On Monday we made another visit to Branklyn Garden and it was lovely. Each time we go there is something different to see and right now the leaves on the Acers and other trees in the garden are beginning to change to some glorious Autumn colours. Masses of Colchicums, tiny Cyclamen and autumn crocus are in full bloom, with some some herbaceous planting still showing lots of colour. Excellent coffee, scones and gingerbread greatly enjoyed, sat at a table on the lawn, with the added bonus of warm sunshine and the dogs able to accompany us.
Diary for the second half of August begins with placing the Bible and Bible bag (now beautifully repaired and conserved), both of which belonged to Beatrix, wife of the founder of Innerpeffray Library, into the specially commissioned storage and display boxes sponsored by my husband and I. The beautiful boxes were made for us by a bookbinder and box maker on North Uist.
We inherited a pond with a former waterfall feature when we moved to this house. Having decided to not reinstate the waterfall we are turning it into a rockery by planting into some of the rock crevices and adding two small troughs. A work in progress, with more additions/alterations to follow. We acquired several autumn gentian plants to put in the troughs and are delighting in the variations of the blooms.
I have been researching some 18th century female borrowers at the library and it is always a delight to look at the books these people were reading. ‘La Sainte Bible’ has such wonderful illustrations on the first page.
Out on our dog walks I am always looking at the plants. Masses of fluffy thistle seed-heads everywhere along the field edges at the moment. We came across this old, variegated holly tree with peculiar pale yellow suckers all over it, some leaves with delicate tinges of other colours. And then back to our garden and the magnificent display of Japanese anemones that are currently delighting us.
We have no shortage of Bumble bees in our garden. They absolutely love the Eryngiums, whereas the honey bees don’t go near them. Yesterday, I stood and watched them for ages – no social distancing for them or me! They were coming and going all the time. Sometimes, first thing in the morning, I see one or two that have obviously been there all night and seem to be snoozing until the air warms up and then off they go. Perhaps they have drunk too much the day before and were sleeping off their hangover??
The veg in the poly tunnel is doing really well this year. Lots of heat and lots of watering. This is the first time we have grown mange tout in there and it is a huge success as we have been eating them for a few weeks. We have a second sowing of them in there starting to crop now as well. Also growing in the poly tunnel are a third sowing of salad leaves – the first two crops have already been eaten by us and i am about to sow a fourth. The climbing beans have masses of flowers on them, so we should be harvesting the results soon, and we have broad beans in there that have been smothered with flowers. The scent from them is very pleasant and the bumble bees love them, so we should have a good crop of beans. We are also growing cherry tomatoes, beetroot, carrots and parsnips in the tunnel. Four big pots of strawberry plants have given us a tasty crop of early fruit but they are almost ready to be moved outside.
Around the tunnel we have three raised beds filled with potatoes, two more sowings of mange tout, onions, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, leeks, some borage plants (for the bees), brassicas (under the green net to keep the dreaded white butterflies off the plants) and a small area of one bed that I have sown with seeds to provide me with cut flowers later in the season. We also grow sweet peas along the edges of one of the raised beds, strawberry plants in pots along one side of the tunnel, three huge pots of early potatoes and an old barrel with carrots growing in it.
There is also a large fruit cage enclosing strawberries, raspberries, black currants, red currants, gooseberries, blue berries, a Morello cherry tree and two plum trees. Outside of that we have four apple trees and a pear tree.
We enjoy propagating other things by seed and/or cuttings. Currently we have a tray full of pots of young Delphinium plants, another tray of Iris Sibirica plants that have been grown from seed, lots of pots of young candelabra primulas all grown from seed, a pot full of Arisaema seedlings, another pot full of Trillium seedlings and another full of Aquilegias, two trays full of young oak trees (nearly 50!) all grown from acorns gathered in a particular location The latter are destined for a new woodland trail being created a few miles from us.
Usually I never take much notice of grasses but this year, probably because the walking routes have not been cut, they are quite wonderful. Varying in colour, shape and size. There is one type that is growing very tall, more like a Pampas grass! Another has very pink seed heads and they all contrast beautifully with the blue-green of the corn growing in the field. The recent showers have flattened some of them or made them lean over with the extra weight of the water droplets on the seed heads.
It has been an interesting week! Bees of all kinds very busy in the garden and in the wild. Honey bees and Bumble bees love the hardy geraniums in the garden. They also seem to like the wild roses along the hedgerows.
There have been day-flying moths out in large numbers over the past couple of weeks but this week there has been an abundance of Ringlet butterflies fluttering about amongst the wild grasses and other plants along the river banks.
Always something new to spot. The grasses caught my eye today. They are really quite beautiful and we tend to ignore them. The river was almost mirror still and we could actually see lots of tiny fish swimming near the bank. Very warm, very peaceful and we went home with very wet dogs!
Heard a woodpecker drumming, very briefly, and saw a Goosander with tiny chicks swimming along behind her. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph a couple of blue damselflies and a very orange butterfly that flew past very quickly. Several day flying moths about as well.
A breezy but warm day. Still on my wild flower recording mission. Photos not brilliant but some of the subjects kept moving in the breeze! I know the new fir cone isn’t a flower but I have never seen such a brilliant ‘lime’ green one before, so felt obliged to record it. Rather early for the bell heather to be coming into flower.
There seems to be more colour in our garden every day. The peonies are really looking good right now, as are the big poppies. This deep pink one is a particular favourite. The spiky green of the Eryngiums adds a great contrast to the bright colours of the poppies
Foxgloves starting to flower all around the garden – they are such great self seeders! Liking them so much that I am gathering ideas for another foxglove 3D embroidery project, as it is a few years since I produced the last one.
Little orchids coming into flower as well and they seem to love pots and sinks and also self seed prolifically.
Another beautiful rose that shows the palest differences in colour from flower to flower and has a beautiful, delicate scent. Two years ago we thought it was on its last legs but we pruned it back really hard and it had a couple of blooms on it last year and is looking really good this year, with lots more flowers. No idea what it is called, as it is another one that was well established when we moved into the house.
Pinks and reds seem to be the predominant colour at the moment! with yellow poppies sneaking in here and there and the wonderful purple of the iris. The lockdown has meant that we have got on with the task of clearing out two of the herbaceous borders and have begun to replant them, moving some plants around and adding new ones too. Lots of watering taking place every evening as the ground is so dry.
I just love this rose – glossy foliage, wonderful colour and fragrant scent. All at my front door and sometimes trying to get inside. It flowers for months and I look after it very carefully, dead heading and pruning on a regular basis. I think it is called ‘Golden Showers’ but it was here long before we moved into the house.
The countryside is so very green right now and certainly benefitted from the rain we had a few days ago. I am always looking out for wild flowers, birds, insects, butterflies on our walks but this particularly day was a bonus. The fir trees first caught my eye – on the first one, the new growth looked just like candles with a tiny red light glowing at the tip; the second one seemed almost to have tiny pineapples growing on it; the new cones growing on the third one reminded me of coconut pyramids that you used to see in cake shops!
The flowers seemed to be especially colourful; – the deep blue of the Speedwells; the citrus yellow of the Lady’s Bedstraw and the golden yellow of the Broom; the delicate white flowers of the Stitchwort; a tiny white flowered Vetch – never seen that one before; golden Buttercups; delicate pinkish lilac colour of Lady’s Smock; the purples of Bush Vetch and a variant white version growing with it – never seen this one before; finally the most vivid Red Campion that I have ever seen – a glorious colour.
Contrary to the popular belief of many who know me, my life is not just filled with walking, gardening, dogs, embroidery, sewing and all the other ‘crafty’ interests that I pursue. Researching family history – my own and that of others – combined with interests in most other aspects of ‘history’ and a love of books and their contents, and then sharing the discoveries with others through the written word, is very much to the forefront of my everyday life. I feel very privileged to be able to volunteer, and have access to the wonderful collection of books, at the Library of Innerpeffray and be able to carry out research on former borrowers, using the Borrowers Register (1747-1968), and on individual books. These are just a few of the books that have featured in recent projects or will feature in two projects which I am currently researching.
We have become very attached to these views and how they alter, depending on the time of year and day. Weeks of fine weather and lots of sunshine have been an added bonus on our daily walks, even if the blue sky gives a slightly false impression of how cold it was at times!
There have been some spectacular sunsets recently and this was one of the most spectacular.
We have two ‘masses’ of frogspawn in our garden pond. This one is now resembling a wobbling mass of jelly, as all the tiny tadpoles are developing and wriggling frantically around. Tidying up the border adjacent to the pond i realised that I had company! She ( I am presuming the size of her identifies her as a she) must have kept me company for at least half an hour before retreating into a space under the pond edging slabs.
Trying out a different photographic technique on these beautiful little flowers. I have always been fascinated by their varied colouring andt wanted to try and create some photos where the patterns and vivd colours were seen in isolation. Hence the blurring of parts of the image. I definitely have work to do on this technique but you have to start somewhere.
Like so many other places right now this wonderful library is closed. This creates a great gap in the lives of volunteers like myself, who would normally be assisting the ‘Keeper of the Books’ with various book related tasks and/or admin, welcoming visitors and giving them guided tours of the exhibitions and allowing them to handle the majority of the books in the collection. So I am going to create my own twelfth size version of the library inside a ‘book box’. I have been sawing the wood to make the tall book shelves and have also sawn 90+ little pieces of wood to make into the ‘books’ to go onto the shelves. Now just have to begin to assemble it all and make those tiny pieces of wood look like real books.
Out for a walk and we watched the snow storm coming our way. We were walking down the hill track and it caught up with us and the weather was really wild for a few minutes – but we were about 3 metres from the edge of it and only felt a few snowflakes as it all dashed past. It was very strange, as we couldn’t see a thing beyond those 3 metres whilst it was going by. The photos are of it moving away to the north and the east and then the view back to the north west from whence it came.
So excited to look out of the window early on Monday morning and spot these beautiful birds perched at the top of the neighbour’s fir tree. Grabbed the nearest camera that I could lay my hands on, as I did not want to miss out on recording their visit. Hence the very mediocre photos!! Waxwings are such a rare sight in this part of the world.
The recent stormy weather kept me indoors for a day or two and I decided to do a bit of printing by hand. It is a while since I last produced any cards in this medium but felt inspired by the magnificent display of snowdrops currently flowering at Innerpeffray Library and the winter seed heads that I collected from the track nearby. Each print is slightly different as a result of the technique that I use. This makes each card a unique, original print and as I only produce a few at a time, they are also limited editions, signed and numbered. They will be going on sale at the Library very soon, to raise more funds for the tree planting fund.
Favourite views from recent dog walks. We live in such a spectacular area and are so lucky to be able to experience these views on a regular basis. Despite the distinct lack of enthusiasm in the facial expressions of two dogs, they do love their walks and the snow. Just don’t like having to sit still and be photographed!
Into making cushions at the moment, adding three more to the ‘day bed’ decor. Using lots more Harris Tweed in colours that blend beautifully with the peacock feather curtain fabric.Also making use of some wonderful glazed pottery buttons, all purchased on Lewis in anticipation of a use, and some of the beautiful wooden ones made by my talented husband.
Christmas Day 2019 was a glorious day of frost and sunshine. We followed the same pattern that we have for many years – taking a picnic lunch and heading off in the car for a scenic drive. This year we decided not to go too far and headed northwards to favourite locations in Highland Perthshire. Even managed a walk on the moors with the dogs and stopped to enjoy the sunset on the way home. A lovely day.
At the beginning of October I spent a wonderful day on a stained glass workshop. Lovely and very talented teacher and I was so very pleased with the result of my first attempt at this new craft to add to my list of skills. Looking forward to another workshop to extend these skills in 2020. My design is based on a photo I took of a sunset whilst on Benbecula in September last year.
A cushion, commissioned by a friend, with the design based on a water colour painting by her of Loch Tay. All the pieces of fabric were Harris Tweed, sewn together to create the ‘landscape’ and then hand and machine stitching was added to embellish the features.
I was given some beautiful alpaca wool as a present and decided that I would knit a hat and a scarf. The hat pattern is based on a design from Shetland, with some of the same designs used on the scarf, plus a few traditional Fair Isle patterns and the remainder I have made up myself. Still knitting the scarf, as I am determined to use up ALL the wool!
Clever husband made this beautiful oak bed from the wood of two old, church pews. We wanted it to be usable as a spare bed for visitors but also as a ‘day bed’. Ideal for putting the feet up and stealing a few quiet moments to read, think or snooze. Three ‘pillow’ sized cushions made so far (more to come) and a Harris Tweed cover for the mattress just completed.
Our plan for the last day had been to walk on the beach at Losgaintir but when we arrived at the car park it was more like Blackpool! So, after a quick photo of this sign in the car park, which rather made us smile, we decided to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, as we drove back along the road we encountered the most horrendous rainstorm. We could hardly see to drive and the sky was black above us but as we drove on we could see clear clue sky to the east. So we rejoined the A859 and headed for coffee and cake at Skoon -in glorious sunshine. We remained on the east side of Harris all day and enjoyed the beautiful, sunny weather. Eventually we ended up at Northton where we all had a lovely walk on the beaches and sat for a while just enjoying the views. With Starlings for company! It was warm and very bright. The sunshine on the sea made the surface of the water appear like crinkled silver foil in some areas and sparkling with diamonds in others. Reluctant to leave but we had dinner reservations for the Scalpay Bistro and did not want to be late for their amazing food.
As we drove towards Losgaintir we could see that the black clouds remained and once again we encountered torrential rain. The water was cascading off the hillsides and forming torrents of water pouring down the road. At one point the burn coming down the mountain was so full it was flowing straight across the road and was quite deep to drive through. Then we drove up the hill and out of the rain into sunshine again and the roads were dry!
Sunrise 7.03, Tarbert, Harris.
A day when the blue sky headed northwards and we followed but never caught up with it! Still, it was high cloud, dry and still quite warm for most of the day. Our friends had never been out to Uig so we drove out there. Had a lovely lunch (delicious smoked salmon pate followed by equally delicious cake) so no wonder the cafe at the Community Centre and Museum was packed out with locals and visitors. We then drove out to Mhangarstaidh to view the sea stacks but, sadly, no view today of the islands of St Kilda on the horizon. Drove to the end of the road and then retraced our route as far as Miabaigh, where we turned off for Bhaltos and the wonderful Traigh na Bereigh, where we all had a walk. It was turning much chillier by then and we were lucky to just get back to the car before the rain arrived. The first rain we had seen in almost two weeks!
We were meeting friends off the ferry at Leverburgh so planned our walk to coincide. Walked out to Rubha an Teampaill. Dogs enjoyed the beach and then we walked back along the cliff top to the car. After an enjoyable meal with our friends at the Anchorage, Leverburgh, we all headed back to Tarbert, with photo stops en route. Glorious sunset sky out to the west and that warm autumnal evening glow on the hills at Losgaintir. Another wonderful day.
Not quite such a sunny day but still warm and the midges were threatening to attack. We have been wanting to do the walk to the lighthouse for some time but it would have been too much for our lovely old dog. Now that she is no longer with us it was actually a bit sad to be doing the walk without her – so perhaps the small blur on the first photo might have been a tear drop. Anyway, it was a lovely walk which we thoroughly enjoyed.
I loved these chimney pots on the houses of the former lighthouse keepers. Another larger building is under renovation and these beautiful Victorian tiles had obviously been inside a former entrance porch. It was a bit spooky though, because as I was taking the photo of them I heard a child’s voice talking to an adult male from behind the door! Were these the ghosts of former occupants?? I could just imagine how stories of mystery and intrigue result from such an experience. However, they were real people, seen later through a window.
Viewing the remains of the original lighthouse tower. It was one of the first four lighthouses in Scotland, with the first lamp lit in October 1789.
Crossing the causeway from Benbecula to North Uist. About to drive across the causeway from North Uist to Berneray.
Flowers still blooming on the Berneray machair. It must be wonderful to see in full flower.
A short walk near the beach on north Berneray before catching the ferry for the journey to Leverburgh, on Harris. As the little boy, seen sitting out on deck with his Daddy, said when they came inside for some shelter, the journey was a ‘bit wobbly’ at times when we turned side on to the wind. Glad we were parked behind some large motor homes, which took the brunt of the spray coming over the front of the ferry!
Ferry waiting to load and depart Leverburgh for Berneray. We drove up the east coast of Harris, stopping off at a favourite refreshment spot for coffee, scones and cake – Skoon Gallery – where we sat outside. It was so warm. Then moved on to our favourite accommodation on Harris, where we could enjoy this view for the next week.
Sunrise on Benbecula 06.22. Making hay whilst the sun shines on fields, moorland, lochs and sea.
Kite surfing. Seems terrifyingly fast to us! So many shades of blue.
As a volunteer at the Library of Innerpeffray(founded 1680) one can not pass by the opportunity to visit the studio of a very talented lady, on North Uist, who is a bookbinder, box maker, book repairer and has numerous other associated skills.
The ‘volcanoes’ of South Uist!! The cloud remained like this all day. The only clouds to be seen anywhere.
Crossing one of the many causeways that you come across on the Uists, we were astonished to see a pony walking slowly and carefully, yet very purposefully, through the water towards this small island. Unfortunately, we were not able to stop quick enough to photograph him/her on their mission. It was obviously not the first time it had done this and presumably knew that there would be lovely juicy grass to eat there. You can see how deep the water had been from the line along his/her flank. On the other side of the road were several more, quietly standing together, enjoying the evening sunshine. These are the beautiful Wild Highland Ponies of South Uist.
The end to another wonderful day. Sunset on Benbecula 18.43.
View of Eriskay from South Uist coast and then looking south west towards the hills of Barra. Crossing the causeway from South Uist to Eriskay.
The beach on Eriskay and the ferry arriving from Barra.
Back on South Uist we drove down one of the many small roads that lead across the machair to the dunes and the miles and miles of wonderful beach. Some flowers still in bloom on the machair. The early evening light on the hills gave an autumnal glow to the landscape and even the stone wall of this abandoned croft house seemed to reflect the warmth of the day. I suppose this is what you would term a ‘living roof’! Sadly it seems to be slowly giving up the will to live.
Another wonderful day.
We visited the Museum and Community Centre at Kildonan and saw this rather splendid replica of a Viking boat. Then we had to inspect the golf course at Aisgernis. If only he who plays golf had listened to my serious suggestion that he should take his clubs with him and play this course! I told him all about it but he decided not to bother. How disappointed was he when he saw the course! On such a wonderful day as well. Now definitely on the list for next year.
Just back from two weeks in the outer Hebrides. We spent the first week on Benbecula, exploring the Uists. Teampull na Trianaid was a must visit for me, as it is believed that John Duns Scotus (1265 -1309) studied there. The ruins are in a commanding position, on the west coast of North Uist, with expansive views all around. The only recent residents obviously built, and presumably raised a family, in this large nest at the top of an ‘interior’ wall.
A walk with the dogs on one of the amazing beaches and then a lovely sunset, viewed from our accommodation, that tinted the clouds to the south west, this amazing colour. Only sound was a skein of geese flying in to roost for the night.
A warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in September. Stately poppy seed heads; foraging, fluffy bees; lazy fluffy dogs watching a Blackbird on the lawn; a peaceful late afternoon flight. I hasten to add that the we were not on board the latter! Occasionally, at this time of year, on a calm and sunny evening, one of these huge things passes overhead.
And still the butterflies come to the garden in large numbers! After the Painted Lady invasion of a couple of weeks ago, this week we have had many Small Tortoiseshell butterflies and a few Peacock butterflies.
Out on a walk on Thursday we came across a group of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (I think this is what they were but find them difficult to distinguish!) on some thistles. We have not seen any Fritillaries for a few years.
The lovely poppy in our garden was being visited today by numerous of these dainty Marmalade Hover Flies. Don’t you just love the name? We see a great many of these in our garden.
Our garden has been invaded by Painted Lady butterflies this week. Masses and masses of them. At one point I counted 21 of them on this one shrub. The scent from the flowers was very powerful in the heat, even early morning, and this must have been the attraction. They were joined by numerous Small Tortoiseshell butterflies later in the day.
Our newly constructed moth trap has been tried out a couple of times over that past week and here are just a select few of the ‘captives’. I hasten to add that all the moths found in the trap were carefully released, after photographing them, into the vegetation over several parts of the garden. I have been delighted with the results so far but not satisfied with the photography of them as yet. The moths are not good at keeping still!!
Now just have to set about trying to identify them all. Not an easy task, as there are either so many variations in colouring of the same moth or very slight differences in colour and marking of the same group of moths. At least it was easy to name the Garden Tiger and the Swallow-tailed Moth! The orange striped one in the middle must be tasty to something, as it appeared to have had a chunk bitten out of one of its wings!
What a day! Warm and the bees – Bumbles and Honey – have been busy in the garden. The beautiful blue Eryngiums were the main attraction today. The bees were almost frenetic in their quest for nectar and pollen (some looking like gold dust!) and it was really difficult to photograph them because they were never still. Always on the move from tiny flower to tiny flower. The title should really be a ‘blue blur of bees!’ I actually quite like the blurred effect of the bees and the flowers – and that stunning blue colour. The honey bees were busy drinking at our pond today as well.
Another lovely walk yesterday, around our favourite Cluny House Gardens. Very warm and threatening a thunder storm. Drops of rain began to fall as we arrived but we managed to stay relatively dry under the foliage and just made it back to the car before the rain tap was really turned on. Everywhere very green with some rhododendrons still in flower, foxgloves in abundance, giant lilies and the magnificent remains of last years seed heads, dainty lilies, meconopsis, orchids, candelabra primulas and much more. Including a tree full of ‘paper hankies’!!
We had an away day yesterday, complete with picnic. A rare adventure for us on a Sunday! Binny Plants was our destination and what a delight it is to always see such wonderful plants there and be able to add some to our garden. It was a very warm day (a rarity this June!) and there were Bumble bees, Honey bees and Hoverflies all busy on the flowers but especially the paeonies.
I went to Harris intending to purchase only one length of tweed, for a specific project – a bed cover for a beautiful Arts & Crafts design bed. Knew exactly the colours and design of tweed that I was looking for and found that in Stornoway. But then I just couldn’t resist the lovely bright colours, and different designs, of the three lengths I bought at Shawbost Weavers. Then my willpower failed again – twice!- when I saw, in Tarbert, the muted colours of a tweed that matched perfectly with the three bright ones, and I spotted the deeper blue tweed in a weave I really like and already have in some other colours.
The expansive tidal flats at Luskentyre are a favourite dog walking location but when the tide turns you need to be on your guard because the area soon disappears under water. When you walk other beaches you notice how they change from year to year, as a result of storms.
At Northton the view has altered considerably in a relatively short time. The large expanse of bay, beyond the croft fields, used to empty completely at low tide but not any more. There is now a permanent lagoon at the head of the bay, a result of a sand bar, being built up by the storms, at the sea end of the bay. In these meadows at Northton is the only place we have ever heard a Corncrake.
We were amazed at the numerous expanses of yellow flag iris in flower, often accompanied by carpets of sunshine yellow marsh marigolds. Small meadow areas displayed a mixture of flowers but this was the only orchid we saw.
We revisited three of my favourite ‘rusty ruins’ and were saddened to see the inevitable further deterioration of the one at Quidinish but the one on Scalpay appeared to have fared slightly better. The rich ‘rusty’ coloured roof, with the ragged edge, atop the damp stone walls providing a growing habitat for delicate ferns, is in a very sheltered location that will save it from the worst of any storm damage. A new find was the old post office, by the shore at Manish,
Just returned from another great holiday on Harris/Lewis. The weather was extremely variable – from warm and sunny to wild, windy, bitterly cold and wet – but, as usual we went prepared for all conditions and actually managed to avoid getting wet. The golfer even managed to play 18 holes, on a less than perfect day, but the rain stayed away for just long enough and he has played there before in much windier conditions. The scenery is spectacular, whatever the weather, and there was only the one day when there was not blue sky and sunshine at some time. The dreaded midges appeared only once, on the only very warm and very calm evening, and they were out in force so we beat a hasty retreat indoors.
A wonderful visit to Cluny yesterday. Clear blue sky and warm. For me there are two sides to the garden at this time of year – the ‘ Spring greens’ and ‘the vibrant colours’. It is always such a wonderfully peaceful place to wander and the ‘green canopy’ overhead, combined with the “green carpet’ beneath it, is as beautiful as all the wonderful colours on display elsewhere. Add to all that the orchestra of birdsong and it is a magical place to be on such an afternoon.
It is a while since I did any dressmaking – the little girls have grown up a bit! – but now the dollies require new clothing. These two were a recent project. There is a third one but the favourite doll of the moment went home wearing it before I got the chance to take a photo. Good way of recycling dresses that are now two small!
This couple were like lodgers for a while. The cock pheasant used to sit on top of our 4m high hedge and seemed to to enjoy taunting our dogs. Then the happy couple would wander back and forward along the top as if they were out for an afternoon stroll. If they weren’t on the hedge they were in the front garden, sauntering around the lawn or hiding among the plants and shrubs in one of the borders. Thankfully, they seem to have set up home elsewhere to raise a family and our ‘girls’ are much happier!
Another drive over the ‘roof of Perthshire’. Amazing light as we were driving uphill and looking towards the mountains, and Glen Lyon, to the north west. Coming down into Glen Quaich the sunlight broke through the clouds and cast a different light over the landscape. We never tire of the views on this journey. Sadly, still very, very few grouse to be seen or heard on the highest ground, compared to two years ago when they were absolutely everywhere.
As we drove along Glen Quaich look what appeared over the brow of a hill. They were definitely on a mission, heading purposefully up the glen, but refused to come past the car – and we had nowhere else to go at that point to get out of their way. So there was a general impasse until the shepherd, on his quad bike, zoomed up behind them and encouraged them onwards. I love sheep – such wonderful faces – even if they can be absolutely stupid at times. We expect that they were heading for the huge, lambing sheds that we had passed about half a mile back along the road.
Much burning of small patches of heather across much of the moorland around highland Perthshire at the moment. This is done to encourage new growth on certain areas of moorland heather but not where there is peat bog habitat. These fires are carefully controlled by those in charge of them. We are used to seeing it frequently at this time of year but not often silhouetted on the skyline as these fires were.
‘Women in the library’ panel finished. Taken longer than we anticipated for some folks to complete (or not!) their little panel and so I ended up doing nine of them! However, all small panels are now sewn together and the finished panel is now on display in the library. The lady in the large portrait was a great benefactor to the library and I was inspired by the work of Sue Stone to tackle the portrait in this style. A first time for me to use this method and I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.
Tuesday, last week. Absolutely glorious day, so after an excellent dog walk we took a drive over the ‘roof of Perthshire’. Distant hills a bit hazy but it was warm for the time of year and not a breath of wind. Normally a great route to see Red Grouse at this time of year but we saw very, very few. Heard a few more than we saw but numbers must be seriously down on the past couple of years.
Winter Aconites are one of my favourite flowers and the bees like them too. We have a large patch of them right outside our back door. Despite very frosty nights there has been a little warmth in the sun during the day and this spot gets the sun full on it by mid morning. Yesterday a few bees were stretching their wings and enjoying what the Aconites had to offer. One of them looks as if it is about to curl up for a snooze in one of the flowers in the fourth photo.
Beautiful ‘blue’ sky day on Sunday – but husband’s camera took a silly turn and made every photo appear rather too blue! Problem now rectified.
We had a superb walk and then called in at Innerpeffray to see the snowdrops. Absolutely magnificent right now, especially along the path to the library. Where the new path down to the river has been created, and the trees cleared, the banks of snowdrops that were previously almost hidden from view can now be seen.
A really wonderful day of glorious sunshine, severe frost and crisp, clear air. Dog walking was a real pleasure and, in places, we enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our backs while our faces froze as we enjoyed the view towards the hills. Snow had frozen on the seeds heads along the field edge. I loved the way the shadows of the trees curved up the slope in one of the fields we crossed.
This Holly tree is still laden with berries. Obviously not tasty enough for the birds to eat!
Another glorious day but a cold, stiff wind from the N.E.. A day of jobs and dog walk. The latter was wonderfully refreshing. Blew any cobwebs away!
In my workroom now and watching the sunlight on the hills to the N.W. of us, just before the sun dips below the horizon to the S.W.. Working on my last lady, Maria Charlesia, for the ‘Women’ panel for the Innerpeffray project.
Yesterday was a day of high cloud, with a few glimpses of blue sky and sunshine, and a bit chilly but a good day for walking. These are the first Snowdrops that I have seen this year that are actually ‘in flower’. Lots and lots of others showing white buds – around the countryside and in our garden – but none opening up just yet. So yesterday’s sight cheered me up considerably.
Unfortunately, these beautiful little flowers could be in for a shock if the weather is anything like last year, when Winter really arrived in February and March! No snow on the local hills so the game keepers are taking the opportunity to burn patches of heather to encourage good spring growth.
A day of clear sky, sunshine and freezing temperatures. Minus 6C when we went out for our dog walk today. Wrapped up warm though and thoroughly enjoyed being out in the fresh air. Dogs had a god time too. Fir cones showing signs of having been eaten by squirrels, hopefully the red ones we know are around that location, were scattered on the ground at one spot just off the track. Many oak leaves, on the track, were adorned with frosty crystals.
In the garden some of our beautiful Christmas roses were looking very cold and forlorn.
It has been a gloriously sunny but very frosty day. Today’s dog walk was at Innerpefrray. Frosty ground, clear blue sky, planes heading west one after the other, after the other, and frozen drips on the field gate. Fabulous views to Crieff and the hills beyond. Back home to a garden where the frost has never ‘given’ over the majority of it, and a wonderful view of the golden light on the hills as the sun was setting. I just love winter days like this.
Busy with yet another quilt. This time for baby due in February. Knitting cardigans and jumpers for the one that arrived in November and for February. As this is the third quilt in just over a year, I hope the baby rush eases off for a while!
The elegant lady (illustration from ‘Historie of the Netherlands’, 1627) is my next embroidery project. Presently choosing fabrics and threads for her wonderful clothes. When finished it will be part of the “Women” panel for the Innerpeffray “Stitch in Time” project.
I have been looking for a while for a small seat, to place in the hallway, so that I can sit down to put on my walking boots. A couple of weeks ago, I bought this lovely, sturdy little chair, for £5 in the local Remake shop. Planned to re-cane the damaged seat but discovered that my stash of cane is now well past its best and it was going to cost me £50 to acquire some new. That would have made this a very expensive project. So a change of plan took place. I asked my other half to cut me a circle of plywood, which I then covered with reupholstery foam. Then I used some Harris Tweed, from my extensive (!) supply of purchases, to cover it. Himself then applied a little dark wax polish to the chair frame and fixed the seat in place. Perfect.
A dear brother of my maternal grandmother. Robert died in 1916, as a result of his wounds.
Robert’s school record shows that he was often in trouble. He obviously found it difficult to concentrate in class and is frequently recorded as being a distraction to others. On one November day, he is recorded as having been cautioned in school about his behaviour, ” He has repeatedly laughed out today and is extremely giddy.” On another occasion ..” R. Holliday was again warned – is very rough and insubordinate & flogging seems to have no effect.” Today, we would look far more closely at the reasons for his behaviour and, hopefully, offer specific learning assistance for him.
His absences from school, more often in the late autumn/early winter months, are usually recorded as him being required to be at home ‘.. helping his mother’ or ‘ absent without cause’. As my great grandfather was a gamekeeper and there would be large shoots to organise on the estate at that time of year, it could be that Robert was at home to help his mother organise food and refreshments for the beaters, and others, who came to work on these occasions. Practical tasks, which I feel he would have been very good at. At other times, perhaps helping his father or just playing truant. We will never know. School obviously presented many difficulties for him. When he left school, he joined his father, on the Coupland Estate, to work as a gamekeeper.
I can remember my grandmother saying that Robert was a practical boy and always wanted to be helping around the house or out with his father.
Just such a glorious morning today. Perfect for walking and lots of new smells for the dogs to investigate. Very frosty last night and pretty chilly out walking this morning. Our garden pond is frozen over for the second consecutive day.
Mist hanging in the glen and then lifting and falling again, creating magical effects in the woods. One of our favourite walks and an added bonus is that we rarely meet anyone. Some really atmospheric views through the trees at times and the wonderful golden colour of the larch, birch and beech trees glowed in the sunshine.
Monday was another glorious Autumn day and we made our second visit to Cluny House Garden in a week. Many leaves had fallen since last Wednesday – strong winds and heavy rainfall doing the damage. However, there was still much colour to be marvelled at and it was another wonderful walk through this woodland garden. The added bonus this week was the number of Red Squirrels dashing about all over the place. At one point we could see five of them at the same time!
More jewels! Just look at those colours. The magnificent blue seedpods – Decaisnea fargesii. We have never seen those before – such amazing texture and colour – and John just happened to be on hand to tell us what they were and kindly give us one, so that we can try and produce some plants ourselves.
A glorious Autumn day yesterday, so a visit to Cluny House Garden was our destination. Clear blue sky and the varying greens of many of the trees still to take on their autumnal tones, provided the perfect backdrop to the jewel like colours of the leaves on others. The colours are truly spectacular and there will be more to come as Autumn progresses.
It was easy to imagine that you were wandering through some magical place, inhabited only by birdsong and Red Squirrels. The latter were in abundance, dashing hither and thither from man-made feeder to feeder, and then up into the tree tops to enjoy nature’s autumnal harvest. It was warm, the air was still, humans talked quietly. Only the squirrels were in a rush! Slowly wandering along the paths soothed the soul. Apologies for being a bit over poetic but it was just lovely.
We have never seen so many fishing boats in the harbour before. Pittenweem is the busiest of the several harbours along this stretch of coast and has a thriving fish market. The buildings are so typical of the fishing villages of east Fife. Many are brightly painted and a common feature of many such villages right down the north east coast, are the step gabled roofs covered with red pantiles. The latter has to be a Dutch influence. At one time, red pantiles were shipped across from Europe as ballast in the sailing vessels and then left behind when the boat returned with its cargo. Nothing would be wasted and so the local inhabitants put the pantiles to good use on their roofs. It was altogether a very colourful scene and required the obligatory ‘selfie’, from the younger members, to record the visit.
The dark clouds loitered in the west but we continued to enjoy blue sky and warm (if you were out of the wind!!) sunshine, as we continued our trip, visiting Crail – clear views of the Bell Rock Lighthouse twelve or so miles off the coast, its white paint shining in the sunlight – and then northwards along the coast to St. Andrews. We did a couple of short detours along this stretch of coast, so that the driver could check out the golf courses!
Home via the Tay Bridge and a good view of the newly opened V & A Dundee building before heading west and driving into the ominous grey and very wet weather. It seemed to be our ;icky day and we were soon out of the rain again and it turned into a lovely evening. The day ended with a spectacular pink and red sunset. Lovely time had by all.
We have been ‘tourist guides’ this week to a 3rd cousin and her husband, who are holidaying in the UK from Adelaide, South Australia. It was so much fun having them stay with us and meeting Brett for the first time. On one of the days we toured the East Neuk of Fife, managing to escape some pretty awful weather and find glorious sunshine.
We headed to Elie first of all. The tide was well out and there were many birds feeding on the beach, where the patterns in the sand were as interesting as the feathered visitors.
Moving along the coast we went to St. Monans and then to Pittenweem. Delighted to see Eider ducks bobbing about on the water at the entrance to the harbour.
Blue sky, blue sea. Warm sunshine. The type of weather we always hope for and a golfing day planned for hubby. Unfortunately, having got the clubs out of the car and poised for action, we noticed a very flat tyre. Change of plan! Blow up tyre and drive very carefully back to Tarbert for repairs. A nail the culprit.
The golf was abandoned and we drove to our favourite lunching venue instead. We took the dogs for a short walk on the tidal flats, as the tide was coming in very quickly, before a final look at the golf course for this trip and then we headed home before this next fierce looking squall arrived.
Brilliant holiday. Very relaxing and very enjoyable. Despite what the weather threw at us at times. At least we had a very comfortable abode from which to watch the worst of the weather pass by.
A new visitor centre that will provide information about the islands of St Kilda is to be built in this location on Lewis. On a clear day, you can see the islands of St Kilda far out on the horizon. We had a fleeting glimpse, with the naked eye and through binoculars, before the weather enveloped them. The site has been chosen because the coastline in this location mimics the cliffs and stacks of the islands and it is one of the best places to actually get a view of St Kilda from Lewis. The geology was quite interesting as well.
Well, almost all the colours of the rainbow! There are many variations on the colour markings applied to the sheep. This is done so that the crofters can recognise their own flock when all the animals are out together on the common grazings. It is quite fun to see how many different colours you can spot in a day. Red is missing from this day simply because we couldn’t stop the car in a suitable place to photograph those sheep.
I just love the colours in the fleece of sheep in the first photo. The orange identification marking on the back of the neck blends in so well with the rest of the fleece. Wonderful mixture of colours for a tweed. A fine looking sheep.
The more we visit the Outer Hebrides the more we see how the colours in the landscapes influence those in the Harris Tweeds that are woven there. A simple view provides so many colour combinations and transports you to times past.
The long, narrow fields that are fenced off for each croft, with the greens of field and roadside against the blue of the sky and the greys of the billowing clouds. The blue and green, and a hint of red, of the long abandoned coach, slowly rusting away in a field that is taking on autumnal tints.
The boat builder’s shed, where traditional boats have been hand built for years and years. Such a mix of soft colours against the browning bracken.
A deserted house with a corrugated iron roof that is slowly rusting away and ferns growing in the stonework. Look closer and you see wonderful patterns on the rusting iron; stonework stained by water dripping from the roof and the assault of wild weather; discoloured glass that almost mirrors the colours of the sea; lush green ferns, growing in the damp cracks of the stonework, bring a stark contrast of bright colour against dark.
Lazy beds and hay stooks transport us back to a time when the croft was worked by hand. The scythe rests against a boulder, its job done for this year. The traditional wooden rake waits on the ground to be used to gather the last bits of hay. The netted hay dries on the stooks – hopefully – but rather late in the season for it to be of good quality. All the different shades of green blending together to enhance the pattern made by the lazy beds.
Just back from two weeks on Harris and Lewis. Some very interesting weather experiences, starting with a ferry crossing that was rather ‘boisterous’! The weather can change so quickly from one minute to the next, one hour to the next and one day to the next. The changing colour of the sea never ceases to amaze us.
Here we go from Scarista, South Harris, late afternoon (not a black and white photo or using any filters), to Luskentyre – 3 photos within five minutes- and then to a favourite beach near Ness, north Lewis, and finally to the Butt of Lewis.
A new discovery for me. A Red-legged Shieldbug wandering around the Borage. It is amazing how many different Bumble bees, honey bees and other insects are drawn to this plant. Apparently this creature likes to feed on oak, alder, apple and cherry trees, amongst others. Numerous oaks across the road from us but no alder. Now a tad worried about the apple and cherry trees in our garden!
Another commission, another clock. Customer absolutely delighted with it. Every one is different and made especially to the individual’s requirements. I have to say that I really loved this one and was a tad reluctant to part with it. It hung on my work room wall for some time – just to make sure the clock mechanism functioned properly! – before it was sent off to its new home.
A lovely warm summer Saturday and our honey bees were busy on the Borage. The occasional bumble bee dropped by as well. Just had my ordinary little camera to hand, so not the best quality photos, but I am quite amazed how many silky hairs show up on the Borage plants. The longer fine ones are obviously silky dog hairs and we certainly have a mass of these around the place! The honey bees were very calm today and totally unconcerned about my close proximity. Perhaps because I was quite relaxed about them too.
Just back from a few days visiting friends in Yorkshire. Lovely weather but a bit warm and humid on some days. Beautiful daytime and evening walks around the farm with the dogs and two of our ‘honorary grandchildren’. So lovely to be able to spend some quality time with the latter. Although they all live only five minutes from a busy town their farm is so peaceful and quiet that you could be in the middle of nowhere. We love it there and our dogs do too. Birdsong, blackberries in abundance this year (we picked several pounds to bring home!), chickens contentedly clucking (and not being chased by junior dog this time around!!), cows wandering the fields and the wind turbine busily humming away (sometimes!!).
A visit to the newly refurbished, and quite magnificent, Piece Hall was on our list. The last time we saw it, it was looking quite sad and in need of some serious tlc. Now looking very smart and being enjoyed by lots of families whilst we were there. However, we wondered why on earth, and at a cost of £19 million, the local Council had commissioned the use of very expensive stone setts, consisting of Pennant Sandstone from the Forest of Dean, Portuguese Granite and Carlow Irish Blue Limestone, instead of beautiful Yorkshire stone, to refurbish the whole of the central area that was once covered with Yorkshire stone setts. A beautiful piece of workmanship but the overall grey colour looks totally alien against the glorious golden stonework of the old building.
Out and about with flying things. Walking on the moors near Rannoch there were Scotch Argus butterflies everywhere.
Shown here – Rosy Rustic, Sallow, July High Flier and Antler Moth – identified at the Moth Event I organised at Innerpeffray in conjunction with Butterfly Conservation. Overnight conditions were much cooler than of late so we were unsure if there would be any moths in the overnight trap. However, we were delighted to record 16 different ones and everyone there was very enthusiastic. Hubby is now going to make a moth trap!
Noticed numerous ‘hover flies’ (I think!) feeding on the onion flower heads in our veg garden. In close up I then realised how beautiful these ‘flower heads’ actually are. Hundreds of tiny individual flowers.
Our pond has water boatmen dotting about all over the surface of the water. They are extremely active ‘walkers on water’.
I have been the lucky owner of a copy of ‘From The Land Comes The Cloth’, Ian Lawson’s wonderful book, for several years but have never had anywhere that we felt we could leave it out to look at each day. It is a very large book! Full of amazing and inspiring photographs. Now I have a suitable space in my work room (not on my work table, as seen here!) I decided that it needed a shaped ‘book cushion’ on which to sit comfortably and to protect the spine of the book. So what better to make the cushion with than Harris Tweed. Lined and filled with polystyrene balls the cushion shape can be altered to fit the size of the book.
The book has inspired me to look at the landscape and the cloth and experiment with some photos of my own, three of which are here. A good excuse to purchase the cloth to take the photos!!
Just completed the sewing together of the second panel for our “A Stitch in Time’ project at Innerpeffray Library.The ‘Alphabet’ panel is being much admired and the second panel will be going on display in the library by the end of this week. The jolly stitchers are already busy with the third panel which will be all about ‘Women in the library’.
Seona and I are about to begin stitching the fourth panel and just the two of us will work that, as it is going to be quite challenging. This will be the ‘Borrowers Register’ panel – just one large piece of fabric and lots of dates, names, books borrowed etc etc between 1747 to 1968, when the library ceased to lend books and became a ‘museum’.
It is great to have new stitchers, who are complete novices and learning as they sew, joining the contributors
Yesterday, junior dog mistook this Dark Green Fritillary butterfly for a leaf. She likes to play with leaves, especially Holly leaves! Fortunately, its movement frightened her and I managed to gather it up before she made a grab for it. I have never seen one of these butterflies before and the underwing colouring was amazing. The poor thing was looking rather bedraggled – adults appear in mid-June and last until September – so it had already had a hard life but on release it flew off strongly.
It is more often found along coastal areas, amongst dunes and cliff tops with flower rich scrub land, but “do occasionally stray from their usual habitats and turn up in the most unexpected places”.(Collins – How to identify butterflies). It is, apparently, a sun lover, so this wonderful summer we are having has no doubt persuaded this one to go exploring inland!
This incredibly warm weather is too much for fluffy dogs. And for their owners!! We have resorted to shortish walks to the river and then much splashing about in the cool water for the three of them. The two youngsters just can not be persuaded to swim at all, where as the ‘golden oldie’ would swim all day if you let her. However, these days we feel happier if she is attached to one of us when she enters the water. The youngsters just race around, back and forward, in the edge of the river.
However, she was unattached on Tuesday when hubby took them to the river, whilst I was volunteering at the library, and when he turned around, to make sure that she was following him, she had disappeared. Slight panic set in, as there are very steep drops down to the river, and much deeper pools, everywhere else but where we take them to. He found her back along the river, happily swimming around and around in a big deep pool. Only problem was how to get down to her and then how was he going to get her back up. How she got down in the first place, we don’t know, but think she must have slid down the bank. Hubby had a heck of a struggle to get her, and him, back up to the top. He got very wet in the process!
This morning she made a bee line for the same spot and would have been down there again if she had not been firmly attached to me.
Yesterday we visited Binny Plants, specialist growers of Peonies. This is the first time that we have seen their Peonies in full bloom and it was wonderful. These are just a few of them. I have quite a number in our garden already but added three more to our collection yesterday. They grow masses of other herbaceous plants – acquired a couple more of those for the borders – and we saw more that we will probably go back for when we have a bit of a clear out and make some room.
When I look at the sea in the Outer Hebrides it makes me wonder just how many shades of blue you would require to describe it all. The colours change so frequently, depending on time of day, colour of sky, amount of cloud and so on. I just never tire of photographing it.
This little beach, in north Lewis, is a favourite of ours. The cliffs on the south side are a favoured spot for nesting sea birds. I watched, fascinated, as a pair of birds decided on their nesting ledge. Each one swooping back and forth in turns, whilst the other perched on the ledge. Then they both finally approved and sat down to nuzzle beaks and nod heads. Obviously a good sign of things to come! All of them on these cliffs had chosen ‘a room with a view’ and the pretty decor of primroses (an excellent year for them, with banks and banks of yellow flowers everywhere you looked).
Loved the old, cast iron bath, to be used as a water trough for animals. These long, narrow fields, all with the same type of post and wire fencing, can be seen in many places where there is grazing ground, mainly for sheep.
Evening at Traigh Losgaintir. A majestic view in either direction. So many camper vans everywhere you go! Good job we know where to find the quiet places.
St Clement’s Church, Rodel, is a must place to visit. So atmospheric and some wonderful carvings. Often referred to as ‘the grandest medieval building in the Western Isles’. There were banks of primroses all over the church grounds and some very interesting grave stones.
The Anchorage restaurant, Leverburgh, is another must visit place. Langoustines, and other fresh sea food, to savour. And the view south towards the Uists is pretty good too.
Then you just have to stop and photograph the most famous location in, perhaps, all of the Outer Hebrides. The colours of the sea never cease to amaze and there is a fine view of the mountains of north Harris. When the tide is out the huge expanse of sand in the bay is a wonderful place for humans to wander and dogs to have fun.
What a difference a day makes. Light wind and very warm. The ‘Golden Road’ was the route for this day. Wonderful landscapes and seascapes and very blue. Some interesting rock formations, a field of former ‘lazy beds’, ‘rainbow’ sheep, one of many Massey Fergusson tractors (in use or otherwise) awaiting some attention, and tiny wild flowers. Oh, and a visit to the excellent Skoon Art Cafe.
Home again after holidaying in the Outer Hebrides -again! First day was wet, wet, wet and we never ventured over the doorstep. However, our accommodation had a huge conservatory on the front, which overlooked the harbour and across the Minch. Second day was very wet in the morning and so we visited Stornoway and went to the museum. Excellent exhibitions and it was special to see some of the Lewis Chessmen on display. The latter were difficult to photograph and it was a real disappointment that they had no postcards, or other information on them, available to purchase.
Returned via the west coast of Lewis and the day began to dry up quite quickly, so a walk on the beach was called for. Two of our party thought that races along the sand were more appropriate and what fun they had. A third member just kept wriggling on the sand and trying to escape into the sea, so had to be attached by a new, and very long, lead! There was a large flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover feeding on the water line. And snoozing, standing on one leg. Or they all just had one leg!!
By evening the sky had cleared and the view from the conservatory was spectacular.
Two walks – two days. Dog races out on the moors. Australian relatives enjoying a walk with us on the Perthshire moors on a beautiful (if somewhat fresh!!) May Saturday. Dogs had great fun!
Sunday by the River Earn. The heatwave finally reached Perthshire! A lovely, peaceful walk at Innerpeffray that took in the ruined castle, the banks of the river Earn, Perthshire lambs enjoying the warm sunshine and some panoramic views of fertile Strathearn.
What more could anyone ask for.
Our first visit to Cluny for 2018. Wonderful displays of Erythroniums and Hellebores. A few rhododendrons in flower but many plants are going to flower much later this year due to the prolonged winter weather. The boost of warmth last week obviously helped things along quite dramatically but the trees and shrubs, and the magnolias, and many of the other plants will be starting to be at their best in a couple of weeks time. Still a wonderful place to visit. So quiet and peaceful to wander around, accompanied only by the bird song and, of course, always the delight of seeing the Red Squirrels dashing about and at the feeders.
Over the past year, seven of the volunteers and friends of the Library at Innerpeffray have been stitching. The seven of us, including two who had never embroidered before, have worked on the letters of the alphabet. Each letter is a woodblock design printed in some of the oldest books in the collection housed in the Library. We have all interpreted the design in our own way and then I have sewn them all together to form this panel, which is now hanging in the Library.
Five of us are well on the way to completing the next panel, which will show favourite illustrations of fauna and characters from the book collection. We have plans in place for a further six or seven panels, each one illustrating a different aspect of the wonderful history of the Library and the history of the landscape around it.
Innerpeffray is a beautiful place where history surrounds you. Looking at the view over the River Earn towards Crieff one can imagine the fields full of up to 30,000 cattle, gathered there for the Drovers’ market. The cattle, having been driven there from all over the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, were gathered here to be sold to buyers from the south of Scotland and northern England, or to rest before moving onto to other market locations.
What tales could the walls of the ruined castle tell? Events in the life of David Drummond, the Founder of the Library at Innerpeffray? Stories of the life in the surrounding countryside hundreds of years ago?
The stone at the junction of tracks. Beautiful lichens first catch the eye, glowing in the sunshine, and then you notice the feint remains of something else. Lines and the remains of lettering. An ancient way marker perhaps? Something to investigate further!
We have just been so busy with work on the house that I don’t seem to have found time to take photos. The “Beast from the East’ kept the car on the drive for a few days and then the ‘mini beast’ followed at the weekend. So, so cold! However, it was such a glorious day on Monday – and the golf course was covered with snow – that we went for a drive instead. A break form all the work at home.
The air was so clear and not a cloud in the sky all day. You could see for miles and miles. The dogs had great fun on their walk, in fact the younger two seemed to spend all their time having ‘dog races’ back and forward between himself and myself. The shadow of a tall, thin tree trunk made a great finishing line! Needless to say, the ‘Hooligan’ won all the races, almost flying over the ‘finishing line’ each time. Fluffy came a close second, when she felt like a gallop, and Grumpy ignored them both and did her own thing at a more leisurely and explorative pace. We wrapped up warm and meandered along, marvelling at the views and the wonderful pinky red colour of the trees.
This is a better photo of the copper mine cushion, shown in my previous blog, and a new cushion just completed for myself. The latter is my interpretation of a photo (one of many!) I took of this wonderful Iron Age house that has been reconstructed at Bostadh, Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis. After a storm, in 1993, a settlement was exposed in the sand dunes on the right of the cushion.
This location is one of our favourite places to visit and during the summer (open during weekday afternoons) there is a lovely lady there who gives you a fascinating insight into what we imagine the lives of the people who lived in such houses would have been like. We have been fortunate in that each time we have visited it has been a gloriously sunny day (often quite windy and cool!) and the sea has been an incredible palette of blues. On this particular visit there was a bank of cloud on the horizon but the islands had clear blue sky.
A lovely, cold, snowy day, perfect for a walk with the dogs. Road still a bit tricky to negotiate but 4×4 managed fine. Walked up through the woods and it was a ‘winter wonderland’ with the blue sky and the sun shining through the trees. Snow not too deep to begin with but then became much deeper and very difficult for the humans to walk through. The two junior dogs raced around everywhere loving every minute of it and caring not a jot how deep the snow was. The older one kept going on strike and sitting down because she had ‘golf balls’ of snow attached to the fur on her legs and she doesn’t like that at all. The view eastwards towards Crieff is always wonderful but even more so when it is snowy, and looking north west is just as spectacular. The sun had gone off the road as we drove slowly downhill and we were pleased not to meet anyone coming up it!
Out with the camera again. It was so cold that it was difficult to hold it still and I didn’t want to spend any longer than necessary outside setting up the tripod. Gone is the clear blue sky and the landscape white with thick frost. Fascinated by the ice crystal formations. Some of these look almost as if they were tiny spider webs frozen in time. Others are long spiky crystals. My favourite is the Sumach with that rich red colour and the tiny florets looking like sea anemones contrasted against the ‘spider web’ crystals.
The frost disappeared during the night and today is much milder and very grey.
1st January Super Moon! Fiddling around with the camera trying to capture a good photo of the moon which seemed to be much larger than usual. As I was taking the photo I noticed a hint of colour in the clouds. Downloaded the photo and adjusted various settings and came up with this that really shows up the rainbow colours in the clouds – most likely ice crystals.
Glorious sunshine yesterday on the west coast but bitterly cold. Boats in the marina at Dunstaffnage – viewed from the car park at Poppies after a delicious lunch. Then a drive up the coast to Glencoe. In the shelter, the sea was mirror calm and the reflections perfect. The landscape wore a golden- brown glow in the afternoon sunshine. The moon added drama to the Pap of Glencoe in the late afternoon glow as the sun was setting.
All the laybys through Glencoe, and out on to Rannoch Moor, were packed with cars and mini buses and all the occupants were all out taking photos. We were amazed at the number of people, certainly far more than we would normally expect to see at this time of year.
Today everything is monochrome – except for the red gates and beech hedge. Snowing steadily. Our first white stuff this year.
Our weather has gone back to being very frosty and sunny, which is much better than the unseasonably mild and grey of before Christmas. No snow yet in the garden but yesterday morning the hills were white with a fresh covering. Wales, the Midlands and the southern counties seems to be the recipients of all the latter at the moment. I am sure that we will not escape the white stuff for too much longer.
Complete contrasts today – white with frost outside and tropical orchids in full bloom inside. For the past sixteen months I have had at least four in flower at any one time and sometimes more. In our previous house I could rarely get them to flower again and if they did it was years between. We brought four in flower with us when we moved into this house last September and there has been a succession of blooms ever since. At the moment these four have pride of place, with four more currently with flower stems at various stages of development. Some are about to flower for the second time in this house! I am absolutely delighted with the success. The plants must really like the growing conditions in their new location.
It was quite interesting to read in a friend’s Christmas letter that he currently had seven orchids in flower. He was thrilled as this was a first for him. Like me, he has struggled to get them to flower again after the initial purchase. Ours obviously like being above a radiator (the latter are not on very often), no draughty windows and lots of light from the big windows. Oh, and the occasional watering by me.
A recent discovery whilst we were checking part of the collection. Lots of marginalia in this 17th century book and then we came across this – a love letter to “Mrs Janet Paton (possibly Laton?) Library Keeper At Inerpeffray”. We do not have a Mrs Janet Paton (Laton?) on the list of Keepers, so we are quite excited about discovering exactly where she fits in. A challenge for me to research in 2018! And who was the Albert who signed the letter? And who was Mr John? Who knows!
To Mrs Janet Paton (Laton?) Library Keeper At Inerpafry
I have many things to say but they seem
cold & impersonal than thy books So Sending
you my Love: and Service
I bid you Adieu
Just completed the re-covering of hubbies favourite chair. It has been very difficult but really quite pleased with the result. Now to sort the electrics in that room and then finally get rid of THAT carpet which was in situ when we moved into the house just over a year ago. I have been very patient!!
We have just been to Northumberland for a few days. Business, visiting old haunts and meeting up with dear friends. Some gloriously sunny days but it was bitterly cold. Just looking at the sea made it extra chilly! Always love these views but rather strange to see, almost on the horizon, the castle on Lindisfarne shrouded in scaffolding and white plastic sheeting whilst the NT carry out major repairs to the structure. It never ceases to amaze us just how busy this part of Northumberland is these days, even at this time of year. Oh for the days when you could almost have Bamburgh beach to yourselves!!
Another Harris Tweed landscape cushion completed. Used a combination of two photos from the same location for inspiration. Taken more hours than I would normally spend on such a project but I wanted to include as much detail as possible on the buildings. Already planning to visit this location again in 2018 to see what the lazy bed field looks like in the Spring.
Inspired by our latest visit to Harris I have been cushion making. This is the first one to be completed. Two very different options in one cushion! The landscape was inspired by the view from the window of the cottage we stayed in, with a bit of ‘poetic’ license used for the cottage depicted in this view. The ‘woolly bully’ I already had in my fabric cupboard, waiting for the right moment to be used.
We took a little detour one day down a very narrow road and came across this abandoned croft house. It was quite stunning, even in its abandoned state, and full of character. What stories it must be keeping secret! It was overlooking a field where the ‘patchwork’ of the lazy beds were still clearly visible and the hay was still piled up on wooden frames, then covered with net, to dry.
This fine tup was keeping an eye on everything, including us!
The Isle of Harris Golf Club, at Scarista, has to be in one of the most stunning locations in the UK. And on a day like last Tuesday it was perfect – glorious sunshine, very warm, hardly a breeze to even ruffle the flags and very quiet. Husband thoroughly enjoyed playing 18 holes and the dogs and I just sat, enjoying the views and chatted to a local worker who was upset that he had taken his clubs out of his van that morning because he normally carries them with him just in case! When two of his pals, having escaped from their work, arrived to play a few holes he was even more upset about the lack of clubs. Lovely friendly people.
On all our previous visits the flag poles have been at angles of 45 degrees, the wind was so strong, and you had visions of your ball being blown in totally the opposite direction that you had hit it! The sun has always been shining but invariably the rollers have been pounding on to shore quite spectacularly! On Tuesday they just rolled in gently.
These three Red Deer stags were calmly enjoying the warm evening – no midges! – and in the perfect viewing point for the sunset. However, the colours of the sunset on the evening we photographed the deer, from very close quarters, was rather pale but we could clearly see the St Kilda islands, 40 plus miles away, and that was an extra bonus.
We returned to the same location the following evening and the sun set was spectacular.
Just back from here. This trip we stayed just four miles from the ferry and the location was wonderful. We looked across to the site of the old whaling station at Bun Abhainn Eadarra. Daily visit from a seal, presumably the same one as it always hauled itself up onto the same rock. Gannets diving every day for fish. One morning a Sea Eagle skimmed the water and left with its breakfast in its talons.
There are times when our girls are totally under control one minute and then seriously wild – to varying degrees, depending on age! – the next. A beach seems to have this effect on them, at any time of day, but their favourite (and ours) expanse of sand is Traigh Losgaintir, Harris. What joy! And fun!
Quilts (there is another much smaller, cot/pram one as well) parcelled up and being sent off to the daughter of a friend. This one is so big that it will last through babyhood and on into adulthood! It will also make a super- sized floor mat for baby to roll around on, crawl around on and generally play on in due course. Might even be used for picnics but it will hopefully adorn a bed for a while as well. Loved making it and machine quilting it on my own sewing machine.
We took a drive to the west coast on Saturday and it rained all day – serious stuff at times! – until late afternoon when the sun finally made an appearance. The marinas down the coast were packed full of boats as it was not a day to be out sailing for pleasure. It was very windy at times as well. We saw only one yacht actually out at sea, with the sail and mast at a frightening angle in our inexperienced opinion!
We watched as one yacht came into the basin at Crinan via the sea lock and another much bigger one (the Pantagruel) entering from the canal. They must have been hardy souls on the one that had been at sea, as the weather was awful, with the rain being driven by the strong winds. We were sure they would be very glad to have reached the calmness of the basin and then the canal, as they entered the first lock that would take them on to the canal itself.
Almost ready to begin to make up the panel of letters of the alphabet from our Stitches in Time project. These have all been stitched using designs from the woodblock printed letters in the old books at Innerpeffray library. All the stitchers have a free hand to interpret the design as they want to with the only limitation being the finished size.
Over the past two weeks I have visited two wonderful exhibitions. The first was in Crieff where the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, all 306 panels, were on show. Unfortunately, no camera with me! if you ever get the opportunity to go and see this it has to be top of your list. The Scots settled all over the world, traded all over the world and the Diaspora records all of that. The individual panels were stitched all over the world and then brought together in Scotland. Look at the website for it and see for yourself. The design for each panel and the way that it has been interpreted in stitches is incredible for all to view and very inspiring for those of us who stitch.
This week I went to Alloa to see some of the 165 panels that make up the Great Scottish Tapestry. We know that this will eventually have a permanent home in Galashiels. All these photos are from this wonderful work. This tapestry concentrates on the history of Scotland from its emergence after the Ice Age until the present day. These photos (went prepared this time!) are just a few of my favourites from the visit, based on some my own interests. Unfortunately, half of the panels were displayed in quite a small space making it difficult to capture the whole panels except from an angle. Check out the website for this tapestry too.
A new quilt from an ‘old’ one! I started to make a patchwork quilt in 1978, after my first trip to Canada where I was inspired by all the wonderful old quilts that I saw. Every so often I would stitch various pieces that I thought would all eventually fit into my quilt. About four years ago I decided that it was time to do something with all the pieces and I ended up with two quilts – one big enough for a double bed and the other was more like a lap quilt. All the fabric used was spare fabric leftover from making clothes and other items during the intervening years, so there are many memories in these quilts.
Since moving house the colours of the large quilt no longer went with the new curtains I made for our bedroom. I had some curtain fabric leftover and decided to use the lap quilt as the centre piece of a new quilt that would fit the colour scheme. I bought the lovely fabrics for the surrounding panels and incorporated the curtain fabric into the four corners. I am quite chuffed with the overall effect and the result and it goes really well with the curtains. I even free motion quilted the outer panels with the flower shapes from the curtain fabric. Now just have to decide what I can do with the other quilt!!
We had a visit to Cluny House Garden this week – as beautiful as ever. Always on our list of places to visit several times each year but having missed out on those visits altogether in 2016 we were so pleased to return. Just a few photos of the stunning plants and added wildlife. The young Brown Hare was totally unfazed by the humans passing by and carried on with lunch, interrupted only by the need to scratch an itchy spot.
Best of all was the squirrel fix! We miss the daily visits of them to our garden. They are present around the area where we live now but not in such profusion and certainly not coming to our garden.
The latest project – using the woodblock letters from wonderful old books to create an alphabet panel as part of a long term project at my favourite library. Encouraging sewers and non-sewers to participate, the alphabet will be the first of eight or nine panels we plan to complete.
A great way to begin to copy a letter is to use freezer paper and trace the design on to it, as in letter B. Then you just stitch through the paper, following the design, and once you are finished carefully tear away all the paper. The cross stitch ones require careful planning, on graph paper, before you embroider them. These are my efforts so far.
We were tempted even further south than Wales by an invitation to the wedding of the daughter of special friends. On the way we made a deviation to visit Chedworth Roman Villa to view the wonderful mosaic floors.
Then to locate the church and ‘log in’ with friends. We arrived in the midst of making corsages, sprays and bouquets, so another pair of hands, and suggestions, was welcomed. There was much laughter and the mother of the bride’s hands survived the poking and prodding of stalks, thorns and so on, as the special bouquet was arranged. The wedding was lovely and I even wore a hat – until it conveniently blew off as I walked from the church to the car. We joined the family again for a Sunday lunch of ‘left- Overs’ and then went off to explore some of the Cotswold countryside. We spent the Monday visiting more places. Burford, Minster Lovell, Tetbury and Minchinhampton were some of our favourites – those beautiful old buildings are stunning.
Another area we now plan to return to.
First holiday in Wales. It really was the “Green, green, grass of ………”. We were amazed and delighted by the lush, green landscape of fields and trees – deciduous trees and not conifers! Beautiful GSWs and these much travelled ‘house builders’ kept us entertained. Wonderful accommodation and location – a place to return to again.
Surprise, surprise! Two old tractors and trailers heading out onto the mud flats in the Kyle of Tongue. Never seen this before. They took a slow, circuitous route out to the oysters beds – you obviously need to know exactly where to drive your tractor, even if the tide was well out! Then set to work – one group putting out the new frames of baby oysters and the other group harvesting the nets full of adult oysters ready to eat. A huge expanse of row upon row of ‘oyster beds’, that we have never even noticed before. Probably because they have been covered by the sea when we have been passing or there has been nothing going on to attract our attention to them.
We have long admired the wonderful creations of Lotte Glob and have acquired a few small pieces over many years. Her home and studio are on the shore of Loch Eribol, and if the “open’ sign is displayed as you drive past, it is well worth a visit. Her croft ‘garden’, in which she has planted 6000 trees, reaches down to the shore and is a sheltered enclave of peace, tranquility and wonderful pieces of her work.
The myriad of blue tones that glaze her work are a true reflection of the colours of sea and sky on a day as beautiful as the one on which we visited. Other earthly tones, pieces of quartz and other rocks all embedded in her art work, all reflect her love of the landscape.
The golden Gorse covered large areas of the landscape. We have never seen it in such splendid profusion for many, many years. Primroses were everywhere you looked. There were hillsides covered in them, river and stream banks, woodland floors – and just so many of them. Conditions must be perfect this year..
Then there were dainty violets – from deepest purple to pale lilac. Almost hidden in the vegetation, like little jewels.
And then there were ‘strays’ such as the ‘polyanthus’ we found growing amongst the primroses, in what was once a coniferous forest!
Terns are one of my favourite birds and I spent a happy hour or so watching these Sandwich Terns doing a bit of preening, displaying and ‘pairing up’ on the beach at Balnakiel. There were also some Arctic Terns when I first arrived but they flew off before I could get the camera out.
The Oystercatchers were on the beach at Achininver. They are such noisy birds! They spent ages in one spot, all facing in the same direction,and then there would be such a commotion as they flew up, circled and then landed in almost exactly the same place on the beach.
The Buzzard was perched on a fence post by the side of the River Naver. We watched it for quite a while before it flew up and moved to the next set of fence posts.
How is that for building close to your neighbours? Well, not exactly neighbours but there could be some argument as to how you paint the bit of the wall between the two buildings. It would need to be a very thin person or a brush with a very long handle!
There is this magnificent carved stone in the chapel. Well worth a visit to see that in itself. There is the remains of a painted ceiling and along the walls there are memorial stones to members of the Drummond family. The little doorway at the western end of the building leads to narrow stairs which take you up to a small room. This is where the Library of Innerpeffray began, about 1680, when David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie, housed his collection of books there and began to allow people to borrow his books. It was the first, free, public lending library in Scotland. The ‘purpose built’ library opened in 1763 and it couldn’t have been built any closer to the original one.
Much as I have loved reading, and tried to write, poetry for most of my life, I had never been to a poetry reading until Sunday. I am so glad that I decided to go to the Library at Innerpeffray to hear Jon Plunkett and Jim Mackintosh read some of their wonderful words. So inspiring.
They were at Innerpeffray because there are currently some of the plinths, that form part of the Corbenic Poetry Path, have been installed there temporarily. The photos show just four of them. Beautiful words, equally beautiful but simple, pieces of work using wood and stone.
A drive across the ‘roof of Perthshire’ never fails to delight. It is the time of year when the estates burn patches of heather to stimulate new growth for the grouse to feed on. The numbers of Red Grouse in this part of Perthshire seem to increase each year, probably because the moors are so well managed. Encounters with them are always a pleasure and especially fun to observe their antics, and the accompanying sound effects, at this time of year, when the males are doing their utmost to attract a mate and defend their patch of ground. The air was filled with their distinctive guttural cackling and it was almost possible to understand, from their postures, just what they were saying to each other. They were quite fearless and provided the perfect opportunity to observe them close up. Just look at the furry leg warmers they are all wearing!
It is that time of year again. Grumpy Red Grouse everywhere. Wonderful in one sense and humorous in another. The testosterone levels of the males are at their peak and there was much defending of territories and competition for female attention taking place all around us. There was no fear in the males at all and my red trousers and scarf seemed to be attracting the attention of two of them who were obviously seeing me as competition and making threatening advances towards me, at very close quarters.
Looking across the River Earn at Innerpeffray and thinking about Romans and Drovers. Been working on these topics all day and the mind is full of ideas.
The sunlight on the river looked just like silver foil, that had been scrunched up in your hands, as it shimmered behind the black trees and the golden daffodils.
This past couple of weeks I have been studying the Borrowers’ Register at The Library of Innerpeffray and thinking just what a wonderful resource it is for folks tracing their family history in the Crieff to Muthill and surrounding area. The Register is complete from 1747 to 1968, when the library ceased to be a lending library. Not only can you visit this wonderful museum and handle the books but you could search the Borrowers’ Register for your ancestors from the area and actually see what books they borrowed and when they borrowed them. It frequently lists where they lived, their occupation at the time and, if they could write, their entry will often be in their own handwriting (many would be able to read but not write) rather than entered by the Keeper of the Books at the time.
Innerpeffray Library is a place where you can very easily be distracted by your thoughts as you carefully turn the pages of a particular book. Sitting there, looking out of the windows and surrounded by all the knowledge in those wonderful old books, I often begin to wonder how many of the borrowers, during all those years of lending, did the the very same thing and then dreamt of going to the far off places they were reading about. I am sure that many were inspired to venture forth into the wider world, not just elsewhere in Scotland (although Thomas Pennant’s “A Tour in Scotland”, 1769, was one of the more frequently borrowed books) or the UK, but to travel to far off lands and make a new, and probably better, life for themselves or their family.
Innerpeffray was always a free lending library, not just for the ‘well to do’ people, but there for everyone to use and this is illustrated by the wide variation in occupations listed by the borrowers – weaver, farm labourer, wright, cooper, dyer, farmer, mason, merchant, miller, servant, shoemaker, tailor, surgeon, esquire, gardener, glover, student and many others. When the library was founded in 1680, Scotland was a poor country and its founder David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie, laid down that the library should be ‘for the benefit and encouragement of young students’ and stipulated that borrowing should be free to all. That was the very enlightened view of a scholarly man and a benevolent landlord. Many of his books still form part of the collection today.
When I was cutting back some of the dead growth from last year I came across these dainty ‘skeletons’. Pretty sure that they are from a campanula but I will have to wait until later in the year, when the plant begins to grow again, to see exactly what it is. I carefully gathered up some of them and then experimented with my camera and the light. One of the ‘bells’ still has the seed pod in it and you can see how it has burst open to allow the seeds to scatter. I feel inspired to create a piece of embroidery but unsure, as yet, as to what form it will take.
Last Sunday was a glorious day – sunny, warm and just a joy to be out in the garden. Our honey bees were also taking advantage of the warm sunshine and were gathering pollen from the masses of snowdrops, aconites and crocus that we have in this garden. You can see the yellow ‘ball’ of pollen on the back legs of the bees and on others it was bright orange. They were particularly active on the aconites.
Large clumps of Leucojeum vernum have appeared in several places along the borders. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these beautiful flowers, they are also known as ‘Spring snowflakes’. They grow considerably taller than snowdrops, with more robust and darker green leaves and the flowers look rather like waxy bells. I love them and brought a small number with me from my previous garden but they are not in flower yet. One of the delights of moving to a new location, especially one with a well established garden, is waiting to see what comes up each month. There have been some delightful surprises so far.
A very dear friend has just been on a stained glass course and this is her wonderful result. I love her clever, overall design and the delicate addition of fine details such as the fence, the sheep and the flowers in the green field. And those trees on the horizon draw your eye upwards. The finished work is destined, I think, for the window in her shepherd’s hut.
The vintage ploughing match took place recently at the opposite end of the country, on a fine, warm-ish, Spring Sunday. There were many competitors and it was a fine sight to see all the old tractors and other equipment in action. Disappointed though that there was only one pair of horses working.
Woke up to a white world this morning, which was a bit of a surprise. It continued to snow steadily all morning and then turned a bit damp, and exceedingly unpleasant, mid afternoon. Really raw and cold – not the best day for a new poly tunnel and fruit cage to be delivered. Hoping for a spell of better weather to get them both erected.
Never mind, the Christmas jigsaw is completed. Well almost! I think one of our four legged friends has helped herself to a bit because we can’t find it anywhere yet are sure we remember seeing it. Can you spot where it should be?
All in a day of volunteering. The snowdrops at the Library of Innerpeffray are really beginning to open up and the ground is a carpet of white drifts to brighten up a dullish day.
The bark on one of the big trees caught my eye – a tree of character.
And then there is the resident cock Pheasant. Such a beautiful bird but what a determined character he is. He persistently tried to get into the toilets yesterday! Was he desperate or just being nosey when the outer door was standing open? When you attempt to shoo him away he quietly chunters at you in “pheasant language” and makes no attempt to move off. Then when you go back inside the library he dashes forward to try to follow you in! On one of his grumpier days he will try to attack you and the other day he actually aimed a kick at the Keeper of the Books. She has his muddy footprint on her shopping bag as proof.
So it is not just the books that make this an interesting place.
Just finished making the curtains for my workroom. Wanted to create something really different and I am very pleased with the result. Used up some of my extensive store of Harris Tweed – and now have an excuse to go out to the islands and purchase more!! – and just made up the design on the cutting table as I opened up my boxes of tweed.
Really frosty this morning and a cloudless sky but has now clouded over a bit. Still, from my workroom window I can look across to the hills and they are bathed in sunlight. Bulbs popping up everywhere in the garden and there is going to be a splendid display of snowdrops. There are golden Aconites all over the borders – such cheery little flowers. Oh, and the rhubarb is sprouting!!
Although it has now clouded over it has been the most gloriously sunny day. The bees have been really active and it was fascinating to just watch all their comings and goings at the hives. They were probably very happy to be receiving a boost of food from their keeper and a chance to have a good fly around in some warm sunshine. Some of them were busying themselves on a large clump of Hellebores niger flowers.
Just outside the back door I spotted these little ‘balls’ of sunshine yellow. Winter Aconites poking up through the soil. It is quite exciting to see how this garden is going to unfold during the year. There are bulbs coming up all over the borders and along the hedge bottoms and it will be a surprise to find out exactly what they all are. At least then I will have an idea of where to site all the rest of the plants and bulbs that we brought with us.
Very, very frosty this morning but as the sun rose the hills became golden. Wonderful sight.
Then I noticed that there was a small flock of birds in one of the trees in our garden. The really vivid reddish pink colour of one particular bird caught my eye. There were about ten Bullfinches, male and female, but none of the other males had such stunning colour. I bet he has the pick of all the ‘girls’ for a wife this Spring! They were obviously pecking at the buds on the branches and stayed for quite some time. The photos are not the best, as I took them through the window, not daring to step outdoors and frighten the birds away, but i had to attempt to capture that colour.
Woke up to a really hard frost this morning, then by mid morning it was turning cloudy, then the sun shone for a while early afternoon and then it turned so dark by 3.00p.m. A very strange day. Anyway, managed to finish the curtain for the hall window. I had forgotten just how long it takes to make curtains properly, all hand stitched expect for the tape at the top. This is a very special length of Breanish tweed and I am just about to finish the tie-back which I have edged with a plain turquoise to match one of the fine lines in the tweed. Carefully shaped the hem as well, to follow the line of the skirting on the staircase.
The Hare curtains were finished two days ago and will be going in the downstairs bathroom. The man in the house is currently installing a new shower tray and new sliding glass doors, so they will be hung when the work is completed.
Third set of curtains completed for a bedroom but they are draped over the bed at the moment. A certain strongman went to close the old curtains and managed to pull the curtain rail down!! A new one was obviously needed, so a trip to purchase one is required fairly quickly.
The sewing room is a hive of activity at the moment. Lots of lovely tea cosies, as well as more pussy cat and chicken doorstops. Next on the list – a nightie for a special little girl, some fun fabric book covers and then back to the tweed to make a new batch of draught excluders.
Almost overnight the weather has gone from clear skies, sunshine, bitterly cold and very, very frosty to ridiculously mild, dark grey and unpleasantly damp. Good job many of the folks up the hill behind us have all got their Christmas trees lit up in their windows to cheer everyone up.
The sewing machine is in overdrive! A pile of orders to complete but I can easily make up more for the latecomers. Some lucky folks will have a novel way to warm their wine and others will have ‘sheep smelling of lavender’ (may be warmed or chilled!) to help them relax. Tweed tea cosies next on the list, followed by …………………
There has already been quite a covering of snow on the high tops for a while now but more fell last week and on a sunny morning (4th) we could see snow for the first time from the house. This morning there was a good covering and to a much lower level but it has remained a really murky, very cold with dampness in the air, day. Snow could be waiting for more!
A day for being indoors, most of the time, and making the Christmas cakes. I am about three weeks later making them this year but have been too busy with other things to get around to it until now.
The weather has been so wonderful for most of October, and now into November, that I think we have had one of the best Autumn display of colours for years. I call these photos “views from my window” – because that is what they are.
The first two are from this morning. We awoke to the first ‘serious’ frost and if there are a few more of these the leaves will drop very quickly from the trees – all over our front lawn! This bird seems to be a daily visitor – when he/she flies you can see distinctive greyish feathers that are normally hidden by the wings – and it is the only one that comes directly to our pond to drink. I think he/she must have been doing that for some time. This morning it seemed to have the deepest blue sheen to its feathers.
The next two were taken a couple of days ago, in the late afternoon, and the hillsides were glowing. They were the most wonderful mix of golden and green. We are very lucky to be able to sit in our arm chairs and enjoy that view.
A day of blue sky and sunshine and then very dark sky and rain. The trees, bracken and other vegetation are really starting to take on their wonderful Autumn colours and if the weather forecast is correct, and it is to get colder towards the end of the week, we should see some spectacular colours and landscapes.
Todays walk was dry and quite warm when the sun shone. I love walking through the woods at this time of year but we also have some lovely Autumnal colours in and around our garden.
A few years ago if we drove across these Perthshire moors you would see hardly any grouse. In fact, there was probably more chance of you seeing a bottle of Grouse than the feathered variety.
Over the past two or three years things have changed dramatically and we have seen more and more and more of them, whatever the time of year and weather conditions. Photos from previous blogs show some wonderful close ups on fine and glorious days but on Friday it was wet. Very, very wet! However, there were grouse everywhere and numerous large groups of them. This group were sauntering quite happily along the road and we stopped to watch them before they took flight. Photos taken through the windscreen but it was too unusual an opportunity to miss. And far too wet to get out of the car!
A lovely walk this morning on a new route for us. Dogs so excited about new paths to explore that even the oldest one is dashing around with the youngsters, ahead of us, instead of bringing up the rear. It was a bit grey to begin with but the sun began to break through the clouds and the day had really brightened up by the time we were home again. The route wasn’t all as level as it looks on this bit of the track and we climbed up and down quite steeply at times. Feeling remarkably fit at the moment but the knees were complaining coming down the very steep part of the route!
There were lots of fungi, of all shapes, colours and sizes, but with only my ‘every day’ camera with me the scope for photography was limited. These large red ones attracted the dogs and us and there is are an amazing amount of things on this little “Autumn landscape”. The bracken is turning the most wonderful variation of colours and it was magical in the sunlight as the birch leaves ‘rained’ down on us in the gentle wind. Lots of beech mast on the ground and acorns too. So many sweet chestnut trees in this area, with their fruit yet to fall. We can’t remember when we saw so many of these trees anywhere. There are some massive ones, obviously very old, even lining the roadside in places. The area has such a wide variation of woodland types that it gives walking an extra pleasure not to be amongst conifers all the time.
A spider had woven its web across our back door and it looked amazing in the early morning light. What clever creatures they are, even if I don’t like the big ones! The strength of their web always amazes me, especially when they construct them on the wing mirrors of the car and they remain fixed there for mile after mile.
The view from our window on the last evening in September. Wonderful.
Poppies are a favourite of mine, especially red ones. These are in our new garden and are such a vivid colour. I love the water droplets on the leaves – I took the photos on a very wet day. Surprised that they are flowering so late in the year but they bring an additional splash of colour to the autumn tints that are appearing on shrubs and trees.
Colchicums are also a favourite and I had numerous clumps of them in the previous garden. it was a delight to see some growing in the new garden and the bumble bee was obviously enjoying them too.
It has been such a long time since I added to my blog but I hadn’t realised quite how long until now. In that time we have moved house and location. Not via hot air balloon but this one passed by at very close quarters on the first Saturday we were in our new home. Gave us a bit of a shock, as at one point it plummeted at great speed, and looked to be going to crash land, before firing up again and moving past at a very low level, obviously looking for a safe place to land.
7.00a.m. this morning and there was one of our friendly little squirrels enjoying breakfast with one of the many Chaffinches checking to make sure that there is something left for her.
This squirrel (recognisable by its tail) ran off to hide when I went out to top up the feeders but then appeared again, almost at my feet, whilst I was still there. It appeared quite unafraid and sat up on its hind legs to look at me before sauntering off to watch from the herbaceous border. As soon as I was back indoors he/she returned to finish breakfast.
Typical damp day and the squirrels are back and forward to the feeders. ‘Wildcat” squirrel appeared for the first time on Thursday but didn’t want a photo taken! Today he/she has been very obliging, sitting quite happily on the squirrel box and helping him/herself to peanuts. His/her wonderful striped tail is very distinctive and unusual and reminds us of the tail of the Scottish Wildcat.
We have also had another ‘blondie’ visiting this morning. A smaller squirrel than our usual Blondie and with a very small tail which looks a bit raggy in the rain. He/she was feasting on the black sunflower seeds. This is the first time that we have seen any of our Red squirrel visitors feeding upside down on these seeds. They regularly do that on the peanut feeders but prefer to either sit on the peanut feeder and reach across for the sunflower seeds or sit on the sunflower feeder itself to eat them.
When you are going to move house there is a great deal of ‘sorting out’ to do and it is amazing just what you find. I thought I had lost most of the family photos but discovered a box full of slides. Modern technology allowed me to transfer those photos to my computer and here we have four generations of the same family. The 4th generation photo was taken circa 1959, on Rannoch Moor!
This ‘white’ peony is one of my favourites – so delicately pink on the outer petals when in full bloom and then a deeper pink in the centre as it dies. The transformation of the flower fascinates me, as it seems to take on a completely ‘new life and identity’ in death. The smooth edged, rounded petals disappear and the whole appearance becomes ragged and wild. Love it.
Poppies are so beautiful and a favourite in my garden. This one, as it begins to wither, still holds its beauty and reminds us, at this particular time, of all those brave and courageous soldiers, from whatever country, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme, 1916. May they all never be forgotten.
Our bees discovered this drinking source yesterday and have spread the message to others in the hives. They have been active there all day but there was a sudden frenzy of drinking activity early this evening. Fascinating to watch and they all do a specific ‘dance’ before they depart. The swimmer managed to reach dry land and buzzed off back to the hive.
All my designs are unique, in that I only ever make one in those exact colours. If you come across another one the same then you know that someone has copied my design! The purples/pink Harris Tweed shoulder bag is a recent commission. The Harris Tweed blue/red bag (27cm x 26cm x 5cm) can be a shoulder or hand bag.
The Breanish Tweed used for the cross shoulder bag (30cm x 30cm x 5cm), and for the picnic mats, is water repellent. Perfect for country activities.
Been too busy to do much blogging recently but here are some of our garden ‘wild life’. The Red Squirrels have been absent for a couple of months but are back. This photo of one of them was taken through the kitchen window this morning and it is easily recognisable as one of our ‘regulars’ by its blonde tail.
The Greater Spotted Woodpeckers are all year round visitors to our feeders but are very active at the moment and often accompanied by youngsters. This one was at the feeder outside the kitchen window yesterday morning and the way the sunlight caught its rear end made it look as though its bum was on fire!
Husband’s honey bees are very active on the Alliums at the moment and this was a not very successful effort, on my part, to photograph them. They won’t keep still!
The other four-legged ‘wildlife’ had just hurled herself onto the ground and was in mid wriggle before dashing off again after her pals to create yet more havoc. If you look carefully at the photo you will see all the midges hovering above her!!
The mill now offer bookable tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The only mill in the hebrides to do this and well worth a visit. Really interesting to see the rest of the process, especially once you have visited a weaver at work at home. All tweed given the famous Harris Tweed Orb has to have been woven at the home of the weaver. Most of the tweed is then sold by the mills, and much of it goes abroad, but there are independent weavers who sell their tweed directly to you.
Glorious weather over that past few days has cheered us up considerably. The camera was out early this morning. Quite why a flock of Goldfinches is called a “charm’ I don’t know. Yes, they are spectacularly colourful birds (even when photographed through a dusty window!) but there is nothing charming about them. They are the bossiest, noisiest birds at the feeders, chasing everything else away until they have had their fill. However, it is lovely to see so many of them in the garden.
Then one of our regular squirrels visited the feeders for breakfast and was suddenly frightened by something. It sat bolt upright, and motionless, on top of one of the feeders for a few minutes and then ‘hid’ on the bird table, cowering low and almost curled up, for several more. This photo shows him/her just deciding if it was safe to continue breakfast. We have watched several instances recently when another squirrel has appeared and then much chasing and dashing about the lawn takes place before one of them departs the scene.
The beautiful and delicate clematis looks stunning against the blue sky. The back of these erythronium flowers is equally as pretty as their ‘faces’ and the osmanthus delaveyii is a mass of blossom, filling the air on this warm afternoon with a wonderful scent.
What a week it has been – clear blue sky and even quite warm at times. An ‘away day’ to the west was called for and it was wonderful. So much so that we were reluctant to head home and sat on the pier at Oban just enjoying the evening sunshine and watching the boats. Blue sky, blue sea, primroses in abundance – especially along the banks of the Crinan Canal, favourite walk for the dogs at the beaver lake, delicious lunch at Kilmartin Museum cafe and amazing views out to the islands. West is best – on a day like this.