Posts Tagged ‘days out’

Open for business

April 2, 2014

THE VIEW

the view

We are now officially open for business and the weather at the moment is certainly very holiday-like! No guests yet though but our first booking is on Saturday. It’s unusual to get people just turning up on the doorstep at this time of year. But we’re ready if anyone does! I can’t wait to serve breakfast in the new conservatory…

conservatory

I have to confess that I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with the windows! Everything is so shiny and new that I can’t abide a blemish! I’m not a lover of cleaning windows but last week I gave them all a good wash ‘n’ polish and then can you believe it, an over-night shower deposited Saharan sand all over them!!! Winds are coming from the south-east currently, picking up sand on their way. As long as the winds don’t become gale force as I certainly don’t want any accompanying camels! Anyway, they are all shiny once more, so clean rain only please Mother Nature!

Because the weather has been so lovely, we had our first we trip out on the bike this year on Sunday. I’m surprised that there’s actually anything left of the machine after all Kevin’s over-wintering polishing! Anyway, we travelled around the north end of the island, a lovely circular route. Although it was sunny, it was quite hazy. A day for nature’s muted palette. This is Duntulm at the northerly point of Skye…

Duntulm

We didn’t see any visitors but we did encounter an unusual pedestrian!

highlander

Other good weather news is that after recovering the polytunnel, I finally got around to getting it ship-shape for spring. No more Chicken-Spa, much to their annoyance!

polytunnel

Spuds are chitting, there are lettuce and brassica seedlings coming on nicely and some garlic on the go.

polytunnel

And yet more spring news: after assistance throughout her ‘confinement’ BB the Silkie is currently hatching her eggs! Hopefully, I shall have some cute pictures for you tomorrow! Also, it’s with a huge sigh of relief to report that Hamie is now much better. She’s not back to her tree-climbing self yet but she’s eating well and breathing easier. Fingers crossed.

hamie

Three-hour holiday

May 21, 2012

As the weather seems to have finally taken a turn for the better, we decided to take one of our three-hour-holidays,  well, nearly four actually! No guests on the previous night so no breakfasts, no laundry and no excuse for not making the most of the day. So, we hopped on the bike – maybe Kevin hopped but I did more of a stiff-legged, laboured slither. In my defense though, I am only 5’2″ and the bike has a seat which is waist-high. Also, any fluidity of movement is seriously hampered by short legs and armoured motorcycle trousers. Graceful I am not – think short Robocop!

Anyway, first stop was for coffee in Plockton on the mainland.

We then headed to Glenelg via the beautiful Ratagan Pass (Bealach Ratagain), where the view of The Five Sisters, complete with a dusting of snow, is superb…

From there we descended into Glenelg where there are two fairly well-preserved Brochs; fortified dwellings scattered throughout the Highlands, dating from around 2000 years ago. We didn’t actually spend time at them on this trip but I thought I’d show you one anyway!

Also at Glenelg is the wee ferry, our favourite route to Skye and our first trip on it this year.

A lovely short break!

A wee Hebridean Holiday,

April 26, 2012

Bed and Breakfast visitors are sporadic in the Glen during April. So, before the season gets fully under way, we thought we’d have a wee biking holiday with our neighbours over the sea to the Outer Hebrides, the northern parts at least, Harris and Lewis. Although it’s only a sail of about one hour and forty minutes, the Outer Isles are vastly different in appearance from Skye. They have a more rugged, bleakness about them. Harris has mountains, miles of sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Beaches on which you’ll find only the hardiest of visitors, even though some of them are among the best surfing beaches in the world. No doubt it’s the chilly Atlantic and a shared latitude with parts of Alaska which contributes to that!

We visited one particular, smaller beach which had a very interesting history. Back in 1992, a series of storms altered the profile of this particular beach, revealing an ancient stone age settlement, dating from between 400 ad 800 AD. Lots of archeological investigation was performed and one of the dwellings was re-constructed. The rest were re-covered by sand to preserve them. There are few trees on these islands, but evidence unearthed on this site showed that all those centuries ago, there was extensive woodland and the people had a varied diet including deer, fish and barley derivatives.

Unfortunately, as it’s early in the season the house remained locked but I managed to hold my camera in the gap above the door and flash into the gloom! I can’t interpret it for you but I’ll let you take a peek anyway!

They also had their own private beach!

Another old building which we visited, although not quite so old, was the 16th century church of St. Clement…

…with some wonderful graves inside, this one of the 8th Clan Chief MacLeod…

…and one for a bard of the time…

But the most ancient site that we visited, was that of the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, its construction beginning between 2900-2600 B.C.

Presumed to have been used for religious or ritualistic events, it has a burial site in the centre…

But for me, it’s not just the layout of the stones, or the wonder at the people who erected them but the stones themselves, which are Lewisian Gneiss, a metamorphic rock with striated patterns containing quartz and glittering mica among other minerals. Some of the striations are linear…

…and some are folded into intricate designs…

One curious sight during our travels on Lewis, was at the end of someone’s garden; a Whalebone Arch! Apparently, this is the jawbone of a Blue Whale from the last century, along with the harpoon which killed it!

The wind picked up on the second day of our trip which made for an ‘interesting’ bike ride to the ferry, and a fairly rocky journey back to Skye! Happy memories though of our brief visit to the rugged, ancient and magical islands of the Outer Hebrides.

Brief respite

January 5, 2012

There’s been a brief respite in the atrocious weather conditions today. We awoke this morning to a strange and recently rare, blue hue to the sky, with the greens and russets of the landscape once more in evidence! As tomorrow is supposed to return to the more usual wet and windy, Kevin suggested that we go out for a picnic. Neist Point was the choice, the most westerly tip of Skye. As ever the scenery was spectacular but with a particularly stiff wind which didn’t encourage any hanging around! We managed to find a sheltered spot down on the rugged, black basalt shore for our picnic, where we just enjoyed the sights and sounds surrounding us. It was too windy to get a photo of the Point from the more usual, dramatic angle, so the first picture is from a previous visit, just in case you missed it on that occasion!

picnic spot

Neist lighthouse

Now sheep aren’t generally known for their entertainment value, although admittedly I did have a pet lamb once who had the occasional moment, but on our way back up from the Point, we watched a flock of sheep whose antics made us smile! As if under some kind of silent instruction, a flock of maybe 100 animals suddenly started heading in the same direction towards the steep path to the top of the cliff. Had the dinner bell rung? Was there a sheep council meeting about to begin? They were certainly in no rush, forming an orderly queue all the way…

As we brought up the rear, we soon learned that the reason for the sheep’s sudden migration was apparently nothing more than that the top of the hill was bathed in sunlight, whereas the lower slopes were becoming shaded by the great craggy outcrop of Neist Point as the sun began to set.  Who said that sheep were dumb?

End of season

October 3, 2011

On Saturday morning we said farewell to our last guests of the season, Teri and Dean from the U.S.A. They stayed with us for one night en route to the Outer Hebrides with their guide, Dave, from Cameron tours. (www.camerontoursofscotland.co.uk) We enjoyed their company and also enjoyed taking them around the garden on the morning of their departure to meet all the characters at Garybuie, who Teri had read about on the blog. Teri has her own blog at www.teri-gonewalkabout2.blogspot.com which I really enjoyed reading.

Teri and Dean with Dave, the guide, in the background

We had contemplated remaining open during October but rapidly shortening days and sporadic bookings, resulting in food wastage, made us indecisive. However, when Kevin did a quick check on how many bookings we’ve taken this season, the discovery that I’ve cooked just short of 600 breakfasts immediately transformed me into an extremely decisive person! No more ‘eau de grilled sausage’ for me until next year!

Because of us having such a busy summer, we’ve had little opportunity to get out and about, so when yesterday had the look of a very fine day, Kevin suggested that we should get on the bike and head for the mainland for some lunch. It was a beautiful, warm day and the scenery was spectacular, with  pin-sharp clarity and vibrant autumn colours.

View over Lochcarron

Returning to Skye

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

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

Introducing ‘The Wick Chicks’!

November 8, 2009

Yesterday we managed to survive our second visit to the poultry auction in Dingwall. The previous evening we decided to go  with the intention of buying some new pullets to accompany Snowball and his girls. ( I knew we wouldn’t be able to resist!)  We had a fairly early start as the auction began at 10a.m. and fowl kicked off the proceedings.

en route

Worth an early start

It was worth the early start however, (although the ducks and chickens at home might not have thought so!), as the changing sky en route was spectacular. In fact the whole journey was wonderful as it turned into a beautiful day and with a light dusting of snow on the mountain tops along with vibrant autumn colours, the scenery just got better and better. It also helped to calm the nerves before they became completely shredded at the auction! At least we knew what to expect this time with the rapid fire delivery of the auctioneer. That in itself is difficult enough to follow, but combined with a Scottish accent and lots of squawking, quacking and crowing, a serious challenge is presented! See what you think…

Anyway, Kevin rose to the occasion and obviously nodded or winked in all the right places, (even though he did get a bit over excited and bid £5 more than we’d agreed on!), as we came home with three beautiful Copper Black Maran pullets. They originated from a breeder in Wick, hence  ‘The Wick Chicks’!!

Just in from Dingwall

The Wick Chicks


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