Friday 22 September 2017

Allotment Update / Dinner For One

Sue has gone on a girlie shopping expedition to Inverness today with one of her friends. This leaves me eating alone this evening. This is no problem, as we keep a few pies and other meaty things in the freezer for such occasions. For vegetables - all I had to do was wander into the allotment and gather what I fancied...

Tonight's veg - curly kale, runner beans, potato and carrot.
Take my word for it - the carrot is about 8 inches long...
All harvested and then cooked less than 30 minutes later 
The allotment has been spectacularly successful this year. OK - the brassicas suffered an almost total loss thanks to root fly, but the carrots are the best I have ever grown - not only big and straight, but full of flavour too. The potato crop is huge, we also have masses of onions, huge swede, some decent broad beans, and I am even picking our own runner beans - for only the second time since working the allotment.

Footnote: Some eagle-eyed reader may have noticed that the slightly larger potato in my photograph looks a bit the worse for wear... Sure enough, when I cut it, I found it to be partially rotten, so that one has been recycled via the compost heap. But we still have plenty of good ones!

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Wedding Aniversary Celebration

Sue and I were married on the 2nd September 2001, so the other day was our 16th anniversary. This may not be a particularly significant number, but we still like to have a little celebration. We are not really in to meals in fancy restaurants, and eating out in a nearby pub didn't seem special enough. So Sue suggested we had an afternoon tea in a decent hotel.

We chose to go to Kinloch Lodge, which is one of the most noteworthy hotels on Skye, though we had not been there before. Being an hour or so to the hotel from Roskhill, getting there gave me the opportunity to give Puss an outing - though sadly the weather was 'Skye-normal', so Puss now needs a wash...

The tea was lovely, with the best-tasting scones I have ever had. The little cakes were pretty special too, and the lounge of the hotel provided a warm and comfortable place to spend a drizzly afternoon. Our friendly waitress even offered to box-up the items we didn't manage to eat at the time, so we could have a tea re-run after we arrived back home!

So, thanks to Sue for the afternoon tea suggestion, and Happy Anniversary to us both!

Puss at Kinloch Lodge
Homeward bound

New Gates For The Barn!

I mentioned this on Facebook a short while ago, but unforgivably, never quite got round to putting a post on here... so I'm now putting that right...

To finally complete the transformation of our lovely home on Skye - Roskhill Barn -  Sue and I decided to commission the making of a new entrance gate. After an internet search for such an item, we found ourselves so impressed by the work of artist/designer/blacksmith James Price, that we chose to put the job with him - even though he works in West Sussex, so there would be a slight problem in getting the gate up to Skye.

Anyway, to cut the long story shorter, once the gate was made (and we eventually ordered two gates plus posts), I ventured south in my little van and was able to load the gates into the back and bring them back myself. This was a cheaper option than having the gates packed onto pallets and brought up by courier - they are large and heavy items!

The next task was to remove the existing gate and its solid wooden posts. With much effort, I managed to get one post out of the ground, but the other defeated me. As luck had it, I was extremely fortunate to come across a labourer from a nearby building job having his lunch in his truck at the end of our road. I interrupted his sandwich to ask if he was interested in looking at a little job for me. I showed him the remaining post - still attached to the old and rusty gate. He immediately disappeared back to his van and returned with a heavy 5-foot long steel pointed-ended bar. After 15 minutes of very vigorous bashing and heaving, the concrete securing the post was broken and the post itself levered out of the ground. I very gratefully handed the guy a £20 note - with which he looked totally delighted - and now all I had to do was work out how to install the new gates...

I spent a couple of weeks thinking, and even tried a 'dry run'. Because of their weight, I could only just about move the gates on my own, but with the help of my sack barrow, I managed the task. I gradually built up the courage to undertake the job, and on one fine morning, I made a start. It actually turned out to be slightly easier than I had expected. Gravity and leverage did a fine job of getting the posts into the ground, and I only had to heave them out once to get the holes to an even depth. I used a quarter of a tonne of ready-mix concrete to set the posts into the ground. I don't think they'll move...

Ready to pour the concrete....!
To say that we are delighted with the finished result would be a considerable understatement. Every line and dimension in the beautifully designed gates is perfect, and their construction is a true work of art. They look absolutely right at our entrance, and elegantly compliment the rural and agricultural 'feel' of the Barn  To everyone else, they might just be gates - but to Sue and I, they are the icing on our Roskhill cake.

Roskhill Barn - and gates