Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Drought continues

Brownwen has gone back to the mainland to empty dad's house,which is now back on the market, but we had to empty the stuff for Roz for move it to her new flat in Glasgow. Meantime I am trying to get Skype to work, the painting of the outside of the house has started and I have made contact with the man who will be putting a fence round the place. Luckily someone who had seen the house before but not bid as there was too much competition, went to see it again when she was there and have put in a bid just below what we had fixed it at. If no-one betters it over the weekend I guess we'll take it, although it is a long entry date of end of August.

I have also "volunteered" to be the official scorer and record keeper for the bridge club as the man in charge of that is about to depart the island, for Cardiff of all places. Took dad to the Thursday lunch club again and had an excellent talk about a trip, in a very small sailing boat, to Antartica.

The whisky festival week has had great weather, with the exception of Wednesday when we had some welcome rain. This coincided with Bowmore's open day and the brewery open day. I went to the brewery one as Eddie, who is painting the house, was playing there (he plays guitar and sings - a man of many talents). I met yet another couple who are about to build a house and think that Kenny is going to build it for them - that makes three, and I think it is a race to get a building warrant and that's the one Kenny will do.

I have been chasing our building completion certificate, which Argyll & Bute insist was sent to our agent at the end of April. David denies every have seen one, so we've agreed it must be lost in the post and another will be issued. STOP PRESS - it has turned up - sent to our old address in Dalkeith.
The cat is going out a bit more now - still not too sure about those sheep, but they seem to have been moved away from our field just now, so she is happier.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Some vistors and a trip to Colonsay

Dorothy, who has bought (almost) the plot next door came to visit with her daughter and granddaughter on Monday- she cannot wait to get going on the build. Final trip to the skip with the last of the "removal" rubbish and filled up the car with even more expensive diesel (£1.33/litre). Got the first produce (lettuce) from the community garden.

The next day, Colin & Ann from Edinburgh arrived in their camper van, bearing goodies from the Bowmore bakery. We went with them on Wednesday (the only day you can do it due to the ferry timetable) to Colonsay (photo above shows Colin & Bronwen) for an excellent day's cycling - including a mile over the sand to reach Oronsay at low tide. The photo below shows Bron on the return journey, where this time her chain did not come off half way. Finished off with a couple of pints of the local brew and rushed back in the evening to catch the second half (and extra time) of the Champions League final. Managed the 14 miles from Port Askaig to home in just over an hour (wind was mostly helping).

One good night's rain has not made much difference to the ground, (I had to water the veggies again this evening and got caught by the midges for the first time) and as usual the whisky festival has started with excellent weather - well actually it is always the Sunday, Bruichladdich Open Day, which has the good weather, and this year was no exception. As you will have seen from her contribution, Bronwen features strongly in the programme as one of the "local entertainers".

A present from Ed, currently in deepest Peru on holiday, means that we now have a webcam and will be installing Skype for those of you out there who have it.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Bron's first contribution

I never got around to contributing to the original blog - was just happy to read Scott's take on things. But I really do exist and it's time I added to our account of island life.

I'm sitting looking out over Lochindaal as the martins and swallows swoop backwards and forwards past the office window. Scott has now learned not to leave the garage door open. Even while he was loading his golf clubs into the car this morning they were in and prospecting for a home!

Friday night, and a busy weekend ahead at the start of Feis Ile. Scott came back from Debbie's shop yesterday to announce that my name was "up in lights". I was doubtful, but then remembered that I had agreed to sing at the opening concert on Saturday in Bowmore. "No", said Scott, "It's Sunday, in Portnahaven." On investigation (a trip down to the shop to read the notices) I discovered that somehow I appear to be singing both on Saturday in Bowmore and on Sunday at the Clootie Dumpling Ceilidh in Portnahaven, in addition to singing with the choir at Lagavulin on Saturday afternoon and at Islay House for the ecumenical service on Sunday afternoon. That's what comes of whispered conversations in Gaelic in the back row of the altos with a Feis Ile committee member. One too many "Tha sin ceart gu leor"! Just as well I have four songs in my repertoire!

Islay is a wonderful place for drying washing (at least when it's not raining!). You can actually hang out the washing, go back inside and do last week's ironing, and then collect and do this week's! Here are some instructions, should you happen to offer when staying with us:

  1. Load basket carefully - the heaviest and wettest article at the bottom, the socks, knickers and hankies on the top, covered with one final large article.
  2. Go outside and assess wind direction. Position self and basket on upwind side of line (to avoid being blinded by shirt sleeves or strangled by sheets.)
  3. Leave peg bag in basket. Do not attempt to hang on line unless you wish to spend next ten minutes retrieving pegs from 20 square metres of mud.
  4. Now carefully extract socks, knickers, hankies one at a time from under large article and peg to line. Continue pegging out washing (never less than four pegs to a garment) until the final article.
  5. Before lifting final article out and pegging to line, wedge basket firmly between lower legs.
  6. Stop. Look at view. Listen to the lambs. Wave to Duncan, Mary, Peter, or whoever else happens to be passing. Check whether any eagles are in sight. Pinch yourself to make sure it's real.
To collect washing in, reverse operation, making sure you leave the socks, knickers and hankies till next to last. Use peg bag to anchor them down whilst retrieving a large article to cover them with.

And you only need a prop if you have really long things which will drag on the ground. Otherwise the wind at ground level is quite adequate for all drying purposes!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Broadband at last - and some bad news

By default you can take it that each week I will play golf on Wednesdays and Sundays and play bridge on Mondays. Bronwen will go to choir on Thursdays (and sometimes Tuesdays) and we shop on Fridays. The blog will only note serious deviations and other events.

Mon 12th – Off to the doc before breakfast to give blood (new patient induction process) then gentle day with more vegetable gardening (peas planted) and got the hose out for watering as things very dry. You can see from the pictures below the progress made in 2 weeks.

Wed – the broadband finally arrived – seems to work fine, so I should be able to update the blog a bit easier. Decided to give up on Nationwide B. Soc who have made a complete fist of changing our address (you only seem to be able to do it within a branch) so we’ll put our ISA elsewhere.

Thursday – Busy day – took Dad to the “old folks” lunch club (one of many on the island – this one is run by the church and actually welcomes everyone). We enjoyed it, especially the talk on gardening on Islay held after it. In the evening I took dad to a talk on Islay’s Geese from the local geese (and much else) expert, Malcolm Ogilvie. Excellent talk with lots of interesting facts.

Friday – bad news day – the buyer of dad’s house, who has been delaying the missives, has now pulled out. His lawyers say they are no longer representing him, so goodness knows what has been going on. We’ve offered it to the next highest bidder and will hear on Monday. On a positive note dad’s community alarm arrived, we dug lots more garden and planted lots of celery, broccoli, cabbage and curly kale which the Ogilvie’s (as per last night’s talk) had going spare.

Sat - good grief - its raining, and cold. Built the last of the flat pack bits of furniture and Bron went off to Tarbert for the weekend to go to the Quaker Meeting.

Sun - went to Foreland House garden (photo) open afternoon and bought some escalonia for hedging round the vegetable plot.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Trip to Cinema (really) and a hillwalk

Mon 5th – Golf (rubbish), garden, bridge - excellent day.

Tues 6th – First visit to the doctor as I needed a repeat prescription – you get plenty of time with the doc here and I’ve to go back next Monday for blood to be taken and a sort of general going over which they give to new patients. Went out in the afternoon down to Portnahaven to sit with cup of tea and biscuits in the sunshine looking over the sound to Ornsay. Then in the evening Bronwen and I went to the cinema – the visiting Screen Machine which is a lorry which folds out into an 80 seat cinema. It travels the highlands and islands and we saw Juno (Oscar nominated). Excellent evening.

Wed 7th – First competitive golf (31 stableford points, so reasonable) in hot but windy conditions. Out first real power cut (1 hour) at breakfast time. More seeds sown in the afternoon as it got hotter, the wind dropping. BT left their usual “text message to an ordinary phone”, which is largely incomprehensible, to say that our broadband will be activated on the 14th – so much for “within 5 working days”.

Thurs 8th – Bronwen and I had a day out, climbing the highest hill on Islay, Beinn Bheigier (pronounced Ben Vicker), only 491m high. Day was very warm but hazy, so views not perfect. The photo shows Bron at the top with our house just to the left of the dangling staps. Managed to take this arty photo of a boat in the Sound of Islay while walking along the ridge – looks the med eh?

Fri – Gardening morning and then shopping afternoon. Bought some leeks and red onion to plant, beer from the brewery and had coffee with Dave and Liz Sykes. Day seemed to just drift past.

Sat – Lots of gardening – the veg plot is coming on with parsnips, carrot, and beetroot seeds now planted, and bought plants (callabrese, red cabbage and sprouts) already in the ground.

Sun – First medal at the golf club (early start, though, I have to get up at 6.30 to be there in time for the 8.00am draw) and I played to my handicap (12) in near perfect conditions, shirt sleeves etc. Had the day “off” and watched the Man U v Wigan championship decider in the afternoon. In the evening Sarah and Jimmy came for a meal. We used one of their cottages for several years and they have provided excellent advice to us over the years.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Sky Tv Arrives and Vegetable Patch Started

Monday 28th

Excellent start to the week with a round of golf at the Machrie – I even managed to start par, birdie, par before it all fell away a bit. However my partner and I beat our opponents after a great comeback over the inward 9. There is a regular group of retirees who play Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I won’t go short of a game.

In the afternoon I recovered some of my old fence posts from the field and started to construct a fence round the eventual vegetable patch. Only got as far as excavating a big hole with lots of rocks before deciding I was too tired, especially as it was bridge club night. Bronwen meantime had had an eventful morning with the electrician’s mate tracking down the faults in the phone wiring. All working apart from two in the living room.

Tuesday 29th

Busy day between the garden – getting the rest of the posts in thanks to a borrows sledgehammer – mind you if this is to be permanent they’ll need to be cemented in, and watching the Sky TV installer at work, even fixing the phone sockets so that he could plug the Sky box in. It all took about 5 hours but we now have an excellent TV picture on both TVs, so it can rain when it likes.

Wed 30th

Did not spend all day watching TV, though tempted. Finished off the vegetable stockade and did some more of the “lawn”. Spent the evening being well entertained by two of our new neighbours who built a new house here a couple of year’s ago. Tested out the Sky+ box by recording the football and watching it (speeded up a bit) when we got back in.

Thurs 1st May
Chased up BT to find out that yet again one part has not told the other part that we are ready for the broadband transfer, so it will be another 5 working days. Spent quite a while putting up pictures on the walls including re-framing a few.

Friday 2nd May

Luckily was up in time for Peter to deliver the topsoil which Ian had offered us earlier in the week – two dumper trucks worth. The weekly shop thus included some vegetable seeds, and indeed plants (sprouts, cabbage & callabrese) and in a fit of enthusiasm managed to start the vegetable plot by planting parsnip seeds in the afternoon (you can see the area where the fork is - quite a bit of digging to go). I’m following the “gourmet” plan in Joy Larkham’s book on growing vegetables – 4 narrow beds each 1m wide and 7m long, just digging up the bits I need. Too late for seed spuds this year though.

Sat 2nd May

Spend the morning helping with a beach clean at Machir Bay – managed a lorry load between only 6 of us which should raise some money for the Lifeboat. Lots of plastic bottles and especially rope and twine. Watched yet another football match at lunchtime (its that time of year) and tackled the flat pack chest of drawers in the afternoon. Decided after seeing the forecast that my first competitive round of golf would not be tomorrow morning, though I now have the membership bits and pieces.

Sunday 3rd May

Good call on the golf – first really wet day we’ve had. So put up almost all the remaining pictures and started to sort out the “office”. First though I helped our neighbour try to rescue a large tree like plant which she has in here house. This thing (don’t know what type) is about 10 feet high and looks like its in trouble, so it was re-potted between myself and a Swiss visitor. Bit of a messy operation and I suspect we might just have finished the thing off.