1 November 2017

October 2017

The terns had finished nesting and moved on,
the tide was high, so time to jump !!

Jenny enjoyed playing in the waves
 with the rest of the gang
and is loving her first ever wetsuit

Around the croft

October has been a bountiful month for blackberries
and all for free.

This year we are growing a different variety of carrot
(unfortunately can't remember the name at the moment)
as they are meant to be round,
so don't have to fight their way through
our very stoney ground.

The garden is still looking colourful, just,
with Michaelmas Daisies,

and a bedraggled peacock butterfly
resting on the geraniums

Zara found sitting around in the sunshine..

rather tiring


The mobile cinema was back in Gairloch again,
with another selection of 4 films,
this time we saw the Judi Dench film, Victoria & Abdul;
a smashing evening and you get to see loads of friends, too


Just back from a lovely week away on the Island of Barra
in the Outer Hebrides,
the most westerly island of the UK

Our holiday cottage, number 8, Ardmhor,
sat right on the edge of a beautiful bay

The bay in front of the cottage is Barra Airfield !

The times of arrival and departure of the two daily planes
are obviously governed by the tides

and this must be the smallest baggage reclaim ever,
except maybe for Tiree airport

From the cottage you can see the airport terminal
in the distance

The airport café, open 7 days a week and Friday evenings,
serves the best fish ever !
caught in the Atlantic just on the shores of Barra.

Seals came by the cottage, this is Ron

The beaches were staggering

even if it was difficult to stand up at times in the wind

The colours are fabulous

and I just loved the circular patterns in the sand 
made by the sand dune grass blown by the wind

and loved the patterns of the seaweed
once the tide has gone out

Wilma as usual enjoyed herself

taking in the sea breezes

and enjoying the walks

This is one of the local museums
that we were looking forward to seeing,
high up in the hills

alas, it obviously wasn't very popular,

a great pity, the earlier tourist guides
showed it to be really interesting

Kisimul Castle, Castlebay  on a grey day

and the fifty shades of grey of Castlebay

If ever you get to Castlebay go to the Post Office with it's delightful adjoining café;
it is dog-friendly and you will be greeted by Spud,
the jack russel-cross-poodle,
(so named because he came from the local potato farm)
and they serve the biggest and best scones ever !


Family update

Malcolm's Mum fell and broke her hip earlier this month
and has had fabulous care from both
Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and Dingwall Hospital;
she will shortly be transferred to Isle View Nursing Home,
a short distance from us for recovery and physio.


Book of the Month

I bought this book in the wonderful community run shop in Castlebay on Barra;
the book and the shop are both inspirational and fun.

The author does say that the kilt is optional !


Malcolm's sister has been over to see us this month
from Madeira
and on her return home sent me this postcard, 
I am still giggling !

Thanks Barb xx


Quote of the Month

"Work is not always required.
There is such a thing as sacred idleness,
the cultivation of which is fearfully neglected"

George MacDonald (1824 - 1905)


If there are any magicians in the area
that have lost their white rabbits,
they are making their home under one of our sheds,
please collect.


So, with the help of some of the locals,

we wish you a frighteningly good November,

June and Malcolm


29 September 2017

September 2017

Welcome blog viewers

One of the most fun days this month 
has been the Elphin Chicken Day,
in Elphin village, a little north of Ullapool

Cosy  air-conditioned travelling crates

Everything to do with chickens,
from egg and spoon races for the under 4's,
no spoons involved

just pure concentration !

Egg and spoon race for the over 4's,

this lad was a sure winner right from the start

Egg and spoon race for the adults
who didn't want to be left out !

The highlight of the afternoon was the chicken race !
with great hilarity and cheering

Only one chicken knew what was going on 
and went straight for the finishing line,
an outright winner !

others needed help
to get the idea of what it meant to be in a race

Dancing to the Birdie song,
for all ages

Some fabulous chicken artwork from the local children

The organising committee
took health and safety issues very seriously,
especially with the vast number of people attending

Peter with the winning catch, thrown by his wife,
for the egg-throwing competition,
spot the egg

Great refreshments, great raffle, great afternoon
and proceeds for their delightful village hall,
seen in this photo.

Well done Elphin !

See you again next year


The Sunday morning wild swimmers
have increased in number over the past few weeks
and several of them don't even wear wetsuits !

Water temperature these days is around 13 degrees
and now starting to go down

A new member came to join us, a senior amongst us,
(in her 80's I believe)
a hardy soul, she left her white stick on the sand
and stayed in the water for over half an hour,
notice no wetsuit !

When asked how she enjoyed her swim
she just beamed and answered
"bliss! "

Storm stands in anxious wait
for Janette to return from swimming
while Wilma contemplates the next place to dig a hole


Visitors to the croft this month

Roy and Zara
who have been travelling around in their fun
orange campervan

great to see you both after 15 years !

and well done Roy for swimming in the loch,
we love it when our visitors join in with our activities


Giovani and Tricia (being photo-bombed by Wilma)
great to see you looking relaxed and vibrant


On and around the croft

The round wood pile is now seasoned
and ready for Malcolm to restack it all nearer to the house
ready for the winter

Some of Malcolm's lovely onions, drying
ready to be strung up French-style

Harvesting, weeding and mulching the potager

This year's young starlings still coming back
to the bird table for lunch

This heron knows the best places to find the fish

Our young cockerel taking a break

Pure bliss ! me and my little ol' pony on a deserted beach 

Wilma posing for the photo and all the  while ....

thinking up ways of getting filthy

glorious September colour

Zara's field shelter has come in handy for the
pony pedicures on a rainy day

Just chilling out

Evening colours over Loch Ewe

Walking over hill towards Slaggan Bay beach


Book of the Month

One of Malcolm's favourite little reads


Quote of the Month

"If you focus on the hurt you will continue to suffer.
If you focus on the lesson you will continue to grow ."

Buddhist Vision


We are frequently asked the question
"what do you do up there in the Highlands?"

It is possible that I give the impression on the blog
that we drink a lot of tea and eat a lot of cake whilst staring out to sea 
(indeed, we do do that !)
and people think that we have retired from working.

For those of you who ask this question the following list is for you,
for those of you who don't, please skip to the end of the blog.


We do of course do all the usual daily living tasks that everyone has to do
but our style of living on a croft in the Highlands (which some would call remote)
also includes:

maintaining 12 acres of land and fences
growing our own food and trying to be self-sufficient
feeding, cleaning and looking after 24 hens and 3 geese
 routine daily care for Zara the pony, arranging farrier, dentistry, worming etc
poo-picking (around half a ton a month)
looking after Malcolm's Mum, with shopping, doctor/hospital appointments etc
director of and volunteer at the Gale Centre
setting up a local community food-growing group
various projects in the barn
There are so many things to do, learn, be, go to or join up here
that many people, in fact, are never at home !

On our current "to do" list is :

25 ton of wood to be sawn, split and stacked

a polytunnel to be rebuilt

an old stone byre (barn) to be cleared and rebuilt

a second old stone byre to be cleared

and rebuilt

a stack yard to be rebuilt

and a 5 acre woodland and hedges to be planted

Hopefully this goes some way to answering the question,
"what exactly do you do in the Highlands?"

I could go on but you are probably getting bored by now
and anyway we're just about to have another pot of tea, eat cake and have a chat.


To everyone who remembers their school days at
Dame Alice Owen's School,
in Islington, north London,
"Happy School Birthday" for 29th September,
hope you had cake and wore a Michaelmas daisy buttonhole.

To Sheena and Gill especially,
in true school tradition, "Lift your hearts and lift your voices ....."


Until next month,
enjoy the colours of the coming of autumn

June and Malcolm