The End of Another Year

December 27, 2016

It is the few quiet days between Christmas, with its weeks of anticipation and preparation, and Hogmanay with its reflections and shenanigans.  I realise I haven’t blogged as much this year and posted nothing at all in the last three months – no real reason but lots of excuses – so I will, as tradition dictates, finish 2016 with a quick review of September to December.

Three times we had ‘little’ holidays – two within a few hours driving time and one a short haul flight.  When we visit family or friends in the south of England we usually just shoot past the Lake District en route for somewhere else but in late September we stayed on Ullswater for a few days of glorious autumn sunshine.

 

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MV Balmoral

The sister ship of the PS Waverley came to visit in Rothesay, so of course we had a wee sail on a rather chilly, grey day.  A nice ship but in my eyes without the personality of her sister.

Another weekend at the end of October we had reason to visit Pitlochry for a few days  when the autumn colours of the trees was quite spectacular.

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In amongst all the trips away life on Bute continued in its fascinating way – the dwindling numbers of tourists and the starting of winter activities underlining this time of transition between the seasons.  There was a good dry spell of weather and the farmers gathered their harvest in.  We celebrated at church with a service and a scrumptious lunch.

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He didn’t have to do all the dishes by himself!

At the beginning of November we jetted off seeking some winter sun – and found it very pleasantly warm in the south of Tenerife.  The Hotel Bahia del Duque was beautiful, peaceful and with a choice of restaurants.

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The perfect terrace for breakfast and afternoon tea.

There were a number of swimming ‘pools’ scattered down the hillside, all beautifully set in the landscaped gardens.

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There never seemed to be anyone in the water when we strolled past en route for our daily amble along the esplanade to the next village along the coast.  It was a very luxurious place and we even had our own wee plunge pool – I could manage three strokes from corner to corner.

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The young lady in the next photograph had gone to a lot of trouble to get comfy whilst she sunbathed.

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This short break set us up nicely for the whirl of activities that arrive with December.  Each of the organisations we are members of holds a Christmas party or dinner ( I try to avoid turkey until Christmas day, while Colin chooses it every time) – lots of fun and laughter and good company.  There were also concerts and special church services.

The Fundraising Committee at the United Church of Bute held a Cake and Coffee morning in mid December and I helped mount a display of Nativity Sets in the sanctuary at the same time.  It was amazing – 18  depictions of the well known story but each one different and having its own story to tell (bought in different countries, some very old and some fairly new etc).

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My sister brought this set from Russia many years ago.

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Beautifully carved; hand knitted by various members of the congregation; very old.

The whole church was beautifully decorated.

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…. and even some cakes were suitably festive.

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Would I be tempting fate by making a New Year Resolution four days before 2017?  I’m not promising but I will try not to leave such long gaps between my blogs next year.

The weather has been very wild for the last ten days – storm Barbara followed swiftly by storm Connor.  The inevitable disruption to the ferry services over the whole of the west coast of Scotland has been immense.  We personally were not affected as fortunately none of our family’s comings and goings were scheduled for ‘no service’ days but many folk around us suffered  anxiety and the last minute rearranging of already complex travel arrangements.  I hope my readers have had a joyful and Happy Christmas.

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Christmas Day 2016 on Ettrick Bay


Rothesay Raft Race 2016

August 18, 2016

On Sunday we had another of the Island’s fun filled charity events.  No rain at this one but a lot of people got wet anyway.  The Sailing Club organise this race of home made rafts from the beach at Children’s Corner to in front of the Yacht Club.  Nine teams entered on this overcast but warm, calm day.

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There are strict rules about wearing life jackets plus official encouragement of sabotage equipment – flour, eggs and pump action water pistols.

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They’re off.

Teams of more than four adults have a one minute time delay so the hardy folks from Stand Up to Cancer had a bit of catching up to do.

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Ballerinas tentatively tiptoeing through the seaweed. 

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The Co-op being not quite so elegant.

A lot of effort had gone into the building of the rafts, decorating them and creating the costumes.

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A wetsuit, a lifejacket and then a bikini on top.

The sea conditions and the weather were so benign that the safety boat took to zooming very fast through the fleet to create waves.

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Man made waves.

I think it was gravity and balance that did for this team rather than waves.

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They look as though they are chasing after the ferry.

I wonder if any of the paddlers will make the GB Team for the next Olympics.  According to the Buteman report all nine teams finished the course although the last home, with only two oarsmen remaining, took two hours – that’s the kind of grit and determination that wins gold medals (all they would get would be a beer and a beef burger).  A great afternoon’s entertainment.


Storm Bound in Crinan – VIC32

August 13, 2015

We were looking forward to a wee holiday on VIC32 this year as we had not managed to the infamous Work Party Week earlier in the spring.  As I may have mentioned once or twice before this summer, we have not really enjoyed balmy weather and last week’s forecast was predicting gale force winds. Oh jolly good.  The copious amounts of rain have left the countryside looking very lush.

Crinan Basin

Crinan Basin

Our fellow passengers seemed very amenable and the crew were a jolly bunch.  Just as well as Monday morning saw the ritual loading of five tonnes of coal – in the rain.

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Because of the forecast we knew we couldn’t venture too far and would need shelter on Monday night but we did enjoy a cruise part way up the Sound of Jura past the Dorus Mor nearly to Ardfern before turning south again to berth at the pier in Crinan Boatyard.

This is why we were sheltering.

This is why we were sheltering.

It was really interesting to be tied up a few yards from VIC27 (aka Auld Reekie) who is on the slip having a reportedly half a million pounds refurbishment.

Auld Reekie

Auld Reekie

VIC32 on Crinan Boatyard pier

VIC32 on Crinan Boatyard pier

It all looks very calm and pleasant out there – but only as far as the eye can see.  It was dry so we enjoyed a very pleasant ramble around Crinan in the afternoon.  Although tied up very firmly there was a bit of bumping and swinging when the storm arrived.  I didn’t hear it but seemingly the Skipper was up at 3.00am disconnecting the gangway.

In the morning the plan was to put our nose out of Crinan Bay and try to go up Loch Melfort.  There was great hilarity just after breakfast when the Oban lifeboat arrived beside us – was the weather so bad we would need to be escorted up into Loch Melfort?

Oban Lifeboat at Crinan Boatyard

Oban Lifeboat at Crinan Boatyard

It was fascinating to watch how they gently manoeuvred her onto a ‘cradle’ and she was winched up out of the water onto the slip.  It was a routine survey and only half an hour later she was back in the water and roaring away.

We set off shortly afterwards but within half an hour we hit the stormy sea conditions and wild squally weather and it was easy for the Skipper to make the decision to return to port – again!

Not quite Caribbean blue

Not quite Caribbean blue

We weren’t out long enough for me to feel I needed to be lashed to the mast for safety.  The sea was not being kind to us so after another delicious lunch we packed into three cars and went to visit Kilmartin Museum and some of the ancient prehistoric sites scattered throughout the glen.  It was really quite a pleasant day on land.

Temple Wood Stone Circle

Temple Wood Stone Circle

We also climbed Dunadd to enjoy the spectacular 360 degree view and, of course, try standing in the footprint of the kings of Dal Riata.

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They must have been quite wee fellas – my size 4 trainers just fitted exactly, so do I get to marry the Prince or is that a different story?

Windswept but dry.

Windswept but dry.

It was still quite blowy out in the Sound of Jura but the forecast was becoming less doom laden.  Our second night on the boatyard pier started with a beautiful sunset.

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By Wednesday morning it was still grey and windy and the forecast was still not all that promising.  None of the passengers were actually complaining, just a bit disappointed, especially for first time voyagers, so to avert any rumblings of mutiny we set out again.  Plan A was to puff south down the coast and, if the wind turned enough, nip straight across to Jura.  It was bearable on deck – not too cold, with drizzle, rain and dry spells alternating.  Unfortunately we were soon on Plan B and going up Loch Sween to Tayvalich to where we could find a sheltered mooring for the night.

The trusty galley slave rowed us all ashore in small groups where we stoically enjoyed a walk in the heaviest rain I have ever experienced.

The laughter was just a bit hysterical.

The laughter was just a bit hysterical.

The downpour lessened off a bit and we climbed over the peninsula and down to Carsaig Bay.  Some of the group chose to visit a beautiful garden but I went with the breakaway party to visit a young artist, Susan Berry.  I fell instantly in love with her work, especially the watercolours of otters.  I may save up my pocket money and make a trip round by road.  I also loved her garden.

Now when did he get here?

Now when did he get here?

The sun finally decided to shine on the second last day so we wasted no time in popping back out of Loch Sween and making the three hour crossing to Craighouse on Jura.

A Home Made Selfie Stick

A Home Made Selfie Stick

In case you hadn’t spotted it, that is an expensive camera attached to the deck brush with sellotape – the Puffer paparazzi will try anything for a good photograph (see David Hawson).

Leaving Tayvallich

Leaving Tayvallich

We really enjoyed perfect weather on Thursday and Friday – Jura was looking stunning.

On Craighouse Pier, Jura

On Craighouse Pier, Jura

A charming gentleman with a minibus took us on a short tour.  He was an excellent guide, full of information and stories.  As usual for me the highlight was probably the photographic local history display in Jura church but for others it was the imposing stag in a roadside field or the otter swimming and feeding just a bit off shore.  After supper we were entertained by a piper who came marching along the pier – very evocative sound in the setting of dusk and sunset surrounded by the sea and the Paps of Jura.

Craighouse, Jura

Craighouse, Jura

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A good blether on the way back to Crinan.

A good blether on the way back to Crinan.

This excellent wee holiday finished at Crinan with the magical steam driven record player being set up to play some new records kindly donated by one of our Irish shipmates.  The passengers and crew had all been good company, the food was delicious and the weather …. improved.

Steam driven record player on VIC32.

Steam driven record player on VIC32.

Roy Rogers singing ‘A Four Legged Friend’ has now become an ear worm.


The Adventure on St Helena Continues

May 16, 2015

St Helena is one of the most isolated places on earth – at the moment only accessible by a five day sea voyage from Cape Town, South Africa, or by RAF to Ascension and then a two day sea voyage, or by the occasional cruise ship.  While we were there two of the latter dropped in.  An Italian cruise ship visited for a few hours one day and then over the Easter weekend the ‘World’ visited.  Correction – the latter is not a cruise ship but a floating luxury apartment block.  Her stay in Jamestown made very little impact as it was rumoured there were only about sixty residents aboard.

The 'World' in Jamestown Bay

The ‘World’ in Jamestown Bay

While visiting the Empty Tomb – Napoleon’s original burial place – we met a small group of ‘World’ residents with their guide.  Her name badge proclaimed she was the “Enrichment Manager” – says it all.

Napoleon's Tomb, Geranium Valley

Napoleon’s Tomb, Geranium Valley

After his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and surrender to the English, Napoleon Bonaparte was sent on the ten week sail to St Helena where he was ‘imprisoned’ from the 15th October 1815 until his death on the 5th May 1821.  For the whole five years Napoleon and his entourage complained bitterly about everything, including his accommodation at Longwood House.

Longwood House, St Helena

Longwood House, St Helena

On the day we visited it was idyllic. It was so lovely in the warm sunshine that on the tour the guides felt obliged to keep pointing out how damp, dismal and rat infested it had been 200 years ago.  I read a couple of books on the topic before we visited (the two diametrically opposing versions of the story) so it was such a privilege to actually see the real thing.

Napoleon’s ferociously hated jailer, Sir Hudson Lowe, Governor of St Helena, lived in the very beautiful Plantation House, which continues to be the residence of the Governor today.

Plantation House, St Helena

Plantation House, St Helena

The inside is absolutely exquisite – I could happily live there, especially if the nine staff were part of the deal.  Photography was not allowed inside and I’ve fruitlessly searched the internet for any images.  The house is also renowned for the giant tortoises living on the lawn.  The notices pertaining to these are a bit shouty.

Visiting George

Visiting Jonathon

Napoleon wasn’t the only prisoner to do his time on St Helena.  During the Boer War (1899 – 1902) nearly 6,000 prisoners of war were transported to St Helena from South Africa.  We visited the immaculately kept grave site and memorial.

Boer War Prisoners Cemetery, St Helena

Boer War Prisoners Cemetery, St Helena

On the voyage both to and from St Helena I had the privilege of a number of conversations with a lovely South African gentleman who was visiting the island specifically to honour two of his Boer ancestors.  Both his great grandfather and his grandfather had been prisoners.  The elder died of dysentry a few weeks before the end of the war and his son returned to SA and lived well into his sixties.

The names of the soldiers are recorded on the two obelisks at the bottom of the very steep slope.  I also found fascinating gravestones and wall plaques in other graveyards and churches on the island.  The following one caught my eye in St Paul’s Cathedral no less.

St Paul's Cathedral, St Helena

St Paul’s Cathedral, St Helena

When asked why we had chosen to visit St Helena our standard response was, ‘because of its isolation, the long sea voyage and Napoleon’.  I had no idea of the rich and important history of the island.  A short list of interesting visitors gives some indication – 1676 Edmund Halley (astronomer), 1775 Captain Cook, 1792 Captain Bligh, 1805 the Duke of Wellington, 1836 Charles Darwin, etc etc.

As well as dramatic scenery and fascinating history there was also wildlife to see.  We spent a wonderful morning with a National Trust expert on the endangered endemic Wire Birds.  Because there are only about 400 individuals left in the world (i.e. here on St Helena) I had expected them to be very difficult to find.  But our guide visits them every day and took us straight to the nesting area.  Fortunately the little birds are not disturbed by well behaved humans so we had a wonderful time having every aspect of their behaviour explained to us.

Wire Bird and Eggs

Wire Bird and Eggs

We also spent a glorious morning at sea viewing the island from a different angle and being thrilled by the joyous antics of a great pod of dolphins.  I didn’t even try to take photographs but happily stood with a  grin on my face, mesmerised by the graceful leaping creatures on all sides of the boat.

Dolphin watching, St Helena

Dolphin watching, St Helena

I had another insight into how isolated this island is when our local guide, Basil, explained that families living here rarely get the opportunity to ‘go on holiday’ as we understand the term – five days each way to get off and on the island and the not inconsiderable cost of that journey before any regular time and money considerations come into play.  As a result the long Easter weekend has become a very important ritual of camping with family and friends – a time to relax with loved ones, let the kids run wild, eat and drink, and generally have fun.  Each extended family/friends group always returns to the same camping place year after year and even to the exact same spot.

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We had the privilege of joining Basil’s family’s encampment at Thompson’s Wood for lunch – a total of 24 happy, relaxed folk who welcomed us and shared food while half a dozen small children clambered happily and precariously through a tree above our heads.  A simple and delightful way to have a mini holiday.  Other island families each have their own regular place to camp.  We saw the following group ensconced on a rock shelf near the mouth of one of the many inaccessible valleys.  They had arrived by sea and instead of pitching tents would shelter in the shallow caves.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Life is going to change dramatically for the Saints in the next year with the opening of the Airport scheduled for February 2016.  Every one we spoke to wanted to talk about this immense event, and they held very mixed views – something had to be done to stimulate the stagnant economy, make opportunities for the younger people, and stop, or at least slow the rate of immigration away from the island, but with all huge changes like this there is also a great fear of the unknown – will their idyllic, slow, informal lifestyle be overwhelmed by an influx of incomers and demanding mass tourism?  Only time will tell but I think the resilience of living in such an isolated place will give the Saints a good start in embracing and managing the changes to come.

The Runway, St Helena

The Runway, St Helena

The photograph above was taken from the Millennium Gum Tree Forest. The young trees in the middle distance are about ten years old and we did our bit by planting some more in this attempt to reforest part of the island.  It was rather strange having to use a pick axe rather than a wee trowel to dig a hole for the baby tree.

Planting Gum Trees

Planting Gum Trees

Someone has a good sense of humour – you will find yourself reading the following notice a few times.

Castle Gardens, Jamestown, St Helena

Castle Gardens, Jamestown, St Helena

Last episode to follow.


Where on Earth is That?

April 25, 2015

We’ve been travelling again and when we told friends where we were off to the response was often as in the title.  I’ll keep the destination under raps for a bit longer as we had some lovely experiences on the 10 day outward journey.  We had the privilege of spending a few days in and around the beautiful city of Cape Town.  The weather was gloriously warm and sunny.

Windswept surf at Camps Bay

Windswept surf at Camps Bay

Because it was very clear early in the morning our first trip was to Table Mountain – using my second favourite method of transport.

Cable car on Table Mountain

Cable car on Table Mountain

The views from the top were stunning and I was very impressed by the layout of the paths and the information boards provided.  There were, of course, lots of visitors but the ‘natives’ took this in their stride and continued to nonchalantly pose in the sunshine.

Dassie on Table Mountain

Dassie on Table Mountain

Our guide, and the signs, were very keen to point out that these little hamster like creatures (proper name Rock Hyrax) are genetically the nearest living relative of the elephant.  After an hour or so gazing at the wonderful scenery I decided to give the abseiling option of descending a miss and opted for a return trip in the wonderful revolving cable car.

Option 1 - no thank you

Option 1 – no thank you

Option 2 - yes please - even with 40 rude, pushy Indians!

Option 2 – yes please – even with 40 rude, pushy Indians!

You can see Robben Island in the top right of the photo above.  Unfortunately we did not have enough time to fit in a visit to that particular island.  What we did do was have a couple of hours enjoying the delights of the Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens. This was very beautiful and peaceful.  You will no doubt recognise the flowers in the next photograph but these are particularly special strelitzias – not the usual bright orange but a new yellow form being propagated at Kirstenbosch and named Mandela.

Mandela Strelitzia

Mandela Strelitzia

Among the many interesting features in the Garden was the striking modern Centenary Skywalk Trail – a minimalist and elegant structure suspended high above ground level amongst the treetops.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Other features were equally beautiful and fascinating –

A Golden Orb Spider and a Brave Finger

A Golden Orb Spider and a Brave Finger

I would happily have stayed all day in the gardens but our next treat was waiting – and what a treat, afternoon tea at the old colonial Lord Nelson Hotel.  This was what I call a proper afternoon tea – linen cloths, silver cutlery, fine china, cake stands groaning with tempting cakes, minute sandwiches with no crusts, fresh baked scones with cream and jam.  I did reveal my roots somewhat by opting for ordinary English Breakfast (builder’s) tea from the extensive tea menu.  We ate so much we nearly  had no need for dinner that night.

Even the teapot was intriguing and classy.

Even the teapot was intriguing and classy.

Another ‘tablecloth’ featured often over our few days in and around Cape Town – the fascinating cloud formation which drapes itself over Table Mountain.

The 'cloth' over the 'table'

The ‘cloth’ over the ‘table’

Another day we spent driving around the Cape Peninsula.  The scenery was wonderful and at times very atmospheric as the mist alternated from being swirled around to being swept away out to sea.  We were delighted to encounter some African penguins near Simonstown.

African Penguins

African Penguins

The next photograph needs no explanation but I will add that we had to ‘queue’ for our turn at the iconic sign.

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Although we were not on a Big Game holiday we did see plenty of wild life, including lots of ostriches.  Unfortunately in the dozens of photographs we took there is not one with a male looking at the camera – they were always too busy eating.

Ostriches near Cape Town

Ostriches near Cape Town

In Simonstown we had the pleasure / pain of sharing a crowded cafe with South African cricket fans as they watched the nail biting last few overs of the semi final of the One Day World Cup between South Africa and New Zealand – sadly lost on the second last ball.

Unlike the ostriches the bonteboks very tentatively watched our every move with the camera.

Bonteboks

Bonteboks

The new Waterfront complex in Cape Town reminded me a bit of Singapore with all its shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment

Cape Town Waterfront

Cape Town Waterfront

We were getting ready for the next leg of our journey – but it wasn’t to be a bus ride to Dunoon!

From Cape Town to Dunoon

From Cape Town to Dunoon

We were going to catch a ferry, albeit a very special ferry.

Not a Calmac red funnel

Not a Calmac red funnel

Leaving Cape Town

Leaving Cape Town

Sailing away to the BIG adventure

Sailing away to the BIG adventure

Off into the sunset for the next five days.

Off into the sunset for the next five days.

Next episode in a few days time – ‘St Helena by Royal Mail’

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My Watch Has ‘SAD”

February 5, 2015

Haven’t posted for a while mainly because I would  just have  moaned about the weather – not too much snow but days of unremitting horizontal sleet and many, many ferry ‘disruptions’.  The world looks distinctly brighter in the last few days.  The sun has been shining and the house lights no longer need to be switched on at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  A couple of times last week we walked home from evening events under a starry, frosty sky.

The family visited last weekend and we enjoyed a distinctly bracing walk along Scalpsie beach.

Getting blown along.

Getting blown along.

It was bright and sunny but a bitterly cold, strong north wind.  One brave / foolish (delete as appropriate) member of the party chose to run rather than being wind propelled in one direction and fighting the elements on the way back.  Some of us just watched her.

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The next photograph is out of focus because I couldn’t stand still in the wind.

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Keith and Nicky had an exciting journey to get here on Saturday.  The ferry had been on ‘amber alert’ for days and when they arrived at Wemyss Bay on Saturday morning they met an unusual situation.  The Argyle was firmly lashed to Rothesay pier and couldn’t get off again because of the wind direction, thus she was blocking the vehicle ramp.  The decision was taken that the Bute would return to Rothesay but as she would have to tie up on the overnight berth she would only take foot passengers and no vehicles.  Keith and Nicky quickly repackaged their luggage, left their car to the side of the marshalling lanes and boarded.

At Rothesay the pier staff took the opportunity to test a brand new gangway which will be needed when all our ferries are diverted to Gourock for 16 weeks starting in March.

Arriving at Rothesay

Arriving at Rothesay

The temporary change of port is due to a planned refurbishment of Wemyss Bay pier – much needed as it is in danger of  falling down.  Most locals are suspicious that the more frequent cancellation of sailings this winter is due to the nervousness of the skippers – not wanting to risk making a ‘hard landing’ and causing more damage.  Everyone is looking forward to having even more excuses to moan about Calmac for 16 weeks (or longer!).

My watch has been suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Towards the end of January it simply stopped working.  As Santa had brought it at Christmas 2013 it is thirteen months old and just out of warranty so with fingers crossed we hoped it just needed a new battery.  At the Watchmaker’s we were acutely embarrassed when he pointed out that being solar powered the watch had no battery.  We had both forgotten this.  Since about last October my watch has been snuggled up under at least two layers of wooly jumper sleeves during the day and peacefully in a dark bedroom for all but the odd half hour the rest of the time.  Poor wee thing suffered in silence and eventually gave up.

This called for some intensive care.  For ten days the watch was kept on the kitchen window ledge if the sun shone for a fleeting few hours and moved to directly under a reading lamp in the evenings.  The second hand restarted but with a sort of ‘limp’ and we thought a defibrillator would be needed but gradually the tlc worked and the SAD was cured.

Clouds over Arran

Clouds over Arran


Kayaks and Flowers

September 14, 2014

Not together but both things I would like to be able to do.   When the family were here for the Games weekend (see the last post) the weather was glorious and we enjoyed a lovely walk from Kilchattan Bay  round the coast to the Garroch Head lighthouse.

It Was a Long Walk

It Was a Long Walk

I don’t know how Nicky found a big enough spot to lie down in amongst all these lumpy rocks.  It is quite an isolated spot although there were a few yachts moored in Glencallum Bay on the other side of the lighthouse, so it was really disappointing to see the vandalism and graffiti on the wee lighthouse itself.

The 'smiley lighthouse' making me sad.

The ‘smiley lighthouse’ making me sad.

While we were wandering about enjoying the views and the sunshine a group of a dozen kayakers suddenly appeared around the corner.

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This looks like a great way to see our beautiful island – and fun too.  Every time I see these elegant wee boats I long to have a go – perhaps one day.  Bute has really became a ‘place’ in the kayaking world, partly helped by the introduction of facilities for sea going paddlers at the north of the island on Bute Community Forest land.

A week later I found myself looking enviously at another skill I aspire to.  It was the annual show of Rothesay Horticultural Society.  The main hall of the Pavilion was throbbing with the intensity of the competition and the tables were overflowing with the green fingered output and the amazing talents of the craft exhibitors.

The Thick and Thin of It

The Thick and Thin of It

There are two strands to the flowers on display.  Ranks of individual species – from neon coloured pom pom dahlias to these vibrant, cheap and cheerful nasturtiums.

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The second flower strand is the fiercely fought flower arranging categories – from minute posies in small containers, including a ring box, up to six feet tall grand displays.  I find these especially awesome as I could only ever enter a ‘supermarket flowers plopped in a vase’ category.

Multi prize winning

Multi prize winning

The arrays of fruit, vegetables, wines, jams, jellies and baking is witness to the cornucopia of food produced on Bute.  I found the following simple basket of local vegetables mouth watering.

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I have just noticed that this was only placed second!  As always at these kind of events I loved the children’s entries.  The imagination and interpretation is inspiring, but my favourite this year was this jolly little egg king.

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Each year as I wander around the exhibits I say to myself ‘I could enter that’ but never remember until about a week before the next show.  I hope to do better in future because I paid up my £4 and have joined the Horticultural Society and was given the schedule for next year’s show.  Full of good intentions at the moment but suspect that the schedule will be put in a very forgettable safe place.

I did have one small entry this year.  As part of the Ballianlay Rural’s entry I made an Invitation card to a Burn’s Supper and to my surprise scored 9 out of 10 for my effort.  It was fun weaving ‘tartan’ from lengths of ribbon.

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