Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!

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Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Lace-making begun

kintyre1 rachel and anna  So let me introduce you to Anna from the Czech republic, our tutor for the week.  That’s her on the right, showing Rachel from South Yorkshire how to get started on her piece of lace, a butterfly which you will see in due kintyre1 the earringcourse.  Anna had laid out a small exhibition of some of the pieces she thought we could tackle, including earrings and pendants to match, stylised, birds and flowers…,kintyre1 birds





….some elaborate jewellery….

kintyre1 jewelley






kintyre1 0sculpture



  … a simple sculpture, or individually the pieces can be napkin holders...


kintyre1 stonefish


…fish, using stones for the bodies…


 kintyre1 seahorse


…and continuing the sea theme, a seahorse. 

Linda, our hostess, has an old fish tank that she plans to use to display her fish and the seahorse! Sounds good!

Amazing what you can make with a few threads attached to bobbins, isn’t it! 

So most of us had made our choices last night, and prepared our patterns – pricking pin holes in card, in readiness for weaving our threads on their bobbins, and today we got started in earnest.  Anna is an excellent teacher, so before long we were all clicking away with our bobbins, deep in concentration.

kintyre1 linda2

So, to introduce us now…

This is Linda, our hostess…

kintyre2 rachel








kintyre1 Catherine






kintyre1 rosemary






kintyre1 pat






kintyre1 t'other pat


…the other Pat…




 kintyre1 mary2

…and Mary.




Next time I’ll show you the masterpieces  we are or have been working on.

Talk again soon.

Monday, 26 April 2010

To Kintyre

It wasn’t the best day for travelling yesterday, but at least the rain stayed off till I was near to Glasgow.  I got straight onto the ferry at Gourock, and I didn’t even bother to get out of the car to take photos, the rain was that heavy and the mist hiding any views like last Monday’s!   cowal to kintyre 006The journey to Tighnabruaich was wet and misty, but somehow the rain brought out the colours of russet bracken, the browns of the trees, mostly autumnal colours, just the occasional bright green of a newly budding tree or the yellow of the whins (gorse) here and there.   It did let up a little eventually but the mist remained steadfast.  There were to be few views.

cowal to kintyre 010 I was early for the ferry at Portavadie, so while I waited for the ferry I took a few photos!   This road sign is what my sister, years ago, entitled “Over the Sky to Sea”  inspired by the famous Scottish song “Over the sea to Skye”.



cowal to kintyre 014


Soon the little ferry approached the slipway.  There was no-one aboard – except crew of course – not a single car or passenger, and mine was the only car on the return crossing to Tarbert, though there were also three foot passengers on board this time.  

Last time I mentioned kyles being narrow stretches of water.  The Gaelic word for a narrow bit of land gives us Tarbert or Tarbet.  cowal to kintyre 022 Tarbert, Argyll, as this one is known, stands on a narrow isthmus at the top of  the Kintyre peninsula.  After such a grey day it was nice to see some colour in the boats and some of the buildings.


cowal to kintyre 032a clachan The last leg of my journey took me down the west side of the peninsula, where I took the old road into the village of Clachan to check if the house I remembered from my last visit some years ago, still had an old red telephone box as its front porch.  Some years ago BT replaced the old boxes with draughty old glass kiosks and sold off some of the redundant red ones.  The box was still in use as the entrance to the house – you will see it in front of the last house on the left, if you click to enlarge the picture.

cowal to kintyre 027 I stopped for a few minutes at Kennacraig to see the ferry bound for Islay, an altogether larger boat than the one from Portavadie. 



 cowal to kintyre 028 The rain had stopped, the light improved, so after a picture or two I continued to Muasdale, journey’s end, where friend Linda and hubbie Ken live.  I am here this week to do a course in Czech lace-making!  It was great to see Linda and Ken again again, and to meet the other lacemakers, and Anna our tutor.  Catherine was the only one I knew, but they seem like a nice bunch.  cowal to kintyre 035 Dinner was a beautiful cold buffet, then after taking photos of the sun going down across the water in front of the house – just past its best by the time I got the camera out-  we looked at the patterns Anna had for us, chose which we wanted to work, and were given homework – winding thread onto bobbins and preparing patterns.  cowal to kintyre 037 Some of us are staying in the wooden self catering chalet next door to the house , so we gathered in the chalet living room and bobbin-wound furiously, while watching Foyle’s War on TV. Gets the job done quicker!  So, end of our first day.  Tomorrow is another one and here’s to a good week of lace-making!

Talk again soon.

Friday, 23 April 2010

A birthday treat

It was my birthday a few days ago and Linda and I planned to have a day out.  Where to go?  Well, I chose a  visit to the Cowal Peninsula, on the west coast, via the ferry from Gourock to Hunters Quay – HQ – next to Dunoon.  cowal HQ ferry It meant driving along the motorway,  through Glasgow, to Greenock and on to the ferry terminal.  It’s only a 20 minute crossing over the Firth of Clyde with tremendous views of the hills and of Cowal itself.  

The colours were very special.  cowal holy loch The light on the west is quite different.  I’m not sure how I would describe it, but there’s a kind of “over-exposed” (in photography terms) look to it, and I love it!!!

We had a browse around Dunoon,  with its large houses along the seafront, originally the country homes of Glasgow business men and later, guest houses, cowal dunoon pier and looked at the old pier to where the boats used to bring Glasgow holidaymakers coming“doon the watter” – the water being the River Clyde - during the Glasgow Fair – two weeks trades holidays in July.  


cowal dunoon castle hill and houseAlmost opposite the pier is the old castle hill, the castle long gone except for a few bits of stone wall visible at the top, and the far more recent Castle House Museum. Along Argyll Street we looked at the shops, and found a cafe for a light lunch, then hopped back into the car again for a drive round the peninsula, starting by hugging the edge of Holy Loch, which  for years was the US submarine base.

cowal loch striven Turning off the main road north we drove towards Colintraive, with views to Arran over Loch Striven, then instead of turning down to the Bute ferry , our route took us the opposite way for more fabulous views, this time over the Kyles of Bute – Kyle is from the Gaelic word for narrow, and refers to a stretch of water. cowal kyles of bute Looking down from the viewpoint at the top of the road, we saw the ferry crossing from Colintraive over to the Isle of Bute.  It’s not a long crossing, probably only taking about five minutes across the Kyle.   Rothesay on Bute is another of those Victorian holiday destinations, but a visit there will wait for another day.  cowal tnb2 We were bound for Tighnabruaich ( Tie-na-BROO-ich, the Scottish CH), for no particular reason except the beautiful scenery.  I was in and out of the car taking photos: lochs, mountains, 

primrosescowal lambs






flora (primroses) and  fauna – well, lambs and a particularly cowal pheasant obliging pheasant who posed in the dappled sunlight coming through the hedgerow beside the road -  All I needed to photograph now, I joked, was a waterfall, and suddenly there it was,cowal waterfall a series of small falls cascading over rocks.  So pretty!

We hoped to stop at an inn we remembered from a previous visit to Cowal some years ago, but when we reached Ardentinny we found the inn closed till further notice.  Hmmm!  Sign of the times, I fear.  So back to Dunoon then, and found the most delightful Italian restaurant as part of the cowal hotel Argyll Hotel.  We ate the most gorgeous risotto, followed by perhaps the second best Tiramisu I have ever tasted – the best was in Venice – accompanied by the music of Eros Ramazzotti, a favourite popular Italian singer of mine.  It was wonderful!

Luckily the ferry runs till ten o’clock at night, so we aimed for, and caught, that last one, back to Gourock.  Going over to Cowal this way is like visiting an island but it is just a land peninsula, so if we had missed the ferry, we could have taken the much longer land route by Inveraray and Arrochar, and down to Glasgow by the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.  The ferry is far more fun.

It was after midnight when I dropped Linda off in Edinburgh, and about 1.00 in the morning before I got home, but it had been a great day out.

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Farming organically

whitmuir organic farmLinda and I met for lunch today at Whitmuir Organic Farm.  At least it was a bright day today, unlike the two previous visits I’ve made there when there was snow all around.


whitmuir farmIt’s a lovely farm, on a gentle slope with views over the duckpond, and the countryside beyond, to the Pentland Hills in the distance.the old ford




whitmuir organics 037 After lunch and browsing the shop we found that we could go to visit the sheds and poly-tunnels housing pigs and their piglets, ewes and their lambs. 

ma and the babes



I had to see the piglets! 



a beatific smile

They were in a big shed, with the mums and other “ladies in waiting”  lazing around, while they played and ran around.   Take a look at this beatific smile!!! 


meg and pigletsMost of my piglet photos were blurred as piglets don’t stand still too long, but later I got photos of  week-old orphan triplets – tiny Tamworths – their tails as straight as pokers.  (I read somewhere that their tails only start to curl after a few weeks! )  They were being bottle-fed by Meg.  I do hope I didn’t hear anyone say Pork chops!

As well as the pigs, there are cows and sheep, hens, geese and ducks at Whitmuir.  The meat they sell in the shop is butchered at the farm, and they also grow a great variety of crops to sell.  Next week the U3A gardening group is paying a visit to the farm for a guided tour, so no doubt I’ll find out more about what goes on there then.  Today was only a quick look around.  I’ll be interested to see how the Tamworth triplets have grown by next week too. 

Oh, and by the way, when I got into my car this morning there was a fine layer of dust on the windscreen!  It hasn’t been parked in an area likely to get traffic dirt over it, and I don’t normally have to clean the screen after only a couple of days parking there, so I’m saying it was ash from Iceland, though Linda told me that the News said this morning that it had only affected Shetland and the far north.  Who knows? 

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The garden mainly

I thought someone was kidding today at the shop when they said that all the British airports were closed  – but they were right!  No flights at all!  UK and now Northern European airspace is closed – and all because of the volcanic eruptions in Iceland, with clouds of ash being blown over Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and on to the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern Germany– but then you probably know all this.  It’s bound to have made not just national but world news.  It has to affect air travel further afield.  Earlier I saw on the TV News  a pilot whose flight to Belgium was cancelled.  He had an ongoing flight from Belgium, so was trying to get there by ferry, but by the sound of things there wouldn’t be any flights out of there when he got there either.  I wonder if we’ll notice the ash.  Again on the News they say we may see a slight covering of the stuff on our cars by the morning!  It’s extraordinary! sky1   Of course this could also upset the weather for long enough.  Will that mean for good or bad? Time will tell!  I have to say the sky looked beautiful today, but is that the ash up there in those clouds? 

Completely unaware of the Icelandic cloud, I was out in the garden this afternoon,  not doing too much at the moment, but looking to see what plants have  survived the winter and planning what’s to go where in due course.  The daffs are blooming well now so I took photos of the different varieties I have.  daff1 I’m not sure of their names but this is my favourite.   It has the same outer ring of petals as the traditional daffodil, but doesn’t have the tube style centre.  Instead there are six inner petals lying back against the outer ones.  I love the colours too.



These bright yellow traditional “Wordsworth” type of daffies are really stretching their heads to the sun.  They remind me of some cartoon character whose name I can’t recall!!



I love these pale, almost white ones too.  a few pots





Then of course there are the tiny Tête à têtes seen here in a pot with some Christmas roses and primulas waiting to be planted out.  cowslips

My primroses are beginning to pop up but the cowslips are doing well.  I wondered where they got their name – was it cow slips or cows lips – but I looked it up and came across this website that explains it’s Old English for a cowpat.  Take a look!  There’s a lot of history and lore about these wild flowers.

I should have taken pics of the other flowers in bloom just now.  I have a lovely clump of what we used to call pompom flowers when we were kids.  They are white primulas denticulata.  Ours at home were pinky purple, but I prefer the white.  Then I have pretty blue anemones blanda and  little blue squills.  Oh, spring is so pretty.  Pear branch The pear tree is bursting its buds, but the apple blossom is going to be a bit behind it.  Will I get a few more pears this year, I ask myself!!!  There are usually only three or four, and the birds usually get them before I do.

So that’s what’s blooming at the moment, with the tulips waiting in the wings!  I have a few of those little tulips with the pointed petals as well as ordinary, if that’s the word, ones.

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Scrapbooking digitally

I’ve done precious little today except play with digital scrapbooking!  It’s something I haven’t done for a while, but I started a layout for Edie yesterday, and today decided to enter a challenge from one of the scrappers on on my favourite website, ScrapbookMax.  I think I’m on page 2.

Edie Medium Web view This is the first one, which I sent to Shell, using the photos I took on Saturday.  The jungle animals are from a photo of the wall paper in Edie’s  room.  There’s an African theme because Edie’s dad hails from South Africa, and they have all three recently come back from introducing Edie to her South African family.

helen and Jan  the twinsThis is the one I did for the challenge.   These are Helen and Jan, two of my Aussie rellies.  You will no doubt recognise the photo, girls!  I pinched it from your Facebook photos!  It’s a really nice pic.

It’s a very plain layout, but I preferred that to go with the black and white photo, to going over the top with lots of flowers or other decorations on the page.

You can see more of my scrapbook layouts here, if you want.  Just click on the pictures to get into the albums – there are nine of those - then again to enlarge the layouts.   There are more individual photos after the albums!  If you want to see the rest of the gallery – other folks’ layouts - click here.

It wasn’t a very bright or warm day today so I haven’t been out, but it’s a very pleasant evening so I may take a little walk out on the river bank, once I’ve finished here!

Talk again soon.