Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Watery pursuits

We spent a weekend of water and other sports at Loch Tay recently.  The wind was pretty brisk all weekend - just right for exhilarating sailing and windsurfing.  The action figure in these shots is my son.  I'm not really into immersion in cold Scottish water, or even the prospect of it, so I stuck to canoeing and walking.  That meant I was the ideal choice for photo duty.

Below, coming into harbour.  Mine is the one in the middle.

And after one drenching, why not head out across the loch under a different sail?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Skywatch Friday - dark skies

Dark skies over Edinburgh's New Town on my walk home on Wednesday presaged Thursday's haar*, below.  Edinburgh Castle is lurking in there somewhere.

I love livid summer skies lit up by the sun.  I have a feeling this may have been shaped by 1960s editions of National Geographic which I used to devour as a child.  The complete National Geographic is now available on DVD-Rom - sounds like an idea for a birthday present to myself.

*haar - thick fog, often afflicting the East coast of Scotland.

More skies from around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Loch Muick

While on Deeside we walked part of the circuit round Loch Muick.  I have an annoying Achilles tendon injury this summer, so we were limited to walking on the flat.  The name of the loch, before I go any further, is pronounced 'mick' rather than the 'muck' you might think!  In my experience one of the main purposes of Gaelic is to set pronunciation traps.

The loch is resoundingly bare in panorama in a way that doesn't do full justice to it.  The heather was just starting to come into bloom and doesn't show up in these shots, but the track was lined with vivid purple clumps.

On the single track road in we passed a group of beehives - possibly for the Royal honey?  In terms of royal presence here, the house in the first shot is Glas-allt Shiel, built by Queen Victoria as a retreat from the hurly-burly of Balmoral Castle.

Below, a boathouse towards the head of the loch, and a path which we unfortunately couldn't take that day.

Where a burn runs into the loch there's a geography lesson on river deltas in miniature.

Note the rings in this fence outside the bothy below.  They're used for tethering the sturdy ponies used to carry carcasses in the deer-stalking season.

An abandoned building, very forlorn with the wind sighing through the pines all around.

And a mountain rescue post, complete with frothy honeysuckle.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Skywatch Friday - evening entertainment

On our way back to Edinburgh from Speyside we spent a couple of nights on Deeside (think Mrs Queen and her summer holidays at Balmoral).  The view from our bedroom provided the perfect evening entertainment, despite plentiful books, magazines and DVDs at hand.

Below, the daytime view.  It was very hard indeed to return to the city.  If you're looking for somewhere completely relaxing to stay on Deeside, with Balmoral down the road and hillwalking aplenty on the doorstep, not to mention fantastic breakfasts and home-made shortbread on tap, consider Glendavan House.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


Our recent trip to Speyside coincided with the raspberries in my Dad's garden being ripe.  And that means only one thing - jam.

I must have pulled about 30lbs of berries, some for us and some for neighbours, and still the berries are ripening.  Now that we are back in Edinburgh my Dad has been phoning round ever more distant neighbours in an effort to have the berries used.  This has its benefits, of course: in the barter system that operates very effectively in my home village, home baking is flowing in return.

Every container in the house was pressed into use.

My mother's trusty Salter scales were brought out - not a metric measurement in sight.

Eventually I ran out of jam jars and had to resort to filling casserole dishes - in this case a lovely Norwegian one.  It won't be a problem to use up the open dishes.  There is nothing better than the very freshest raspberry jam.

What produce gluts are you coping with at the moment?


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