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Monday, 30 April 2012

Lacemaking and other activities.

I certainly slept like a log in my wee room under the roof, with its window looking out to the side of the house towards the old field system of  a once thriving Doune beyond the headland.  The area was cleared of its occupants in the early 1850s to make way for the sheep and deer that would be more profitable to the land owner.  Many of them settled in North America.  All around there are remains of blackhouses dotted around the hillside, and the old turf covered stone field walls can still be seen clearly though overgrown by heather and bracken now.  From further up the hill you can see the area that was cultivated, now just a large mossy bogland.  Without the bracken at chest height, as it will be in the summer, you can see far more of the ruins.  It was so much easier to explore at this time of year as the bracken fronds were only just starting to unfurl.boats in the bay


Looking over the Sound of Sleat and the Cuillins on our way round for breakfast in the dining room.


Anyway, breakfast – a choice of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, and fruit juice was followed by the basic bacon, egg (scrambled, fried, poached), sausage, tomato, mushrooms,  with a variety of  tasty accompaniments that changed daily.  There was toasted homemade bread, sometimes croissants, sometimes oatcakes…..with delicious jams and honey….. coffee, tea,  homemade flavoured teas – the most popular being the freshly made orange and ginger infusion……

So, breakfast eaten, we got out our lace pillows, bobbins, threads and pins… and got to work, all working on our own individual pieces of lace in the different styles we each favour!joan sheila

Joan and Sheila.

A piece of lace Joan made some years ago.  She was working the same pattern this week.joan's lace




Norma getting started on a design for her Christmas cards.


On the right is a section of Margaret’s lace

My lace begun! my lace day1

I started this in February at Kitty’s course and haven’t done any more till now.  I did manage to make progress throughout the week though!

elevenses Before we knew it, it was time for morning tea!  Here we are joined by Liz, Kelly, Matt and Jane.  Then as Margaret says, it was back down the Lace Mine to work until lunch time.  lunch

Home made bread rolls, and cake – more tea….

That afternoon I decided to go on my expedition over the headland to find the swathe of primroses I had seen from the boat the day before..  Norma came with me as we made our way through the boggy ground over to the far side of Doune Head and down towards the shore.  No wonder you could spot them from the sea.  There were dozens of them, and I hope you won’t get fed up with seeing so many photos of them!primroses3








primroses1 primroses10







I just adore these little spring beauties, and it’s nothing to do with the fact that my birthday is on Primrose Day!  That’s just a huge coincidence!

There were other wild flowers too but none in such profusion, except perhaps the celandines.

celandinesCelandines,campion, cuckoo flower and bluebell





Red campions, cuckoo flowers, bluebells (wild hyacinths in Scotland)

wood anemone


Wood sorrel – the glossy green leaves don’t belong with the flower.  The folded up leaf between the bud and the left flower is the real one!




and this low-lying flower is called lousewort.  Plants with wort in their name were traditionally said to be medicinal, and their appearance related to the ailment they were said to cure.  Hmmmm!

salmon and scallop sauce Dinner that night included a main course of poached salmon and scallop sauce.  Just beautiful!  and the potatoes weren’t just ordinary boiled potatoes, but were dressed with toasted oatmeal!

cuillins evening

The sky began to darken and gradually the sun went down.  the sky at night



It was the end of our first full day back at Doune.

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Knoydart - It’s Lace-making week again!

I can’t believe how the time is rushing by!  A week ago yesterday I picked up Norma in Roslin and we drove up to Mallaig at the end of the Road to the Isles to meet the boat for Doune in Knoydart.  It was time for our annual lacemaking week again – much earlier this year, and very much looked forward to.

gripper at mallaig Graham the boatman was there to meet us – most of the usual crowd - with Gripper II, the green boat in the foreground of the picture on the left

views up loch nevis 

and once we were all gathered we set off northwards across the entrance to Loch Nevis with great views of the mountains to the east eigg rum

and south west to the islands of Eigg and Rum. 

The crossing from Mallaig takes about 40 minutes and today the sea was flat calm, so it wasn’t long till we had rounded the headland and there in front of us was the settlement of Doune – home for the next week.doune bay the lodge bay 

It’s always an exciting moment,  as we all love the place so much.  Liz, our hostess, was at the pier to meet us, and as Graham, Martin and Matt unloaded our luggage - to be transported to the lodge by dumper truck - we walked with Liz along the path between the houses and the shore.path from pier   Once round the corner by that large rock we were in sight of the stone cottages, the first one being where we eat and work, while the second one provides three fabulous ensuite guest bedrooms.the path 

The welcoming committee was waiting for us at the shed at the corner.welcoming committee

These girls and their colleagues provide the best eggs – ever! 

  Round another small headland is the excellent wooden lodge where most of us stay  (Joan likes to have a room in the stone cottage).

Along the path we caught sight of some early wild flowers, bright sun-like celandines, tiny dog violets, and pale primroses – my favourite!  They were growing in profusion over the grassy banks.celandine


dog violets wild pimroses

Coming in by boat I had spotted what looked like an amazing display of primroses behind the headland, and had already made plans for a short expedition to see them – more of that later…..

We got ourselves settled in at the lodge, familiarising ourselves with the place once more, and spying the new sofas and armchairs in the lounge!new furniture in the lodge 

Beyond the lounge is the “hall” where a large dining table and chairs are set out for those guests who wish to self cater!  You can’t see the kitchen area from this angle, but why anyone would want to do their own cooking here when the Doune hosts make the most wonderful meals in the stone lodge kitchen, I really couldn’t say!!!  We headed back along the rocky path for three courses of heavenly dinner, each evening at 7,30.  Soups to die for, blinis with cream cheese and smoked salmon, are just two of the delicious starters we had during the week, followed by such main courses as pork in cider, chicken in tarragon sauce, venison casserole…… all accompanied by mostly home grown veggies.  Then the desserts!!!!  Pavlova with seasonal fruits and lots of cream, fruit crumble, gateaux, chocolate pots…..  How we can still move after dinner is a mystery…... and how we can manage to eat the full cooked breakfasts in the morning is anybody’s guess, but devour them we do! 

As we head back to the wooden lodge it is not quite dark, but there are a thin sliver of a new moon and the planet Jupiter shining from a clear deep blue sky.  The sea is gently washing the rocky shore, and an occasional seabird is calling.  Pure bliss!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Around and about

athletic trainingAs there hasn’t been a great deal of activity on my part recently – largely due to problems with shoulders, knees, hips, teeth….. oh, the joys of getting older -  I thought I would just show you some mostly unrelated photos I have taken recently.

We had a spell of beautiful weather in March; it got colder in April, but one fine day brought a youngsters’ athletic group out to the Green for a training session. hills in the morningHowever the sun didn’t stay around for long and one day we looked out onto hills covered in snow!  Happily the snow didn’t linger long either and soon the hills were green again.hills in the afternoon


peebles hills

One good thing about the pollarded and trimmed trees is that I can actually see the hills – and the beautiful cloud formations!


I can always see the river though, and the people who use it for sport – canoeing and fishing for example.  This guy looks quite nonchalant, standing on the edge of the river bank with his hands in his pockets, but if you enlarge the photo (by clicking on it, as usual) you should see that he has a rod, and is in fact doing a spot of fishing!  clouds 



I went up to Eddleston to meet Linda for lunch one day – was that before or after I had the toothache?  After the tooth was pulled, I think -  The old farmhouse behind the cafe, each of which stand on either side of the Old Edinburgh Road, has recently been sold and the new owners are working on a bit of refurbishment.  cottage bank eddleston I love the old house, but was more than a bit concerned to see that the little group of trees in front of the garden had been chopped down and much digging with JCBs was taking place.  It looked like foundations for new buildings were planned.  Hmmm!  The ladies in the cafe said it was supposed to be for a septic tank.  Don’t you need a deep hole for a septic tank?  This was a long area dug out of the hillside and partly levelled.  It was about the size of a decent house. Oh well, I had better get up there and take a picture of Brown Dod, the hill behind the “plot”, before it disappears behind a building.  Maybe there are farm buildings going up.  As I know to my cost from my days living in the Yorkshire countryside, these are not subject to the same planning rules as domestic dwellings…… Well, we’ll wait and see!daffodils cottage bank

Meanwhile the daffodils on the old roadside continue to bloom.   Living in the centre of town, with restrictions on car parking I have to park the car wherever I can find a space - in a nearby street or sometimes in a car park.  It’s a pain in the neck – or should I substitute hip for neck in this instance, as I can never remember which spot I have left the car at!!  This time I drove round a few of my favourite parking places with no joy, but eventually found a space in the car park near the swimming pool!   (It has only just occurred to me that I will have a parking penalty on it by now!  Oh bummocks! Today is Saturday and that’s the only day the council charge for parking in several of the town car parks, the swimming pool one being one!!  Oops! No! wait a minute!  Didn’t I go out again in the car? …… Yes, I did, and then I parked at the back of the Co-op, on the roadside, not in a car park at all!  Whew!)

 blossomAnyway, the picture on the right, is of the blossom in front of where I parked the car in the car park!  stairway to heaven

Then I took the pathway between the Cuddy Burn and the old castle hill to get back to the High Street  The elevated construction ahead is what has been nicknamed the pathway to heaven!  The parish church could only be accessed by the stone steps from the end of the High Street, so it was decided a couple of years ago to build a wheelchair access at the side of the old courthouse building, and along the back of its yard to the rear of the church next door.  This is it!  I suppose it doesn’t look too bad from this path, but from the road it looks a perfect eyesore – and the laugh was that it wasn’t suitable for wheelchairs when it was finished!  The gradient was too great!  It’s supposed to have been fixed now, how I don’t know, but I’ve still never seen it being used!  Personally, I wouldn’t want to cross it, in or out of a wheel chair.  I’m not afraid of heights – it just looks too flimsy to me, it being made of wood rather than steel! 

cuddy bridge false arch   Just before the steps to the road, I stopped to take a photo of the fake bridge.  Fake?  Yes, well it is a bridge, but it wasn’t built as an arched bridge . Underneath you can see a flat wall. The arches, this side and the other, are what you might call cosmetic!


Anyway, I was almost home.   That’s my house facing us.  The view to the river is from the other side.  My neighbours at this end of the path  have done a lot of work on their garden and have these pots of flowers, one on either side of their gate. Pretty!

heather's tulips2On the way down the path I pass Heather’s garden on my left.  

heather's tulips

It’s full of beautiful flowers – tulips at the moment.  My tulips aren’t in flower yet!  So, back home again.

One more photo I must show you is of the Parish Church  taken  one evening during the week  evening sky The sun lit up the clouds in a beautiful sunset.

So maybe I’ll have an adventure or two to write about soon, but in the meantime I hope you’ve enjoyed some views of Peebles.

Talk again soon.  

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A heron poem

The Calvinist

The heron is a Presbyterian minister,
Standing gloomy in his long grey coat,
Looking at his own reflection in a Sabbath loch.

Every now and again, pronouncing fire and brimstone,
He snatches at an unsuspecting trout
And stands with a lump in his throat.

The congregation of midges laughs at him in Gaelic;
He only prays for them, head bent into grey rain,
As a lark sings psalms half a mile above.

Kenneth Steven                                                                               (who has kindly allowed me to use this in my blog)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Just a spot of bird watching

grey heron gallery of birds I haven’t been anywhere or done anything worth writing about recently, but yesterday when I was crossing Cuddy Bridge on my way home from some shopping at the Co-op, I caught sight of a grey heron wading in the water below the bridge.  (This photo taken by Paul Gale.)  He was quite close so I stopped to watch as he stepped carefully, before hopping up onto a moss-covered rock near the riverbank.  He could have been an ornament, a statue, he stood so still – but a couple of yards further downstream there was movement. 

Flitting between another rock in the river and the bank I spotted a pair of grey wagtails. wagtail yophotographer We’re more used to seeing black, grey and white pied wagtails scurrying across a lawn or over a car park, wagging their long tails up and down when they stop every few feet.

(Photo by dejavue of Glasgow, on yophotographer.com

However, the grey wagtail is not seen so often especially as its preferred habitat is by water.   Of course having been shopping I didn’t have my camera with me. Grey wagtails have a fair amount of yellow on their undersides. grey wagtail wildlife-sound.org I love this photo by Gareth Thomas, as it is just as I saw one of them.  The other was at the edge of the water, making quick little circular flights as if it wanted to join its mate, but seemingly not able to land and flitting back to the bank.  I’ve only once seen grey wagtails before and that was many years ago in Galloway, southwest Scotland, were they were flitting to and fro across a pool below a waterfall.

So, not a long post today, but I did just want to share a moment!!!

Talk again soon.