Posts Tagged ‘Pet portrait’

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!

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.


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



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’.

Settling in

January 22, 2014

As you can see, not much change in THE VIEW, yesterday, still grey with some heavy clouds. Still, it was mostly dry yesterday which was good although it was a fairly strong wind which made it unpleasantly chilly. I had intended to post this yesterday but accessing the internet at a reasonable speed was like pulling teeth, so here we are, a day late!

The view

I mainly wanted to give you an update on our New Girls who seem to be settling in just fine. To be fair, they did set off over the hills and far away on their first day, but they were easy to guide back and have remained reasonably close since. At least being white means that they’re easy enough to spot as they trundle back and forth in the field behind Garybuie. Making friends is a different matter; they seem to be content enough to be around the other ducks with no apparent aggravation – at least not that we’ve seen!

Getting along

The weird thing is that Huff seems to pay them little attention, spending most of his time wandering around the place policing MacRae, who unusually is on his best behaviour these days! We can’t work it out. The girls speak his language when all said and done so is the Daft Drake confused, thinking that they belong to MacRae because they’re white?

huff and white ducks

Anyway, in an attempt to encourage a sense of belonging, Kevin has now removed a panel from the dividing wall between the new and older muscovies, although the gap is covered by chicken wire so that they can see each other but remain be separated. Keeping them separate for a wee while longer is probably a good idea as Biggles in particular can be a grumpy madam when she chooses! When they are more integrated during daytime activities, we’ll remove the dividing wall completely so that Huff’s house will be almost double the size. Of course MacRae, Lucky and Chance weren’t particularly enamoured with their new home, but are gradually getting used to it!

huff's house

Returning indoors, I completed my kitten portrait. I found the picture here, a lovely cat blog which I often visit if I want to feel all warm and fuzzy! Next up is my still life for the SAA 2014 challenge. I’m off now to consult my collection of art books to see how I might tackle it!

white kitten

The View and a rotten process

January 14, 2014

I liked Cecilia’s idea of a daily view and enjoy watching the changing seasons and weather which it depicts. It’s an anchor within all the busy goings-on on the Farmy; animals are born, animals die but the view remains constant throughout the farming year – minus the odd tree limb! Now Cecilia is a generous gal, allowing her readers to use her photographs, so I hope she doesn’t mind the copying of her Daily View idea too. Of course I don’t post every day so obviously can’t provide a daily view so what, ‘Today’s View’?, ‘View from Garybuie’? or simply ‘The View’? How about THE VIEW Today? Cecilia took a few shots and got readers to vote which should become the Daily View but I’m obviously more of a control freak than she and have chosen the view myself! We are privileged to have lovely views all around Garybuie but the one that enthrals me every day is The Ridge. Its mood changes constantly; glowering, threatening, vibrant, grand, mysterious, hidden or staggeringly beautiful.

the view

For this shot I need to step over the wee bridge, which is Puff and Biggle’s favourite perch, to just outside the old church. This morning it was dry but I’m sure that I’ll get soaked at some point!

Speaking of the old church, as well as being used for storage (boys’ toys mainly) and accommodation for Mr and Mrs Silkie/newly hatched birds, it’s also where we ‘process’ various beasties. Usually this involves standing for many hours with cold hands and feet and a sharp knife, but I thought that I’d try a more veggie-friendly version of processing; my latest painting endeavour entitled ‘Processed Lamb’. I thought I’d depict the process by which I paint an animal’s portrait within one painting. My subject was one of Cecilia’s lambs and to be honest, the carnivore-friendly version of processing is probably prettier! The end result is completely unbalanced and the whole idea was obviously far to grandiose for someone of my limited skill!

Processed Lamb

Consequently, I’ve reverted to less adventurous compositions, this time tackling ‘Whispering Donkeys’, a potrait in pencil for a change.

Donkey Whispers

Now for a wee bit of Garybuie trivia! I was having trouble with my easel. I always use it at a slight tilt, sitting to work. Recently however, it’s been having a bit of a laugh and semi-collapsing under the slightest pressure, usually when I’m making a crucial stroke! Therefore, I set out in search of a flatter, more robust working service and Kevin provided the perfect piece of equipment! Can you see what the donkeys are resting on? Well, it’s the top of an old school desk but this particular specimen wasn’t from a school but instead was the top of the pulpit in the old church! I imagine that there was many an intimidating sermon delivered from behind it in the 1950s!!

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