Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Wildlife and Scenery

While today was an ordinary work day, the walk to and from work was just stunning.  The birds were out in force all over the place, the snowy mountains were so sharp on the skyline and the burn above Port Castle was in full flow.  I took the chance to play around with some camera settings to try to master the art of capturing "smooth" water...not the most spectacular photos, but I think I may finally have got the hang of the concept.

There were various birds of prey hovering about, mainly just out of range of the camera lens, plus what seemed like millions of crows.  It was definitely a day to inspire you to get out and about with the camera more often.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Manic Monday

Today ended up being quite a busy day, despite initially seeming like a quite uneventful one.  A lovely walk to work, punctuated by several fly pasts by the local geese, led on to a productive day at work, which was followed by Mr. Colin heading off to fire training, where they apparently got through lots of stuff...so they claim, anyway! Miss Florence was also in attendance at fire checks, so at least they had someone sensible in charge!
The sunset on the way home from Port Castle was really quite spectacular..,.the hills looked as if they were on fire.  


I arrived home to discover that the parents had made it over to Lismore, against all expectations.  Lots of happy children were to be found fussing over Grandma and Seanair!  A busy evening was spent doing "my numbers" (Alasdair) and "grrrrrr....MATHS!!!!!" (Ealasaid), with Ruairidh contributing by eating gargantuan quantities of ice cream!  I then set out to make a quick dinner, which ended up being the kind of feast that would have taken a Chinese restaurant several days to prepare...I felt it was well worth the effort when Dad, who isn't a huge Chinese fan, commented on my Chinese efforts by saying, "I could eat that".  He wasn't even kidding...he was being majorly complimentary!  

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Thinking Day Parade

Today saw this year's Thinking Day Parade being held in St. Modan's Church, Benderloch.  Ealasaid was lucky enough to be chosen for the Colour Party, so there was much excitement this morning - on the part of the adults, that is, as Miss E just takes it all in her stride.  We actually managed to arrive more or less on time, which is quite miraculous for us.  Ealasaid went off to collect her flag and the rest of us trooped into the church.  It was quite a tight squeeze, all six of us in one rather short pew, but at least it gave the boys less wriggle room.  
The Colours were brought in during the first hymn.  The Guides and Cubs all did their jobs very well, like mini professionals.  It was a lovely service, with Jeff MacCormick, the minister, captivating the children as usual with his address.  The children are learning more and more about the traditions and practices of bearing the Colours as the years progress - the Colours were lowered during the National Anthem at the end of the service, something which they weren't always aware of in previous years.  Lovely to see so many of the children singing the National Anthem too - again, not many of them knew the words a year or two back, so they've learned a lot recently.  The poor things then had to stand out in the pouring rain while the congregation left the church - they were remarkably cheerful about it all though.

We had a tea and coffee in the Hall after the service, followed by a lovely soup lunch in the Victory Hall.  The Guides did all of the serving themselves - they were excellent waitresses and all showed remarkable confidence and composure.  It was then time for a quick rush for the 2pm ferry, as there was another storm forecast, so we couldn't risk waiting till the 4pm.  So far so good, but it was still good to get home early and have a relaxed afternoon and evening after a lovely, but busy morning.  

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Windy Day

Thought I'd better get on here early today, in case we're all blown away by the wind later today!  It's a tad stormy here...especially spectacular sounding upstairs in our houses, where you would think the roof was about to take off.  The first couple of boats have already had to be cancelled due to the conditions and the Calmac boats are on amber alert.  Any poor soul who has to put their nose outside the door today has my sympathy!

As it turned out, the storm wasn't quite as bad as it could have been.  Still didn't venture outside to do any gardening - stuck to some indoor gardening instead, potting up the off-shoots of a plant that first belonged to my Gran, or maybe even my great grandmother.  The main plant is over 40 years old now.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Preparing to Celebrate

No work today, so it was a good opportunity to meet up with some Community Trust colleagues to get on with the next stage of preparations for the island's "Celebrate" event.  We have received funding to hold a party to thank all those who have contributed in so many ways to island life over the years...decades, in fact.  Maybe not the first choice of event for a veggie, but even in spite of the Hog Roast bit, it should still be a great party!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Meetings Galore

It was another delightfully soggy day for most of today.  Lovely to wake up to discover that Doris has so far left the hens' enclosure relatively undisturbed...extra struts have been added just in case, as she did manage to weaken it slightly the previous night, so fingers crossed she doesn't come back with a vengeance tonight.


Work as usual in the morning, with lots of orders made and sent out...a most productive Seahorse day.  I had to escape early though, for the first of tonight's meetings.  This was a Comann Eachdraidh one, where a lot was discussed.  Delighted to hear of the possibility of more Gaelic being brought back into Comann Eachdraidh life.  Looking forward to developments on that front.  

The second meeting of the evening is a Community Trust one...could be an interesting night!  Hopefully, we will be able to focus on the positives of the recent Bachuil Project feasibility study - even though the project didn't go ahead, a lot has been learnt which could benefit the island in the future.  Watch this space!  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Shearing Day!

No...no sheep were harmed today!  For some time now, the boys have been in dire need of a haircut.  It was getting to the stage that I was about to choose baubles to put in their pleats or pony tails!  However, Daddy was banned from going near them with scissors or clippers due to what happened last time...he accidentally left the guard off and Alasdair spent several weeks impersonating a convict.  We eventually had to give in though, when they couldn't see out any more.  Think they're quite chuffed with their new hair styles!







Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Farewell to an old neighbour

I'd a day off work today, but not one I really wanted.  Today was the funeral of Heather Smellie, who was a neighbour from the next lane in North Connel for around 30 years.  While it was a sad occasion, it was also a happy one, as so many memories of the fun, loving and caring person Heather was were shared.
It was lovely to see her family too, despite the sad circumstances and also to see so many former neighbours from the North Connel area.  As always on such occasions, it was a timely reminder to not lose touch with friends, old and new...all too soon, it can be too late to get back in touch.  Next step is going to be introducing the boys properly to North Connel...they know Grandma and Seanair's house and garden like the back of their hands, but they don't really know the rest of the area the same.  Operation familiarisation is imminent!  

Monday, 20 February 2017

A rather soggy Monday

Monday morning and not exactly the sunniest of days.  I squelched my way down to work at Port Castle and was very thankful that I didn't have to put my nose over the door step for most of the day.  Cass was equally unimpressed with the weather...she put on her most plaintive and appealing face to try to persuade me to open the gate that would get her closer to the stable and the feed shed.


Plaintive, appealing looks and food were to the forefront of Collach and Liosach's (so called!) minds...they just knew we were too full up to finish dinner!


Sunday, 19 February 2017

A normal Sunday

For the first time in ages, Sunday actually went pretty much as planned.  Well, there was one minor (!) glitch, when the island car was reluctant to start then made a nasty, potentially terminal, sound and refused to participate any further in the day's activities.  Especially unfortunate as it's meant to be going on its holidays to France in the not too distant future.  The mainland car is now giggling gleefully and humming the Marseillaise to itself, as it looks out its passport in anticipation of the demise of its sister vehicle.  

After a quick car swap, we made it to the ferry on time, made it to church on time, I survived creche duty with no major scars, we picked up a few bits and pieces in the shops then made it to Grandma and Seanair's on time for lots of quality time, coffee, playing and hugs.  

Not many photo opportunities today though, due to the thick mist that followed us everywhere.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Another busy day

After a leisurely start to, we had another productive day...don't know where on earth we've suddenly found a bit of energy!  Colin braved the somewhat intemperate weather to do some more tidying in the garden.  The poly-tunnel has been cleared a bit more and there are now some planters arranged along the outside of the hens' enclosure.  The idea is to draw the enclosure into the garden a bit, so it's not just sitting there looking slightly out of place,  The main challenge will be to find something hen-proof to plant in them - once they're back out and about again, most poor plants won't stand a chance!  

I did a bit of planting indoors...the back porch has been transformed into a temporary nursery, until Colin gets a chance to build my new greenhouse.

Friday, 17 February 2017

A Productive Day Off

To begin with, we thought today was going to be a pretty lazy day with nothing much achieved.  However, after Colin got home from working with his ladies (Mairi and Marjorie), the general lethargy eventually gave way to action.  More rubbish was burnt, various bits and pieces were tidied up, the polytunnel was given a make-over (i.e. weeded!) and, most importantly of all, the hens were mucked out...fluffy new beds were laid all round, hospital corners made and duvets turned down for everyone...ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but they were still pretty pleased!

The hens very kindly donated their former bedding to the raised beds, so fingers crossed they'll be even more productive once I come to plant them in a few more weeks.








The rhubarb is making at least one of the raised beds look a little bit less empty.








The boys had a busy day too, running wild around the garden.
Managed to get a quick snap of the first crocus and daffodil in the garden this year before they were trampled to death by the maniacs! 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Quiet Thursday

Quite an uneventful day for once.  A quiet morning at work (though slightly frenetic towards post time, as the paint on a next day delivery order was being stubborn about drying in time!) was followed by a chilled afternoon at home with Colin and the children.  Well, as chilled as anything can be with the boys around...chilled was definitely not the word we were thinking when a strange smell started to waft through from the living room, which we discovered was coming from the melting plastic seat on Ruairidh's go-kart!  A very calm but to the point discussion was then held with said young man on the merits of leaving one's go-kart parked hard against the wood-burner, while the wood-burner is generating enough heat to warm the entire country!  The fire is now out and go-karts (and children) banished from anywhere near it.


To calm my nerves, I headed off upstairs to experiment a little more with the photo studio...at least inanimate objects can't cause chaos...can they?!


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Photography Fun

It was work as usual in the morning...despite there just being the two of us today, Nicky and I managed to get out quite a creditable number of sacks of post.  Then in the afternoon, I headed off home, clutching some new photography equipment Nicky has bought for the business.  I'm lucky enough to get to try it out, photographing some of the Seahorse products for inclusion in another website.  I had to contain my impatience once I got home, as Grandma, Seanair and Ealasaid were heading off to the mainland - it's drama night.  This meant much organisation and a pair of rather unimpressed wee boys!  Once they were gone and wee boys, dogs, fish, chickens and adults were fed and some of that lot at least were in bed, I finally got a chance to play with the new equipment.  It's a photography shooting table, with soft boxes and daylight bulbs...looks quite impressive.  Set up was pretty straightforward, although a little challenging to begin with, as not only were there no instructions to speak of, but also no picture.  As I wasn't the one who bought the thing in the first place, this made life rather interesting, as I had no idea what I was aiming to build!  Think I've got it right though...either that or I've just constructed a deck chair and sun lamps!
Of course, I had to try photographing something before I switched off all the illuminations...my first victim of Nicky's lovely new Seahorse/ China Betty products was a Lucky Hare mug.  Still got to experiment more with the lights and so on, but quite pleased with the first attempt.  

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine's Day Lismore-Style

We do things a bit differently here...we'd be romantic if we had the time, but well, life doesn't always allow for that!  Colin headed off to Oban on a fuel run before I was even up this morning.  I made valiant efforts to organise children - failing miserably of course - before going off to work.  Ruairidh must be the only child ever to select a pristine white shirt as his clothing of choice for a non school day spent playing in the garden.  My protests were met by "but I love this one!" - crazy child!  

Good to see other non-romantics hard at work this morning as I made my way down to Port Castle - still a slightly choppy sea, but much improved.


Colin joined us later in the day at Seahorse - the four of us managed to get lots of lovely orders made and posted out, before embarking on our afternoon endeavours.  Kitchen renovations for Colin and Simon and plans for Nicky's exciting new business projects for the two of us.  Florence, of course, ably assisting both parties in every possible way.  

Back home and the quickest dinner imaginable was thrown together before I headed out to a Hall meeting...not exactly a romantic dinner for two!  

Round about 11 o' clock at night, we did all manage to exchange Valentine's cards...who says romance is dead!  Seanair...I mean, the mystery admirer...excelled himself as ever with his poetry on Ealasaid's card.  Have to admit there's still a teeny bit of me that's jealous that she's taken over as the recipient of his works of art!  Over 40 years of Valentine's poetry for his girls (Mum, me and now Ealasaid) must make him about the most romantic one of all of us.


Monday, 13 February 2017

Happy Kiddies

Not only was today the first proper day of the holidays, but life was complete today as far as the children were concerned - Grandma and Seanair arrived!  They hadn't been over for almost a fortnight, so they boys especially were really missing them - Ealasaid gets to spend time with them during the week anyway when she's over at drama and Guides, but the wee men don't get that luxury.  Don't think they've let them out of their sight since they got here!  

It was back to work for me - last minute Valentine's day orders all out on time.  There was a fly past by some local geese as I headed down the hill to work and then some beautiful rose coloured fluffy clouds above Port Castle as I left for home at the end of the day.  


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Winter Walk

A beautiful but windy winter's day here in Lismore.  We didn't risk going off to Church in case the ferries were off, but it looks like it would have been ok after all.  Tomorrow's Calmac ferry is on amber alert already though - looks like it could be another bumpy day!  

Some locals we met en route

We left the car parked in Achnacroish yesterday, so today's adventure was a family walk there to pick it up.  All seven of us (Colin, myself, Ealasaid, Alasdair, Ruairidh, Collach and Liosach) all headed off on what must be one of the longest walks the boys have been on without getting really tired.  No one even hinted at needing a hug all walk long!



In fact, the boys (and dogs!) were as full of energy when we reached Achnacroish as they were when we set out.  And as for Ealasaid, the first thing she did when she got home was to go straight back out for a run!





It was a lovely walk though, freezing cold but with beautiful views all round of the snowy hills.



more locals...slightly worried we might want to share their snack!




Saturday, 11 February 2017

Oban & North Connel & back again

Today was a logistical challenge to say the least!  I left for Oban on the Achnacroish boat at 9am, peeping out of the passenger lounge to check if the guests staying in one of the holiday houses we manage were travelling home on that boat too.  Having ascertained that they were indeed on board, I then phoned Colin to tell him he could go ahead and prepare the house for the next guests.  He (and his 3 willing helpers) headed off to get on with their task, while I, upon arrival in Oban, headed off to Flora's to have my hair cut.  The troops then joined me in Oban, whereupon we embarked on a grand tour of several of the shops there, with a quick break to visit the ducks on the Black Lynn.





Then came the highlight of the day for two wee boys who've been missing their grandparents - a flying visit to Grandma and Seanair before we caught the (somewhat bumpy) ferry home.
Cruachan, from North Connel

There was much admiration for the skill of the ferrymen which allowed us to land against all odds.  The poor minister discovered 2 flat tyres on his car at Point, so while Colin changed a tyre, I admired the wonder of the waves being whipped up by the wind.  Lovely to reach home and batten down the hatches against the elements.