Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Way Too Long, Annual Update - Part 1

This time last year I wrote a post detailing our first year living in and working on the Dower House. The trouble is, a lot happens in a year. Sometimes within the space of a week a section of the house can be transformed to the extent that I could easily write an entire post on it. So this year, I decided to change it up some, instead of writing so much that it takes an hour or so to read, I'm not only going to try and keep it a little more brief, (or not) I'm also going to split the post in two. The first post, this one, isn't really going to have anything to do with the house, it's more of a summary of the year outside of the house in pictures.  I also don't have a spare week to sit inside and write an essay! So if you have no interest in the house and are just here for the island, then stick to this weeks post and don't read next weeks and vice versa.

Anyway, with that said and done... I posted the last one of these posts in February last year, this one picks up where we left off in 2014.


In February work was particularly boring, so every Sunday we decided to take a picnic, take the dogs and go out somewhere for the day. To start with we went to all the places I had never been, Finlaggan, Caol Ila, and then we moved onto our favourites from our holidays.

We started off at Killinallan, we would usually have gone on to Gortantaoid, but as Isla's a bit past going on a 7 mile walk these days, we just followed the track to the farm and then cut down onto the beach.

Nick and Islay walking along the beach.

This standing stone is just down the first track going off to the left after you come out of Port Ellen going towards Ardbeg. It's so close to the road, but I had never noticed it before.

The spring flowers were just coming out, so this was a good place to go with grassy verges. From the standing stone we walked along the track as far as possible then came back out by the Excise House, just in time for lunch on the beach opposite. 

We often stop at Loch Indaal, if we're driving past, to look for muscles, this time we found a starfish!

On Mary-Ann's Birthday, Katie and Dan came with us for a long walk at Ardnave with both the dogs.

The we went back to Topsy's for cake and drinks!

Sharing the fire after a walk.

Everyone should have a dog in a sling.

We only had one real day of snow and it only lasted for a couple of hours.

Over a period of 2 weeks we found 70 eggs in 3 separate clutches, some of them still hadn't got the hang of laying in the house! We had to have quiche for weeks...

After our chainsaw day in January, Mary-Ann bought her own, a smaller stihl pole chainsaw. Naturally our hedges and trees all had haircuts. Drastic ones.

Dan spent a week building Topsy some steps up to her paddock at the back of the house.

Storm damage.

It's interesting how different the weather has been compared to last year. We had pretty much continuous strong storms for weeks  at a time last year, but it wasn't too cold, whereas this year it's been much colder, but significantly calmer.


Cassie seeing her reflection for the first time!

We had to put up a fence after the chickens found their way onto Knock Bay!

Nick found a massive tree stump washed up on Knock Bay. I was obviously very helpful getting it back to the house...

Ruth, Lucy and Mary-Ann all met up in Glasgow for a couple of nights of shopping, museums and lots of food by the sounds of things! I met Lucy and Mary-Ann in Glasgow afterwards and traveled down to Dorset with them for the week.

As Mary-Ann had to drive the whole way back to Islay herself we stopped over in Gretna Hall Hotel, we made sure to take advantage of the comfy beds and very deep baths, before remembering that one day soon other people are going to be running themselves ridiculously deep baths in our house...

Waiting for the ferry.


Nick found some old photographs online of people around the house, so before we built a shed onto this side, we recreated one of them. I think this is in properly on a previous blog post.

Dan's steps looked excellent at bluebell time.

Katie painting Topsy's bench.

Over the spring we spent a few days at Topsy's helping her with the garden and coppicing some of the trees for firewood.

Mary-Ann built her a willow arbour, with Isla's help of course.

Nick and Dan chopped up logs for firewood.

And I sorted out the thousands of branches Mary-Ann had cut off with her chainsaw.

Nick and Mary-Ann.

One last sunset at Kintra before Katie and Dan left.

Nick and I! 


I braved my first sea swim of the year. Not happening again anytime soon.

Nick and Cassie. Walking on the Oa.

Katie, Dan and Cassie.

Mary-Ann in the sun.

Nick and Dan.

As the house was changing so much, Archie had to move rooms quite often, so we thought to give him some stability we'd try him out in the caravan. He wasn't impressed.

On of the most notable things that happened this year was Nick shaving off his beard.

First paddle of the year, Nick and I under a very flat rainbow. (Mary-Ann's always taking the pictures!)

There's not many places you can go for the day from the island, but Cambletown is one of them. We visited on a very sunny, but freezing cold day and in hindsight, should perhaps have stayed for a little less than 6 hours.. Turns out there's a little less there than I thought!

Adam and I finally made it up Beinn Bheiger for the first time since I was about 5. Surprisingly enough the heather doesn't reach my waist anymore, which was a bit of a relief.

Jura, from Beinn Bheiger.

Archie learnt the hard way not to run away from Cassie.

Football is better than cats anyway.

The chickens are still all going strong under Bertie's watchful eye.

The weather was so good that I even braved a paddle. Bad plan.

On days like this it's hard to believe it was only about 10 degrees.

Isla and Cassie playing on the beach.

Occasionally the moon is really bright orange and so visible.


Watching the sunset at Kintra.

I can't actually remember my reasoning for visiting Dorset twice in a month, I don't think I'll be doing that again, turns out it's quite a long way...

Port Askaig from the ferry.

I popped to Dorset for a few days... I can't actually remember why.

For the photos?

The 'Vital Spark' and the 'Arctic Penguin' in Inveraray. Always worth a look in the 10 minute bus break.

A few from Dorset...

View point above Swanage, Dorset.

Dorset's quite pretty too! 

 I've been incredibly lucky to live in two such beautiful places.

Adam on Swanage bay. Mary-Ann and Sandy used to take us here for the ice cream, chips and the beachfront arcade. Always worth a visit.

Ben, Adam and I with the Harry Potter Ford Anglia at Beaulieu Motor Museum.

In a tree stump in Sherbourne Castle grounds. Like you do.

I didn't realise Adam and I had colour coordinated so well until now! 

I was lucky enough to capture this sky while walking my Auntie's dog Meggy. Goes to show that occasionally Dorset's skies do rival Islay's.

Back to Islay!

Spring here was absolutely stunning. I certainly didn't expect to be sat on Topsy's lawn in a t-shirt eating cream teas. 

 Katie and Dan spent part of April repainting Tigh Cargaman for Topsy, before they left for South America at the beginning of May. 7 months later, they have reluctantly returned to the UK, and are now living in Exeter. 

If anyone is interested in Katie's travels, you can read about them on her website: www.featherytravels.com

As with last year our 'Friday night is Topsy night' tradition carried on throughout the year with a series of brilliantly cooked roasts, pies, syrup puddings and even a baked Alaska. 

Topsy even indulged my slightly stupid veganism during lent. In conclusion, I'm definitely not cut out to be vegan, maybe if I worked in an office and had more money...  Or not. 


Reflection of the moon over Port Ellen.

Looking towards Port Ellen distillery warehouse.

The Dower House from the Hebridean Isles.

At the start of May I headed down to Dorset again for the week, as usual I went by bus, which unusually was quite eventful after the driver did an emergency stop to save a cat and we ended up having to wait over an hour while a lady got taken away on an ambulance having fallen off the toilet... It's never seems to be anything normal does it....

Anyway, a week later I changed things up and flew back to Glasgow with my Nan, Pauline. For anyone not working to a budget, I'd highly recommend flying over the bus/ train. Our flight was from Bristol at 7.15am, I couldn't quite believe it when we arrived in Glasgow at 8.30, rushed through the airport, caught the shuttle bus into the city and by some miracle made it to the 9.15 citylink to Kennacraig by the skin of our teeth. The entire trip took us 9 hours from Pauline's home in Dorset to Islay.   

Pauline and I in the garden.

Pauline walking at Loch Indaal.

She's not too big just yet.

We visited half the island that week as the weather was so good. Cassie and I had to wait on the beach at Port Charlotte rather than going into the museum. Probably for the best.

Port Charlotte

It's always worth a drive down the high road for both the view of the Paps of Jura and the highland cows.

Getting the best angle..!

I had never been to Kilchoman Church before, so we combined a visit with some lead training for Cassie.

Mary-Ann teaching Cassie how to walk to heal..

Pauline showing Topsy the garden border she cleared and replanted at Tigh Cargaman.

Pauline stayed with Topsy as the Dower House definitely wasn't very habitable at the time. 

The spring flowers are later in Scotland than in Dorset. Football with Cassie was disrupted for a few weeks by Mary-Ann shouting at us to mind the flowers, they were impossible to avoid!

She's really sorry..

Some of Cassie's shagginess disappeared with her winter coat, don't worry though, it's back.

I finally saw her pointing for the first time too.

Pauline up the Fairy Hill.

Mary-Ann and Pauline stayed 2 nights in Glasgow before Pauline flew back to Dorset.

I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but I'm pretty sure Gary wouldn't let me work in my pajamas.

Nick and Cassie walking in the woods.


Melinda and Nigel were our first guests to stay at the house in 2014, it gave us a good excuse to get out of the house and show them around the island.


Watching another sunset at Kintra. This is definitely at the top of our list of the best things to see on Islay.

Nick, Adam, me, Melinda and Nigel.

Adam and I.

This little bay is just a short walk from the main bay at Kintra, follow the track left, over the waterfall and you're there. The view is amazing, but as Kintra is a very popular campsite in summer, it also allows you to get away from all the people. 

Adam typically found some strange object to wave around.

Nick watching on.

It was much better when I was the one getting the piggyback.

Next on the list was Sanaigmore, although the main beach is exceptionally picturesque, again, I prefer to walk left to the next bay over. It's smaller and enclosed by high grassy banks with a huge expanse of white sand. Sitting there you can feel as if you're the only person on the island. 

From there Adam and I went a step further, walking a few bays over the cliffs to this small rocky bay. I was just doing a bit of very loud opera singing to test out the acoustics when we spotted a group of canoeists just off shore... I'm sure they thought it was Adam.

Cassie and I.

Cassie found her third football.

On Adam's last day Gary gave us the afternoon off, so we decided to walk part of the coastline of the Oa. We drove as far down the track past Risabus as possible then walked for a couple of hours with Cassie. 

This unhappy raven was just above the waterfall over the sandy beach pictured above.

Nesting Shags. There were seagulls as well, but they were all busy up in the air trying to distract us!

Cassie got very told off for chasing the goats toward the cliff. She didn't seem that bothered about being made to lie in a bog for 5 minutes though...

Adam, me, Melinda and Nigel going for the cursory walk up the Fairy Hill. 

Cassie loves to be close to Isla.

A rare sunset over the Fairy Hill.

Mary-Ann driving Gary's big blue van for the first time. She was quite taken with it!

Mary-Ann testing out the new lawn mower. At least she knows how to make it stop, when I tried I had to keep going round the lawn until someone helped me stop it! Apparently if you let go of everything it doesn't explode.

Even Archie likes the beach sometimes... He likes watching the birds anyway.

The Lily Loch behind the house.

Mary-Ann and Cassie on the charity starlight walk from Claggan to Port Ellen.

On Nick's Birthday we went to one of our favourite beaches on the Oa, cooked a fry up and watched the otters in the sunshine.

It was a bit of a mission getting Isla down the cliff.

Nick and I.

Cassie cooling off...

Nick and Mary-Ann headed to Jura for a long weekend, leaving me to mix Gary's plaster. (badly)

The paps.

Nick looking to sea.

At the end of June I spent a week in Scotland with my friend Katie and her family on their first visit to Scotland. Their enthusiasm was infectious, although I'm still disappointed that we didn't see the Queen at Balmoral Castle.

On the way to Steel Waterfalls at the end of Glen Nevis. A relatively short walk for the amazing view, worth it every time. 

Steel Waterfalls.

Crossing the wire bridge to the waterfall!

Ben and I cooking a fry up on the beach.

My cousin Ben came up for 3 weeks, making him our longest visitor of the year. Although we worked most of the time, the weather was absolutely phenomenal, so every evening was spent on the beach and some of the days too!

Nick on an evening paddle.

This is Ben's, one foot, one Hunter welly and one paw.

Some of these from July are Ben's photos, this one shows the view and the perfect weather excellently.

Everyone gives their dogs piggy backs right?

Topsy with her Birthday cake.

Life's tiring for a little dog. Cassie's absolutely adores Ben. Last time he stayed she did a standing jump on to the top bunk just so she could be with him!

Quoits on Topsy's lawn. Islay getting in the way, Ben winning by far, me losing by... more than far.  

Followed by pimms, cake and strawberries.

Ben and I on Saligo bay.

Ben, Mary-Ann and Isla on Saligo Bay.

Mary-Ann trying to teach the dogs some manners. 

I tried that one too Mum, didn't work.

Bob, Nick and Gary on Gary's first paddle.

Gary, Nick, Cassie and Sam on Knock Bay.

I had a bit of a panic when Gary turned up at 7.30 one morning, turned out he just wanted to walk Sam before work. Good job really, considering I had only just rolled out of bed!

Nick, me, Mark, Lottie, Ollie and Mikey.

Lottie, Mark and their two boys, Ollie and Mikey stayed in Bob and Jan's camper van in the garden for 2 weeks in July and fell in love with the island as much as us.

Nick giving Ollie and ride in the canadian.

Lottie and Ollie trying out the body board.

Lottie, Nick, Ben, me, Mark, Ollie, Jan and Mikey having an evening campfire.

I'm not going to name everyone in this one, there's far too many of us. This was Lottie and Mark's family, Gary's family, Sandy and Tom's family, Ben, Jan, Bob and us. A lot of sausages and burgers!

I spent a lot of time this summer snorkeling off the bay and the surrounding islands, quite often Ben paddled me out in the canadian and I jumped out and swam back, or hitched a lift on the back of someones boat. Most of the time I was just trying to get a decent photo of a sea goosebury, here's the best 2.

Ben in the Canadian, a bit back heavy after I had jumped out.

If it wasn't so cold I think I could stay under here for hours, when it's still it's so beautiful.

A shore crab, a bit too big for my liking!

Ben and I photographing the moon.

We watched this heron catch 4 flatfish in a row in the bay.

A seal and her pup.

Ben walking up the Fairy Hill.

Wearing my patriotic England shorts.

A swan at twilight.

Ben and Adam, working hard.

Ben, me and Adam paddling on the last day of Adam and Ben's stay. We went out to the far islands and I swam with the seals, there's a few you tube videos of this paddle on our channel if anyone's interested.


Pauline came up again for the first 2 weeks of August with her partner, Nigel. I'm not sure where they went but they always see the island more in their two weeks than I have this whole year! Their stay overlapped with my Aunty Ruth and her family coming, it's always nice to get lots of the family together, especially as we're scattered over England, Ireland and Scotland now!

Playing on the beach.

Sandy, me, Rosie and Jenny K. eating Ruth's spaghetti bolognese on the Oa.

Sandy and Tom came up twice over summer, but as we were mainly working I don't have any non working photos! They stayed in the house for the first time, on a bed made of insulation! Nick even plumbed in the toilet in their ensuite, worked perfectly so long as you had a full bucket of water mto flush it with!

Rosie, Ellie, Ruth, Mary-Ann and Jenny, having yet another beach fire tea.

Ellie and Andrew.

Isla doesn't understand why playing in the sea for hours is a bad idea now she's older.

While my cousin (also Jenny) was over from Ireland we went riding with Ballivicar Stables. I used to ride quite often back in Dorset with a friend so it's nice to get out again, even if it is just for an hour once a year. Maybe one day I'll get that horse I asked for for Christmas every year?

A rare sunset.

We worked on my birthday (my choice-I've dreaded my birthday since I was about 6!) Afterwards we went over to Topsy's with Gary so he could look at some work she needed doing. Obviously I had no idea a cake was going to appear! Topsy is getting quite a reputation for making birthday cakes, it's not really a surprise though, I don't think I've ever tasted a chocolate cake quite as good, it even comes close to rivaling my Uncle Mark's.


A sparrowhawk on the road to Kintra.

Nick giving Gary's children Canadian rides.

The Fairy Hill from the opposite bay.

A fallow stag at Laphroaig.

Over summer Gary learnt to paddle, which meant that we all went out a lot more often than we would have done otherwise after work, and even once during the day!

At low tide the deer move between the islands.

Cormorants on the rocks.

A stag on one of the islands between Kildalton and Ardtalla.

Mary-Ann in the sun.

When we paddle the seals tend to follow us out of their territory, sometimes we're surrounded by up to 40 at once.

Pretty sure Gary didn't realise he was being followed that closely.

Gary and I on a paddle to Seal Bay. 

Nick way ahead!

We went out paddling far more after Gary started coming with us, it's strange how often you need an incentive to do the things you enjoy most.

Nick and Gary coming into the shelter of the bay.

We went out for one paddle where the wind and waves picked up quite a lot while we were out, which was fine, except it was only Gary's 4th paddle. He got on without any problems though, once I had accepted that turning into shore, and consequently the waves, wasn't going to be an option and stopped yelling 'turn' at him! We were well covered as well, as we also had Andrew with us, who is another experienced paddler.

The lighthouse on Churn Island.

Sunrise at Kintra.

The stags were incredibly noisy during rutting this year, it sounded like a pack of bear wolves out there every night. They were also a lot better at posing.

Looking towards Ardbeg water source and Port Ellen.

Beinn Bheiger from the Fairy Hill.

This view of the house never gets old.

Kildalton Castle from the Fairy hill

Cassie on the Fairy Hill. 

One thing that everyone has told us about the Pointer x Labradors is that you can never wear them out. I'm not sure if this is true but we haven' managed it yet. In fact, last week Cassie escaped and was gone for 3 hours, eventually Gary went to look for her in the van (I was convinced she'd died at this point..) and found her with a couple of cyclists on her way home. I don't know where she'd been before she joined them, but she'd been with them for at least an hour and was completely exhausted. I was sure this time she would go to her bed and sleep for the rest of the day... but no, half an hour later she was up and trying to play ball again. Maybe it is impossible.

She's been going through a particularly bad patch where escaping is concerned recently, so to anyone who has brought her back to us, thank you, she was probably a complete pain for you and I'm really sorry. We have now added an extra 3ft of wire to the fence so hopefully that should stop her a bit. She really needs to learn some manners...

Sometimes on days off Mary-Ann and I go up to Bowmore, get a Chinese takeaway and find a nice spot to sit in and eat it. It's a pretty simple thing to do, but it's become a bit of a tradition.

Mary-Ann and Nick spent a week staying just above Lochgilphead to get away from the house! And met a dog to walk...

Mary-Ann was obviously taking the photos as usual.

Heather at Sanaigmore.

Our last summer visitors were our friends Heather and Dave, whose daughter Ailsa was Katie's best friend through school. They were brave enough to stay in the house, still with no real plumbing or heating and on abed made out of insulation sheets!

Nick, me, Dave and Gary having lunch break on the beach, one of the benefits of living by the sea!


Lottie and Mark liked Islay so much that they came back again for October half term, overlapping a few days with Jan and Bob, who were here for most of September into October.

Ben on Singing Sands, just before a massive Chinese takeaway!

Ben came up again in October as well, this time bringing his Mum, Lucy, who survived the 23 hour bus journey and apparently actually quite enjoyed it. Wish I could say the same...

Lucy and Mary-Ann.

Ben on the shore.

Sunrise from one of the bedroom windows.

We've had some really spectacular moons recently, I haven't even needed a torch to see outside some nights.

Ollie, Lottie, Lucy and Ben at the trig point on the to of the Fairy Hill.

Lottie flying!

Mikey and Lucy.

Lottie, Mark, Ben, Ollie and Mikey. 

Nick heads off into a stormy sea, Cassie obviously doesn't think it's a good idea.

The trouble with having so many wood burners is you're walkways running out of logs! We've since had a delivery of 1 tonne of coal to see us through while the wood seasons.

Lucy entertaining Mark, Nick, me, Ben, Lottie, Mikey and Ollie, Topsy and Mary-Ann were there somewhere as well. I hope you're proud Uncle Mark!

Cassie finally learnt to swim! The first time I managed to persuade her to get off her rock and come into the sea with me was way back in May, she didn't quite get the hang of it..., it took her quite a lot of confidence to get back in after she sank. that time


Lucy on the Hebridean Isles.

Mary-Ann and Lucy leave, heading back to Dorset.

At the end of September I had to replace my old motorbike, the MOT was due and there were so many things wrong with it that the garage didn't even bother doing the test. To be honest, I thought it was running fine, you just had to remember to park on a hill for bump starting and not to turn left with something behind you- who needs a back left indicator anyway?! 

The new bike is a Yamaha SR125, after an initial bumpy start. I had it delivered to Kennacraig, and was having a little bit of a panic about having to drive onto the ferry for the first time. I needn't have worried though, the battery was flat so much to the amusement of the crew I had to push it on. And off again. Once running it was excellent, it runs great, starts up every time and all the electrics work, which after riding my Suzuki for 2 years is a small miracle. This is where I should perhaps mention that while Mary-Ann and Nick were away a few weeks ago it fell over in the wind and the clutch lever snapped off... so it doesn't run great at the moment. That's a new one though, I've had an awful lot of breakdowns with the Suzuki, the throttle cable snapped once causing the grip to come off the handle bar in my hand, which is a bit nerve wracking when you're going down hill on the dual carriage way at 75mph... at least this time it broke in my driveway. That time I had to push it 2.5 miles down the side of the road so Nick could come and rescue me! 

Sometimes when we've been working at home and the bike hasn't had a run for a long time, I take it for a drive and park up somewhere unusual on the side of the road and go for a walk. This time I walked up the hills in between Beinn Bheiger and Claggan Bay. It's somewhere I've always wanted to go, they look so lush, green and inviting. 

From the hill, looking towards the Dower House. If you look closely at the skyline you can just see the Fairy Hill.

Sunrise from the beach.

And football. Of course.

The Fairy Hill Cottage in the shadow of the hill, this cottage has been done up over the past year and is now open for holiday lets.

It's hard work running up the hill 7 times, Cassie often has to cool off in the puddle on top.


Mary-Ann and Nick went over to the mainland to pick up Gary's big blue van from the garage after a 4 month stay. Mum bought him a tinsel snowman- he wasn't impressed.

One of the best things about winter is that sunrise is so late that you can see it almost every morning. I'm always trying to find a bright side to every thing that goes wrong or makes work more difficult, so the sunrise is most definitely my bright side to having to start and finish work in the dark.

On days off Cassie and like to go walking out in the moorland around the Fairy Hill. Actually, Cassie's quite fond of going by herself when we don't have days off too...

Looking towards the Dower House from the hill behind the reservoir.

On this particular day we finished work early so I decided to walk toward Port Ellen to the water source above Ardbeg. It's somewhere I had never been before, but you can see it from the Fairy Hill, at sunset it's particularly obvious as it reflects the light so strongly.

Sunset over Port Ellen.

The next group of pictures are full of basset hound. We looked after our friend, Susan's dog Monty while she was away over christmas, Cassie absolutely adores him and he settles in perfectly well, sleeping nights in my shed and days with Cassie.

Nick, Gary and I on the top of the hill.

On the last day we worked before christmas we spent the afternoon walking up the Fairy Hill, it's something Gary had watched all our friends and family do, but never done himself because we were always working.

Even Monty made it to the top after a rocky start getting stuck halfway up a bank. Picking up a wet dog whose stomach almost drags on the floor is not fun.

Nick and Gary at the trig point.

Monty and I halfway up.

We managed to get Cassie to stop racing around just long enough to pose for a photo.

Carraig Fhada lighthouse, from Singing Sands.

For the first time it was just the 3 of us on Christmas day, with Katie still in Bolivia-flights were cheaper after Christmas. So after drinks and snacks at Topsy's we took all 3 dogs for a walk at Singing Sands.

Nick and Monty.

Isla leading the way.

A wild goat.


A rainbow landing on Topsy's house!

Mary-Ann and Nick with our 2 dogs. I defintiely got the easy deal there, Cassie pulls, Isla's a bit deaf and a bit blind, and Monty walks along with you perfectly.

Cassie, Mary-Ann and Nick.

Mary-Ann, Isla and Nick.

Mary-Ann with her turkey! First Dower House Christmas dinner.

Just after Christmas the temperature dropped right down, which is fine... unless you live in a garden shed. I think my 8 duvets, 4 underneath, 4 on top, are perfectly justifiable, even if it does feel a bit like sleeping under a lead blanket!

Sandy, Tom and Adam and Sandy's sister Sue came up for New Year with their dog Cocoa. This is one of Adam's photos of Lagavulin, where they were staying. 

These are a few of Adam's pictures from their trip.

Sandy, Cocoa and Sue on Bowmore pier.

Sandy and Sue at Kilnaughton Bay.

Tom, Nick, Sue, Cocoa and Sandy at the Dower House.

Claggan Bay.

A frosty morning!

Sandy on Machir Bay.

I get very jealous of Adam's camera every time I see his photos! Back to mine...

Tom and Nick have the right idea.

Nick and Cassie playing football. Or more likely, Cassie trying to persuade Nick to play football despite refusing to drop the ball.

Even the beach had a light dusting of frost some mornings.

Sunrise over the scaffold. 


On New Years Day we drove to the top of the island for picnic lunch (in the car) and a bracing walk on the beach at Machir Bay.  It was incredibly windy and drizzling, so we were all well wrapped up against the cold. I always think it's amazing that there's so few people about on days like this. In Dorset it seems that every family goes out for a New Years Day walk to the closest beach, or beauty spot, but here, despite being on one of the most popular beaches on the island there was hardly a soul to be seen. Except for the usual array of camper vans in the car park..

Adam, Tom, Nick, Mary-Ann, Sue and Sandy.

Sue looking out to sea.

I don't think Cassie's ever run so fast before in her life!

Sandy, Sue, Mary-Ann, Nick and Adam reflected in the sand.

I'm not quite sure what's going on here... This photo and the one below are Adam's photos. Maybe he can explain the dance he's doing? Then again, maybe not. 

I never seem to manage to stick with the group, I'm always way behind or way ahead!

The morning of the day it snowed for the first time Gary caught me staring wishfully out of the window one too many times and eventually told me to just go and take the photos I wanted to take! 

There's something really special about seeing the house dusted with snow. Until it slides off and lands on you that is. 

In mid January, Mary-Ann and Nick went to Dorset for a few a weeks. Leaving me in charge. Of myself anyway. For the most part Gary was here working everyday, but I did get a couple of walks in the sunshine in.

Cassie and Isla on Knock Bay

Since summer Isla has mostly been living with Topsy. Loud noises, building work and the stairs are not her friends. She loves it there, she's got a routine, a wood burner and Topsy there for her all the time. However Topsy was also away so Isla came back to stay with Cassie and I for a while. I'm not sure if she has maybe got more deaf/ blind/ a bit senile, but she coped much better than she had been before, going out walking every evening and staying out of the way during the day while we were working.  She'd even mastered the stairs by the time she went back to Topsy's!

Knock Bay

It doesn't seem to bother her that there's snow on the ground and the water is freezing cold...

Eating seaweed.

Sunny Knock Bay.

Sheep on the peninsula next to Knock Bay.

On this particular day I counted 52 seals on the rocks.

Isla enjoying her walk out in the sun and snow.

I've never noticed this tree before, with the house in the background.

A snow blanketed Arran in the distance behind Kintyre.

That's it, a year in one post.

 If you got this far then you're obviously family, and therefore obliged to read it, or just really, really, really interested. I'm not sure if I'd make it through this one myself! Judging by how long it's taken me to put this together, it might be a little more than a week before I post the equivalent summary of work this year, but I'll do my best! If I ever have to see the message 'An error occurred while trying to save or publish your blog. Please try again.' I might just delete the whole thing. Anyway, if you did get to the end, thanks for reading my waffle, I'm sorry it was so long but maybe it makes up for all the posts I didn't write this year? Oh and I should definitely give my apologies to Nick, who's had to put up with me saying, 'Dad, how do you spell... oh right, that's how I spelt it anyway.'