Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Greetings from Skye

It is Christmas morning. The rain has stopped (though it’s still rather windy). Cupar is asleep by my feet, and Sue is out doing her regular care calls – she’ll be back at about 2.00pm, and we will then have our Christmas afternoon and evening alone together for the first time since we have been married!

Skye is a quiet place at Christmas. A large proportion of the resident population are English incomers, so many of them go away to be with their families at this time of year. The indigenous Skye dwellers tend not to be quite so motivated by the whole Christmas scene, so such festive happenings as may take place tend to be pretty low key. There are a few lit up houses, but not many. Dunvegan village’s attempt at Christmas decorations amounts to one partly decorated Christmas Tree….

Here at Roskhill, we will be opening presents this afternoon, take Cupar for his afternoon walkies, then eat dinner in the evening, and will likely spend the rest of our evening in front of the stove with some music playing or the TV on – pretty much as usual! We have not made a big effort with decorations either, though our little forest sapling tree is in its pot on the windowsill, surrounded by a ridiculously large pile of presents….mostly for Cupar I am sure...

Happy Christmas !

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Damp, Dark December

We are most definitely in that time of year when getting anything done outside takes a monumental effort. We currently seem to be enduring a particularly protracted spell of wet and often windy weather. The heavy leaden cloud hides much of the little daylight we get, so this morning it was still fully dark when I set out to walk Cupar at ten to eight, and was still nearly as dark when we returned at about eight thirty. It was fully dark again this afternoon by four. It has rained or drizzled nearly all day. On the plus side, it is very mild - there's certainly no risk of frost, ice or snow!

Sue has been out at work during the days this week, and when she is home, she is writing Christmas letters to go with her cards to far away friends. As for me, I am at serious risk of running out of useful things to do indoors. I've done all the washing and ironing. I've cleaned bits of the kitchen that haven't been cleaned for a while. I've tweaked and updated our SkyeHolidays website, and now I'm writing a blog post. I would like to have the weather to get some jobs done on the allotment, but it is so wet over there that even when it is not raining or blowing a gale, the ground conditions are hardly conducive to digging the soil. As for going for a walk on the hills... not just now, thankyou!

But there is a bit of brightness ahead. This weekend I am visiting a new client in Inverness who has asked me to create a website for her B&B business, so working on that will keep me busy into next week, and then we have Rowan Cottage to get warmed up and ready for visitors who have booked it for a Christmas holiday. After that, we have our own Christmas to think about. For the very first time since we have been married, Sue and I are having Christmas alone together, so we have some of our own Christmas traditions to establish. It's quite exciting! I have rescued a small self-planted spruce tree from the side of a forest track, and have it planted in a tub ready for Sue's decorative magic, and we are talking about when in the big day we should open presents, have dinner, and so on. But it will be mostly a quiet day here

After Christmas, Sue heads off south to visit her family and friends, and then we will be into January and before we know it, we'll be back into turn-rounds, lawn mowing and laundry mountains again.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Trees, and Storms, on Skye

Last night we had the most severe winter storm that we've had for a while. Winds reportedly reached over 80mph. Other than having to rescue the wheelie bins, there's no damage here at The Barn - the landscape is pretty storm-proof, old buildings are low and heavily built, and modern houses are designed to take the weather.

But there are trees on Skye - lots of them in places. We have quite a few round The Barn, but all the ones here are still stranding this morning, waving their branches in the wind! They were noisy in the night though - almost drowning out the frequent claps of thunder...!!

Roskhill Barn - a summer photo (the sky is a bit more grey today...)
The Skye moorland is generally bare of vegetation taller than heather and myrtle. But the many burns draining off the moorland often cut deep gorges, and the shelter the gorge provides permits the growth of taller plants, and tough little trees are usually found too - 

A typical Skye moorland gorge - in winter
At the foot of a typical Skye gorge - in summer. The moorland above here is just grass, heather and moss.
And we have some woodland, even here in the exposed north west of the island. We usually walk Cupar at least once a day in the woods above Dunvegan Castle - planted in the late 1800s. There is a variety of trees in the woods, including many beech and a few oak and chestnut, but in the most exposed parts, it is the sycamore which seems best able to cope with the weather.

Dunvegan Woods... of Cupar's favourite places !
Skye also has a number of  forestry plantations - dense rows of spruce, larch and pine. The closely planted trees support each other, so only a few round the edges of the plantations are ever affected by the wind. It's unusual to find a path in a plantation though - this one is above the Aros Centre in Portree (and it's an old photo - that's Basil, not Cupar).

Basil in Portree Forest
Of course, trees do blow down sometimes. It seldom kills them though. If left alone, they soon sort-out which direction is the new 'up' and just carry on growing....

Horizontal Scots Pine at Lyndale, Skye
In compiling this post, I have found many more of our tree photos around Skye, which I will put together into a new post on my Skye in Pictures blog -

Saturday, 16 November 2013

So Lucky To Live On Skye

A recent visitor left a note in our visitor's book which began: 'You are so lucky to be living on Skye'. I understand the sentiment, and we have heard the same thing said many times before. In fact, our life on Skye did not happen by luck, or any kind of good fortune. We planned our move to here, and are here because we chose to come here to operate our little holiday cottage business. If there is any luck involved, it is that the business is successful, though even that is more down to determination, hard work and Sue's good business sense than to any random chance.

Sadly, there are many people on Skye who don't feel lucky to be here at all. They loathe the dark, wet, cold, windy long nights of winter.  They long to be nearer the bright lights, shops, pubs, cafes and entertainment that the 'lucky' people living in the south enjoy. They wish to exchange the calming spiritual essence and feelings of well being that Skye endows on its residents (and many visitors) for the thrill of being part of the rush and excitement of life in towns and cities. The Skye beauties of nature and landscape pass them by unnoticed. I don't blame them. Maybe if I hadn't spent the greater part of my life living in the bustling, crowded south of England, I too would be yearning to get away from this little piece of Heaven on Earth and get some city smoke in my lungs.

But even after living here just a few short years, Skye feels very much like home now to Sue and I. As I drove back north into the Scottish Highlands from my recent visit to friends and family in England, a grin gradually spread across my face. I was coming home again. It was a brave decision that we made when we decided to move here, but definitely a good decision. Maybe even a lucky one...!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Is Skye Closed for Winter?

We received a very nice review on our cottage-booking website this week from a couple who had just got home from a stay at Aird View. They had had a good holiday, but commented on a number of problems they had encountered with end-of-season businesses. It made me wonder - how do we let potential visitors know that Skye is still here in winter, but not all the tourist facilities are as operating as they might be in the summer?

So, for a start, I'll say it here...

The scenery is here all year. In winter, the waterfalls are bigger and better. The roads are quieter (In fact, some days, seeing another moving vehicle can be a novelty...). On a clear night, the sky is just amazing - you really do have to see it to believe it. It rains even more in winter than in summer. There are no midges in winter.

But... most of the paid-for tourist attractions close for the winter. Those that say they stay open all year might close if the weather is bad, or the owner gets bored and decides to go home early. Don't make a long journey to see somewhere without checking beforehand that what you want to see will be open and fully operational. Some of the eating places close for winter too. Those that stay open are unlikely to be taking orders after about 8.30pm - there's no point keeping a kitchen going and a waitress sitting-about for just one or two late-eaters.

So... should you visit Skye in winter? That depends a lot on what you are coming here for.

Eating out? Castles? Museums? Galleries?  Boat trips? Shopping? Visitor attractions? .... Probably no (though some of the above are available all year).

Or... Peace and quiet? A restful and restorative break?  Walking? Wildlife? Fresh clean air? An escape from the hustle and bustle?... then definitely YES. Do come. Enjoy life as it used to be, Just be sure to pack some food supplies, waterproofs, a couple of woolly jumpers, a good book or two and a torch, and you'll have a wonderful time.

Maybe see you soon???

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Season on Skye

It is definitely autumn now.  The moors have turned to gold, and mist swirls over the hilltops. We are enjoying some delightfully mild temperatures though, so getting out and about is no hardship. This is Glen Brittle, a couple of days ago...

It seems many Skye visitors are lingering to enjoy the autumn. We have never before seen so many visitors on the island so late in the year. The visitor season seemed slow to start - April was quiet - but there are certainly plenty of people still here in late October, and we have bookings at Loch View into the middle of November. That's definitely a 'first'.

Sue and I had made our plans to go south at what we thought would be the end of the season. So Sue is in Kent now (leaving me to the unexpected ironing mountains again). She sent me this photograph taken from the train on the way from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness. I think that is Eilean Lagach, with Plockton on the far shore....

We also have my sister, Sue and her husband John visiting Skye this week. They are staying at Loch View, but called here at the Barn the other day, just before Sue set off south. They have travelled this time in a 40 year-old Triumph GT6 which John has recently restored. So here is my Sue and me, with John and Sue's GT6 at The Barn...

Monday, 7 October 2013

A New Toy

It's an ebay bargain - upwards of ten years old, but has seen little use and has been well looked after. I haven't owned an SLR camera since my 35mm film days, so once I have got my head round all the buttons and menus, I am hoping that some of my photography may take on a slightly more creative slant. But I won't be lugging this monster onto the hills - my trusty little Canon compact will continue to fill that role. I'll post some pictures from it once I have found out how to turn it on...

...update... took it out with me for yesterday evening's doggie walk. Certainly not the best weather, and facing a steep learning curve with the camera... goodness me, they can certainly pack a lot of technology into a small space, can't they!!

However - even though it was a dull evening, I am pleasantly surprised by the results of my first few of shots with the new toy - each taken on completely different settings.
Dunvegan Castle car park - we take a path from here into the woods.
Cupar knows the way!
It was getting quite dark by the time we came out from the trees.... 
... so I started playing - click on this to see it full-size. I will admit to a tweak or two in Photoshop with this one!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How to get to Skye

I am aware that a number of the readers of this blog are thinking about taking a holiday on this wonderful island, so I thought I would spend a little time to give you my take of how you might get here. The mode of transport for the first part of your journey will obviously depend on where you are coming from, but as you get closer to Skye, your options become rather more limited.

Being an island, Skye is not surprisingly completely surrounded by water, so historically, all arrivals were by boat. Ferries crossed back and forth from Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig and Glenelg, and a steamer service operated from Oban, visiting the many piers dotted round the coast of Skye.

Today, boats are not completely confined to history. Getting ‘Over the Sea to Skye’ (a line made famous in the words of the well known ‘speed bonnie boat’ Skye Boat Song) still has to happen today. A regular ferry service still operates from Mallaig to Armadale, and a summer only ferry plies between Glenelg and Kylerhea. There are even cruise ships which moor off Portree Bay every now and then, and deposit their passengers for a couple of hours ashore. I wonder how many of the cruising passengers even know on which island they have been deposited?

There is no airport on Skye, so you can’t fly here. The nearest airport is Inverness. There are no railways on Skye, so you can’t come all the way by train. The nearest station is Kyle of Lochalsh. Having arrived at Inverness or Kyle of Lochalsh, the vast majority of visitors coming by plane or train then hire a car and continue by road over the sea via the Skye Bridge, which connects Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin.

You can also get here by coach, either service buses from Inverness or Glasgow, or coach tours from all over the place. It’s not my idea of fun to be bounced round the island squashed into in a bus load of strangers driven by the ex-pupil of a Formula One driver, who will cheerfully drop you off outside the most expensive gift shops, but plenty of people seem to do it. Recently, there has been an upsurge in numbers of mini-coach tours, usually driven by a long-haired lad in a kilt, and carrying camera-toting oriental-looking youngsters who wear designer shoes and coats quite unsuited to squelching about the popular tourist attractions at which they are disgorged to take their snaps.

Some people even arrive on bicycles. From their body language, I get the distinct impression that they had no idea just how windy or hilly it is here. They toil along on overloaded bikes, usually with at least one in the party trailing half a mile or more behind. I’ve never seen a touring cyclist with a grin on their face…

Motorcyclists are fond of Skye. Skye is rather less fond of some motorcyclists - especially those who race around in packs, at speeds far greater than the law or any sense of self-preservation allows, producing deafening volumes of sheep-scaring noise. I don’t think they come to see the scenery.

Quite a lot of people come in camper vans… I’m not a fan of camper vans, so to avoid offending anyone, will say no more on the subject.

Which leaves us with the car. Skye is full of hire cars in summer. They are mostly driven by foreigners, and are easy to spot. The cars are brand new and shiny (Skye residents generally drive older, grimier vehicles) and are driven erratically and slowly, either wandering onto the verge or across the centre line from time to time as the driver is distracted by the view or a glimpse of some unexpected wildlife. Meet a hire car on a single track road and panic sets in. Selecting reverse gear is the driver’s first challenge, but then how to actually make backwards progress would appear to be a skill which is not taught to pupil drivers in overseas countries.

And some people drive here in their own cars. It's a long way, isn't it?

So, to sum up – there are lots of fun ways to get to Skye, though maybe some are a bit more fun than others. But no matter how you get here, you are more than likely to enjoy the experience, and having been here once, many, many visitors come back again (and again, and again).

Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Buy-to-Let on Skye

As we have recently been evaluating our holiday cottage business, and currently have Aird View up for sale, I thought a post here about our plans and the financial aspects of the business might be of interest.

We are trying to sell Aird View largely because of the long journey we have to make from our home to the bungalow to do the turn-rounds and maintenance. The bungalow is in a lovely location, and has sold well as a holiday let every one of the several years we have owned it, though to keep it at the top of the letting market, we are aware that we need to be upgrading some of the fixtures and fittings in the not too distant future. The greatest demand today comes for very high quality holiday accommodation, so we could do with installing an en-suite bathroom and a bang up-to-date kitchen.  Ideally, we will sell Aird View as it is, and would replace it with another cottage located much closer to home, which will either be already in high quality condition, or priced so that we could upgrade it within the income from our sale. Unfortunately, the state of the property market here does not fill us with confidence that the bungalow will sell, so we will just wait and see for the time being, and will continue to market it for holiday letting into 2014.

But how about the finances? Well, we bought Aird View in 1996 for £137,000, and now have it on the market for £175,000. (It's not London/South East prices or rocketing price rises  here...!!!). But that's still a reasonable return of £38,000 on our investment. Add to that the rental income, which totals around £70,000 over the seven years of trading, and buy-to-let begins to look very attractive. Of course, these are gross figures. With a holiday-let, we pay for heating, electricity, broadband, local taxes and income tax, and also have to maintain the building, garden and its contents in top order. It is handy that I am 'retired', and can do much of the maintenance work myself - paying local people to do turn-rounds, lawn mowing and decorating would take a big chunk from the income! We also market and manage our properties ourselves. Using an agency to find your visitors for you will take another 15 - 20% of your profits.

Regarding long-term letting, we have little direct experience of this, though I am aware that there is high demand for rental property on Skye, and nowhere near as many properties available for let as there are for purchase. As a long-let, Aird View would probably achieve a rental of about £550 per month, with the tenant responsible for their own utility bills and Council tax.

So, for all you blog readers who are making plans to move to Skye to live - if you have the budget to do it, buying a couple of properties to let might make sense. But do your research carefully into the best locations to buy, and buy an up-and-running holiday let to be reasonably sure of a quick start into high occupancy rates.  New-to-the-market holiday lets can take two or three years of expensive advertising before they are full throughout the season.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Cottage For Sale

Just a quickie post to record here that we are offering Aird View for sale. Here it is on the estate agent's website - (click here). If and when Aird View sells, we plan to buy another cottage closer to our home in Dunvegan. I'll post more about this very soon - when I am not quite so pushed for time!!!

Aird View - garden and view
Aird View

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Living on Skye - A Trip to the Dentist

How far do you have to go to visit your dentist? I went to see mine the other day - it's a round trip of over 250 miles...!

To be fair, I could go to a dentist more locally, but only if I pay to go privately. For a while, I was doing just this, but the cost was frightening, and when the local dentist I was registered with closed down, I decided to register with a National Health dentist in Inverness. I've been on the waiting list for a NHS dentist on Skye since we moved here, and apparently there are still many people ahead of me.

So, off to Inverness I go. It takes about three hours to drive the 125 scenic miles. I had a noon appointment, and I was all done by 12.30. Then it was off to the shops - Sue always makes sure I have a list of shopping to pick up from the big stores in Inverness!

For this trip, I decided to take the pressure off the day by booking myself into a B&B overnight, thus taking two days over the trip, enabling me to make a leisurely start the next morning for my journey back. This also gave me the opportunity to stop for a walk in the hills along the way.

So, one trip to the dentist from Skye = two days, 250 miles, a shopping expedition, overnight in a B&B and four hours walking in the hills. No wonder it takes people a while to get used to living on Skye...!


Views from Beinn a' Bhric near Lochluichart
 - unfortunately a bit shrouded in cloud!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Too Many Tourists on Skye...???

A recent comment left in one of our visitor's books by a first-time visitor to Skye was along the lines of; 'Wonderful place, but spoilt by too many tourists'. Hmmmm.....

We generally know of August as 'silly season' - a time when we can get three or four phone calls every day from people looking for accommodation who have arrived on Skye without having pre-booked somewhere to stay.  And this summer, I have to admit that Skye is even more packed than ever.

It cannot be much fun trying to find a space to park in the small parking area at one of the more popular view points, or having to queue for a table for a bar meal in one of our few pubs. And driving for miles at 35mph behind a convoy of camper vans is enough to test the patience of a saint... But there is, of course, an easy answer... if you want to experience Skye without too many tourists, don't come in August!! (Best to avoid July too).

But.... the island IS STILL HERE the rest of the year. True, a few of the restaurants, B&Bs and pay-to-visit attractions may be closed 'out of season', and there will be no wild flowers on the roadsides, but there will still be ample left to reward a spring or autumn (or even winter) visit. And take it from me, the hills look even better in autumn gold foliage or with snow on the tops. The out of season visitor will also get to delight in deserted roads, easy parking, low season accommodation rates and even a chance to meet some of the genuine residents.

Highland heather flowers in early September
There is usually snow on the Cuillin from December until April

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Allotment News - Harvest Begins

The nematodes didn't work, or maybe I didn't persevere with them for long enough. But at around £6.00 per dose, and recommended usage rate of a dose every two weeks, the cost was prohibitive, so the root fly decimated my brassicas again. I will have two cauliflowers, possibly a few cabbages, and the brussels sprouts look like they'll provide a small crop. The broccoli never made it though.

However, the success story of the summer is the mangetout peas (Suttons Oregon Sugar Pod) ...

The plants look a bit ragged after some strong winds in early August, but my picture shows just one picking - the third so far, and the peas are still coming. They are easy to pick, quick to prepare and cook, and taste wonderful. I'll be growing these again! 

Also looking good are the potatoes and swedes. I've had a few of the potatoes, and they have grown bigger this year than last, as spring wasn't so dry this year. The carrots are OK rather than spectacular, and the onions look to be doing fine. The runner beans are flowering now, so any crop will depend a lot on the weather.

The weeds are all coming on strong too - I never seem to quite keep ahead of them at this time of year!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Walkies !

This is a picture-post, featuring Cupar-the-Collie. On Skye, there's no shortage of places to take an energetic doggie for walkies... Thanks to Sue for the photos.  (As always on this blog - click on any picture to view a full-size gallery).

Sunday, 11 August 2013

New Best Friends

Sue is away again - for a full two weeks this time... She first went to the wedding of a cousin in Poland, and is now (as I type) on her way back to Kent where she will spend a while with her mum and catch up with a few of her friends 'down south'.

This leaves me on my own at the busiest time of our year. This weekend, I have completed the turn-rounds of all our cottages, and every one of them had a full compliment of visitors, making a total of eighteen people. The result is a significant  mountain of laundry to get washed - 13 duvet covers, 13 sheets, 36 pillow cases and 36 towels, plus an assortment of tea towels, dish cloths, and so on. It is thankfully quite unusual for us to be completely full like this. Pity it has happened to coincide with Sue's absence (or was her trip just cunning planning...???)

Today, new friend number one, the washing machine is already hard at work, and new friend number two, the iron, is bracing itself for some serious action. Fingers crossed the somewhat showery weather permits me to get all the washing dried without having to dash outside too often to beat the next downpour. But there's even a bright side to the showers - the rainbows are great!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A New Blog

It is still very much a 'work in progress', but you can have a sneaky peep if you promise to come back in a month or so, by which time I hope to have rather more for you to see....I am working on a photo collection, featuring a few of the thousands of images that Sue and I have taken on Skye since we have lived here.

I will have mentioned before that most of my photos are published on where they are all geo-located and nearly all have some words of description. Geograph images also turn up on Wikimedia (among other places) and are archived by the British Library.  My profile page is at:

But I see no harm in picking out some favourite images and also publishing them on a blog, plus of course, here I get the chance to include Sue's images, which she was supposed to be posting on our business page on Facebook - but she never finds time to do it...!!!

So - to preview 'Skye In Pictures', it is here:, and if you like what you see, please do re-visit soon.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

New Look for Skye Calling

It's raining today, so with not so much to do, I started fiddling with the settings for this blog. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before I managed to delete all the customised layout that I had previously created, and now I find that as it was all created years ago, I can no longer get it back or even re-create it.

So - we now have a new layout to get used to. It's based on a Google Blogger template. On the whole, it seems OK, though I am struggling with the various customisation options, some of which don't seem to work. And there does not seem to be a way of displaying the photos in a post as a gallery, which I think is a shame. I'll keep playing, and see if I can improve things a bit.


A bit more fiddling has put things almost back as they were, so I think we'll stick with this layout and colour scheme for the time being. Us oldies are a bit resistant to change...!!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Why Visit Skye?

There’s probably almost as many reasons for visiting this wonderful island as there are people who come here. In this post, I will suggest just five of my reasons why a visit to Skye should be on your list of ’50 things to do before I die’.

Probably the most popular reason for visiting is to see the Scenery. I have thought for a while now that one doesn't just ‘see’ Skye – one ‘experiences’ it’. The experience includes absorbing the sensory input that no photograph can show – the silence, the freshness, and the very atmosphere that makes Skye so special. 
How can I choose just one picture to illustrate Skye scenery...? 

The Weather plays its part too. Most of us may prefer to be out when temperatures are high and the sun is shining, but swirling mist or a sprinkling of drizzle are more frequently experienced here than warm sunshine. The weather should not be loathed and despised, but should be challenged and embraced as an ethereal and essential part of the Skye experience.
No caption necessary!

Then there’s the History and Culture. Storytelling has been a vital element of family entertainment for centuries, so legends have become intertwined with truth to the extent that one cannot rely on any tale that is told to be the entire record of what actually happened. It might not be too difficult to discount stories of angry giants throwing stones into the sea to become islands, or monstrous creatures rising up out of the lochs to lure maidens to their deaths, but ‘true’ stories of disasters, triumphs, battles and shipwrecks probably also contain far fewer grains of truth than the storyteller would have you believe. And it is still happening today - Skye is a great place for the spreading of rumours!
Will we REALLY be getting a new supermarket here soon...? Rumours have been circulating for years now!
What IS true, however, is that there remain many visible records of Skye’s human past dating back thousands of years – there are Neolithic burial cairns and caves, Bronze age souterraines, (underground passages), Iron age duns (small castles), Viking canals and boat nausts (docks), and countless ruins of buildings, dwellings and walls of indeterminate age. Almost without exception, these relics remain unfenced and open for exploration by any visitor who finds them. For me, there is no way of feeling closer to history than standing at the stone entrance to a man-made structure that has stood unchanged for four thousand years.
Tungadal Souterrain - the entrance is the dark hole approximately in the centre. Although partly collapsed, a tunnel still extends several metres into the hillside. No-one knows what souterrains were used for.

And that brings us to Photography. It would be sheer folly to visit Skye without a camera. Not only will you be totally spoilt for choice of subject matter, but the clean-ness of the air, brightness of colour and constantly changing qualities of light all combine to provide both professional and amateur photographers alike with endless opportunities to fill up memory cards surprisingly rapidly.
The cold Cuillin

My last reason would be Walking. Skye makes you want to walk, explore, and see what is round the next corner or over the next hill. That’s because no matter how lovely the scene you see now, the chances are that when you have walked a little further, the scene will be even lovelier. The freshness of the air (or the rain…) may bring a visible glow to the walker’s face, but invisibly, the mind also benefits as the walker breathes in the essence and beauty of Skye.
Don't you long to know what lies at the end of this track...???

Friday, 12 July 2013

Shed Roof Sparrows

This is one of the Roskhill Barn sheds. It must have been party time in Sparrow-land. There's a few more on the lawn, and a couple on the bench. Tweet tweet!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Allotment News - All Growing Well !!

The long daylight hours in the 'Far North' at this time of year certainly encourage rapid growth of everything with roots. Thankfully, it is not just the grass and weeds that are putting on a spurt - the plants that I actually WANT to grow are also doing especially well. Contrast the picture below (taken this evening) with the one I posted on 18th May (copied again here).
This evening
18th May
The REALLY good news is that the brassicas are doing fine. They came on well in their individual pots, and I planted them out just two weeks ago today, giving them a dowsing with the 'Grow Your Own' nemetodes that I was hoping would combat the cabbage root fly. It would seem that the little nemetode bugs have done their job well, and munched their way through any fly eggs that have been laid - just about every plant looks healthy so far, and I have a second dose to give them in a day or two, to top up the protection.

Now I just need to keep on top of the weeding....

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Away from Skye

I've been away from Skye for nine days, and will be setting off to travel back home tomorrow. It feels like it's been a long absence, and I will be pleased to be back, even if my most pressing job will be to get all the lawns mown again!

I've had a very varied trip. When I travel south, I always drive, and take two days over the long journey. For interest and variety, I try to make my overnight break in a different place each time. This time, I stopped in the quiet little town of Annan which is near Dumfries, close to the England/Scotland border.
Annan town centre
River Annan near Brydekirk
I then travelled on to South Wales, where I stayed a couple of days in a nicely located holiday cottage near Pembrey with long-time friends Sara and Rod.
Here's the cottage...
... and here's a bit of Pembrey Sands where we enjoyed a windy walk - it was a lot more interesting than the picture suggests!
From Wales, I headed on down to Torquay in Devon, to the home of another long-time friend, Val. On one sunny and warm day, she suggested we went up onto Dartmoor for a picnic, which was pleasant, and while there I took the opportunity to have a short walk to one of the moor's many tors.
Picnic time
Approach to Sharp Tor
View from the top
My sister and family also live in Devon, so I spent a couple of days with them, and another walk on Dartmoor was undertaken, though in rather less clement weather...
Ascending Cosdon Hill
Sister Sue, John and Jeremy at the summit - a trifle damp...
Tomorrow, I pack up my bags and trundle my little van back northwards. I will be breaking my journey at a B&B in the Scottish coastal town of Ayr - more photos may follow - and I plan to be back with my Sue and Cupar at The Barn late on Tuesday afternoon.