Wednesday 31 December 2008

Dorrell in Devon (again)

Sue spent her Christmas with her family in London. She has now returned to Skye as she has to be back to work. I am still in Devon, having spent Christmas with my sister and family who live on the edge of Dartmoor. I am now staying with my long-term friend in Torquay. 

While I am here, I have a shopping list to attend to which includes things like dog food and a bath (!) (yes - a big white thing).

I also have Basil-the-dog with me, so there is the need to take him for walkies. It's the last day of 2008 today.  We've been down to Meadfoot - busy in the summer, but virtually deserted today - not surprising - it's VERY cold here!

Meadfoot beach, Torquay - 31.12.08

Monday 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas everyone

Sue is currently in Worcestershire, visiting an old friend, before making her way to Kent and then London to celebrate Christmas with her family.

I am still at the Barn, which gives me a day or two to do my Christmas shopping (!) before I make my way down to Devon to spend Christmas with my sister and family. 

I'm going to be busy tomorrow, so I am posting a Christmas card to everyone today. (The picture is in the Cuillin, near Sligachan, but was taken last year)!

Have a great Christmas everyone, and I hope that 2009 is as kind to you as 2008 has been to us.

Friday 19 December 2008

Blog now 'open'

A number of our invited readers have reported difficulty in seeing this blog, so I have removed the 'restricted access'. This means anyone in the world should now be able to access the blog on:

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Daylight - or the lack of it

Summer nights when it never gets fully dark are of course complemented by winter days when it never gets very light.  As we approach the 'shortest day', the fully daylight hours here are about 8.15am to about 4.15pm.

This isn't a problem for us, and Basil has become happily adjusted to having his 'evening' walk mid afternoon.

Something I do wonder at, though, is how the wildlife copes with the reduction in foraging time. Our birds are frenetic on the feeders from the first glimmers of dawn until it gets too dark for them to see, but they still only get eight or so hours to feed, and then have to cope with 16 hours of often cold, wet and windy darkness. The same must apply to all the wild animals.

Isn't nature wonderful!

Monday 8 December 2008

Second coming???

I've just taken a booking for a three night stay at the barn, starting on Boxing Day, from a gentleman named Joseph.

If it turns out his wife is called Mary, and he asks if we have a cot, I'll be ringing the papers!

Friday 5 December 2008

More wonderful clouds

Is this sunset or moonrise...?

... and here is a picture taken earlier today

 - clearly a flying saucer...

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Beautiful Skye

It's not difficult to be in the right place at the right time to take some stunning photos here - especially when there is snow on the hills. 
I can't understand why we don't see more winter visitors!

Marsco, from near Sligachan - 29.11.08

Sunday 30 November 2008


Having two or three different kinds of weather - all at the same time - is not especially rare on Skye.

In order to produce such weather, some pretty impressive clouds float about. Take a look at these (all photographed in the last three days)

Loch Greshornish

Our garden

Loch Bracadale

Upper Feorlig/Loch Caroy

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Rush hour

Basil is getting his morning walk at about 8.00am these days - it's fully daylight by then. I generally take him along one of the local township roads in the mornings, and we have a walk in the woods or somewhere else more interesting in the afternoons. 

Of course, between 7.30 and 8.30 is rush hour - when everyone is driving to work. 

This morning, during our 30 minute amble, it was quite busy... I was passed by four cars and one van.

The nightmare of rush hour on the M20 and M25 are such a long way away now!

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Holiday Skye...!

Having just had our little holiday on Mull, we promised ourselves that we would spend some time exploring our own island.

So on Sunday we went up to Trotternish for a walk in the awesome Quiraing...

more single track roads...!

Mull - single track roads

They go on for miles and miles and miles and...

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Holiday Mull

Mull is wonderful - very different to Skye. 

Quieter (resident population 3,000 - Skye 10,000). 

More wildlife (because there are fewer people to disturb it). 

More trees.

At the time of our visit,  Mull was deserted, which would not be the case in the summer.  Indeed, in the tourist season, the miles and miles (and more miles) of single track roads would be a nightmare! 

But I think we will be visiting Mull again!

Saturday 15 November 2008

Birthday Treat

What would you do on your 50th birthday...?

Sue hand-fed a cheeky chaffinch...

...pretended to be a rhododendron while sheltering from a shower...

...walked in woods with waterfalls...

...reclined to give Basil a tickle...

... and relaxed in front of a blazing log fire...

Happy 50th Sue!

Sunday 9 November 2008

Birthday holiday

Sue has a significant birthday this week, so to celebrate, we are having a few days holiday on the Isle of Mull - we can check out the opposition while we are there!

Photos to follow!

New wheels

We came to a decision that at 7 years of age, and 153,000 miles on the clock (71,000 of them driven by me)  it was time for our trusty VW Transporter to move on.

Actually - although he never let me down on one of the many long distance trips from Kent to Skye and Devon, I did make the most of my Green Flag membership, calling them out on four separate occasions during the nearly four years that we have owned the van.

But we will have fond memories - especially when the final move here took place and I stuffed the poor thing to bulging... 

But, time moves on, and after a bit of research I tracked down a 'deal you shouldn't miss' on a less than 3 year-old Mercedes Vito with just 38,000 miles on it. Only snag was, I had to collect it from Burnley...

So, Basil and I had rather a long day out on Friday... But here it is, and we hope it will serve us as well as the trusty Transporter.

Know your onions..

Our neighbour, Jan, gave us a handful of onion sets in the spring, so I poked them into a growbag and left them to it.

The crop has now been harvested and is seen here keeping warm in front of the stove.

Notice the slightly inebriated goblin on the right.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Medical express!

Sue had an appontment at the Raigmore Hospital in Inverness last Thursday. (A follow up from a previous investigation, and everything is fine, by the way).

The appointment was for 10.30am, but as it's a three hour drive to Inverness, we arrived a bit early. We reported into reception and settled down to wait half an hour or so for the appointment. Five minutes later, the doctor called us into her consulting room, and a fifteen minute chat took place. The doctor wanted a further blood test, so we were directed to a seating area to wait for that.

Sue didn't even get to sit down before being whisked away to have her blood sample extracted.

We were then directed to the cashiers office where we could claim our travel expenses for the appointment (yes - really - NHS Scotland pay expenses for attending appointments...!!) 

This was dealt with immediately. 18p per mile for our 250-mile round trip, and even the car park fee was covered. Paid to us in cash - just £10 withheld because we are not on any benefits.

By 10.30 - the actual time of the appointment - we were back in the car park having seen the doctor, had a blood sample taken, and been reimbursed for our costs.


Monday 3 November 2008

Nurses uniform

When Sue came into the living room this morning in a fetching nurses uniform, I thought maybe she'd forgotten when my birthday was...

Turns out today was her first induction day into a Community Care job. Sue loves working with people, and doing something useful, so it's a job she is well suited to. She is only doing three mornings out of every six, so there'll still be plenty of time for baking and ironing!

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Overnight heavy snowfall...

The weather forecast spoke of heavy snowfall in the highlands. Well, here's the garden at the Barn first thing this morning. I suppose that might be considered 'heavy' by southern standards - would have brought the M25 to a standstill anyway.

It has carried on to be a lovely sunny day. I've dried two machine loads of washing on the line outside.

Don't believe everything you hear on the weather forecast!

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Sunday 26 October 2008

Even more on the weather...

Basil and I had a blustery walkies yesterday afternoon. It's been very wet and very windy here for the past few days. Apparently the weather should start to calm down about April... 

Thursday 23 October 2008

River Roskhill

Here's our local burn making its way off the moor at midday today - it's usually not much more than a trickle... Notice how the sheep (top right) carry on grazing quite unperturbed by the wind and rain.

More on the weather...

We're having some pretty dramatic weather this week. 

We had a couple of days when brilliant sunshine with fluffy white clouds would be blotted out in seconds by a bible-black cloud followed a few minutes later by thousands of hail stones bouncing on the lawn.

Here is a sunset, taken from our garden, shortly after one such hailstorm.

Last night the wheelie bin was blown noisily across the garden and the wind hissed all night in the pine trees, with rain lashing against the window. Much the same weather is continuing today. Our local river is a raging torrent. If the rain eases enough I'll dash out and get a picture. 

Exciting stuff!

Saturday 18 October 2008

Living costs

We had a little concern before moving here that we were going to find the cost of living a lot higher on a Scottish island than in the south east.

We are not buying clothes or furniture - neither of which are available much on the island anyway - so we are not bothered by how much they may cost.

Some things are dearer - for example, diesel for our vehicles is at least 5p per litre more than at the supermarket in Sittingbourne where we used to buy it.  

Some courier companies look on Skye as not being mainland Britain (in spite of our toll free bridge) so won't deliver internet ordered goods here. However, Argos are happy to deliver for their country-wide charge of £5.00.

And I came out of the Co-op in Portree the other day with a fresh cabbage, half a swede, six tomatoes and a pot of cress having spent the grand total of 59p - special offers and 'mark downs' happen here just as much as anywhere else, and generally supermarket food prices are no higher than Kent. Another bonus - most of the fresh produce is Scottish sourced, so actually tastes better than the supermarket veg we used to buy.


He must be at least 13 now, but in spite of his age, and going increasingly grey, Basil still enjoys his walks and playing with his toys.

Thursday 9 October 2008


I can't really spend ALL my time pottering about taking the occasional photo (Sue says), so I have found a garden to look after (in addition to our own three... but I get paid for doing this one). 

I spent most of the day there yesterday. It's a big garden, but fairly low maintenance, and I am enjoying the physical exercise - who needs a gym when you have a wet field to mow...?!!

...and every time I look up there's something new to look at!

Sue's Pics

The weather was dreadful Friday and Saturday, but stunning on Sunday. Up here, we have to make the most of the opportunities to get out, so here are some pictures Sue took on a walk from the Barn on Sunday 5th October.

Friday 3 October 2008


Hi all - 

I'm back from Rowan. Decorating done, lots of little jobs seen to, and the cottage looking good. I'm glad most of my jobs were indoors - the weather has been a bit rough - though heavy showers can mean stunning rainbows - this one was over the back garden (that's the Isle of Scalpay in the background).

Mind you, I was still surprised to look out of the window at the mainland mountains this morning and see them covered with snow! This is a view from near Sligachan on my way back to Roskhill, taken about midday today.

Friday 26 September 2008

Still grinning

We've lived here 5 months now, and the grin is as broad as ever - it's just great! 

Here I am, yesterday, on a walk with Basil in Portree Forest - that's Portree harbour behind me.

I'm off to Rowan Cottage for the week from tomorrow to undertake some essential maintenance and decorating, so unless Sue gets on here, there'll be a little gap, as there's no internet at Rowan.

Back soon!

Tuesday 23 September 2008


According to legend and folk lore, Skye is a place popular with faries. We haven't seen any yet... 

So who do you think lives here...???

...and what are we then...?!!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

How do we dry our washing?

Enough of dreamy Romantic photographs - back to reality...

When all of our cottages have been 'full', we end up on a Saturday afternoon with 10 duvet covers, 10 sheets, 28 pillowcases and 28 towels to wash and dry. Thankfully, not everywhere is fully occupied very often, but we still do a lot of washing.

Surprisingly often, it all dries on the line outside (I say 'surprisingly' because it's supposed to rain a lot in Scotland - don't believe everything you hear in the weather forecast...)

However, there are days when it 'drizzles' or when the wind is so strong that the sheets would end up in Dunvegan five minutes after being pegged out.

So, we invested in a dehumidifier. After a couple of hours research on the internet, a 3-speed dessicant version with ioniser was ordered - £95 with free delivery - it arrived two days later. (How did we manage without the internet)?

What a fantastic device! It sucks in the damp air, dries it, and puffs out slightly warmed and freshened dry air. A machine load of pillow cases can be dried before the next load has finished washing. It consumes 600 watts of electricity, so is not massively expensive to run.

When we are not drying washing, we are using it from time to time to ward off the musty smells which are inevitable when your home is a converted cow shed - no-one cared about damp-proofing or insulation when they were building this cow shed in 1890...!


Opened the front door to take Basil for his walk this morning, and had to immediately return to fetch the camera - haven't seen the hills red before!

then, a couple of hundred yards into our stroll, the sun was catching Roag Island. (The house on the left of the island is currently  for sale if anyone's interested... £345,000...!!)

Thursday 11 September 2008

My favourite tree

Having mentioned my favourite tree in my last post, I thought I should post a picture of it. 

I took this picture on 11th June, together with other pictures in the woods. You can see them all on - start here
and click on the 'Grid Square' link to see the others.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Skye prepares its autumn wardrobe

The wildflowers have mostly gone, thistle seeds are drifting in the breeze, and the bracken is turning golden brown. The vivid green of the leaves on my 'favourite' beech tree in Dunvegan woods is fading to a yellower tone. Soon those leaves will begin to fall. Skye is putting on its autumn clothes.

Golden bracken on An Aird, close to Aird View in the Braes.
The rocks are the remains of an ancient dun.
The background peak is Ben Tianavaig.

Monday 8 September 2008

What a life THEY have...

...they just lie about, sleeping and scratching.

Hmmm... not unlike me....

(These seals are on a rock in Loch Dunvegan. I think they are put there for the tourists.)

Sue's in Kent

Sue climbed onto a coach in Portree on Saturday afternoon to travel down to Kent for a few days. She arrived safely in Ashford about noon the following day. She will be staying with her Mum and catching up with as many friends as possible. They also plan to make a trip to Wiltshire to visit other members of the family.

Meanwhile, I remain at the Barn with an washing and ironing mountain to work through... Fortunately the weather here continues to be wonderful, so all the washing is drying outside.

Wednesday 3 September 2008


We've been away for a couple of nights - but only to Aird View... We were having new carpets fitted at the bungalow, and there were a few other jobs to do, so we didn't 'sell' this week. It made a change to have a night or two away from the Barn.

But, carpet fitting involves moving quite a lot of furniture...

But the evening view was a reward!