Archive for the ‘day trips’ Category

Summer jaunt and jam!

July 5, 2011

By Friday last week we had no bookings for Saturday and as the weather forecast for the weekend was good, Kevin suggested that we take a wee jaunt on the bike. It didn’t take him long to persuade me and so Oban, south of Fort William, became our destination.

Not a sausage in sight!

Lorne is the name of the traditional square, skinless beef sausage in Scotland, so you’ll understand my concern when Kevin announced that the B&B he’d booked us in to had the somewhat unappealing name of ‘Lorne View’! You can imagine the kind of weird images which sprang to mind! Our fears of overlooking the local sausage factory were soon dispelled on our arrival though, as apparently the stretch of water on which the harbour of Oban sits shares its name with the aforementioned Scottish breakfast ingredient! In fact, as you can see, ‘Lorne View’ was a particularly lovely one!

The costal route down to Oban was beautiful and at the end of our perfect journey we enjoyed a superb meal at the seafood restaurant on the harbour and afterward actually SAT OUTSIDE – an evening pastime unheard of at Garybuie because of the dreaded midge – with a glass of wine or two, watching the world go by along with the colourful fishing boats moored there. I really felt as though I was on holiday!

En route to Oban

That holiday feeling!

River, Glen Orchy

The weather on the following day was perfect so Kevin decided on the longer route home via Glen Orchy and the spectacular Glen Coe, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen with such pin-sharp clarity.

We were straight back into our own B&B routine when we got home, certainly without any lorne in view! (We stick to the more usual pork or Cumberland sausage here, as our guests always regard lorne with deep suspicion and consequently have nothing to do with it whatsoever!)

This spell of decent weather certainly has its plus points and not just from a motorcycling point of view. Finally our soft fruit is well, coming to fruition! Kevin’s been out there, busy harvesting these past few days and today I made our first batches of blackcurrant and raspberry jams. Guess what will be on the breakfast tables tomorrow!

Blackcurrant jam

Night off

June 22, 2011

A couple of months ago, when we saw the diary filling up fast, we decided to block a few days off during the season for the purpose of recharging our batteries. Sunday was our first such night off and Kevin had booked us an overnight stay in Aviemore in the Cairngorms. The weather was particularly good so out came the bike/panniers/helmets and we had a superb journey both there and back. Although surrounded by spectacular scenery, Aviemore itself isn’t much to write home about, although I’m sure that winter skiers may disagree. We did however find a great restaurant which served a perfect steak. ‘Pappa Rock’ has been open for just a year and is family run. The place is decorated with vintage motorbikes and vinyl records, the music being of the 60s and 70s. A memorable evening! The service was great too so check the place out at  http://www.paparock.org/   if you’re ever within the environs of the Cairngorm National Park.

Fort Augustus

On our journey home, we travelled down the less well known side of Loch Ness, a route we haven’t tried before. The scenery was unexpected with huge swathes of forest, both coniferous and deciduous, planted and natural with some characterful old properties dotted throughout. The road terminated in Fort Augustus, another place we haven’t seen before. Approaching the next village of Invermoriston from the opposite direction than we usually do, meant that we had the opportunity to see some lovely old bridges and waterfalls. We sometimes pass through this village en route to Inverness and usually stop for a coffee or to use the loo. We found it incredible that just fifty meters away from our usual parking place is such a beautiful spot and we’ve never seen it! We even saw a huge salmon jumping!

Previously missed scene

 

waterfall

 

We even took time out to visit a very popular tourist spot which we always just drive by, the very scenic Eilean Donan castle. Admittedly we didn’t actually go into the castle as time was getting on, but we did enjoy afternoon tea and the view was stunning.

Eilean Donan castle

 

Our night off was over all too quickly and we were back into the B&B routine almost as soon as we returned. The following morning however, I was treated to a view of the ridge at the head of the glen looking particularly beautiful. It made breakfast preparations all the more enjoyable!

The ridge

Blue skies on Skye!

May 4, 2011

Almost summer!

Forget spring, this past week has been more like summer and what with Easter holiday makers and a royal wedding thrown into the mix, things have been pretty hectic here at Garybuie. The good weather has encouraged our cherry tree to blossom finally and what a sight it is, especially against a cloudless blue sky.

We had our own small celebration of that special wedding, toasting the happy couple with a few neighbours and partaking of some lunchtime ‘nuptual nibbles’!

Kevin and one of our guests, Joanna, enjoying some 'nuptual nibbles'!

With this glorious weather being hard to resist, blogging and all other chores were put on the back burner and for two days during the past week we couldn’t resist the holiday mood, one day with our motor cycling neighbours, Andy and Brian, the other by ourselves. The first occasion was what we term a ‘three hour holiday’ when we visited a beautiful bay at Ord in Sleat, the southerly peninsula of Skye. The perfect spot for a picnic and too hot for all the biking gear!

Ord, perfect spot for a picnic!

Plockton

Travelling by ourselves, the second ‘holiday’ was slightly longer and we ventured to the mainland for coffee in Plockton, slightly further north on the west coast, a lovely seaside village with stunning views and perfect for people watching! It was hard to drag ourselves away but we departed on a circular route back south via Glenelg and returned to Skye not by the bridge but by the small turn-table ferry to Kylerea. We had our picnic watching the comings and goings of the ferry which travels across the straits where cattle drovers of old used to swim their beasts. It has to be the prettiest and most romantic way of reaching Skye!

Shiel Bridge en-route to Glenelg, one of the several wild fires affecting the U.K at the moment

Over the sea to Skye

Ferry

Meanwhile, back at Garybuie, the chores can’t be ignored for ever, so yesterday was a busy gardening day, grass cutting and weeding being the main events. I did manage to plant out our second lot of broad beans however, along with sweet corn – a first outside – some replacement carrot seeds after failure of the last lot to germinate, more peas and our main crop potatoes. While I was working in the veg plot yesterday, one of Brenda’s three remaining chicks – yes, another death – provided me with some amusing antics involving half of a mouse!  See for yourself…

And lastly, keeping cool is the order of the day here at the moment, so the ducklings were very appreciative of their new, larger pool!

Keeping cool

Prelude to Easter

April 19, 2011

New family

There have been lots of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aahhhs’ over the weekend after the arrival of five chicks for Broody Brenda on Friday, to be followed by five ducklings successfully hatching in the incubator on Sunday! As ever, Brenda seems pretty pleased with her brood and must find five a lot easier to keep an eye on than her clutch of fourteen last year! Both lots of infants are doing well and thankfully the weather is pleasant for Brenda’s chicks’ outdoor life.

Sunday morning surprise!

New home

Both the milder weather and the arrival of all the new life at Garybuie spurred me into some spring-like activity in the garden on Sunday. I moved several non-too-happy shrubs including this Acer which looks just right in this sheltered corner at the front of the house rather than its previous location in a cramped chimney pot out the back. It was only in that location to protect it from strong winds which it dislikes, but hopefully this new position is protected enough as I think that the shrubbery opposite this sunny corner is mature enough now to provide shelter from those bitter easterly winds.

I also planted some more veg seeds: spinach and beetroot outside and salad, courgette, kale and savoy cabbage in the polytunnel.

After such a satisfying Sunday, Monday arrived bathed in blue sky and warmth, so after bed & breakfast duties were completed, Kevin suggested that we went out on the bike for a picnic. So we headed for Glenbrittle, at the foot of the Cuillin mountains, to enjoy a stroll along the almost deserted beach and our sandwiches in the shelter of the rocks. Perfect.

Tomorrows job!

Today, still filled with enthusiasms of a green-fingered nature, I paid a visit to the garden centre and bought a few new shrubs, some alpines for a stone trough in need of rejuvenation and a couple of new window boxes. More planting tomorrow then!

Hopefully the garden will be somewhat spruced up for our Easter guests, but I think it more likely that a certain group of yellow, webbed-footed characters who will be the star attraction!

Easter cuties

Aaahhh!

Back to square one!

March 9, 2011

Well, it’s back to square one with the weather today! We’ve had varying degrees of wet, windy and distinctly chilly since Sunday, certainly enough to put spring WAY to the back of our minds! It was quite a shock to wake up to horizontal snow driving past the bedroom window but thankfully, it’s only managed to stick on the higher ground of the ridge.

More snow!

Fortunately, the spell of good weather stayed with us until Saturday, so we took advantage and had our first trip of the year out on the bike with our fellow biking companions, Andy and Brian. Our destination was lunch at the Cluanie Inn on the road to Inverness. The scenery was stunning, the colours sharp and the air was definitely fresh – in more ways than one!

View from the Cluanie Inn

At least there’s one good thing about this current cold snap – ‘The Beast’ is on its best behaviour since it recovered from its ‘respiratory congestion’ and we now have a warm and cosy house as well as a deliciously hot bath to look forward to each evening!

So far so good…

October 13, 2010

Winter's wood

We had our first delivery of logs from the forest across the river at the weekend as  replacement stock for our existing winter wood supply. Although the pile isn’t quite as impressive as the ones we walked through last week, Kevin was nonetheless pleased with his efforts! But, standing admiring our winter fuel doesn’t actually encourage its combustion, so getting to grips with the preparations for the stove installation seems to be an idea with more potential! Consequently, yesterday Kevin attacked the fireplace with a purpose, both of us prepared for whatever the beast could throw at us! Surprisingly for Garybuie, no nasty surprises were in store and removal of the stonework (not to mention an enormous heap of cement) revealed the original 1931 wood panelling behind, albeit covered in a delightful 1970’s orange wallpaper!

Worries over!

We continued working today, removing all plasterboard and orange paper from the chimney breast.

All is revealed!

There’s more plasterboard in the alcoves but after much squinting into all available gaps with a torch, the sight of rough stone and substantial wooden framework supporting the board, we decided to quit while we’re ahead and leave well alone!

I started this blog yesterday evening but was interrupted by a visit from our neighbour, Gordon and his son, Callum, bearing some of the fruits of their successful day’s fishing…

Fishy interruption

Not only did they have a great catch but saw some wonderful wildlife too, including a 5-6 meter long basking shark swimming beneath the boat! Callum said how he’d tried not to hear ‘that’ music during the episode! Anyway, with Kevin at work, I had to take a break from blogging to gut and pack the fish, so to continue…

The weather’s continued to be beautiful and warm over the last few days and we

Day out for bikes

 did manage to get away from demolition and dust at the weekend. We took a trip to the mainland with our biking companions, Andy and Brian, taking the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. The trip involved taking a detour from the main Mallaig to Fort William road along the coastal route. The scenery was awesome, enhanced by the clear blue sky and the whole spectrum of autumnal colours. The route revealed both rocky and sandy coves, punctuated by the leafy canopies of  predominately oak woodland. We were finally rewarded with a crystal clear view of Ben Nevis as the vista opened up into a scene of typical Highland grandeur. Being on the bike, we could also get the full range of outdoor scents to accompany the views, from the smell of the seashore to the damp, earthy aroma of the woodland. Stunning.

Unfortunately, apart from a rest for lunch by the seashore, we were pretty much on the move the whole time as we were committed to the 4.30 ferry – Andy and Brian for B&B guests, us for fowl feeding – and as we know, distances aren’t what count but narrow, bendy roads do!

Lunchtime view

Why can’t things be simple?

October 5, 2010

Walkers and wood

The weather is still on the wet side to say the least, but that didn’t deter neighbours Andy, Brian, Dorinha and myself from taking a walk on Sunday along the forest track on the opposite side of the glen. Felling is continuing at quite a pace and the accompanying track is now more than two miles long. The log piles are quite impressive from this side of the glen, but up close the scale is amazing and the scent of pine delightful. It was quite nice to view the glen from the opposite side of the river for a change with all the houses, both old and new, strung out amidst a tapestry of autumnal colours.

A different view

Back at the homestead, I wondered today why the simplest of ideas always seem to evolve into an ever-increasing logistical nightmare? Back in January we decided to invest in a Rayburn stove, simple eh? Don’t you believe it. I don’t think I ever mentioned it on the blog as to be truthful, the whole experience warrants a blog of its own, which would have either a) put you to sleep, or b) had you tearing your hair out in frustration along with us! So, in a nutshell, after many broken promises/appointments, we decided that a multi-fuel stove was the thing for us! Finally, after lengthy deliberations, a seemingly never-ending choice of stoves, careful measurements and estimates, the long-awaited piece of ironware arrived today! So watch this space, because after repeated measurements and

Problem stonework!

 much head-scratching, it is now apparent that this is not just a case of slotting the stove into our existing fireplace, with some minor adjustments to the hearth, oh no! At the very least, it seems as though the (very solid) stone fire surround is going to have to be removed to be able to position the flue, but you know what? I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s going to be one of those nasty cans of worms involved somewhere along the line, just to make life interesting!

New arrival

A short but sweet relationship

September 14, 2010

It was another busy week last week on the social front when we had a visit from Kevin’s mum and sister. The weather was lovely for them and we managed to get out and about quite a bit, enjoying some of the wonderful scenery on Skye. The colours were particularly vibrant, with the heather making a significant contribution to nature’s palate.

Trottenish ridge

Dunveagan Castle

En route to Plockton

Another thing which we were able to share with them was the short, but sweet life of Puff’s latest arrival, which made its appearance in the world a couple of days before their own.

Puff, duckling no.1 and Bumblebee

Although she had been sitting on about fifteen eggs, only one hatched. Strangely, at first, she didn’t seem too interested in her new offspring – or it in her for that matter – and she kept leaving it to its own devices. So much so that on the second day, I locked mother and duckling in the duck house for an hour or so in the hope of providing some serious bonding time! It seemed to work and Puff was definitely more attentive afterwards. Even so, looking out for the duckling seemed very much a family affair, with all the Muscovies playing a part, particularly the older duckling which, after an initial aggressive attitude towards the newcomer, was often seen cuddling up with Puff and the youngster.

A family cuddle - Lucky and chance looking on

 With its black and yellow colouring, the wee mite reminded us all of an extremely busy bumblebee as it ran around the garden searching for who knows what in the grass! It was certainly an entertaining little soul and so you can imagine our distress when Kevin found it dead in the nest box at about a week old. There was no sign of injury, so we suspected that maybe it got suffocated whilst sharing the nest with Puff and the larger duckling. We’ve not had much luck on the duck front recently as none of the eggs we were incubating  – about the time of Chance’s arrival –  developed fully. Nothing much a l’orange  this winter then!

On a more cheerful note, things took a more positive turn with Brenda’s ailing chicks and in the end, although she lost four to aspergillosis, her remaining ten made a full recovery. Also Lucky and Chance are doing well and quacking loudly, which is good news for them as it means that they’re female! Francis Drake, MacRae and Huff are about as much male as we can cope with!

Dust bath time for the kids!

 

Chance and Lucky

 
When I went into one of our guest rooms the other day, I was greeted by the lovely sight of a trio of swallows sitting on the ‘phone wire just outside the window! They were doing lots of chattering, no doubt discussing the best flight path for their imminent migration!

Making plans

Bikes, brochs and baby ducks!

July 4, 2010

There are gale force winds accompanied by heavy rain today, but this time last week the weather was more summer-like, perfect in fact for a trip out on the bike. Andy and Brian, our neighbours in the glen, were up for it so we had a lovely afternoon’s ride, crossing over to Glenelg on the mainland via the small ferry at Kylerhea. The ferry crossing is at the point where cattle drovers in the past swam their beasts over to the mainland. It’s a great little ferry, owned by the community and travels from shore to shore throughout the day between Easter and October.

Ferry passengers

Arriving on the mainland we were rewarded with some stunning views and we also paid a visit to the brochs at Glenelg, which are are both well preserved examples of the ancient fortified dwellings which scatter the Highlands and islands.

Stunning views

Broch at Glenelg

It’s nice to escape on the bike for a couple of hours, visiting some of the spectacular places which we’re fortunate enough to have on our doorstep, but it’s also nice to return to Garybuie and check up on who’s been doing what while we’ve been away! One interesting development this week involves the Muscovy duckling. Not content with just visiting Biggles, it seems to have permanently moved in! We can’t work out whether Biggles has duck-napped the youngster, or Puff has enrolled Biggles on a parenting training course in preparation for the arrival of her second brood! Puff is never far away and seems happy to resume her maternal duties if Biggles needs to stretch her wings. What will happen when the new arrivals appear is anyone’s guess. It has to be said that there’s never a dull moment in Huff’s house and it’s been a real education this season in duck – and hen – behaviour! Interestingly, I was always led to believe that ducklings imprint on their mother, but obviously this doesn’t seem to apply in this case, unless it’s just a Muscovy trait. “Who shall I take a stroll with?”

Real mum...

or

...adoptive mum

Not Garybuie’s usual kind of new addition!

June 25, 2010

There’s been  a two-wheeled type of new addition to our lives this past week, rather than the more usual two-legged variety. It’s a Triumph Sprint, 900cc motorcycle and it’s red and shiny! That’s about as technical as it gets with me I’m afraid!

New addition

Kevin’s had a scooter for several years now, but to tempt me to ride pillion after over thirty years, something a bit more substantial was required. As it turned out, it seems that our postie, Chris, had just the thing! It was great to ride out together again after all this time, especially when surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Skye.

Long before Garybuie, aged 21!


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