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Sunday, 29 August 2010

Back in Kintyre – again!

I sent Linda in Kintyre some photos last week.  She replied, thanking me, and “I don’t suppose you’d like to come on the lace course next week, would you?” she wrote, “ We’ve had some cancellations!”

Well, now!  I didn’t have anything on the calendar that I couldn’t change, and I had just received a nice wee amount of money for some old jewellery – that would cover the cost of both the course and the travel there and back, and I’d never get that piece of lace I started in Doune completed on my own………… I wrote back and  said - “Well,, now that you mention it, I would like to come to the course!”….. which is why I am now here in Kintyre again and enjoying the sunshine and blue sky.  out in the sun1 Today the weather is glorious after a few days of rain and wind, so after working all morning, we have come out to sit round the gazebo – me in it as I  can’t tolerate the bright sunlight. jean l in for a swim

 

Jean, our tutor, went in for a swim, while the rest of us just enjoyed the relaxation of sitting doing not much – apart from me trying to catch up with the blog.  We’ve all just had a glass of wine too – very civilised – and are ready for supper which  will be served any minute now!

Supper’s over – peaches in brandy for pudding – and some folk have gone back to their lace.  The rest of us are relaxing! 

Let me introduce you to the group.  judithjane

Judith, Ann and Janeann

margaret g

jenny

 

 

 

 

Jenny and Margaret

 

lindaLinda and I are the other two, and Jean, from Glasgow, is our tutor.  david and jean 45 anniversary 24.8 It was Jean’s and David’s 45th wedding anniversary yesterday, so the celebratory chocolate cake was produced, cut and eaten – with great enthusiasm!  Jane’s husband, also David, is here too but goes out walking every day, so we only see him in the evenings.

crubasdaleThis is where we are (left)We work in the room to the right of the door!the chalet

and this is where Margaret and I are staying, the chalet next door.

We are  all enjoying the lace we are   doing.  kintyre wed 012 I am  cracking on now with the water lily, but it’s still nowhere near finished.  Between us, Jean and I decided the working diagram was a bit odd, so I am doing it “my way” now!  So far, so good!

The scenery as I may have said before is lovely.   view from front door We look out across the garden to the sea across the road, Islay in the distance with the island of Cara nearer to us.  I once met someone called Cara, who told me she’d been named after an island.  This was the one!

  a'chleitLooking up the beach the rocks are black, but inland it is all sandstone with red red earth.  That’s the church at A’Chleit on the point (left).  view to jura

 

The hills (right) are the Isle of Jura mountains.  Gigha (Gee-a) is the island  in front, with the wind turbines.

I haven’t strayed far from the house, no long walks, just a few potters around on the beach, looking for shells and stones, and taking photos.  brambles2There are lots of wild flowers, and autumn fruit already.   red rowans already The brambles are very plentiful this year, and the rowans already have clusters of bright red berries decorating the trees. 

muasdale old bridgeOn the way to the shop at the beginning of the week when it had rained pretty persistently there was a huge amount of peaty brown water thundering over the rocks under the old bridge.   old bridge

Just compare it to later in the week after a beautiful spell of dry weather.   It was back to normal again!

Well, as you probably can tell, I didn’t manage to post this during the week at Kintyre, and now I am home again with masses of photos to sort through, and tales to tell.  So, more of them next time!

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

odds and ends

Well, I got home again from the weekend in Inverness on the Monday, feeling pretty exhausted, but things kept happening through the next couple of weeks.  ian and berny I  managed to catch up with Ian and Berny, two of my Aussie cousins  at  Queensferry one day.    cruise ship at Forth Bridge There was a huge cruise liner in the Forth, so car parking alongside the waterside was restricted, but we found spaces, had lunch and a long blether about their trip, and the family back in Aus, before I had to head for North Berwick for teatime. ween and evMy great friend Edwina was up from the south of England with her husband, staying with her sister – also my friend - Jean.   We had to get together!   I went down to visit at Jean’s house , and we had a lovely evening.

 trivial pursuits barney jean edwinaWe even played a game of Trivial Pursuits – my first ever game of TP!   How come you somehow know the answers but they just won’t come out from the recesses of your mind?  Well, so it was in my case, and Barney, Ween’s husband, was very funny the way he pretended he knew an answer, sounding like he was just prevaricating , when he actually couldn’t think of the right words either.  Anyway, Jean won in the end!   Clever Clogs!!!! 

Ween and I met way back in the early ‘70s, and have been great friends ever since.  It’s just a shame she and Barney don’t live a lot nearer. We used to go down to Jean’s at weekends sometimes, and I’ve watched her family growing up – remember Mandy’s wedding not that long ago?  Mandy is Jean’s and Cyril’s elder daughter.

lothian gaelic choir2One evening last week I went up to Edinburgh to hear the Gaelic choir sing in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe concert.  I don’t know the songs well enough yet so didn’t join in!  Besides, I don’t have a uniform yet!  There was also a group of clarsach players – the clarsach is a Scottish harp – and a solo player fionaa and clarsachwho wrote her own  music and was accompanied by a friend playing either guitar or double bass.  It was  a good night, especially as we repaired to the pub later for a wee glass of rosso!

We had a meeting of the U3A gardening group one afternoon.  It was held at Morna’s house, and as well as enjoying her garden we learned about taking cuttings!  gardening group2 cuttingsI had some pieces of fuchsia, philadelphus, weigela,  and potentilla.  So, having cut the right bits of the plants and potted them in compost and sharp sand, gardening group cuttings I came home with two pots of cuttings in plastic bags – to make up for not having a greenhouse.   Let’s hope they take, and I can increase my plant stock in the garden.

On Thursday afternoon I drove down to Galashiels to pay my garage bill and to say that the car was still not right – what a pain – when the sales director collared me.  “We’ll have to sell you a new car,” he said, “It’s a while since you got your present one. “  About 8 years!  He indicated the model in the showroom, so I took a look at it, and quite nice it was too.  I didn’t intend getting a new car, but I thought about the idea overnight, talked about it to Linda and Colin, and decided to go for a test drive the next day!  Linda came with me, and we took the car round a few country roads and through Galashiels back to the garage.  peugeot_107_22_05_05 Well, the long and the short of that was that I signed on the dotted line for a 5-door zircon grey (silver) Peugeot 107 Urban, to be collected on 8th September!  I do hope I’ve done the right thing!  It certainly will cost less to run, and less on the road tax and insurance – and there won’t  be hefty repair bills like the one I just paid, well, not for a long while anyway!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Black Isle

Not an island at all, the Black Isle   - info here  - is a large peninsula  lying between the Moray Firth and the Cromarty Firth – remember that word FIRTH, meaning the wide estuary of a river meeting the sea? – just a little northeast of Inverness, and that’s where Ray drove us to the next day.  Kessockbridge It was a beautiful day, though still a bit breezy but we crossed the Moray Firth by the relatively new Kessock Bridge – 1980s – and turned right  to head for Cromarty, stopping to look at the most amazing of sights!  

The Munlochy Clootie Well!  These type of wells were thought to have healing powers.  clootie well munlochyWash an injury or a diseased part of the body with a cloth (or a cloot) soaked in the water, hang the cloot on a tree growing nearby and as it rots away so does the disease or injury.  clootie well 2

 

The trees round this well have been decorated with bits of cloth for centuries , and people still do it today, although the cloots have become whole t-shirts, flags, ties, shirts……….. and are now hung for luck!   Some people say you have to walk around the well 3 times and then make a wish. Whatever, it is all tied up with Celtic tradition before Christianity took over a lot of the old festivals etc.   We’re still a superstitious bunch of people, it seems!

We were heading for Cromarty, but passed through small fishing villages on the way – Avoch pronounced Och (as in “och aye the noo!” which folk think the Scots say all the time!  We don’t!), Fortrose with its ruined 13th century cathedral, Rosemarkie, famous for its Pictish stones and its fossils.  We saw several little streets with rows of low white houses on either side, stretching away from the main road towards the sea – very pretty. We didn’t stop, until we came to Cromarty itself, once the main village in the county of Cromarty.  We parked there and found a cafe for something to eat, cromarty2 then spent the afternoon wandering round its quaint streets and  cromarty 4 vennels stretching down to the shore, with pretty white-painted cottages on either side.   cromarty big vennel2These would have been fishermens’ cottages once,  but there were also large merchants’ houses cromarty bellevue

 

 

cromarty 3 going back to the 1780s and 90s when the prosperity of the village was at its height.   Cromarty hugh miller museum

One of these is now a museum of the life of 19th century stonemason, geologist, writer and churchman   Hugh Miller,cromarty hugh miller

Hugh Miller from the painting of the Disruption, by David Octavius Hill

Cromarty hugh miller cottage and museum

 

 

 

 

with, next to it, the older cottage where Miller grew up. I spent quite a lot of time here, finding it very interesting indeed.cromarty hm house2  Here is the kitchen in the old house, arranged as it would have appeared in the 18th century, though the furniture in general did not come from the house originally.  The museum house , as well as the cottage, were built by Hugh’s father, and for a few years Hugh lived here with his wife.  Well worth a visit.  In the drawing above you can see a tower next to the taller house.  This belongs to what was the courthouse, also a museum.  cromarty courthouse The old courtroom itself has an actual hearing going on all the time, local landowner of the 18th century,George Ross MP, presiding in the centre, on the bench, the defendant opposite, with the arresting officer on the right and a witness in the box next to the bench.  The words appear to be spoken by the models, and you are relieved that Mr Ross is a sympathetic and sensible judge.

Cromarty Ray Janet, me I spent so much time in the museums that Janet and Ray had “adjourned” to the hostelry across the road to wait for me.  After a wee glass of wine I had a further quick walk around the block before it was time to set off back home. cromarty vennel We drove round the other side of the village and saw the primary school with its round tower,cromarty pr school  passed the harbour with its Stephenson lighthouse , and the old hemp-works, now residential apartments, completing the circuit of the peninsula by returning by the north coast with views of Nigg and  Invergordon,invergordon

once household names because of the oil industry.  Sitting in the back of a car, it is not easy to take pictures, but I managed to point the camera through the rear window as we came through Jemimaville, Jemimaville a very attractive long-ish village of just the one street, I think.  It’s a bit blurred, I’m afraid.

And so before we knew it we were back on the A9, bound once more for the Kessock Bridge and Inverness.

Ray cooked tea that evening and the meal we sat down to was delicious!  Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with roast tatties, and a selection of veggies.  It were a’reet! as they’d say down in the north east of England where Ray came from.  Very alright, I’d venture to add! 

Talk again soon.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Inbhir Nis and other places

We had all said our farewells; everyone had left, even Andy in Mary Doune, though I think he might just have been going to another mooring.  There would be another party of guests to take over to Doune in the afternoon.  So then it was just Norma and me left, making arrangements to meet at Glenfinnan for a cuppie, before we parted, she for home and me to Janet’s mum’s near Fort William.  white sands morar We took the coast road this time, the old road with passing places, that twists its way through little villages and settlements near to the sea.  This was the main road till not that many years ago.  The new road by-passes these lovely places but they are still busy with holiday makers in August.  August!  I think the world and his wife – and children and dog – are in Scotland in August!!!  There were certainly plenty of them at Glenfinnan too, when we tried to park up to go into the coffee shop!  glenfinnan viaduct Not a space was left in the carpark, and there was a crowd standing at the far end, looking over to the long curving concrete viaduct crossing the valley.  We decided there must be a steam train due, as that attracts visitors like I seem to attract midges, so we had to drive on, and knowing there wouldn’t be another tea shop to stop at, we said our goodbyes then.

It wasn’t far to Janet’s mum’s place - she’s not far off the main road either – but when I got there, Janet and Ray had arrived but there was no sign of Mum!  She’d gone to the shop to buy her newspaper, and met friends along the way, as we found out later.  We had lunch, ben nevis from em'ssat in the garden for a while, looking at the huge lump of a mountain that is Ben Nevis, between the roofs in front of us.  The Ben is Britain’s – not just Scotland’s -  highest mountain at 4408 ft – what is that in metres?  About 1400, I think.  I know, I know, a mere pimple beside other world highests, but the Ben is ours and we’re proud of her!   It’s not often you get such a clear view, but that day it was glorious.  We heard the steam train go by too, so think it must have been on its return journey from Mallaig, though it did seem rather early.

commando memorialLater we played Scrabble.  Can’t remember who won.  I think it was joint between Janet and her hubbie.  However eventually we got back on the road, bound ultimately for Inverness, but with a few stops along the way.  Near Spean Bridge (Spee-un) is the very imposing memorial to the Commandos who trained around the area during WW2.  This photo is for George, who was one of them.

Urquhart Castle

Just to the south of the village of Drumnadrochit is the ruined Urquhart Castle (Urkurt), on a promontory out into the loch. doune fri and on to IV 162 Built probably around the 13th century it has been a ruin since the end of the 17th, when supporters of William of Orange destroyed it to prevent it becoming a Jacobite stronghold.    However a settlement existed on this spot from about the 6th century, and was probably where St Columba stayed when he came north to visit the Highland king Brude – the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness monster was by Columba.   800px-Urquhart_Castle_from_Loch_Ness_ScotlandThis photo was taken by Ruslan Vladimirovich Albitsky aka Pauk (on Flickr), but titivated a little by me!

drumnadrochit by draco2008

 

 

Then we stopped in Drumnadrochit itself for tea in a pub there. (The very pub, by draco2008)~ Druim na drochaid is the Gaelic origin and is thought to mean the “ridge of the bridge”.drumnadrochit Green   It’s an attractive small village with pretty houses and cottages built round two sides of the village Green, and is well known for its exhibition on the Loch Ness Monster!  Don’t laugh!  Nessie does exist…. and I, like St Columba and others, have seen her!! 

nessie drawing Grant of Abriachan 1934

It was in the days when it was thought she was a long serpent-like creature with humps sticking out of the water, but what my Dad and I saw all those years ago was more like the creature they now believe she is – as in the drawing - so that strengthens my belief in what we saw!!!  We saw its back (but not its head or neck) like an upturned boat, moving through the water leaving a wake behind it.  (Drawing of Nessie in 1934 from a sighting by a Mr Grant of Abriachan)

So, supper over and the light going, on we drove, along the lochside – no Nessie appearances that night -  to the Highland Capital, where a nice glass of chilled white wine at Janet’s and Ray’s ended the evening perfectly!  So what was in store for the next day?  You’ll have to wait and see!

Talk again soon.