Archive for the ‘art’ Category

A bathroom and a book!

November 20, 2015

Sunset at the end of the glen…


Things outdoors are moving quietly along in their winter’s way. There are still a lot of young birds around because of everything starting so late this year. Even so, Kevin gets on with his dispatching duties when times are right. It is lovely to have our own chicken (and ducks) in the freezer again!
Indoors however, is a different story. There’s the usual repair and replacement going on in the BandB rooms but our big excitement this winter is the imminent (hopefully!) installation of a new bathroom! Now I know that most of you wouldn’t put this high on your list of exciting things but we are easily pleased! When we bought Garybuie, we inherited delightful(!), eighty’s, dark blue bathroom suite and after thirteen years, I think that we’ve done enough retro! What do you think?

retro bathroom

I shall show you the new look!

Things have also been busy for me on the creative front. During the BandB season, two separate guests asked for pet portraits, which was quite a challenge at such a busy time! Since then, the same guests have asked for three new portraits between them which is was great!

There was Albi…


…then Solo…


…and soon to be completed, Max.


Some of you may remember the strange incident back in 2012 when poor old Broody Brenda had her nest stolen! I thought that it would make a nice children’s story, so I wrote it and submitted it to various children’s book publishers. No luck there however, so after it sat around for a while and because we now have three young grandchildren of course, I decided to get it printed myself.


So now I have a surplus of ‘Broody Brenda and the Nest thief’! I shall put them on sale for next year’s visitors but in the meantime, if any of you have a child or grandchild (3-5 yrs) who might like such a tale for themselves, then get in touch and I shall dispatch a copy tout suite! They cost £5.00 plus postage.

More than we could chew

August 12, 2015

The View – a different perspective…

The View

I’m sad to have to report that once our quail endeavours were fully up and running, we soon realised that we had bitten off more than we could chew. It turned out to be a very high maintenance venture, with runs having to be moved/cleaned out every other day. And for insufficient financial return. Our days at this time of year are already full and we took a step too far with this project. So, the quail are no more. Of course the wee birds haven’t gone to waste, filling a space in the freezer, labelled (in my mind at least) ‘Romantic meals for Two’. We have an abundance of preserved eggs too. Hey ho.

So, let’s get all the bad news out-of-the-way in one go; one of the female guineas got knocked down. Some drivers in the glen can be heavy-footed and she didn’t manage to move fast enough. It was an outright death thank goodness, I don’t think she would have known much about it. Her mate called for her for a couple of days then promptly stole someone else’s wife!

Guinea fowl

The grey guinea, who out of season is on the periphery of the flock, now has TWO husbands – the widower and her ousted partner who still hangs around! Sometimes I’ve spotted the ousted one with the lone, bottom-of-the-ladder female instead but preen him as she might, he doesn’t stay.

Enough of the gloom and doom. Polly Blue-tail hatched five ducklings a couple of weeks ago and Mrs Under-by hatched nine yesterday but kept them well guarded.

Mrs Under-by

BB has produced her third family of the season; five ‘regular’ chicks…


…meanwhile, the inseparable sisters, Thelma and Louise, are sitting on their third set of eggs this year. Maybe they like to chat through the wall?

Thelma and Louise

After the quail disappointment, we decided to put Kevin’s specially constructed brooder to good use by incubating some of our own hen eggs. You just can’t have enough home-grown chicken!


Annnnnd in the middle of all the summer chaos, I got two portrait commissions from some early season guests – Dottie…


…and Poppy.


Never a dull moment then!

A shot in the (almost) dark

February 2, 2015

The View at night for a change! The almost full moon smiling down on our glen.

The View

Puff and Biggles don’t like to share their favourite perch, so when Mrs Under-by muscled in, off they flapped elsewhere. “I just wanted to be in on The View!” she said.

Mrs Under-by

This week has been a cold one for sure with the temperature hovering around freezing but more importantly, accompanied by a fairly strong, face-achingly, northerly wind. Ouch! A good week for scuttling around outdoor chores and heading back inside to warmer activities. Although Kevin’s been indoors, he’s not been on the same cushy number as I have, as he’s been working in the old church, making a start on our Quail brooders.

Quail brooder

After sending for another supply of upholstery glue – because I couldn’t for the life of me find the ‘safe place’ where I put the first lot! – I’ve finally completed the re-upholstery of our parlour suite. We’re both pleased with the outcome although I don’t think that I would be in a rush to take on a similar project. Well, maybe one chair. I have to say that it was hard on the back, all that stooping with hammer and tacks, rendering any subsequent duck-house cleaning to be quite painful. Lucky that I had a Kevin then, to step in with his shovel!

Parlour suite

Easier on the back, I’ve also had the time to do several paintings. First up was ‘Duck and Dive’, using Indian ink once more…

Lucky and Chance

…followed by Polly Blue-tail, with a hint of red this time. I prefer this one – lots of fiddly pen work!

Polly Blue-tail

Lastly, I had a go at some mixed media. I have absolutely no idea what to call this one! Any ideas?

mixed media

Snow and other matters monochrome

January 19, 2015

THE VIEW from a slightly different angle today. Beautiful, but hardly rising above freezing.

The view

The snow reached down to Garybuie a couple of days ago, not much more than a smattering really, but I’m still not keen. Still, I shan’t complain after hurricane force winds deftly removed some of our roof tiles and a couple of large-ish tree boughs prior to the arrival of the white stuff.


MacLoed's tables

But, at least the sun made an appearance today and most feathered residents congregated outside the old church for some serious sunbathing. It amused me to see that they divided into same species groups – talk about clannish!


None of this sun worshipping for Lucky and Chance however, they spent a lot of their day keeping their feet ‘warm’ in the running water!

Lucky and Chance

I’ve mentioned in the past that I subscribe to an art magazine, ‘Paint’,
and probably my favourite artist is Vic Bearcroft. His animal portraits in soft pastels are stunning but recently he’s moved on to monochrome portraits using Indian ink. So, Patches being a monochrome kind of cat, I thought that I’d give it a go. There’s plenty wrong with it but overall I’m quite pleased with the outcome.



December 7, 2014

It’s been a busy old week. There were a couple of nice, dry days, so it gave me the chance to plant our new raspberry and blackcurrant plants. The plants we have at the moment are very old and it’s time for some new stock. The old D.I.Y fruit cage has taken a battering over the years so will be demolished after next season’s raspberry crop. Of course we now have our new fruit cage, gifted to us by our friends recently before they moved south of the border, which has been great temporary accommodation for the Guinea Gang. Anyway, I measured a space for the cage in the veg plot and planted or new bushes within the boundary. In this picture you can see the fruit cage in its present position beyond the veg plot – along with an inquisitive Guinea fowl!

Fruit bushes

I’ve also been busy indoors too with all things festive; making this year’s Garybuie Christmas cards, along with pickles and preserves as gifts.

Pickles & preserves

Another gift wrapped and posted was my latest portrait, Toby, who belongs to an elderly lady whom I’ve known for most of my life, down in England.


And then the BIG news; The Guineas are OUT! We really didn’t want to wait six weeks before granting them their freedom, so after just less than three weeks,
we decided to risk removing the netting around the cage yesterday. There was careful exploration of their extended environment and they all went to bed in the evening like good little guineas! Today they’ve been more adventurous, exploring the garden…



…checking out the fast food joint (not impressed!)…


…and checking US out through the kitchen window!


Every picture tells a story

November 13, 2014

Whilst on holiday we visited a couple of antique outlets, one of them on our last day in Lancashire. We always try to visit this one when we’re back in that part of the world and we’ve had some nice things from there over the years. On this occasion it was a painting, or, more accurately, an etching. It caught both our eyes because it was a portrait of a Scottish gentleman from way back when. We thought that it was perfect for Skye; a ponderous old crofter, conjuring up some scheme to screw yet MORE money out of the government whilst enjoying a wee dram! How wrong we were!


Below the etching is written: etched by Léon Richeton after J. Pettie R.A. followed by what looks like a small doodle of a little girl in a bonnet.
Too enticing for words so we just had to check the internet for both names! Kevin got the bit between his teeth and soon discovered a site, The Orchar Collection, displaying an identical etching along with a big surprise!

The scene depicts the aging Rob Roy (1671-1734) and is taken from a painting by John Pettie (location unknown). It was likely inspired by Pettie’s, and Orchar’s, interest in the novels of Sir Walter Scott and the growing interest in Scottish Romanticism and History. Orchar and Pettie were close friends

If you do take a minute to view the Orchar website, then you’ll notice that the portrait shown also has a ‘doodle’ (or remarque), this time also showing a man’s face and a curious oval shape.

The Remarque portraits of a girl and a man are unidentified although it is possible that the male is a self-portrait of Richeton. The odd, egg-shaped object at the far left is a mystery. The name ‘J.Pettie’ is included in print at bottom right. Below the print (beside Remarque) ‘etched by Léon Richeton after J. Pettie R.A.’The Remarque portraits and signature look to have been printed rather than added in graphite.

It is likely that this print was the one exhibited at the Dundee Fine Art Exhibition, Albert Institute, 1879 (West Gallery, No. 1159) and either already in Orchar’s collection or subsequently bought by him.

Needless to say, seeing an etching the same as ours piqued our interest even more. So much so that Kevin emailed a Dr William Rough, Teaching Fellow at the School of Art History, University of St Andrews, explaining our finding of the portrait, our small amount of research so far and would he have any further information about the portrait. This was his reply…

Dear Kevin and Christine,

Thank you for your email. It is an interesting piece and I’d suggest it probably is quite rare.

The Remarque portraits are usually added to the prints to mark them out as quite rare during the printing process. So it would seem likely that your print was completed before the one in the Orchar Collection. Beyond that I don’t have that much more information on your specific print I’m afraid. You could contact the British Museum as may the Victoria & Albert Print Department. The Fine Art Trade Guild may also be able to provide some information.

As to value I’m afraid I can’t help you. Even rare prints are often not that expensive but a good printseller will be able to give you a valuation should you require one.

I hope this has helped!

Best wishes

Dr William Rough

Dr Rough was duly thanked for his kind response and that we hadn’t expected the etching to be of any significant value as we only paid £20 for it! His almost immediate response was:


I think £20 is a very good price! It really is a beautiful image.”

Moving forward in time, one portrait about which I know all there is to know is ‘Sammy’. I showed you his beginnings before we went to visit family and now he is complete, heading to Germany tomorrow to his rightful owners!



Good weather continues and some winter tasks

October 15, 2014

September was a beautiful month and October is trying its best to continue the theme. Here’s ‘The View’, taken at 6 p.m. today.

The View

Already I’m half way through the first month of our closed season and after scrubbing the place from top to bottom, a sort of spring-clean in the autumn, winter tasks are vying for attention. Firstly, it was the twin room’s turn to be spruced up. I’ve spent the past couple of days concentrating on that and finished today which means that I can now close both B and B rooms and forget about them!

twin room

Twin room

Secondly, I am working on a pet portrait of a wee dog called Sammy, which was commissioned by two of our German guests this summer as a Christmas gift. A bit of a deadline there then!


But the biggest task of all, is the re-upholstering of a recent (unplanned) antique purchase! We only went along to look for a couple of chairs and I found a rather nice carver chair. Then a matching dining chair around the corner. Then another one! In the end, it turned out, that dotted around the place was a complete Parlour Suite; two carvers, four chairs and a settee! Karen at the shop suspected that the suite was either late Victorian or Art Nouveau. I think that it’s more likely to be Victorian as the curvy bits don’t seem fluid enough to me for Art Nouveau – unless someone can tell me otherwise! Anyway, the frames are in pretty good nick but the upholstery definitely needs an upgrade. I have no idea how to do this but you can find anything on the Web these days!

Parlour Suite

Of course the problem with such an unplanned purchase is that nothing else goes with the thing! So, a new table was in order (sourced by the lovely people at the same shop) and the dining room now needs re-decorating!

An explosion of ducklings

June 24, 2014

It seems that wherever we look there are ducklings. One minute they seem to be all neat, tidy and under control…

muscovy ducklings

…the next they’ve exploded everywhere!

muscovy ducklings

muscovy ducklings

muscovy ducklings

They’ve even exploded into the field behind us where the grass is very long and must be a challenge for all those wee legs.

muscovy ducklings

swimming poolThey’ve also ventured into the swimming pool and we had an ‘almost’ disaster when the stones positioned to help them climb out slipped, resulting in four of them unable to get onto dry land. Fortunately, Kevin heard their calls and rescued them. One wasn’t too bad and snuggled in with the crowd but three of them needed hairdryer and infra-red treatment to stop their shivering!


Of course just because we are inundated with ducklings, there’s still another family to consider: Broody Brenda and her chicks. They are getting too big to fit underneath her now but it doesn’t stop them trying!


Taking care of all the birds is quite an addition to all the other chores at this time of year but there’s still an odd hour here and there to fit some recreational activities in. I finished my latest portrait some days ago and I’m sure that some of you will recognise this happy character!

Marcel the Happy

P.S. BB is sitting again as of yesterday. This time we’ve exchanged her eggs for some of the bigger hens’.

Nothing going to plan

April 30, 2014

The View

Our dry, spring weather continues so I thought I’d have a ‘garden day’. We’re off on an adventure on Saturday leaving Garybuie in the capable hands of dad and our ever-helpful neighbours, Mark and Gerlinde. I’m not going to tell you where our adventure is taking us, you’ll just have to wait until we return! Anyway, I needed to get the veggies ship-shape before our departure so I weeded the polytunnel and planted our main crop potatoes.

potato planting

Needless to say, getting the animals ship-shape is a different kettle of fish! Every year we make plans for our breeding program and seemingly every year those plans are thwarted. Apparently, this year is no different although to be fair, there is potentially beneficial plan-thwarting this year! Puff and Biggles are both definitely broody although at least one of the three musco-teers continues to lay in Puff’s box. The poor duck will be atop a pyramid of eggs soon! Broody Brenda hasn’t gone with our usual box-within-a-box ploy in the ‘polytunnel coop’ (probably in an attempt to avoid the Nest Thief) but instead is doing her thing in the over-by coop next to the duck houses.


Today is her first day sitting and Kevin has blocked the pop-hole at half-mast so that there’s no chance of the Nest Thief muscling in! Several of the other hens were using the box-within-a-box as well as one of the musco-teers, whose egg we removed every day. Yesterday, she was exhibiting broody behaviour so I checked the nest and believe me, the Nest Thief is a mere pick-pocket compared to the violent robbery performed by a musco-teer! There had been 6 or 7 hen eggs in there when I last checked but apparently, the broody duck had performed the Highland Fling in the nest resulting in a straw and wood-shaving omelette, garnished with one perfect Muscovy egg! Of course I had to clear the crime scene (whilst being SERIOUSLY heckled by the dastardly duck), including the duck egg which was covered in solidified egg yolk and straw, put new bedding in there and a ceramic egg in the hope of encouraging further laying. But by whom?


Yup, that’s a Muscovy’s rear you can see there and she’s sat tight all day – on a ceramic egg! This afternoon however, Kevin succeeded in slipping half a dozen Muscovy eggs under her. She scolded him but didn’t move an inch!

On a less violent theme, first-time mum, BB, is doing just fine with her wee family.


And even more excitement, for me at least! Yesterday, I received the latest ‘Paint’ magazine and found that I’d had my second publication of a painting! This time it was the ‘Keys and Curly Tails’ which I completed earlier this year.

Paint magazine

I think that I’m probably pushing my luck now, but yesterday I submitted the following painting to the magazine. I’ve entitled it ‘Looking for Mischief’ and I think that quite a few of you will know where this wonderful character lives!

Looking for Mischief

Al fresco breakfasts this season?

March 10, 2014

Blue skies have finally arrived…

the view

…and so has the ‘something big’which I mentioned the other week.


As you can see, breakfast would be a fairly drafty affair at the moment but at least the view is unobstructed!


Anyway, the arrival of our new, shiny conservatory is just in the nick of time for the beginning of the new season. Its construction will be completed on Wednesday and then I just have to re-decorate. So any potential guests out there, don’t worry, your haggis won’t be in any danger of blowing of your breakfast plate should you decide to spend some time at Garybuie!

And now for something completely different! Yesterday I completed my painting of ‘On the Prowl’ and I’m contemplating something bristly rather than furry next.


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