Friday, September 30, 2011

A Wee Road Trip

Lets have a trip to another country for a change, shall we?  Over the border into - na Hearadh (Harris).  Driving into those mountains that we look towards everyday -  getting up close and personal to the Cailleach na Mointeach, or The Sleeping Beauty as she is also known, as we head South through Lewis.

Into Harris now, climbing up the mountainous road, that always reminds me of driving around Crete - especially on a day like this. Lets stop here and take in the view up to the head of Loch Seaforth.

Another stop before we begin our descent into Tarbert.  Perhaps a better view of this can be seen in the previous post.

Moving along the road now - yellow snow poles to guide our way.

And then we arrive in the harbour village of Tarbert.  Stopping in at the Harris Tweed shop there.

The MV Herbrides is just arriving from Uig in Skye with it's load of passengers.  It looks for all the world as if it is going to swallow that lovely red and white motor launch.

The sea is so calm and blue today - everything is indeed in harmony.

Turning for home now, we stop just by Bunavoneadar to admire this stunning view, before heading into the mountain pass.

Looking back the way from a sunken parking spot, gives us a different view of the mountains.

and we take a moment to enjoy the splashing of this burn as it runs down the hillside.

before we follow the yellow poles towards home again.

This moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. 

I am happy to be joining in again with Soulemama this week. Wishing you all a spectacularly beautiful weekend

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Preparations are underway

Fencing is going up.

Gates are being secured.

And a special little house is being cleaned and made ready.

Of course I did want to add some lovely flowery curtains, but I am not allowed to ~ sigh. Do check back over the weekend and see who is coming to live here.

For Katie

Sad news today from my friend who has lost her precious tiny babe at just 20 weeks. Sending prayers and  strength to Vanessa and her family. I hope you feel that hand of love on your shoulder.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I ♥ ♥ ♥ - yarn along

Thought I would give you a wee rest from the ripple this week, and show you another couple of projects that are on the go.  A neckwarmer/ cowl type thing for John, who is outdoors most days, and  finding that Southwesterly quite draughty on the back of the neck.  I am using Paton's Donata in a petrol blue shade to match his waterproof - how stylish he will be.  It is a nice soft yarn - all acrylic, but it is a bit squeaky to knit with.  This is my car project.
I am also knitting these wee hearts with a view to making   ♥ ♥ ♥ bunting for the mantlepiece.  I have an idea in my mind - no idea if it will work, but it looks a bit like this -

Red hearts and some kind of knitted or crocheted cord in green maybe?? Sorry about the very blurry photo - and  - oooh - just look at that naughty ripple sneaking in there...tut tut ;)

This is my reading at the moment - very interesting library book about rationing in the years during and post WWII.  And a big event, in my calendar, anyway, the arrival of the OG seed catalogue - yay.

Happy yarning everyone   ♥  Joining in with Ginny and others for the weekly Yarn Along.

ETA: Quick pattern details for the little hearts - two minutes to do.
I am using a DK yarn and 5 mm needles, but you can use whatever you like really.
Knit into front and back of each stitch.
next and every alt row Purl
Inc 1st and last stitch on every knit row until 10 stitches are on needle
K2 tog, K3, Turn
Work on these 5 sts
P 2 tog X2
Cast off 
Work on rem 5 sts
K3 K2tog
P2 tog X2
cast off - weave in ends and block


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Self Portrait

This is me as I am sitting at my laptop right now - "talking" to you live, so to speak.  Not a great photo, as all the light is behind me and it is a dull drizzly day.  I don't often appear here - except for my toes :). It is not that I am particularly camera-shy, but as the house photographer and blogger, I use this space to record life through my eyes.  My slightly techno-phobe husband is not as snap-happy as I am, and I have to specifically ask him to take a picture of me.  James has begun lately to sneak off with the small digital, and I find it later with random images of cushions, me cooking, or blurred shots of his crushed car collection (surely every small boy has one of those?)
So this is how you will find me, most days as i sit down to do my computery stuff. Hope it hasn't scared you all away ;)
Thanks to Courtney for resurrecting this meme, which I missed last time around, and to Tracey for reminding me about it.
 ♥Look out for more beautiful bloggers on my sidebar.♥

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This week in Autumn

A lot of wind and showers this week, making the views blurry and rain splattered.

But there are always the rainbows...

and we can find some colour inside - finishing off on some long over due crafty projects -

starting new ones, and planning the next.  Noticing how the colours of this Harris Tweed come straight from the landscape.

We never lack colour on the island - it surrounds us, even on these misty days  

Indeed, colour is all around us.

Even down at the shore - we paddle along the golden peaty river - 

and see that the sand looks a little bit browner than it did in the Summer.  The only  footprints are ours, today,  but the Autumn winds are beginning to uncover the stones again, as the dunes shift and change.

I know that last week, I mentioned a new arrival  - but this is not it. He is a very fine fellow though, isn't he? No, I am afraid you will have to wait another few days for the reveal!
Until then, I do hope you all have a wonderful week. xxx

Friday, September 23, 2011

This moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. 

I am happy to be joining in again with Soulemama this week.  Hoping that you too might find some quiet  moments to yourself this weekend. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rippling Yarns

Still rippling - still in love with it - still coming up with terrible post titles.  It is just such a wonderful trippy off the tongue word -  r-r-r-r-r-i-p-p-p-le! I think the colours are working out quite nicely on the whole. The first three stripes, and the pink in waiting are Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and the lilac is Millamia.  Now that I am a few rows in, I am finding the pattern much easier to keep track of.  A couple of times in the green and purple stripes, I had to frog back most of the row to rectify the mistake.  I did think of ignoring it and bodging on, but no!  I am still so elated that I can actually do this at all, so I want to do it right.

As for the reading - well, I  just cannot lay my hands on the book I was reading, but it is The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico.  It is not the edition in the link, but an old copy that I found on the charity book trolley in the supermarket (Co-op), for 50p.  A beautiful tale about the relationship between a young girl and a hunchbacked artist during the WWII, and culminates in the Dunkirk evacuation.

Joining in this week's round of Yarn Along with Ginny again.
Love and blessings xxx

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Growing Pains

So - we have had a season's growing here at the croft and it is time for a review.  What has worked - what hasn't - what will we do again and what will we do differently?
We had high hopes at the very beginning of the year with our seaweed collecting and compost heap building, as well as having three of our neighbour's pigs helping us out with some land clearance.  Despite such a promising start, however, we lost most of the Spring, due to the house sale and move, and John's back injury, during March and April; and the twenty nine days of torrential rain and winds we had during May.  Most of the sowing and planting was done in between the peat digging in early June.

Nevertheless, we have had reasonable success. We have had salads all through the summer - the pea and chard crop has been wonderful, and we are just starting to enjoy the first of the broad beans.  Fennel, kale and celeriac are looking promising, and my first attempt at forcing chicons might just happen this year.  The tomatoes - well they may ripen - or they may not.  We were very late in planting these - and had to choose from the last few stragglers available in the garden centre.  The lack of a greenhouse hampered tomato progress somewhat too.

 One thing I remembered from the heavy snows last Winter was the lack of green stuff available in the garden and in the shops.  With that in mind, I planted up several rows of hardy lettuce, greens, prickly seeded spinach and broccoli rabe. Along with the kale and chard, we should have a reasonable supply for the next season.  You may also notice the abundance of chickweed  happily growing away all over the place too, so we will include that in our winter harvest.

All in all, the growing shed system has been a good thing, and it has allowed us to put some home grown produce on our table in this first short season - and that is an important part of the plan for us.

Now, what hasn't gone so well?  Remember all those potatoes?  All 40kg of them?  They all rotted in the field during our Monsoon May.  We just hashed in getting these tatties in the ground as soon as we arrived - not waiting for the drainage to be sorted out (it still isn't done yet, by the way).   This was part of the ground that the pigs were on, and just look at it.  Ah well, a big lesson learned.

Likewise with the carrots and onion sets, which were planted side by side in this plot.

All may not be quite lost here, as there are signs of carroty growth under the weed cover.  I will leave it until October and see if they fatten up a bit.  I have to add here that I did use very cheap seed, bought from a bargain store, but I don't think that was the reason for the failure.  The main reason for this and the potato
no-show was that we had poor drainage and hadn't prepared the ground properly.  This field had not been grown on for many years, and apart from putting pigs on it for a couple of months, we did nothing else to it before we planted.
I am not beating myself up over this though.  It was never going to be as productive as my last garden, where the fertility had been built up over 10 years - certainly not after 6 months. And anyway, I have cut back a lot on carbs - so at least I don't have to deal with all those potatoes ;-)

So, what next?  Well, the growing shed will not be such an easy option next year, as the sheep, cows and hens will be sharing the field.  We will, of course, be using the strip grazing technique, so the animals can be kept out easily enough, but those hens...  And we have decided to re-roof the shed anyway - probably using it again as a lambing shed.
A big down point for me was that the croft land is a fair walk  from the house, a few fields away. As our working roles have developed, I found I was spending more time at the house than down at the croft, so popping out for a basket of peas, weeding the onion bed, or watering the tomatoes could be a bit of a logistical operation. James didn't want to spend all his time at the croft either - he liked to be at home or out in the garden, and John found much of his time taken up with the livestock and building repairs. As we go on, and James get older, this will change, but for now that is how it is, so we need to incorporate these outcomes and needs into our planning.
 I want to grow enough to feed us with fresh produce and to have enough surplus to preserve for year round use, and it needs to be accessible, or it will not work.  We will be working on the fertility and quality of the croft land to grow larger crops of carrots and root veg, and will be putting up a sizeable polytunnel, but what we really need for the next growing season is a kitchen garden.

And this will be it - at the front of the house.  It is not a great photograph, and it is hard to show the extent of the land, which goes well out to the side there - probably about 1/4 of an acre. it is mostly grass, with a few stands of willow here and there.  There are some ancient gooseberries and blackcurrants that have had their day, so will be replaced, and there are one or two herbaceous plants which we will move.  I envisage several vegetable beds taking up all that grassy area, ornamental borders on three sides of the plot, some woodland planting  where the willows are, and a fruit plot at the far edge.  Ooh - can't you just see it now?  I need to fit in a small greenhouse somewhere, but there is plenty space around the side of the house - oh - and a storehouse/ root  cellar type structure too...
I am sooo excited by this plan. Now I need to walk the talk, as they say.

I am getting some specialised help with starting this off, though.  Our very own pigs will be arriving in a few weeks, and they will have their first living quarters on the front lawn!

So - that's the plan - now where are those seed catalogues?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This week in Autumn

What a glorious Autumn week it has been here.  I love the glowing colour of this crocosmia - a common sight all over the island right now, where it is often grown as a windbreak.  it really comes into it's own at this time of year.
Thankfully the anticipated storm passed us by, although I know some areas on the mainland had high winds. We enjoyed being out and about most days, appreciating the colours of the season. So many lovely things about the past week - here are some of them.

Sunny mornings, still warm enough to sit outside with an early cup of tea

 and watch the tide seep silently into the sea-loch.

Driving into town, beautiful skies, straight roads, and good music playing on the radio.  Feeling my heart signing along with the sheer joy of it all.

Finding subtle Autumn colours down at the seashore,

and enjoying an impromptu beach picnic with a boy.

Finding more obvious signs of the season, strolling through the castle grounds

and enjoying a delicious lunch with a girl.

Misty Mountains,

Celebrity football matches (Police V Fire Brigade)

Family Fun days,

and huge bowls of home-made popcorn.

I hope you are enjoying the changing colours of your season, and that you have some space and time to bask in the everyday beauty.
Another busy week ahead for us - a lot of crofting and crafting coming up - and a new arrival!  All will be revealed in the coming week, so join me then.

♥ Love and blessings to you all for the coming week♥


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