floor kitchen and bathroom, which were in quite different places to what we had expected. She was also surprised to see how much the trees around the building had grown - I guess trees do a lot of growing in 40 years!

We have found just two old photographs which show the Barn. They are both undated, but our best guess is that they are both from the 1930s. I'll post them below. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get a modern comparison view today because of the growth of the trees.

The Barn stands to the left of Roskhill House.
Today, the ground to left of the river is planted with sitka spruce.
We think this is a later picture than the one above.
It looks like the deciduous trees in the river gorge (in front of Roskhill House) are beginning to grow
though the sitka are yet to be planted.

Monday, 31 October 2016

A Little Break

With the visitor season slowing down at last, Sue and I have booked ourselves a couple of very short breaks to give ourselves a change of scene. We made the first of these trips last week, staying at the rather lovely Bunchrew House Hotel just outside Inverness. Cupar gets to have his break in the Portree kennels... The hotel stands in large wooded grounds on the shore of the Beauly Firth. Our room (in the tower, just above the front door) faced the gardens, but breakfast in the dining room gave us views over the firth. We travelled in Puss Kat the Jaguar of course - what a fabulous vehicle!

Puss and Sue at Bunchrew
On our first day, we parked on the outskirts of Inverness and enjoyed a lovely walk all along the banks of the River Ness into the city centre, where we spent a couple of hours exploring the little museum and art gallery - which is definitely worth a visit if you find yourselves with a couple of spare hours in the city centre!

Next day, with the weather very much in our favour, we headed out to Fortrose (not far away) where we viewed the cathedral ruins, then embarked on a six-mile circular walk which took in Chanonry Point, the village of Rosemarkie, a bit of Rosemarkie's Fairy Glen, and the hill over Swallow's Den.
We later had a little wander the small town of Beauly with its wonderful Abbey ruins. Sue took more photos than me, so I may add some of hers later.

Fortrose Cathedral, lychgate, built 1922 as a war memorial 

Chanonry Point lighthouse.
The point is reckoned to be the best place in the UK for dolphin-spotting
 - but the dolphins were in hiding while we were there.
Rosemarkie village - yes, I managed to pass the pub without pausing...

Fairy Glen - the autumn colour was fabulous, and a dipper (bird) serenaded us with the most beautiful of songs

View from Swallows Den.
We had walked from Fortrose (on the right), to the point, then to Rosemarkie (on the left), and were now heading back to the start. 

Next trip - in a couple of week's time - Dundee!