Friday, 15 May 2015

Spot the rabbit!

After a trying week or so at The Dower House with some irritating hiccups after the flood, we found something that brought us back down to earth and kept Jenny and me busy every few hours. 

Meet "Spot" the rabbit.
By the way, Spot is the little one in the hand.

...and yes she does look a bit like a rat,
 but as with good whisky, she improves with age! 

...Look, at a week old, Spot has got little whiskers and eye lashes, but she still hasn't opened her eyes yet. 
Cassie found the nest in the middle of someone's garden,  she had 4 in her mouth at once, but being a retriever she just gently put them down, ready to play. Luckily Nick got there first, before she had time to pat them on the head.
The next day, they had predictively, been abandoned by the mother, one dead and the others very cold,
 so I put them up my jumper and walked home. 
Oh, I know about them being pests, eating all the plants,
 digging holes in the lawn, but if you had seen them, 
you might have done the same.
Anyway Jenny googled rabbits, we gave the babies goats milk with double cream and one by one they popped their clogs, until the only one left was Spot, Topsy's bunny. Spot goes visiting every day and so far has not been drowned in her milk. Cassie washes her after every feed and now she can do it herself.
The moral of this story may be that when things get into a bad cycle a tiny little thing can bring lots of love, nurturing and caring bringing life back into perspective.
Topsy, Jenny and me got some strange looks the first night when we were all sitting round her table feeding what looked like 5 rats with  syringes.

This is a bench that Rick built, it was washed away in the winter storms and I found it this week, while on a long walk. 
We will go and collect it in the canoe soon. 
It might need the odd repair and a lick of paint.

No it's not a rabbit, it is a sea hare...or slug, Jenny found 4 of them, dead, washed up on the beach last week after a storm. We have found them alive in the summer as well as other sea slugs, which can be very beautiful under the water.

Greylag geese

Gulls swooping in front of the Dower House


...wood sorrel and primroses

Small tortoiseshell butterfly.

Canada geese in front of the Dower House

Geese flying and seals 50 yards from my lunch spot

Canada geese

Get off my patch!

This is a favourite tree when we are canoeing. 
It stands out tall and on it's own looking from the water.

In the ancient woodland there are birch, oak, beech and alder to name but a few. To walk among the old gnarled trees in amongst the spring flowers, listening to the birds is just so peaceful and therapeutic, I was gone 4 hours.
 Note, I did not take Cassie!

A warbler, I have no idea which one, 
but I have heard the Chiff chaff here.

Seals in front of Kintyre

Greylag geese with two Shelduck behind

Eider ducks

I went to Kildalton Cross one evening and watched the Swallows and House martins catching insects.

At dusk the swan wanted to wash in the stream, but was followed and pestered by this young seal

Cassie watched.

This deer was paddling early one morning, but decided to stop before it got to the house and Cassie!

An empty ladder where are the workers?

Ducks, is this a Velvet scoter, or just a female Mallard
that is nearly black anyone?

Mallard male

Gulls swooping in front of the Fairy hill.

...and to finish off a very unusual time at The Dower House since the flood, I have to announce that Spot died suddenly on Thursday, we know not why, but we do know we did everything we could to keep her going and that is all anyone can expect! 
We were very sad that day.

RIP Spot!


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Everything is perfect!

Well I just had to start with a lamb?

April was not one of the warmest on Islay, but we had a few good days. Listening to those in the South of England getting an early tan we decided to spend 2 hours of the hottest day on the beach.  Well really when it's so close it would be foolish not to.
Good job we did, that was the last hot day.

This is what happens when you take your eye off the ball and sit outside for lunch.

Martin was explaining to Nick and Me about a Pygmy shrew that ran up his trouser leg after his cat brought it into the house.

Jenny was on her way to her shed when she heard rushing water.

The Dower House worst nightmare, the water pump had been left on for probably 30 minutes pumping water into the tank in Sandy and Tom's attic...and it overflowed, gallons of water gushed down from the ceiling there was 2"  on the floor when we got there. Quick thinking, 
Jenny yelled to Nick to switch the pump off . Martin picked up all cables. I ran the tap in the loo to get rid of any more going in, gathered buckets and we started sweeping. Jenny drilled small holes in the floor boards to stop puddles collecting and let the water out and Nick joined her to sweep the rest down through the stair well. Sawdust was used to soak up the worst, luckily we have a good supply of that.
Well yes and that is the last time it is going to happen, as we have disconnected the pipe now and the last bathroom standing in the old part of the house has gone! We have a few new ones and they are almost finished. 
When Gary arrived to check on us it was all very clean!

More April lambs...

Another fine afternoon last week we had a very low tide and
Nick has been wanting to go cockling for ages, so we clocked off 
(The Boss wasn't there that day) and went to the beach.

Cassie helped Nick...

...and we were entertained by all these Vintage/Classic cars, I think Model T Fords,  correct me if I'm wrong.

Who needs to go to Beaulieu?

Kintra in the evening...

Cows and calves...

More sheep...

The start of the Oa and a beautiful beach.

cute little lamb...

Yes that is a poo Sue...

The sun set...

For a few days we had sea mist or Haar again, 
which would come and go all day. 

View from Topsy's, Tigh Cargaman

 sorry wonky horizon!

You could be in hot sunshine one minute and freezing fog the next. 

It is an amazing spectacle and  quite eerie 

Oyster catcher's nest...

...a reminder to us all not to walk on the stony back of the beach for the next 2 months. Cassie walked right past this nest without noticing it, but she has a passion for eggs, so she will be on a lead when out walking.

You also might get dive bombed by a tern or gull if you go to near, ask Martin he has the scars to prove it. I always wear a hat!

View to Kintyre.


A Pippet,
Bob Brown says if it's on a rock it's a Rock pippet and if it's in a field it's a Meadow pippet. Don't believe a word of it!

Oyster catchers...

Red deer, starting to grow antlers for the rut in the autumn.

A beautiful evening.

Cassie  forever waiting...

Going for a walk at Gruinart last weekend
 we got caught in this storm.
 We sheltered under the sand dunes in a rabbit hole...all of us!

The sand blew in our faces...

...and then the sun came out, a very Hebridean day!

The Dower House progresses, even though Gary is away.

There is a tiny wood burner in Jenny's room.
She has tiled the sides, but isn't sure how she will finish it yet.

I finished tiling the second wood burner downstairs and used acrylic paint to mix the right coloured grout.

"Perfection is an ideal,
 which is unattainable in reality"

Jenny has been painting a lot more walls, when she isn't working with Gary and is a perfectionist with her painting, getting a very smooth finish. She obviously doesn't get is from me, I prefer a much faster style and perfection? Well who decides what is perfect, each individual has a different idea. 
Personally if it looks ok that's fine by me, as most of my friends are aware. Most of you of course would not ask me to paint your house...unless you wanted murals all over it would you?

This is one of Jenny's excellent painted reveals 
on top of Gary's excellent plasterwork!

...and then of course there is Nick's painting... that really is perfection!
Well I think it is, he is a perfectionist and it could be better.
I hate sanding...he loves it.

Nick talks to other people who are painting perfectionists on-line and they compare notes, but he still hasn't found a way of removing this stubborn yellow paint off the stonework. 
Any ideas?.

Can I use this?

Bath number 2 has been installed in our en suite this week along with the toilet and wash basin. Nick and I came close to falling out that day..or perhaps we did fall out, it happens now and again as you can imagine and sometimes I shout because he's perfect and I'm not!

Another pesky job done, fitting the extractor fan for the cooker hood, it was fiddly and those jobs tend to get put off in favour of painting. The kitchen is now as good as finished, except that Nick is one day going to paint the cupboard doors a pale cream, but there are many other painting jobs to be done first, windows and doors while the sun shines for a start.

More tiling...

As with a picture I don't plan much on paper, it's all in my head.
 It can sometimes take a week or so before I am galvanised into action. Our main bathroom is being designed at the this space.

This is the utility window sill

The downstairs bathroom...

These 3 tiles are Art Nouveau and I think, after a bit of research Majolica. They were attached to the wall in the stair well of the Dower House and we wanted to incorporate them in a design. If anyone knows more about them please let me know as I have not found the same design on line.

After grouting, which I may have to do again, as the flood came at the wrong moment, when I was half way through cleaning the tiles.


...a perfect sunrise...

...and a very perfect sunset.

So, while we wait for a perfect summer, there is much to do. 
Gary has left us to finish many things while he goes on to pastures new...taking my work force periodically, which probably is a perfect thing to do to keep us all sane. He'll be back when it rains and on Islay, well that seems to be quite often this year.

Enjoy May, it really is the most fantastic month and if you are awake at dawn listen to the dawn chorus, it is amazing!

Mary-Ann...less than perfect, but fine.