Archive for the ‘Skye and Beyond’ Category

More travelling

February 19, 2015

In reality this time, not in the virtual sense! That was quite a trip on Tuesday though, wasn’t it? All those people wanting to chat over there in Illinois! Anyway, now we’re heading south; it’s time to visit the family once more, before the B and B season begins. So, here’s just a very short pictorial record of our route on the first day…

Leaving the mountains of Skye

Leaving the mountains of Skye

Loch Linhe

Loch Linhe

Waterfall in Glencoe

Waterfall in Glencoe

Garybuie heads west

February 17, 2015

Seriously west in fact; all the way across the Atlantic and more! Celi, on her Farmy in Illinois, has kindly invited me to write a wee bitty about what goes on at Garybuie. If you’ve never visited The Farmy, then this is your opportunity to meet some great characters, read some wonderful stories and admire photographs of the highest quality. Step this way…Patches

Plans for 2015

January 4, 2015

Someone started early with their New Year plans. On the first of January, Polly-Bluetail, one of the Musco-teers, decided to go broody!


We could do without it but as she made her nest in a sensible place i.e. the duck house, we’ve let her get on with it so that she’s not tempted to lay further afield. We’ve restricted her to four eggs only!

After the beautiful, crisp days of Christmas, we’ve moved on to gloomy, wet and often windy weather. Everyone just quietly gets on with their own thing.

By the log store

Puff and Biggles

guinea fowl

Lucky and Chance

Part of my own thing is to keep up with my paintings. One of them I started well before Christmas but had to put it to one side whilst Christmas gifts were painted. You may recognize her; she’s been pregnant and produced six kittens since I first put pencil to paper!

'Butter wouldn't melt'

And something more wintry!

Mountain Hare

Dad got me a great present this Christmas. A couple of years ago, I read a book entitled ‘The Seven Daughters of Eve’ by Professor Bryan Sykes.
“The Seven Daughters of Eve is a first hand account of his research into an extraordinary gene which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line, allowing us to track our genetic ancestors through time and space. Professor Sykes has found that almost all Europeans can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, whom he has named Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine.”

I’d decided that 2015 was going to be the year when any money I received for Christmas was going to go towards discovering which of those sisters was my prehistoric ancestor. But on Christmas morning, I opened a box which could only contain one thing…

Oxford Ancestors

…a DNA testing kit to determine my maternal origin! WOW! So, as soon as the Post Office was open after the Christmas break, off went my DNA samples to Professor Sykes’s team at Oxford University.

Apparently, dad was bitten by the DNA bug and had actually had his own DNA examined. For men, their ‘Father Clan’ can also be determined through the Y-chromosome, described in Professor Sykes’s book ‘Adam’s Curse’. Dad’s clan is that of Oisoin, which has existed for 35,000 years. His maternal ancestry goes back to Helena who lived 20,000 years ago. So, when I get my results in a few weeks time, not only will I know my maternal ancestry but because dad has his own DNA analysis, I also know my (indirect) paternal lineage too! O.K., I suspect that some of you have nodded off by now, so I’ll get back to the present day and our New Year plans for 2015!

On the Bed and Breakfast front this year, we are going to provide dinner for our guests should they require it. Nothing fancy, just good, locally produced food, a fair amount of it produced by ourselves. But the biggest project is to get into the breeding of Quail. We intend to breed them for both eggs and meat and will supply either local restaurants and/or the butcher’s shop. There’s a lot of preparation to do as we have to build accommodation from scratch, source packaging for our products and of course obtain Quail eggs to incubate and provide our breeding stock!

Frozen gate

Looking back

December 31, 2014

It’s weird isn’t it? All year long I think that we’re just doing the same old, same old, which in a sense we are; daily routines are the same, seasonal activities too. But within that daily and seasonal rhythm, many changes have occurred. Of course the weather alone is responsible for many of those changes and our regular shot of THE VIEW demonstrates that to a certain extent.

The View

The view

the view

the view

the view

The view

The view

the view

The View

Of course our other view can sometimes take our breath away too.



This year there have been a couple of structural changes around the place; a new conservatory replacing the old…



…and a new cover for the polytunnel. (The hens are VERY pleased – no leaks in their winter spa!)


It’s the animals however, who contribute most changes within a year. There have been some new permanent residents arrive at Garybuie this year. The Three Musco-teers…

The Three Musco-teers

…and latterly, the Guinea-gang.


There were plenty of non-permanent additions too. BB became a mum for the first time…

silkie family

…and helped to increase our Silkie breeding stock by two! Thelma and Louise.


Later, she raised six ‘regular’ chicks. Trusty old Brenda raised an early brood of four chicks and the Nest Thief reared 7. We thought that poor Brenda was doomed after being hit by a car but after some R and R, she seems back to her usual self.


And how can we forget what was probably the highlight of the year? FORTY-TWO Muscovy ducklings and all within the space of a week!


muscovy ducklings

We were fortunate this year as we only lost a handful of young birds. Unfortunately, we also lost Dotty, one of the Musco-teers, who was determined to make a nest across the river, never to return. However, our big loss this year was Hamie.


Overall, we’ve had a great year at Garybuie, certainly more positives than negatives. A great growing year for the fruit and veg, more success than failure on the poultry front and our best season yet with the Bed and Breakfast side of things, meeting many lovely people from all over the world. We have taken some time out from our wee patch of Skye this year, visiting Glasgow’s artistic attributes for the first time…

Some furniture designs by C.R. MacIntosh

Some furniture designs by C.R. MacIntosh

Druids, mistletoe

'A Funeral Service in the Highlands' James Guthrie, 1881-82

‘A Funeral Service in the Highlands’
James Guthrie, 1881-82

…and the prehistoric sites of Orkney. Beginning 5,000 years ago in neo-lithic times…

Skara Brae

Ring of Brodgar

…moving on to the brochs of the Iron Age…

Broch of gurness

…through to the Vikings…

St Magnus cathedral

…and the second World War – with everything that came in between!

Created by prisoners of war

Created by prisoners of war

Further time out took us south to see our rapidly growing grandchildren.

Holly and Jake


Finally, I’d like to share a touching moment with you. Two of our guests this year, Hans-Georg and Barbara, commissioned a pet portrait for Barbara’s dad as a Christmas gift. Just after Christmas, Hans-Georg sent me this photo of when dad opened his gift. Apparently he was delighted. It was a very kind gesture to let me share in the moment – a lovely gift for me in fact!

Sammy for Xmas


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!



Cameras can’t swim

October 6, 2014

Smoked salmon with scrambled eggThis time last week, after serving the last breakfast of the season, we hopped (hopped? me?) on the bike, trust camera in pocket and headed for Inverness to get some work done on said bike. The weather was glorious, so Kevin suggested a detour up a hitherto unexplored glen which was en-route.

The detour involved branching off from Loch Ness and its monster into Glen Affrick. It was, of course, beautiful and there were several tempting paths heading off to various waterfalls. However, the investigation of these paths will have to wait for another occasion when we’re not kitted out in full biker’s regalia; much too hot and cumbersome for a hike!

Glen Affrick

Glen Affrick

Glen Affrick

We stayed overnight in Inverness and the following morning was sunny and warm – HOT in the gear! After retrieving the bike we headed home. About an hour into the journey, there was an ominous looking sky ahead. Was that mist? Nope, rain – of the horizontal variety! So for the last two thirds of our journey we got a thorough soaking, arriving home with both our feet paddling within our boots and me wet through to my knickers because of the spray off the back of the bike! It was only the day after when Kevin was checking our abandoned wet gear that he discovered my wee trusty camera sitting in a puddle in my jacket pocket. It had drowned, weighing twice as much as it did pre-swim. The memory card had survived so at least I could show you a few shots of our trip but no more Garybuie’s blog until Wednesday, when Amazon assures me that a new, hopefully trusty wee camera will arrive. With wetsuit. And water-wings.

Yo, ho, ho and a trip to Rum!

August 27, 2014

The weather this August has been very unsettled with hefty showers and unseasonably cool temperatures. We couldn’t believe our luck therefore, when our one ‘re-charging batteries’ day of dawned with clear blue skies and only a slight breeze! So join us on a trip to Rum, one of the Small isles off Skye. Our reason for visiting Rum was to explore Kinloch Castle (big, fancy house more accurately) built by George Bullough at the end of the 19th century.
We travelled to Rum with Misty Isle Boat Trips based at Elgol on Skye. The journey to Elgol was magnificent, skirting along the base of part of the Cuillin Ridge. The Ridge was so clear it felt that we could reach out and touch them.

the Cuillin

The construction of Kinloch Castle started in 1897 using red sandstone imported from Coire Quarry on the Isle of Arran and took three years to build employing upwards of 300 craftsmen, including stonemasons, carpenters, wood-carvers, stained glass makers and many other specialist trades. One in particular however was almost unique, that of electrician, as Kinloch Castle was the first private residence in Scotland to have electricity, with a dam constructed on the Coire Dubh burn for hydro generation.
The bill for this exceptional piece of grand architecture and bespoke decoration was approximately £15 million in today’s money.

Kinloch Castle

The castle was built by George Bullough, son of James and grandson of John. Our main reason for wanting to see the castle, is that the Bulloughs hailed from Lancashire, the county where Kevin and I lived before re-locating to Skye. Howard and Bulloughs was a huge concern, manufacturing machinery for the cotton industry and was situated in Accrington, where we both did a large part of our growing up. (More accurately, I lived a couple of miles away in Oswaldtwistle, another hot-bed of invention during the industrial revolution.) John Bullough started life as a lowly mill hand but had a very inventive mind, coming up with various improvements to the looms of the time. His son James had a good business mind and at the height of business at Howard and Bullough’s, more that 6,000 workers were employed and the factory covered 52 acres. James Bullough bought the Isle of Rum in 1888 for the hunting and his son, George, inherited the island, and half of his father’s wealth when he was 21. And George certainly knew how to spend! George married ‘society beauty’ Monica Lily de la Pasture (latterly Lady Monica) a divorcee (George being named in the divorce proceedings) shortly after the castle was built. She in turn made her mark on the castle, with major redecorating adding a more feminine touch to certain areas of the castle.

kinloch castle

The place is stuffed full of the weird and wonderful, as well as some wonderful inventions. Amongst the many unique features (including air conditioning in the billiard room) is a very special music player called the ‘Orchestrion’. The Orchestrion is essentially an organ driven by electric motor that plays perforated card rolls. Only three exist and the castle example is the only one that can be played. Apparently it was built for Queen Victoria who planned to install it in Balmoral Castle, but she died before it was completed.



There are plenty of rare, beautiful and even downright sinister things to see chez Bullough, such as the monkey-eating eagle…

monkey-eating eagle

…hand-embroidered, silk wallpaper…

silk wallpaper

…the original silk lampshades in the ballroom…

silk lampshades

…the dining room…

dining room

… Lady Monica’s bedroom…


… a bath/shower which could probably squirt you in places you didn’t know you had…


…and perhaps most bizarrely of all, a naked portrait of Lady Monica on the first floor landing! I don’t know about you, but drinking a hot cup of tea in such a state of undress is not very wise in my eyes!

lady monica

An interesting piece of ‘gossip’ from the castle involves the ballroom; a beautiful room with a sprung floor which curiously has its windows positioned high in the walls, preventing any person outside from looking in. Also, the orchestral balcony in the room has thick drapes which could provide privacy for the dancers if required. There was even a ‘secret’ two-doored cupboard for ordering and receiving beverages by a swift rap and a written request, whereupon your drinks were prepared by someone on the opposite side of the cupboard and their subsequent arrival being announced in a similar fashion so that no lowly cocktail-shaker could view any bawdy behaviour in the ballroom! There’s a dance in Scotland called ‘Strip the Willow’; maybe the Bulloughs took it literally!!

As it was such a beautiful day, we even had the opportunity to have a walk around the area before returning to the boat.

kinloch castle

kinloch castle

kinloch castle

On our return journey, just to provide a perfect ending to a wonderful day, we were surrounded by a pod of dolphin who encouraged gasps of delights from all the passengers! They were way too unpredictably fast for me to photograph one leaping from the water, but here’s one just under the water next to the boat – so that you know that I’m not making it up!


Surprise boat trip

June 18, 2014

It’s very rare that we ever win a raffle or get the opportunity to take advantage of a special offer. Well, we took two nights off at the weekend to re-charge our batteries and on the first night, Saturday, we received an email from a new boating outfit offering free boat trips to B and B businesses as a promotional endeavour. And it was our day off the next day! The weather was good so off we went on the bike to Elgol, further south on Skye, where Skye Boat Trips is based.
There we met Oliver with his boat ‘Islander’


We also met Fin, Oliver’s sailing companion.


Our destination was Loch Coruisk, a loch surrounded by the Cuillin mountains and only accessible by boat or a very arduous hike over the mountains. I’ve had never been there although Kevin and his trusty running shoes have shared the mountainous route previously.

Oliver slowed the boat so that we could get a good look at the seals, due to pup any day soon. Of course for us to have seen that would have been expecting just TOO much!

common seals

Loch Coruisk was stunning, although we didn’t have the time to walk around it, but it was lovely just to sit and enjoy our picnic in such wild and unspoiled surroundings.

Loch Coruisk

The jagged Black Cuillin Ridge is in the background

The jagged Black Cuillin Ridge is in the background

We followed the river leaving the loch…

Loch Coruisk

…and out towards the sea.

out to sea

It really was a lovely way to spend our day off. Oliver is one of three residents on the near-by Isle of Soay as well as having fished the waters for thirty years. Consequently, he knows the area well and has a passion for it. It was an informal, informative and friendly trip – we were even offered tea, coffee or a soft drink on our return to ‘Islander’!

Anyone reading this post who has plans to visit Skye, or even Garybuie, then consider Skye Boat trips as a potential day out. Islander also makes wildlife trips and trips out to the Small Isles.


Back to nature

May 19, 2014

O.K., no crawling into tombs, clambering into stone holes or standing around admiring stony interior design for you today. It’s cliff-top walks and nesting sea birds. When our ancestors first came to this land, it’s not hard to see why they stayed. The land is fertile and the climate was warmer then, allowing them to employ their ‘new-found’ farming skills. Fish, both freshwater and salt-water, were abundant, eggs from the plentiful sea birds and game meant that they had a healthy, balanced diet.

fertile land

And look at the rock. Virtually the whole island consists of sandstone, much of it in slab form just waiting to be prised apart to build a home. Pre-historic flat-pack in fact!

Brough of Birsay

Mute Swan

Mute Swan





Nr. tomb of eagles


sandy beach

Black Guillimot

Black Guillimot

Out to sea



View from Cuween Cairn

View from Cuween Cairn

Brough of Birsay

Brough of Birsay

Brough of Birsay

Cloud over Hoy

Cloud over Hoy

More rocks and a broch

May 18, 2014

Our last day. Our first port of call was the Brough of Birsay. Some planning is required to visit this site as it is connected to the mainland by a causeway only accessible around low tide.

brough of birsay

There are some interesting rocks alongside the causeway. These fossilized sand ripples caught my eye…


…just like ones today.


The original residents of the brough were the Picts, who lived here in the 600s and 700s. Today the most obvious evidence of them is in the (cast replacement) symbol stone in the graveyard. Unfortunately, the lap-top corrupted my photo of the stone when it had a funny turn, but here is a shot of the information board so that you can at least take a peek at Pictish art.

pictish art

Much of their settlement was overbuilt by the Vikings and a lot of what is on view today on the Brough dates back to the Norse settlement from the early 800s to the 1200s. Development over time makes for further confusion, and the picture is not helped by coastal erosion, which probably means that a large part of the original settlement has been lost to the sea.
The church is the only really identifiable building remaining on the site dating back to about 1100 and was dedicated to St Peter. Though very small it is of Romanesque design. It probably had a square tower at one end, and a semi-circular apse at the other. Enough of the church is standing to reveal a wall cupboard on one side, and parts of two windows complete with evidence that they may have been glazed.

In the next picture the main structure is the church and its attached buildings and graveyard. Beyond this, towards the shore, is a confusing jumble of paved areas and walls that represent successive waves of Norse building over the top of earlier Pictish structures. One building has been identified as a possible sauna and bathhouse, probably associated with what might be an Earl’s house next door to it. Another area of slabbed flooring shows clear signs of the drain running underneath. In the foreground to the right are the elongated remains of early Norse houses.

brough of birsay

We visited our last – and one of the best we thought – piece of archaeology in the afternoon; the Broch of Gurness. Brochs are fortified dwellings and are unique to Scotland. They were built by farmers, successors to those who, many centuries before, built the great tombs of Orkney. The broch at Gurness was excavated in 1929. We’ve visited quite a few brochs in the past but this is the first one we’ve seen which has many internal structures still visible. Also, unlike many brochs which stand alone, this one is surrounded by a sizable village. Brochs were built in the iron- age, about 2,000 years ago.
This photo shows the entrance into the broch with its surrounding houses in the foreground.

Broch of gurness

Looking at the artist’s impression of how the buildings looked originally, it must have been an impressive structure.

broch of gurness

Inside we could see the central hearth…

broch of gurness

…and what are essentially stone cupboards…

broch of gurness

…and there’s a well which is constructed in a very similar way to the one we saw at Mine Howe the previous day.

broch of gurness

Here we are looking in through someone’s front door!

stone-age dwelling

Also discovered on this site was a more recent Pictish house. This was moved stone by stone and re-constructed a small distance away so that excavation of the dwellings underneath could be carried out. It is known as the ‘Shamrock House’ because of its lobed construction.

shamrock house

At the visitor centre there was an intriguing wood knot to peep through…

wood knot

…and take a look at life inside the broch.

around the hearth

Of course Orkney isn’t just about archaeology so tomorrow I shall share some of the scenery and birdlife.

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