Friday, 9 March 2012

Webbed feet and held on hats. Looking back and forward.

All of a sudden it is Sunday night. This last week has been Quad Bike Course week. Finally we found someone who could run a LANTRA course on Mull, to get Jamie his Quad Bike license. The other option we had had to get Jamie on a course was back in November when there was a course held on the mainland, near Dalmally, but it would have involved 2 nights away due to the winter timetable. In the end we had people queuing up to take their tests here! Farmer, Jamie and 2 others took theirs on Tuesday, a further 4 on Wednesday and yesterday Jamie and Farmer did their 'buggy' course as well. Ian, the instructor, stayed with us to keep the costs down. Both of them passed both tests. Phew.

I had to go to the doctor this week and ended up going to bed - so the blog will be a little light on photographs probably and stories. (I may add from historic photographs to fill in a bit - just this once.)

It was probably a good week to have courses going on and indoor things to do - an inch and a half of rain on Tuesday! And lots of low damp cloud the rest of the time. But it still does feel like spring. I saw a treecreeper in the garden this afternoon, which was magical, creeping up the sycamore in front of the office window. The trees are backdrop to alot of avian too-ing and fro-ing, hooded crows scaring them every now and then flying past, and I heard a skylark when walking up on the Sitheans.

Whilst I was laid up/off work, I indulged in researching my own solo trip to Harris and Lewis to look for tin sheds to photograph later in the spring. So exciting. Have to say I am really looking forward to spending a week by myself! Maps out, camera rucksack ordered, ferries booked, somewhere to stay arranged, visits to friends anticipated. By the time I go the Wood Anemone will have started flowering again in the Haunn field.

Farmer took the dogs for a walk down to the Ensay Burn mouth this weekend. He is beginning to think about mink trapping. To see if he can cut down the numbers a little, and give the lovely oyster catchers and other ground nesting birds a chance. What a result! He came back with a handful of wild garlic, enough for our first bowl of wild garlic pesto (photographed in a bowl made by my potter neighbour Charlotte Mellis). And making the pesto made me think of how the woods begin to look when the bluebells follow.

The other excitement from Farmer's walk this afternoon was his treasure from the shore. He was pleased as punch by something he found 'washed up' on the shore - an enamel green dog bowl! Daughter and I recognised it immediately as the one we bought on Barra last summer, in the aptly named Top Shop in Castlebay. This souvenir bowl had disappeared in one of the winter storms from our back door step as we sometimes used it to feed the outdoor cats. Presumably it had blown into the burn, and been washed down to the sea. Farmer claims to have never seen it before which made us chuckle.

There has been a lot of wind blow damage in our wood this winter. Huge trees have fallen, we can see them from the main road looking back across Ensay fields. They would be a valuable source of firewood except that some have fallen down treacherous gullies and lie almost vertically, out of safe reach. Even if we were able to reach, getting the timber out to a tractor would be too much for a Farmer with a post-operative back. So we leave it for now. We almost dare not enter the wood, to face the true extent of the damage up close.

We had a lot of guests in the cottages last week with several changeovers to do at the weekend. One couple left as arranged on Thursday, having grown the webbed feet and held onto their hats, they told me as they left that they had been pretty lucky with the weather really.. now that is a good attitude! It has been great having so many people enjoy the cottages over the winter, it just makes the maintenance schedule dance around a bit. Neil is back into Duill tomorrow to fix up the bedroom window recess with tongue and groove which will look lovely. We need some good weather for the outside painting work.....

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