Friday, 27 March 2020

SOO Moves On...

No, not SUE. She's stuck with me. ..!!

SOO is the letters-part of a number plate I bought for Sue when we bought her a new Mini way back in 2001. The plate has been on quite a few different cars since then, and it has now moved on again.

While the Peugeot 208 that we have just parted with was a very smart little car, with its leather trim and glitzy looks, its firm sporty suspension and ultra-low-profile tyres were not a good match for the dreadful state of the Skye roads. So we have opted for something a little more 'chunky' this time.

The new SOO is a Citroen C3 Aircross, Sue drives some 90 miles every day when she is undertaking her home-care round, and she is already appreciating the comfortable and accommodating ride of the C3 as she bumps and bounces round Skye.

Sue's Mini - 2001, in Kent. You wouldn't dress like that on Skye...!!!
Saying goodbye - last day with the 208
Note - Skye clothing...
The new SOO

Monday, 23 March 2020

Quieter Than Quiet

There is a strange new hush all across Skye.

In an attempt to stop, or at least slow down, the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus, government advice is not to travel un-necessarily, to work from home where possible, and although it is OK to be outside, people should not crowd together. There's very little traffic on the roads. Pubs, cafes and restaurants are all closed, as are camp sites and paid-for visitor attractions like the Talisker distillery and Dunvegan Castle. All of our cottage holiday bookings are cancelled - at least for the early part of the year.

On a calm day, the only sound is birdsong. Possibly the most surprisingly noticeable difference though, is that the very distant and almost constant roar of high-flying aircraft is gone. I had never even noticed that the sound existed until it was gone.

There's a few other things we won't have noticed we have until they are gone... well-stocked supermarkets spring to mind... and the freedom to go out... meet friends... hug an elderly relative.

I don't feel optimistic for the future. Until our wonderful scientists produce an effective vaccine against the virus - which is forecast to take many more months yet -  all we can do is hide behind our closed doors, keep washing our hands, and hope we don't fall ill. Can the world's population cope with holding its breath for half a year or more? From pictures and reports I have seen today, people in many parts of the globe are already ignoring the advice to keep isolated. Total lock-downs enforced by police patrols are in place in a number of countries, though even in those places, the infection-rate, and death-rate,  from the virus continues to climb almost unchecked. And then - if lock-down measures DO eventually begin to work - what will happen when the lock-down is removed??

As for how the world's finances will cope with it all - I simply cannot imagine. I am no financial wizard, and personally, we are thankfully able to cope without any cottage visitors for a season. But so many people will be frightened of how they will manage without work or income. Various governments seem to be finding spare cash from somewhere to make grants and hand-outs. Is that going to mean future tax-rises?

It's a scary time.

I fear 2020 is going to go down in history as the year the world changed for ever.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Spring ???

It can't be... 1st March, and I have spent the morning on the allotment! To my surprise, the soil was light and easy to turn, so I have dug over a bed-and-a-bit, which is about all my back can cope with for today. It is really lovely out there - there was just a trace of frost when I got started at about 9.30, and a couple of robins were trying to out-do each other in a contest of who could sing the loudest.

This is not the first gardening I have done this year though. Now that we have a few self-catering visitors booked to stay at The Old Bakery - our little cottage in Strathpeffer - we thought we should make a bit of an effort with the small and steeply-sloping patch of garden there. So far, I have cleared the weed growth from about a third of the plot, moved several badly-sited shrubs (which may or many not survive the move), removed a very straggly pampas grass and two ginormous gunnera plants. I have then installed a rather precipitous flight of steps up to a new, small paved patio area where we intend to site a bench and table. The plan is to create a nice spot for a morning coffee or maybe an evening glass of wine. Unfortunately, I have thus far failed to take a decent photograph of the area. I'll have another go next time I am there.

The Barn allotment -
not at its tidiest yet, but it is good to get the chance to make a start!

Thursday, 13 February 2020

A Bit Of A Gap

To my horror, I have just noticed that it is well over a month since I last posted on this blog. Where does the time go?

On the whole, the winter is a quieter time for us, as we have almost no holiday bookings, so no turn-rounds and associated laundry to deal with. On the other hand, bookings and enquiries for the forthcoming season come in almost every day, and they can sometimes take a while to respond-to. Winter is also a good time to catch-up with a few cottage maintenance tasks, and also to ensure the websites and cottage information folders are up to date.

We are offering our little holiday home in Strathpeffer for occasional self-catering stays this year. This entails getting a few extra things in place and making sure that everything works the way it should. I am also gradually altering the steeply sloping back garden area, by installing steps up to a paved seating area, which I am hoping will become a nice place to sit for a summer-evening barbecue.

The Old Bakery garden steps - paved area still to come
- pictured on a frosty January morning!
I have also had another of my regular trips south to visit friends and family. This time, the weather forecasts were suggesting snow and ice, so I chose to drive down in my 4-wheel-drive BMW X3, which handled the wintry conditions without any drama at all - though the drive is no comparison to Puss-the-Jaguar when it comes to motorway-cruising.

The Highlands become a Winter Wonderland in the snow...
Who's speeding...?!!
Now, some signs suggest that spring might be just around the corner. We have snowdrops in flower, and daffs in bud. And the garden birds, which have largely been absent through the winter, are returning in greater numbers to feed-up on our fat balls and peanuts in preparation for their breeding season. This means it is almost time for me to rummage in the shed for the garden fork and get the allotment beds turned over. It won't be long before I will have to try to start the lawnmower...