Wednesday, 15 August 2018

New Wheels Again

Be not afraid - I have not parted company with my wonderful Jaguar  - Puss is safely residing in her garage. It is my everyday drive that is the subject of this post!!

The other day, I part-exchanged my Land Rover Freelander 2, after owning it for just 9 months and 10,000 miles. I liked the Freelie's chunky styling, the solid all-leather interior, and the feeling that the car could go anywhere... but my car was flawed. It had a seemingly impossible-to-rectify fault which caused the car the lurch or hesitate on gentle acceleration from a standstill. This fault completely spoiled any enjoyment in driving the car. I also disliked the agricultural ride, and the rather heavy six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic would have been so much better.

Here's the now-departed Freelie...



And so...

I have bought a BMW X3......

To give it its full title, it is a 2013 X3 X-drive 20D M Sport Auto.

What???!!! I've bought a BMW..???  Urrrrgh!!!

To me - the X3 is a bit of an 'old man's car' (so maybe I now have the perfect vehicle...???) Yes, the X3 is very smart and superbly comfortable, if not very pretty to look at...  It has more power than the Freelander, has a larger load-space, yet is more economical on fuel (and cheaper on vehicle excise duty too...) After just a few miles of driving it, it is very apparent that the X3 is leaps and bounds more refined than the Freelie (better finished, smoother, quieter, more comfortable). I acknowledge that the Freelie would be the far better vehicle off-road... but I don't drive off-road... The auto gearbox in the X3 is superb - and works just like the Jaguar, with steering wheel paddles for manual gear changes when in sport mode.

What's not to like...??? Oh yes - it looks like a beached whale...



... but it's a nice place in which to sit!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Allotment update - August 2018

It's a long time since I posted an allotment update, so here I offer a late-summer overview on what has happened veg-wise this year.

I generally plant the same veg each year, though might vary the variety. This year, with some determination, I tackled the cabbage root fly with plastic bottles and home-made carpet collars. The young plants were grown inside plastic bottle 'greenhouses' and once a decent size, and released from the bottles, I placed a square of carpet offcut round each plant stem to prevent the root fly from getting in and laying her eggs.

The ploy was very successful, and I lost no plants to root fly this year.

But then - we had a rabbit....!!!!

The rabbit decimated the broccoli, and also did some damage to the outer leaves of some of the kale. Mr Bunny didn't seem to like the sprouts, and left them untouched. But he did nibble the tops off every one of the runner bean and pea plants as they came up - so we had no crop from them this year. For now - Bunny seems to have departed (I only ever saw one) so fingers crossed that is the last we will see of him!

The other problem this year - unusually for Skye - was a lack of rain! The carrots struggled, and about four-fifths of my first planting simply disappeared. I planted another row later, and we will certainly get something of a crop from them. The potatoes seemed unaffected by the lack of rain, and have done brilliantly again. The broad beans were wonderful, and were harvested and frozen yesterday. The onions are OK - but no whoppers - mostly just medium size. The kale is also fantastic, and the brussels sprouts are looking like they will produce a good crop later in the year.

Front left - potatoes. Front right, rhubarb (just ready for pulling for a second crop this year) and strawberries
Middle bed - brassicas - kale on the right, sprouts in the middle (also carrots, barely visible in this photo)
Far left - onions and swede, far right, more potatoes
The furthest bed (not really visible) is now cleared - it was the beans and peas...



Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A New Cottage

With the sale of Rowan Cottage done and dusted, we were keen to re-invest our capital in another property. The original plan was to buy a modern house in Inverness that we would long-let through a letting agency. Much thinking, and a couple of trips to Inverness later, and the plan changed at least a couple of times, with the end result being that we have spent a bit more than half our available capital on an older property that we will keep as a holiday home for us, and possibly occasionally holiday-let as well... and here it is:

The Old Bakery, Strathpeffer
The house is called The Old Bakery - a clue to its past perhaps...? It stands pretty much in the centre of the large and attractive village of Strathpeffer. Local shops are just 'round the corner', and Strathpeffer is about 5 miles from the town of Dingwall, with Inverness an 18-mile, half-hour drive away.

It is a slightly quirky little house. On the ground floor is a hallway, bathroom and two bedrooms, while on the first floor is the kitchen and L-shaped lounge/diner. Because of the sloping site, a back door opens from the garden area directly into the kitchen. We are really excited with our purchase. The house dates from about 1900, but needs little doing to it. As sods law would have it, we gave away much of our spare furniture to the first-time buyer who bought Rowan Cottage, so we now have the task of sourcing suitable furnishings for The Old Bakery. We should be getting the keys at the end of August, so more updates will follow here in due course. Below, I'll add a couple of wider views to show the house in context.

At some future date, we still hope to buy a small flat in Inverness which we will long-let.




Friday, 20 July 2018

SUE'S SPONSORED CANCER RESEARCH WALK!


"THE WALK"
(click on any photograph to enlarge it)
Gracious me - now here's a change - it's Sue here for 
the first time in nearly a year!

I wanted to document a sponsored walk done for Cancer Research
on Saturday 7th July 2018.
In the main I did it on my own but one of my neighbours, Sue,
very kindly came along and joined me for 6 miles for moral support!


The weather was absolutely ideal, not too hot and for most of
the day there was some sunshine and a light breeze.
Starting at 0600 hours there was simply nobody about and
some fabulous views as I headed off towards Dunvegan!


Both these views look towards Roag, the Tables and the sea!


At 0900 hours Sue and I then set off from Roskhill Barn
and did the 'Harlosh Loop' together. 
This is one of the views on the way round.  Look at that blue sky!!!!


Towards the end of the loop the Tables loomed into view again!
The wild flowers were also resplendent in the sunshine....


Leaving Sue back at Roskhill I then headed off towards
Orbost and then on towards Glendale
before then turning off en-route to Dunvegan and
stopping for lunch on a bench overlooking the Loch!


This was taken shortly after turning right at the the Orbost T-junction
and looks back towards the coast through the trees.
(See if you can spot the Yurt!)
Below is the tree lined lane with sun dappled trees and vegetation!


This is the view I had over Loch Dunvegan whilst having lunch!
A tad cloudy at that time though....


Then it was down into the village and up through
Dunvegan Woods and over moorland to the main road.


Below is the view along the track as it opens out into open countryside.


.... and here looking back
across the moorland towards Dunvegan Woods


The last stretch took me along the main road and then
across the single track section in the direction of Roskhill again.
My 26 miles had been done in just over 10 hours!
What a remarkable day and with no ill effects either .....
apart from the odd blister !!!! :)