Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Skye In Pictures

Readers of this blog may not have stumbled upon my other Skye blog - Skye In Pictures - so this is a plug. As the name suggests, Skye In Pictures contains mostly photographs - taken by me and Sue over the last few years. Each post has a theme, and I try to post a new picture gallery every two or three weeks. The tab under the heading banner on this page is a link to Skye In Pictures, or you can click here.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Allotment News - I Plant A Hedge

It's been a while since I posted anything about the Roskhill allotment. The fact is, I have had a couple of very mediocre years on the plot, when the results of my labours have been disappointing - to say the least. Lat year in particular, the only seed that produced a crop above the ground were the mangetout peas and broad beans. Underground - the potatoes and carrots were OK, and we had some rather small onions, but other than that - everything else failed. I don't know why. The weather did not seem to be especially different to usual - in fact, the 'growing' month of May was quite mild and dry. Strangely - I had a problem getting seed to germinate - even the kale and swede, which are Highlands staples!

One suggestion from the locals is that by removing a tatty windbreak fence, I have opened up the plot too much, leaving the land exposed to the chilly winds. I like the look of the bigger space without the fence, and I have gradually 'tamed' the jungle that used to grow on the far side of it - it looks lovely in spring as it is full of daffodils and bluebells.

But - if having a windbreak may mean a return to rewarding vegetable production, then a windbreak I will have to have. However, I have decided to go the natural route, and this winter, ordered 30 metres of windbreak hedging shrubs from a nursery which claims to supply plants suitable for a harsh coastal climate... Over the last couple of days, I have put them in the ground, and yesterday they experienced their first Skye storm - the Met Office reported we had winds gusting to 70mph... so that was a sharp lesson for them, and hopefully they will soon get used to the conditions where they are growing!

I'll be buying seed soon, and will report here on how the allotment season goes. Wish me luck!

This was in 2010 - with windbreak fence on the left.
I had just taken over the allotment,
and was in the process of clearing the weed-filled beds

2015 - without the fence, and with bluebells flourishing

And now - with the new hedge planted

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Leaving Skye

No...!! Don't panic!! We are here for the rest of our days - this post is about how we travel south to visit family and friends...!!

Sue's Mum, now 86 years old, lives independently in her bungalow in Ashford, Kent. Sue travels south for a fortnight every three months to stay with her Mum, and also to visit her sister (in London) and numerous other friends in the Ashford area.

When we first lived here, Sue would make the journey by coach - Portree to Glasgow,  Glasgow to London Victoria, and train out to Ashford. The cost was reasonable, and Sue coped with all the bouncing-around in the coach as it raced through the Highlands... but one time she tried the train... This was better! I now regularly take Sue to Kyle of Lochalsh (our nearest station) where a little train trundles Sue to Inverness where she boards the Caledonian Sleeper overnight to London Euston. These days, Sue then takes a tube to her sister Helen's where she picks up a car that we share with Helen and drives it to Ashford. This means Sue has use of a car while she is in Kent.

Sue tried flying down just once. The cost is not hugely different to travelling by train, but the hassle of being at Inverness airport at the right time, and then getting from Gatwick to Ashford, and having little room for luggage (unless we paid extra) all proved too much to be bothered with. So for now, the train is the way for Sue.

As for me - I travel south three or four times a year. I visit family and a friend in Devon (Okehampton and Torquay), friends in Hampshire (Hedge End near Southampton) and a cousin near Oxford. I have always travelled by road, and for years, have coped with the 700-mile each-way journey with one overnight stop. I have made it part of the trip to try a different bed-and-breakfast every time I travel. I've also tried a few different routes, and I usually take my overnight break somewhere in the border country. I have to say, over the years, I have enjoyed visiting many small and interesting border towns including Gretna, Langholm, Hawick and Lockerbie - places so many tourists dash past without a second glance. I would really like to get back to Jedburgh and Melrose some time in the future, too.

Now, however, even in my super car, the experience of sitting on ever-busier roads for pretty much two whole days at a time, is beginning to become less and less fun and more of a chore - to the point when I am considering taking to the air for at least one trip in 2017. I can fly direct from Inverness to Bristol, where I will hire a car to do my visiting, and drive rather fewer miles. I feel it is worth a try. If the journey proves to be relatively hassle-free and I enjoy the trip, then maybe... just 'maybe', Puss will be staying in her garage when I go south in the future....

Kaged Kat

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Our Christmas, 2016

I did my friend and family visiting earlier in the month, and Sue is travelling to Kent to see her sister, Mum and friends in a day or two's time. So for Christmas Day here at Roskhill, it was planned to be just us. As it happened, a nearby friend became widowed a short time ago, so we invited this friend, Anne, to join us for dinner and part of the day.

We had a great time. Sue was working in the morning (doing her usual home care job - which of course goes on 365 days of the year). This left me to cook the dinner, and although I say it myself - it all came out pretty fine! As to our visitor -  If I ever reach Anne's age (she is 93) should I then be only half as interesting, witty and jovial, I will still be having a good life. Anne was a life-long teacher, and became head teacher of a tough Glasgow secondary school in the late 1960s. She has many tales to tell, and remembers everything in perfect detail. She is a lovely, gracious and respectful lady - endearing qualities which I fear are going out of fashion in so many younger people of today.

Cupar was on his best behaviour. He only opened his own presents, and this year unwrapped one to find it contained a replacement for his much-loved but rather tattered rubber chicken toy. I didn't think to video the unwrapping until it was too late, but there are a couple of photos below.

So, although Christmas Day for this year is now in the past, we are still very much in the Christmas season, so I wish all readers of this blog Season's Greetings, and may we all have good health and happiness throughout the coming New Year.

Sue with Anne and Cupar
Cupar's 'deceased' rubber chicken (headless, feet-less, tail-less...)
'I've got a new chicken!! I've got a new chicken!!'
...but you're not having it !!