Tuesday, 31 December 2013

on the bus!

Today we went by bus-the best way to travel in Scotland if you have a 60+ bus pass as it is free!
You also see the locality as local people see it instead of rushing down the main roads.

We met a friend for coffee near the castle, then looked for lunch....all the favourites were closed, the others full or exceedingly expensive!!
The ferry came in and we watched its final approach-arriving at the berth with great skill. In less than an hour it was gone, on its next journey to Ullapool.
We ended up in a commercial hotel that has a cafe/restaurant and was full of local people not tourists...a good sign!

More wandering around the town before heading back on the bus.
It showed itself to be a true local service with most people being dropped off at their gate or end of lane!

Now we are watching the weather and the possibility of  not getting back across the Minches on Saturday.
The swell that comes with a 40mph wind in some directions is enough to prevent the ferry from sailing across this deep stretch of water with fast currents.

Monday, 30 December 2013

beauty in bleakness

Some would consider the landscape here bleak- but I find it beautiful. It isn't a chocolate box type of beauty. It is the sort that can change the light and in an instant be breathtaking.

It cannot be an easy place to live, but I find living in this kind of country has always been easier than in an urban environment.  Here I can breathe, think, exist.  It wouldn't be practical for us to move here, now, but we'll see what we can do where we presently are, when present problems have been sorted.

Today we ventured first to Borve on the West coast to see Ann Blair at Borgh Pottery. I bought a small vase there...ah, she said...the potters' glaze..tenmoku ! ( a black, breaking to ginger brown on the edges).
Then on down the coast, the road never being more than half a mile from the sea, a quick detour past the Black House at Arnol, unfortunately closed.   Black House walls were constructed of two layers of stones with earth in between, with a thatch on top. This was the last one to be lived in until the late 1970s.  Many ruins of Black Houses (so called because of the soot from the burning peat fires) are around here, some with corrugated iron roofs, being used as sheds.

Down to Callanish to see the Standing Stones. Unfortunately the cafe was closed, but they keep the toilets open!
Down through Garynahine then up towards Great Bernera and up to Bosta, where there is an Iron Age House, revealed by storms a few years ago. We wandered across the beach and watched the rollers hit the sand...all the way from New Foundland....

Then across the middle to Stornoway, by the Sheiling Road, where you can see sheilings some derelict, others in fair repair. They were the equivalent of the Hafod in Wales, the summer house...not a lot more than a bothy- where the women tended the livestock in the summer pastures while the men stayed at home and tended the croft.

The coffee is much to be recomended in An Lanntair, the Arts Centre, bookshop, gallery, theatre!!

Then back to North Tolsta to recover.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Arrived safely

If rather tired....we're now in North Tolsta with friends after six bus rides...should have been five but one engine died!! and a two and three quarter hour ferry trip.   Luckily it wasn't rough, but the swell over the Minches was bad and I had my first ever dose of "mal de mer"!

Today we have woken late after the best night's sleep for a long time, despite sleeping on the floor (on a foam mat I hasten to add!) and have been for two walks. I've taken many photos, but I'll not be posting any here until after we get home. I've been generously lent time on our friends computer.

The weather here changes every few minutes.  We've seen beautiful sea and skyscapes, sun and fluffy clouds then rain as we walked home from the beach..in Welsh Traeth Mawr, in the Gaelic quite similar!

The Pirate is feeling very happy, having managed to get some phone signal-then he was driven indoors by the  wild wind. Am I allowed to be smug as I have signal with a different company?!

He is feeling much better after our walks and fresh air and we're looking forward to making the most of our time here-although it is "sod's law" that one of the Lewis Bloggers I'd hoped to meet will be off the Island until Thursday!!   I'm staying with "Boxes and Bellows", might meet up with "Windy Wanderings"...wish we knew where "Closed Sunday" is!!

Friday, 27 December 2013


The weather has been stormy since Thursday night.  It arrived at 9pm and rattled and shook the wee house for most of the night.
Luckily this time we were in the far North of the area given a Yellow Warning-the South of England has really been hit and plenty of places between here and there as well.
Most ferries here were cancelled including the one to Ireland from Stranraer.

We postponed going out today until we had to, dashing from car to shop, getting nicely wet in Ayr.  The heavy rain returned as I made supper and now at 9pm we're by the woodstove where the kettle has been sitting and complaining that its too warm...cue to make a cuppa! Which The Pirate, being a gentleman, duly did.

The Pirate, on pretence of packing a bag, has been sorting his wardrobe...I know it needs doing, but right now???? He has made the unfortunate discovery about his treatment.....although it affects muscle tone, and you lose bulk......you gain weight on your stomach.....next size up trouser waist required....that'll give him something to aim for!! An exercise regime in in planning.
His treatment also makes him a bit grouchy at times, so he must learn to stop.....count to ten....step back and say...I don't need to get annoyed about this! Something we should all do, perhaps? 

The storms are forecast to abate gradually tomorrow...I just hope they are right!!

St.Stephens Day

Spindle Bush.    Starkly bright among the twigs.

A still walk that was literally the calm before the storm, and for a change we were not in the worst of it in Scotland, although plenty of older trees have been weeded by the wind.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

xmas presents

The next generation of Artist Designers has arrived!!  Mugs designed by the Boys.

Daughter felt a bit odd giving mugs to a potter, but these are priceless.

The Pirate meanwhile is chuckling as he reads his present..."Fifty Sheds of Grey"....

back on his bike


Thankyou to Gordon Johnston from Dumfries for giving us the Rabbie Burns poem.

Monday, 23 December 2013


It is such a relief to pass the Year’s turning, although for Yuletide the light is almost at a standstill, due to the Earth’s elliptical orbit. so on January 4th, the end of Yuletide, we actually get more light….So the scientists are catching up on our forefathers !!

ironwork for Soub

village water pumps along the street in Crosshill ( described in the 1800s as a mainly Irish village) It is on the edge of the Girvan coalfield and was a weaving village.


We have snow and rain, mixed up by stormy winds.....forecast worse over Christmas...just hope it will ease off when we head to the Isles. I wouldn't complain if it kept us there a couple of days extra!! 
     Meanwhile seasonal cards and calls are being sent and received.  It is good to see the regulars turning up, but special to see those from the ones you feared had lost touch.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

the Year's Turn

We've had an enjoyable busy few days , between family and friends, as it should be at this time of the year.

The hoped for crisp dry weather has disappeared into gales and rain

Luckily the Pirate's Daughter and family left before the worst set in...and much discussion was over the route....

I'm trying to get all my cards sent...but we've only so much energy and time!

I think I ought to produce cards to sell!!

After another "bash" on card writing we had friends over...with a wire haired terrier name of Charlie.

Other friends called by after lunch and we had a living room full-marvellous !
We had a walk in the woods and an excuse for more talking and coffee and biscuits.
Charlie just preferred his stick....

The Solstice is here, the shortest day has been.  The daylight begins to grow on the fourth of January.

Blessings Be to All, whatever your beliefs.

Friday, 20 December 2013

wealth and inequality

This is in the USA....but I'm sure it applies in most places..


I've just applied for a cleaning job, ONLINE!!!!
This is the first time I've done this, saved the file as a doc then attached it to an email application....WOW!!    Nerve-wracking to say the least.

One must have money to pay the bills.   Including one to rent a workshop when I can find one!

Finding any job I can apply for is difficult, most want experience.  anything that doesn't, you know there will be a mountain...literally...of applications.   In theory there is no age discrimination, but in fact there is.   Just look how many shopworkers now are under 22....so the basic wage is lower...or even under 18, lower still.

I'm considering the other skills I have and agree with my daughter...there are just too many other interesting things around. Not just to do, but that we know how to and can do to a competent level.

We are both in need of a workshop, me to work in clay, she to screenprint.

She has just given me a scanner/printer....now to get on with it!

I can produce cards or postcards from my boxes of sketchbooks and drawing books and current drawings or photos.    Eventually this could be backup to the work in clay but they must be able to stand and sell in their own right as well.

I just need one small lead that got forgotten in the packing...all of £2 worth...and I keep on forgetting to buy one each time I go shopping!!

However we're going nowhere with the weather as it is...blowing a hooley and throwing very cold rain everywhere.   


Awful weather here....gales and rain again.....but at least it stayed good for the Pirate's daughter and family to visit us.

My mind is beginning to wander to things other than ceramics...painting, drawing, photography, textiles, signwriting.....I must focus and keep hunting for a workshop.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

what a week!

This has been a feet not touching the ground type of week, with wet and stormy weather for good measure.

Still, it has now has had results...a clean and relatively tidy "but n ben " (= two roomed house) and The Pirate's daughter and family have collected us after a late breakfast, had a good day out including a long walk along the dunes

 and lunch at our favourite coffee house in Prestwick, Murray's.

Back home to investigate the printer/scanner sent to us by my daughter

...and unfortunately SiL forgot the USB cable....and it isn't WiFi.....BOTHER!!!!
 If weather permits tomorrow we must investigate the box of electronic liquorice somewhere in the small shed,  to see if we already have the necessary  item....progress halted by something costing less than £2!!!!

Then supper cooked by grandson (age 11)  and his Sous Chef the Pirate!!  Stirfry veg with beansprouts and noodles, mixed seeds garnish, walnuts for me and chicken for everyone else.
Then homemade chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing to follow....and a good New Zealand Merlot....

The weather is stormy again, around 30 mph plus gusts...We are in a sheltered corner here and it is still rattling the roof!!

A Day Out is planned tomorrow but I'm not sure how much outdoors walking will be done.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


This morning the rain has stopped for a while and the wind abated.
We walked up the nearby green lane and picked up two gallons of crabapples, surprisingly unbruised.   Cue something with cranberries and another something with rosehips mixed with the apples, after I've cleaned and sorted them.
      I carried them home in a small blue bag with yellow handles from a certain Swedish store and on the other shoulder a large bag of the same variety  full of firewood.  The Pirate was dragging a VERY large stick in each hand!

After chainsawing and apple cleaning we hope to have a much deserved Lunch Out!!
Hopefully the wind will not get up to the 80mph gusts of yesterday while we are out, but the clouds are beginning to hide the mountains I see from the living room window.

It will probably involve a visit to a secondhand bookshop with a good stock of maps at 50pence each....!!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

all day indoors!

Today has passed with storm force winds and rain.
We've been tidying , cleaning, sorting and de-cluttering....ready for family visiting next week!!! 
The Pirate has kept the woodburning stove going all day, and the little blue kettle that used to be in his camper van has been working hard.

It was that little blue kettle that boiled the water for our first cuppa at Meadowbank velodrome one rainy day in 2003 !

Despite the weather, a parcel that was fortunately being tracked got to within a quarter mile or so of us...at 17.45, well after dark....
I think the problem is that goggle maps has the marker at the wrong address....
there are six or seven houses/ groups of houses, within half a mile, all with the same postcode...and three are called The Stables!!

I've reported it to goggle....please move your marker...just hope it works in time!!

Friday, 13 December 2013

winter carol

Carol = Song.       This is a Winter Carol- much older than many realise.

Holly and Ivy are the best decorations....free!!


JUST when I'm about to get the Etsy shop up and running again, not only are we looking for a decent secondhand digital SLR camera, the Pirate's pocket digi camera is showing signs of age....lines across the screen, and a non-functioning exposure meter most of the time.

I'm using the phone camera, but that isn't quite up to the job of selling pots.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

decorations up!!

Only ten days to the Winter Solstice...just after 5.00 pm on the 21st of December....then gradually more daylight!!!!

We're feeling the lack of daylight...a certain lethargy, combined with the panic of not enough light or energy to do things.

We enjoyed an evening out last night, with Kirkmichael Gardening Club. They had a drinks and snacks and socializing 'do' in the village community shop and cafe.
Looking forward to trips out with them next year!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

keeping busy, keeping going

 Fruit vodkas started...
 My favourite mug has died after ten year's use....now The Pirate's pencil mug..
 Greetings cards made
 The Pirate testing his Hat for Fetching Wood in the Dark...
 We went for a walk yesterday at Dusk, tracing the lead/leat for the old corn/saw mill, Guiltree Mill....this is the wier on the Dyrock Burn.
Walking helps stave off depression...and The Pirate's medical treatment is depressing...so we're working hard against that...

Monday, 9 December 2013

the day after...

We thought to have a little lie in after a long day.....mistake!!

You end up feeling harassed as there are too many jobs needing to be done and no time to get on with them steadily.

At least now the Crabapple Vodka is in its glass jar, starting the two year process.

Two mugs have been packed and I'm awaiting the recipient's choice of posting service and payment.

The washing is on the line...coming in soon as the afternoon clouds over!!

We've decided to get the kitchen storage sorted properly.  If you only have shelves and it is all on view, having it in odds and sods of recycled jars and boxes is not a good look....

The good news?   The Pirate is back on light chainsaw duties!!

Scottish Cyclo Cross Champs 2013

We had a lovely day out near Dunbar, East along the coast from Edinburgh.

A little light rain....when everywhere else had a day of heavy rain!!

It was held at Foxlake wakeboarding centre.

 Our friend Brendan Roe from the Kingdom of Fife won the 50+ championship!!!
The Pirate enjoyed himself in the Pits for two races, then after homemade soup in a flask had a wander around chatting to friends and watching the senior (under 40 years old) race.

Races are held on a circuit which is 2.5 to 3.5 km long with at least 90% rideable (by top riders!)  it will have a set of barriers no more than 40cm high, which riders will have to get over by picking up their bike and running.

We did our shopping on the way home in Edinburgh. After all why go all that way and just go past twice!!  From thereon the weather was most foul, heavy rain and strong winds until we were almost home.