Monday, 30 August 2010
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Late yesterday afternoon the gale struck with full force and the sun shone and it was warm! How bizarre was that? The Stornoway to Ullapool ferry made two crossings and then returned to Ullapool where it weathered out the storm leaving. That meant that a lot of people were stranded on the ‘wrong’ side of the Minch. In the middle of winter we are used to that (well those of us who winter on the Island!) but in August it’s rather dire. In any case fewer people travel in the winter. I was over the other side of the valley at Pat and Dave’s for dinner during the storm. This is the view from in front of their house at the height of the storm. I actually had considerable difficulty standing whilst taking these photos.
It has to be said that even in the Outer Hebrides full-blown gales in August are unseasonal. Yesterday was unseasonal! Yesterday we had a full-blown gale. And some. The previous evening we were warned that the weather front was moving North from England and Southern Scotland and that when it reached Northern Scotland it would be a low pressure with whirling gales as it tracked North.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
It’s been a very warm, sunny day today and late this afternoon and early evening I had the doors to the conservatory open. After I’d shut them and when I was on the phone I discovered that I’d trapped a dragonfly inside. It seemed very distressed and this made taking a photo difficult. Added to that was my desire to try and get it out and back to freedom. I cannot recall seeing a dragonfly at the house before but with my memory that may not mean that I haven’t actually seen one. My niece Helen has told me that this is a female Common Hawker which, despite its name and being widespread in the UK, is not actually all that common. It’s certainly a spectacular creature and at almost 3” long it’s also a very large creature to have flying around the conservatory.
Actually I know the answer. The subject of Eccles cakes came up when Dave and I were having coffee in the Woodlands the other day. Despite not being a great fan of raisins, and Eccles cakes are full of raisins, I love Eccles cakes. (I’ll actually eat almost anything except tripe even if it’s not something I’d actually choose to eat). The family loved them too. When I was a small child there was near us at The Rocket (about which Scriptor has blogged if I can find it) a bakery called, locally even if it wasn’t its proper name, Up The Steps. I went in there one day to get some things for Mum and asked, not for Eccles cakes as they were properly called but for fly cemeteries which was what they were called by the family. I was promptly asked to leave. I presume I was allowed back at a later date. I don’t really remember.
The only other time that I can ever recall being thrown out of anywhere was being thrown out of Snows, a quite smart down the steps bar in London’s Piccadilly. That was in the sixties and I was just in my 20s. Given that I was much older then than I am now (mentally anyway) I was mortified. I was, I hasten to add, stone cold sober at the time of this incident. I was in London on a training course for something or other and we had finished for the day and gone to Snows. Someone learned that I could Cossack dance and probably dared me to do one on a table - I was quite adept at winning bets that I wouldn’t do something. So I took my shoes off and did a Cossack dance on a table – a very substantial table I should add. I was asked to leave. I was mortified. I can’t understand why but everyone else thought it was very funny!
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
When commenting on a friend of mine who renews his BMW car and motorbike every few years, his new lady-friend said “Yes, he does come with a few nice add-ons.” Mind you, so does she! Ah well I’m afraid with me it’s a question of love me, love my Nighthawk and my Handbag. That’s about the best I can do….. Unless you play croquet.
Am I being unreasonable? When I fly to and from New Zealand I often have to go via Los Angeles. I much prefer going via Hong Kong because when you arrive you are welcomed straight into the airport with no queues and you can have a change of clothes and shower. There is no hassle and the airport is comfortable and the break of journey is a pleasure. Going via LA the plane just stops for two hours to re-fuel and change crew. For the passengers it’s two hours of something approaching travellers’ hell. Firstly you decant from the plane into a corridor. If you sit at the back of the plane (I only made that mistake once!) it can take you most of that 2 hours standing in a queue to get through immigration control into the transit lounge (whilst you watch passengers getting back onto the plane) where, in law, you are still on New Zealand soil (I travel with Air New Zealand and from the start of my journey until I arrive in NZ under International Law whilst I am in a transit lounge I am on NZ soil wherever the plane stops to refuel). Does the US recognise this? No. What has just prompted my irritation at this moment is that I have just had to pay £25 ($40 US) for the privilege of being allowed to stand in that queue so that the CBP (Border Security) can consider whether he is going to allow me into the Transit Lounge. Humph.
This morning I was up before 0600 and fed the birds. It was cool and crisp and the midges hadn’t woken up. Withing the hour they were swarming outside the Study window. Capturing midges in flight on camera is not easy:
Nevertheless I tried and those that are in focus have shown up. There were thousand’s more which didn’t show!
A friend (I think he ought to be nameless because I wouldn’t want anyone to know this if it were me) loves sandwiches with a filling of salad cream and honey. How gross is that? Oh. Go one. Don’t tell me there’s someone else out there who could eat that.
We were also talking about rice pudding. My Mum made wonderful rice pud. As the most senior member of the family in our house at the time Dad was entitled to the skin of the rice pudding which Mum always made quite crispy. Thank heaven. I’ll eat almost anything but the idea of eating the skin off the custard (sorry Dave) or rice pudding just revolts me.
On that subject and with Scriptor’s family sayings in mind, Dad always used to say of someone who merited it that they couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Boy did it rain last night. So this morning I incanted the old nursery rhyme:
Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Rain rain go to Baden
Little GB wants to garden.
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!
And the sun came out!
And I gardened (and washed the car).
And started three sentences with a conjunction. Sorry Adrian. Feeling guilty is just not enough of a deterrent!
When I was staying in Glasgow, Anna and I went to The Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie one morning. It’s a small gallery and it had an exhibition which included works by Joan Eardley. Anna loves her work though most of the works actually in the exhibition were not really to my taste. That was a shame because I very much like some of her works which were not on display. However I absolutely fell in love with one and have since acquired a print (from Eardley Editions). It’s entitled Beehives at Catterline:
(Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Eardley Estate)
Sunday, 15 August 2010
I’ve spent the day sorting my computer files. How exciting is that? It’s been a fairly dry day and we were promised rain by late afternoon. As I write this first sentence it’s 1730 (5.30 pm – I say that because I know that there are very considerable differences between countries as to how we talk about time) the sun has just come out but if I look out of the house to the West and North the clouds don’t give me confidence that the sun will last. Below the house near the shore a couple are just walking. They are tourists. How can I tell? He has an umbrella in his hand. No local would carry an umbrella. Rain rarely comes without enough wind to render one useless.
I feel particularly sad this evening because I had a call from a former lecturer from Uni who became a friend and with whom I am still in touch. He is having chemo for cancer. A neighbour in Blogland has been told that she has an an intra-cranial mass. Someone closer has been given similarly bad news. A friend in New Zealand has just had an operation and finished radio-therapy. I could go on. I would usually be inclined to repeat the Gaelic saying that old age doesn’t come alone but even my former Uni lecturer isn’t much older than I am. I could never understand survivors of a disaster who said they felt guilty for surviving. This week I’ve had a similar feeling knowing that the cancer I carried for 12 years seems to have been seen off.
On a more mundane level some hens from about 100 yards away raided the garden this morning. Cute they may look but the devastation that hens can wreak on a garden is not funny. When I went outside I was not impressed by the fact that the cockerel ran away followed by the hen leaving the chicks to fend for themselves – they ran off in the opposite direction!
A neighbour’s cat decided to try and get a pigeon. He wasn’t successful.
The new mis-fueling device is a lovely shade of pink. Even without having to apply the correct nozzle before the cap can be removed one is unlikely to forget given its colour!
A particularly bright Greenfinch visited the feeders this afternoon.
And there were plenty of people down in the Bay including a wind-surfer. I can’t recall seeing that particular sport in the Bay before.
And now to decide what to have for dinner.