Monday, 27 January 2014

Bubbles and Waves Saligo Bay

When it's blowing a gale and raining cats and dogs, what better way to spend a Sunday on Islay than getting out in it! 
We headed to Saligo Bay on the West coast, as it was a SW force 8, with flasks of coffee, flapjack, 2 dogs and a full set of waterproofs.

When the girls were small we called Saligo Bay 
"The beach where the tide comes in" 
and it does with sudden huge surges, which send you scrambling up the rocks if you are caught out.

You can tell by Cassie's ears that it's windy!

Here I have just taken possession of a dead seagull Cassie retrieved off the beach and luckily gave up quite easily for a biscuit. Jenny carried her away.
Guess how many layers we had under the waterproofs?

Ahead it looked just like snow, but in fact.... was bubbles, 
"blown spume", if you know your John Masefield!

...and when Nick jumped in, so did Isla'...and disappeared!

Lots of screaming from Jenny and Nick found a collar...

...more bubbles...

So, who is that in the purple trapper hat?

Wouldn't be seen dead in it she said!
...but it was cold

...and then the sun came out...

 ...highlighting the enormous waves...

...which pound onto the rocks and surge up the beach...
Nick is busy working out how to paddle his boat through it, 
I am busy walking away...nothing changes!

..and this is a little one for bird lovers like Lucy, Bob and Jan, 
 swan in Dower House Bay.

...and this one is for Sue and Spuddy,  friends from Manston School who follow the blog religiously..come on up Spuddy!

...and this is Monday morning, Dan and Katie are pointing Sandy and Tom's chimney stack to music, while Jenny and Mary-Ann are doing the other end. Tomorrow we say Good-bye to Rick, who has helped us through roof, windows and pointing plus many other things. He's off to sunnier climes down South, except we are having better weather at the moment I think!

At the Dower House rain has stopped play, or slowed it down, but it will soon be spring...

Oh and I've ordered my pole chainsaw, with a bit of help from brother Steve, at Accent Fresh, and his delivery men in Norfolk, watch this space!


Friday, 24 January 2014

Dogs and swans and rainbows/

Rainbow over the Fairy Hill with a little bit of photo


Cassie meets the swans on the Dower House beach.

...and barks...

 Thoughts for Isaac on the 11th January...

Gateway to......

Nick and Dan put the last upstairs window in place...

Katie opens a new window

Jenny puts messy mastic on the gutter nuts and bolts.

...and a little bit of wildlife in the trees at the Dower House...

 Tree creeper at Cnoc Bay

Among the rain and wind we did have a little bit of sun this week!

Have a good weekend


Monday, 20 January 2014

Andy and the Chainsaw Gang at Topsy's!

It is the way the Dower House project seems to work. 
An idea...a bit of thinking....a bit of planning...
talk to a few people... and it happens!

Over Christmas we stayed with Topsy and it occurred to me that while she is having to heat the house using oil and electricity, she is surrounded by large trees that need some severe management! 
120 Sycamore, with some Ash and a bit of Willow.
As I have some experience with wildlife and tree management and am always in need of a new project, I made a plan! 
We are hoping to heat a lot of the Dower House with wood burners and a Rayburn so this is all good experience for us too. 

The problem was that although we have 2 chainsaws between us none of us had been shown how to use one

Topsy spoke to a few friends and along came Andy, who was prepared to give up 2 days of his holiday to help us. Andy grew up on Islay, but now works in Glasgow in garden landscaping, with an interest in land and tree management.

Topsy is first to try the safety catch to stop the blades moving!

We started by coppicing an Ash tree to make ideal sized logs

Topsy watches carefully...

Then has a go herself.

Katie fixes Dan's helmet...

Then he has a go...

Andy  shows Jenny how to trim the side branches off...

Then stands well back!

We all asked questions, all day...

 Getting rid of small and diseased trees also opens up the light to allow other plants to grow as sycamore have very large leaves.Topsy's garden is amazing, full of massive natural rock features and in 2 months will be covered in ancient woodland flowers like bluebells, wood anemone and later foxgloves.

Jenny and Katie sort the logs from the twigs...

Nick has a go...

Topsy and I bought the safety kit while the others were away...

Day 2 was a bit wet and a bit cool, even Andy had a jacket on...

Behind the Old Stables Sycamore and Ash are encroaching,
 shutting out the light, growing into the walls and buildings, 
some had to go! 
We have been careful not to destroy the rookery in case anyone is wondering. Everything has it's place, even if it is noisy. 
Topsy also has otters, buzzards, kestrels, rabbits and hundreds of other birds visiting the garden that eat her out of house and home.

After 2 days with all of us felling, lopping and cutting and splitting seasoned logs, we made a good start towards a sustainable wood source for Tigh Cargaman. The plan is to use a 3 year cycle to season the wood and Jenny built the first wood store from pallets. (photo to follow when the sun comes out).

Now all we need is a bit of land to grow wood for the Dower House....anyone know of one on Islay?

Oh and thanks again Andy come again soon!

..and guess what I'm getting for my birthday?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Walking in the Rain

So Nick and I arrived home on Tuesday having travelled all night from Poole, Dorset, a little worse for wear, but glad to be back. The week before we had seen some of the downsides of living on an island... We were booked on the 7am ferry, which was cancelled as we found out on Tuesday at 12.30. By 3.30, with the help of my cousin Ben (internet was down) we had cancelled the train from Glasgow and changed the bus to Glasgow and were on the ferry bound for Cambridge.  

Anyway, back now!

We had a couple of days learning how to use a chainsaw on Tuesday and Wednesday, which I'm sure someone will write about later. I just wanted to post a few photos of both the dogs first walk up the fairy hill. In the rain, naturally...

This cross marks the grave of John Talbot Clifton, the laird of the Kildalton estate, it can be found about halfway up the fairy hill. (Cnoc Rhoanastil) There are a number of different stories claiming different reasons for this burial sight. One is that he intended to be buried at the very top of the hill, so that he could keep watch on his lands. Another, which I prefer, is that he was buried in that particular spot as it allows him to see through the second upstairs window on the right of the Dower House when looking from the road, as this was his wife's-Violet's- room and he would be able to keep an eye on her. If this was the case though, it backfired rather, as shortly after his death she relocated to St Annes.

All that climbing proved a little too much for Isla, as she threw herself into the nearest puddle as soon as we got to the top!

Looking towards Beinn Bheiger, one of the seven Marilyn hills on Islay.

Group photo at the top! Cassie managed to look at the camera, even if Isla didn't. This took three attempts as Cassie and I didn't make it back before the self timer went off the first couple of times. 

If you look closely you can see the house in this one.

Looking towards the village.

Cassie was not pleased to be on the lead and unable to follow Isla.

A little more of the storm damage..

I should really be able to find my way back to the house by now, but I still get lost in the trees more often than not!

Cassie steaming in front of the gas fire.

We started work on the house again yesterday after a slightly extended Christmas break, so before long we should hopefully be able to see some more progress!