Saturday, 17 May 2014

Where has the time gone?

First, I should start by apologising for neglecting the blog for such a long time. I can't say I've been busy constantly but... well there never seemed to be enough time, and when there was my laptop crashed or froze or did something annoying of that kind. It's new, windows 8 and I are not yet friends. At this rate, may never be. As a peace offering however, I happen to know that Mary-Ann is also writing a post (she's sat right next to me, doing the exact same thing) so you'll have that at some point this week, although I'm making her hold off on posting it as my entry goes back about 2 months before hers!

Since I last wrote, I have been back down to Dorset for a few weeks. I went on the bus as per usual, but came back with my Nan, Pauline, on the plane from Bristol to Glasgow, then took the bus from there. (with seconds to spare) For anyone travelling up on a budget, or not even, this is the way to go. The plane cost £25, which was actually cheaper than my bus ticket from Glasgow down and took 13 hours less! From leaving Pauline's house, near Sturminster Newton, Dorset, at 4.00am and arriving at Port Askaig it took a total of 13 hours. Amazing, considering it usually takes me 23....

Anyways, I better slip some dates in here and there as I can hardly say some of these pictures are recent. 

As Mary-Ann's previous post said, spring did indeed come a little later here than down south. But come it did, since the beginning of April we have had the best weather we could possibly have hoped for for our first Spring on Islay, my first anyway. As I write this there is currently rain hammering on the windows, but until about a week ago we had bright sunshine and very little wind. Unfortunately this has prompted the return of the dreaded midge, but you can't have everything, and once we are all sprayed up with a good thick layer of skin so soft (trust me, it works) they are just about bearable. Just about...

12th April- with the weather on the up, we were going a little stir crazy working in the house all the time. I had been putting noggings in between joists and rafters for what felt like about a month in the freezing cold and was getting more than a l
ittle bit bored. For anybody who doesn't already know, a noggings is basically just a piece of wood in between 2 other pieces of wood... I think. That's what mine are anyway. I have mostly been putting them into the ceiling as anchors to attach the plasterboard onto. This means hundreds of different ones each at different lengths. I got quite efficient at it, definitely not looking forward to doing them in Sandy and Tom's side though! 

Anyway, we took a trip to Cambeltown on the bus.

It was a lovely sunny day, but the wind made me wish that I'd worn more clothes!

A disused ship yard.

Having never visited Cambeltown before we had no idea what to expect, to be honest, I was expecting it to be about double the size, maybe even triple the size, but what we found was a very pleasant, picturesque seaside town, with shops and cafes aimed predominantly at tourists, which of course we were. There was a particularly nice art gallery and a pottery, both of which had totally original stock, although Nick was very dissappointed to find hearts made out of slate that were pretty similar to the one he made as Mary-Ann's valentines gift. His was made out of west highland slate rather than spanish slate, though, so far more original! 

We arrived back at Kennacraig just in time to surprise Sandy, Tom and Adam, who had come for a working holiday! After a very windy ferry trip, where I had a lot of trouble with my hair (no doubt there will be a film to follow from Adam) we arrived back on Islay.

A buzzard from the house.

Our main job for the week was setting the concrete base for both Sandy and Tom's oil drum and the shed which will contain the arsenic and iron water filters. Katie and Dan had already prepared the base for the water filter shed, so Adam and Tom got to work on their side. To make the base, the soil has to be dug out to the right depth, then a wooden frame is set in order to contain the concrete whilst it is wet, this is removed once it is set. The base is then lined with hardcore from the house. 

Adam and Sandy moving the top soil.

Hmmmm.... Sandy seems t be the only one doing any wok here!

Bronwyn getting in the way again.

Adam's definitely slacking off!

Ah no, the concrete arrived and the men stepped in to do the fun bit.

Nick, Tom and Adam pouring the concrete into the base. We had hoped that the lorry would be able to get through to the base, but there were some issues with the fire pit, so we gave that one up and barrowed it over.

Tom and Nick tamping down the base.

Dan (below) drew the short straw with the wheelbarrow selection. It's bright pink and had a puncture... However, it is a wheelbarrow with a story, which is probably a phrase you don't often hear! It was given to Mary-Ann and Nick as a wedding present, which makes it 24 years old. Originally, it was pink with green spots, but since then it has had a bright yellow phase and is now back to pink, with no spots.

Tom did a quick repair job to save it midway through.

Mary-Ann has many more photos from Sandy and Tom's visit, but this is it from me for now. During the week Adam and I climbed Beinn Bheigier during the week as well, but I'll do that as a separate post.

We're moving into the latter part of April now, the weather was still holding out for us. 

Archie got a bit of a shock one day, having emerged from the house for the first time in.. well a long time he was immediately confronted by Cassie, who thought it was a brilliant game to chase him down the garden and up the tree. I did manage to coax him down eventually...

Cassie has discovered football and now wants to play every second of every day. Although maybe not so after today as she failed to wait for it to be kicked before she chased it this morning and got kicked in the face with Nick's steel toe cap.... She was absolutely fine after a few biscuits and cuddles though!

For about a month the burn took a strange path right across the bay to the end corner parallel to the sea.

I have discovered the panorama setting on my camera...

Nick's footprints in the sand.

Heron footprints.

I'm always shocked by the transparency of the sea when it has been still for a few days. Who needs the Maldives?  (I would actually love to go the Maldives, if anyone fancies taking me?)

Cassie's perfectly happy with Islay seas.

The football even comes down to the beach.

Isla isn't impressed with football.

Isla's favourite thing to do on the beach is lie in the burn.

Whereas Cassie prefers to dig holes.

One night I came home from seeing a friend in the village at about 2.30am and the moon was bright orange and completely clear, so I had to go down to the beach and take some photos for half an hour or so. It made getting up at 7.00am for work a little tricky the next day. Worth it though. Even though I did get my foot wet in the stream because it was so dark!

It may have been mentioned before, but if it wasn't, for lent this year I decided to go vegan, I did it last year as well, so it shouldn't have been that hard, but then again, last year my most strenuous daily activity was walking from my motorbike into school. (about 200 yrds) I suppose perhaps if you were a permanent vegan it would be easier. I don't know. I should perhaps explain what a vegan is at this point... as a vegan, you can't eat any form of animal product, so no milk or eggs, not even honey. I found this year that I was actually really hungry the whole time, especially when we were climbing the mountain. Not fun! Anyways, the steak above was my first day back being an omnivore, this was dinner, for breakfast we had a full scottish. 

These next few are of Kintra at sunset. We don't get a sunset at the Dower House, so the occasional trip out is definitely necessary. I won't caption these as there are an awful lot, and essentially they're all pretty similar.

It seems like the perfect opportunity to say something about the sun setting on my post... but don't worry, I won't. 


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