Posts Tagged ‘Patches’

The return…

November 10, 2016

…of Patches! After a month of being away from home and causing considerable heartache, she appeared from the log store yesterday afternoon, announcing her presence with a long and loud ‘MEEEOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW’! Twitchy to be sure, but after two bowls of food, she settled for the evening and is still with us today. Thank you all for your well wishes, they obviously worked!



Double loss at Garybuie

October 27, 2016

I know, I know, it’s been quite some time since you heard from Garybuie, but more of that another day. It’s unfortunate that my ‘Returning To The Blogging World’ post is one which brings sad news – on two counts. Firstly, Broody Brenda, our wonderful mother hen, died yesterday.

" Is this my best side?"

” Is this my best side?”

She’s been quiet for a few days, nothing specific but just winding down I suppose. She was ten years old and a great character, raising scores of chicks over the years. She was a frequent visitor to the kitchen, stealing any leftovers from the cats. All cats respected Broody Brenda!

Brenda with Dottie

And secondly, Patches has gone missing. We returned from our end-of-season holiday last week and we haven’t seen her. Our cat/chicken holiday carers didn’t see her but there was nothing unusual about that as she’s not keen on strangers and will only sneak back to continue her snoozing when they leave! We’ve been searching the area although she never wanders far. Plump as she is, she can move pretty fast the minute she hears a car, so being killed by one seems unlikely. I phoned both vets in the area, but no one has brought in an injured cat. With Brenda, there was hard evidence of her demise but not so with Patches so I still have my fingers crossed that she’s gone off in protest and sneaks back for food during the night. In our former life in England, we once had a cat go missing for six months after which he came sauntering up the driveway like nothing was amiss!


Lights out!

March 10, 2015

Today has been a beautiful day; barely a breeze, blue sky and only birdsong to hear. A peaceful end to the day as this shot over the polytunnel shows.


Yesterday however was a different story. Hurricane force wind and of course horizontal rain with a really bad attitude! We were working in the old church for most of the day; Kevin busy with his quail accommodation and me having a painting/spring cleaning of the place after a recent major clear-out of accumulated junk. We could barely hear ourselves think over the constant roar of the wind. The ducks persevered out in the field but all the other birds remained in the polytunnel, sulking. Thelma and Louise didn’t set foot over the threshold. Never mind, the slow cooker was on the go with dinner and there was a nice hot bath to look forward to at the end of the day. Then the lights went out. There had been two five-minute power cuts during the afternoon, but this one was set to linger. You get a feel for these things. If the lights suddenly go out, The Man with the Big Switch is seemingly messing with the Highland grid for some reason but if the lights flicker a couple of times and THEN go out, something’s broken! I’d just settled into the much looked forward to bath with my book when flicker, flicker, total blackness! Luckily Kevin was a good boy scout and rose to the occasion, gallantly appearing in the bathroom with some candles, lighting candles everywhere else and going out into the foul night to dig out the camping stove. My favourite thing. Lovely.

camping stove

It may look very romantic but it’s anything but and I allowed my self a minor grumble as I transferred dinner from the slow cooker into a pan as it hadn’t quite attained the required cooking time. However, one must maintain standards even when dealing with a temperamental, primitive cooking device so yes, that is a glass of sherry in the foreground!
For some reason, Patches, who HATES wind and rain, seemed to disapprove of the whole candlelit idea and promptly clattered out through the cat-flap into the night. Of course with every gust of wind, the thing blew open, letting in a very unwelcome blast of cold air. So, the boy scout stepped in once more, sitting next to the kitchen door, armed with my duck crook, poking the flapping flap closed when required. An unusual pre-dinner activity you must agree!

flap duty

Thankfully, Patches returned before we ate so we could lock that flapper!

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.


Time to chill

December 1, 2014

December; time to chill…



New foraging, new arrivals

July 16, 2013

Cutting silage

We’ve had some lovely weather recently and our crofting neighbour has made use of the fine-weather-window to cut the grass in the field behind Garybuie. He uses it for silage. The grass was very long and dense, very difficult for the ducks to negotiate. But not any more! It didn’t take long before three white bottoms could be seen, their accompanying front ends busy foraging enthusiastically in the stubble…

Bottoms up

Biggles also thought that it was a great place to take the kids…

family outing

At five weeks old, the 5 remaining Aylesbury ducklings also thought that it was a good idea to venture into this vast, new world. (Believe it or not, we have a second wobbly duck, although he appears only slightly inebriated, coping very well.) They headed straight for the furthest drainage ditch, as it’s the only near-by running water. We kept checking on them and they were having a great time. At one point, Kevin went to usher them a bit closer to home and he left them resting. Ten minutes later, I went over the back fence to bring them home for their tea-time treat. Four ducks ran towards me and one was on its side making feeble movements. Instantly I thought that it was Wobbly 2 but quickly realized that it was one of the more robust ducklings. We cuddled it and nursed it for a couple of hours or more but sadly it didn’t survive. And then there were four.

There’s been some happy news though, thank goodness, as Broody Brenda has appeared with three chicks. Not a great number but Big Fella was only just becoming ‘known’ to the hens when Brenda decided to sit. But at least we finally have some chicks about the place!

Brenda + 3

“Look dad, I’ve got legs just like yours!”

That's my boy

Still on the positive front, as I write two eggs have hatched in the incubator. No Silkies yet, but hopefully I’ll have news tomorrow!

The good weather came to an end and we seem to have been shrouded in mist since the weekend. The temperature dropped too and so I felt more inclined to have a quiet Sunday after guests had departed, continuing with my latest, as yet secret, pet portrait. Patches had the same idea and relaxed in the chair next to me while I worked!


Patches – self-appointed carer of ducklings

May 2, 2013

“What?” says Patches, ” I’m just checking that they’re O.K.”


“Someone has to keep an eye on the youngsters…”



“…making sure that they get enough to eat and drink.” (“Speaking of eating, I guess that they’re very tender at this age… Hmmm.”)


And when the cat’s away, the ducklings will play! They hurtle around the  floor and like nothing better than a quick dip in the cats’ drinking bowl to cool off!cooling off

In a different direction altogether, I haven’t shown you any paintings for a wee while. Of course I have less time to spend with my brushes now that the bed and breakfast season has begun. However, we’re not at full speed yet, so there’s an odd hour here and there to indulge myself! I’ve been on the farmyard recently, guess whose farm that is? Cecilia’s of course, over the ocean in Illinois.

DaisyThis first one is ‘Daisy’ and she’s painted in ink/watercolour, although because of the very strong light and shade, I think that she would have looked better using the Inktense Pencils which I used on the following painting, which I’ve called ‘Blethering’, as they produce much stronger colour.


But now I’ve returned to pet portraits, Pusscat being my current model. For this portrait I’m using coloured pencil on pastel paper – good for all that white fur!


Cats don’t need cushions!

April 18, 2013

Since Pusscat came to join us a few weeks ago, there has been some minor re-shuffling of who sits where. To be fair, the old fella’s been quite obliging and soon learned the seating arrangements of the established feline residents. When we claim our own preferred seats of an evening, the cats take up theirs; Hamie on Kevin’s lap and Patches on the rug in front of ‘The Beast’.

Kevin’s lap was hastily abandoned when Pusscat decided to occupy the empty space between us, Hamie moving into a fireside chair instead from where she could direct some serious black looks! (Thinking about it, I guess she can’t really give any other colour of look!) but last night, after much deliberation, she finally succumbed to her favourite spot…

Hamie returns

You may notice in the background that Patches is having problems all of her own! ‘The Beast’ is not in use now that spring has arrived (!), so the rug doesn’t have quite the same appeal. She’s now decided to take up residence on the other chair but just can’t seem to get comfortable!

“What’s this thing taking up valuable relaxing space?”…

No space

“Don’t you realise that I’m not a kitten ANY MORE? A girl needs room to manoeuver!”


“Oh well, I suppose this will just have to do! Cushions, who needs ’em!”

O.K. Patches, we get the message!

Getting ready

March 10, 2013

The ridge

I love scenes like this. Dramatic dark skies and a brightly lit foreground with such vivid colours. This was a quickly taken photograph. It might look bonnie but believe me, those clouds are being driven rapidly by the most brutal, freezing north-easterly. It’s a wind that brings tears to your eyes and bites your face, turning it numb. We’ve endured this wind, sometimes gale-force, for about three days now – even the ducks are hiding under the bushes! So, essential outdoor chores only which is fine, as this week I’ve been busy re-decorating the conservatory, where our soon-to-be-arriving bed and breakfast guests of the new season will enjoy their breakfast.


Not a pretty sight but I’ve finished it now and given the place a spring-clean too. It may be horribly cold outside but now that the sun rises over the hill opposite much earlier in the day, at least it’s been pleasantly warm while I’ve been working. You might be able to see some other seasonal preparations of a different kind on the table in the background. A propagating tray with tomato, pepper and chilli seedlings inside and there’s also another tray outside the propagator containing some newly germinated red cabbage and cauliflower seedlings.

As it’s Sunday and my re-decorating complete, I’ve spent most of the day completing a portrait of Patches, this time using coloured pencils on black pastel paper.



Festive food

December 23, 2012

I had Christmas foodie-project on the agenda today but before I got started, I went for a brisk walk up the glen, despite the wind and intermittent rain. Now that we’re down to minimum livestock to take care of, life has taken on a more sedentary pattern. Not good, so I’m determined to GET OUT THERE on a regular basis! At the top of the glen is a memorial…

memorial It’s in memory of Donald MacDonald, born in 1750 here in the glen. He was responsible for committing  classical bagpipe music to print for the first time in 1822 , thus “preserving for posterity a heritage of music which covers the history of the Highlands.”

HamsAnyway, cobwebs cleared and feeling a bit wind-battered, it was back to the kitchen for some Christmas food preparation. It’s a shame that we can’t have smell-o-blogs because honestly, if there’s something which smells festive, it’s a ham plucked straight from the cure; delicious, dark, sweet and decadent, but you’ll just have to take my word for it I’m afraid! However, the foodie-project today was to bone a chicken and stuff it, which makes a lovely, easy to carve roast.

chickenBoning the chicken is a slippery, time-consuming affair. Basically, cut off the parson’s nose and wing-tips, place the bird breast-side down, cut along the backbone with a sharp knife and carefully scrape the meat away from the carcass. Snap the leg and wing joints where they are attached to the carcass when they are revealed, then continue to scrape the meat away from the legs and wings. When most of the leg/wing-bones are revealed, pull them towards you so that you essentially turn the limbs inside-out. Gradually work at the remaining rib-cage/breast bone taking care NOT to damage the skin where it’s attached to the breast-bone; gently does it! And there you go, one floppy chicken! (And some great bones for stock!)

boned chicken

Place your chicken on a large piece of foil and prepare a stuffing of your choice. I used a mixture of cooked onion, minced pork, chopped cooked ham, chopped, dried, ready-to-eat apricots, red currants, grated orange rind, ground coriander, parsley and thyme. Place the stuffing in the centre of your chicken…

stuffed chicken

…then fold over one side of the meat to a central point, followed by the other side overlapping the edges and making a giant chicken sausage! Fold over the foil to make a tight parcel…

chicken sausage

…and turn it upside down in a roasting tin so that the original breast side is on top. Roast in the usual manner but increase your oven temperature for the last 10 minutes and split/peel back the foil to brown the skin.

So, that’s the chicken dish completed and another completed project is my painting of Patches. My first attempt was a diasaster and I’m not overly happy with my second attempt! Essentially, being a white wee puss doesn’t work well with my usual pen and ink technique, resulting in more of a watercolour – not my strong point! My mum-in-law bought me some pastel pencils some time ago and I think that maybe they would be the perfect medium for Patches. I’ve never used them before so I’ll have to read up about them and have a go!


And finally, regarding another indoor pastime, reading, I think I mentioned a couple of blogs back that I was reading a book called ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkess. I enjoyed it and while looking over all her research material at the end of the book, a book called ‘The Seven Daughters of Eve’ by Bryan Sykes caught my attention and maybe you’ll see why…

“In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, a leading world authority on DNA and human evolution was called in to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy. News of the discovery of the Ice Man and his age, which was put at over five thousand years old, fascinated the world. But what made the story particularly extraordinary was that Professor Sykes was also able to track down a living generic relative of the Ice Man, a woman living in Britain today.

How was he able to locate a living relative of a man who died thousands of years ago? In The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes gives us a first-hand account of his research into a remarkable gene which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line and shows how it is being used to track our genetic ancestors through time and space. After plotting thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world he found that they had clustered around a handful of distinct groups. In Europe there are only seven. The conclusion: almost everyone of native European descent, wherever they live in the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, the Seven Daughters of Eve. He has named them Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine.

In this remarkable scientific adventure story we learn exactly how our origins can be traced, how and where our ancient genetic ancestors lived, what their lives were like and how we are each living proof of the almost miraculous strength of our DNA which has survived and prospered over so many thousands of years to reach us today. It is a book that not only presents the story of our evolution in a wholly new light, but also strikes right at the heart of ourselves as individuals and of our sense of identity.”

I was thrilled to discover that our local library has a copy and I’m about a third of the way through it. It’s a fascinating read and Professor Sykes has a real talent for explaining a complex subject in a plain and easy to understand way – with humour in parts too! I think that he’s probably one of those people who is passionate about his subject and that passion just can’t help spilling out and infecting anyone who cares to listen (or read).

Merry Christmas!

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