Friday, 23 June 2017

Well, quiet times here in Carradale - while the south basked in a heat wave we made do with our usual 14 degrees and grey cloud. Still, Mike and I went up north for a hill-walking weekend and it bucketed the whole time with mist down to the ground.

However Sunday is the Carradale Canter and it looks like being bright and dry for all these brave souls hurtling about the village. I have to say that in Torridon we came across the Celtman Triathlon - 3.4 swim in Loch Shieldaig followed by a marathon over 2 Munros and then 126 mile cycle. And that was in rain and gales. Very fit people.

Still no news about the baker's shop which is for sale. We would be really stuck if it closed but at the moment it's still there - allbeit not making their own lovely baking  any more - and we're crossing fingers that a solution will be found.  gone are the days when there used to be a stream of people hurtling past the kitchen window from the caravan site desperate to get their morning rolls. Probably all motor homes come equipped with a breadmaker.

Lots of familiar faces coming to the cottages now which is always a pleasure - and they can enjoy our new garden chairs as all the lovely wooden ones seem to have fallen apart! 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Well, I will spare you another picture of my famous blue abutilon in full flower, and tell you what you just missed in Carradale.

Last week we had a real treat in the Village Hall. Chris Stout and Catriona McKay played some wonderful music for us. Incredibly well known as a fiddle/harp duo they play traditional Scottish, and their own works.  Saturday was largely the latter and quite superb. Much appreciated by the small, but knowledgeable audience.  Coincidentally, Mike and I had seen them a fortnight previously in South Cork where they were playing at a Fiddle Fair.

For the more energetic, the Mull of Kintyre 10K and half marathon take place on Sunday. Campbeltown is throbbing with excitement, the event is a sell-out, and much fun will be had by those who survive. Will the weather hold up or will everyone have to dodge the thunder and lightening?  We'll see.

The Carradale Canter , a sort of junior version, is on the 25th of June and will be a lively event ending up at the pier .It is a 10K and a 5K , and MUCH more scenic and fun than Campbeltown.
Food available down at the pier as you cheer the winners in.  Last year Mike was a marshall and was so inspired that he started running again and promptly pulled an Achilles tendon. However he's started again so if you get overtaken on a stroll round the bay by an energetic looking man and two very cross looking dogs then that's him.

Meanwhile, for me, there is nothing nicer than a gentle cycle up the Glen and back by the forestry road. Ian can hire you a bike and off you go.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Goodness me, aren't passwords a bind? Not having written anything since we got into the summer season LAST YEAR, I found it impossible to get back into the blog this evening. Seven goes at e-mail addresses and passwords I am.   I got a wonderful password reminder called Dashlane on my computer;  this would solve all the problems.  Well, no. It's almost worse than useless. Sometimes remembers, sometimes doesn't. Last night , attempting to pay HMRC some money ,I was in despair that I would end up in jail for failing to submit the VAT form on line. Down in the shed was last year's file and, yes, there was the password.  

Enough. Here we go into the 2017 season  - our 19th with our cottages. We hope over these years we've kept standards up, done improvements, and kept you all happy. We do try, and still get as much pleasure as ever in running them.  We have the marvellous Neelie as our cleaner. Although he is really part of our other business and a master caster, he is also a whizz at looking after the Mains Cottages.  And VERY proprietorial about them.  So any complaints, he's the chap. 

It's been a great winter and already the gardens are full of the last of the snowdrops, cheery daffs, and camellias just beginning to make a showing. We have had odd visitors recently (although Mike and I have comandeered Douglas while our new kitchen is being fitted) . Hopefully that will be pretty well complete in a week or two.  When you work full time, these DIY tasks seem to take ages. And only Mike would insist on making and finishing all the doors himself to get the right colour. 

Main change in Carradale for you  old hands is that  Marcus and Mo have left the hotel - and Carradale . A new family - 4 ladies no less - are running the place. This only happened in September, so we'll see how they cope with a summer season! Otherwise - well the beach is still there and the latest fad is for all the year swimming so you may well see some stalwarts whizzing along with the seals in the Bay.  How long will it last?  Mike and I aren't tempted.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing both old and new faces in the coming year;  prices are the same as last year and hopefully we'll be seeing hordes of our EU friends visiting before they need passports........


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Well, here we are.  As promised we replaced Colin's Christmas tree, which sadly we had to cut down, by a very fancy 'cryptomeria japonica'.  The Tree Shop at Cairndow is a wonderful place to buy unusual firs, so we felt we should try and buy somethig special.  How to chose?  It so happened that we came home via the Dunoon ferry the other week-end (a lovely journey and well worth trying out as an alternative route to Carradale)  and of course at Dunoon are the Younger Botanic Gardens at Benmore - the arboretum of the Edinburgh Botanics.  If you like gardens and trees, this is a real cracker.  Beautifully maintained, and now with a delicious Victorian fernery half way up a craggy hill.  It was an open day when we went - sunshine, a fiddle orchestra, plants, ice cream - very summery.  Anyway we wandered around and chose 5 trees which we thought possibilities (they are all beautifully named) and tracked one down at Cairndow.  There was another but it was about 6 foot long and the car was already stuffed full with still the dogs and shopping to squeeze in, so we gave up on that idea.
Mike is going to put a wee fence round in case deer come in to have a nibble and we will take good care of Colin's Christmas Tree mark 2.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

I bet you all think that this is Colin's Christmas tree being dispatched  for pit props - not at all.  This is the three yearly log delivery.  Yes, once every three years we get about 14 tons of logs from the Forestry Commission delivered right to the door.  While all the traffic is held up the logs are cunningly lifted over the wall , and over the next years Mike saws them up then with our brilliant log splitter they get made into fuel for our own and the cottage fires.  It's all very scientific. Each stove has a different size of log, and they must be chopped and stacked and dried in an organised way .  Anyone who has wandered in Austria know that log stacking is an art in itself.  We even have a back-up pile in one of the sheds for the tail end of winter when everything outside has got thoroughly damp.

We laugh when we see gorgeous Grand Design houses with immaculate wood burners, and then look at the chaos  of bark and chips which constantly surrounds our own fire. it's a messy business and you need to be dedicated, but we keep our own house incredibly warm and our visitors love the stoves (though not everyone is terribly good at lighting them).

May has been a quiet month - it always is.  For once the weather has been super and everywhere is glorious and it seems a shame so few people get away at this time. Sadly a lack of swallows - last year was a bumper year but clearly the many that we waved goodbye to in September have not made it back.  Even the cuckoos have been few and far between.

Anyway, enough of the nature ramble - I'm fighting with Google to get this blog up at all.  computers!

Thursday, 21 April 2016


Despite being completely surrounded by the things, Mike and I just hate cutting down trees - especially this one in Colin's garden.  When we arrived in Carradale Colin had this little cottage (both parts) and every year he brought his Chrismas tree in from the garden, then put it back out again.  And when he died it just grew and grew..........until it got just too tall.  So with each winter gale we got more concerned - as did the Insurance Company - and we felt it had to go.  Fortunately Euan, our neighbour, is a total tree expert and as you can see he did the job impeccably.  I had envisaged chopping it down with a large axe and hoping it fell the right way!  Clearly not the way it's done nowadays.

So, a bit more sun for the cottage, and we're  going to the Tree Shop to chose a special replacement which will still be known as 'Colin's Christmas Tree'