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!