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'

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The hall in Mhairi's looks a lot more civilised now and not the dingy place it once was, so I hope you think it's been worth the effort. Always a great rush at the last minute getting  things ready for Easter, but it's a great starting point for the year and all over the place people will be rushing around putting last minute touches to things. A rush to get the coggley bridge onto the bay straightened up;  in his anxiety to help, Andrew - our intrepid painter - fell in.  Just as well it was after he'd painted the hall! Of course he should have had a safety harness and a life jacket - the bridge itself had been sealed off by the Community Council because it was SO DANGEROUS; but worry not, it is all repaired and ready for  visitors to get down there and build sand castles. Unfortunately the forecast looks dreadful - the down side of early Easters.

Lots of lambs in Wum's fields, and we're pleased to see the squirrels have re-appeared in the woods behind us so along with the hatching tadpoles lots of nature doing it's Spring thing.  For some reason thee is a vast amount of frogspawn this year so maybe we're going to be invaded by a plague of frogs.  Who knows.

Time to go and put the flowers in

Monday, 22 February 2016

You may think this is a rather creative image, but basically my hands were shoogling so much because of the cold that the camera wouldn't stay still.  HOWEVER the point is that Mike is plastering the hall in Mhairis.  We have put off redecorating it because we knew it hadn't been done for ages which would mean layers of paper,   and yes - 6 layers in all.  But with the help of a steamer and Andrew and 3 days work it was taken back down to the plaster board and Mike set to last week-end and got it all plastered.  Excellent way to spend yet another pouring week-end. My contribution was tea and rushing in to town to get more bags of Thistle Ultralight.  So by the time the first visitors to Mhairi's clock in there will be a new look hall AND new windows in the living room  (joiner comes today).  Generally you wait a year down here to get a carpet laid, a joiner to join, or wood to get delivered - 2 years to get the phone mended.  But we have hit a lucky break with the windows - a joiner plus a dry day.  Cross fingers!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Here we are, the first daff of the season - not the earliest ever but not bad going.  I hope it's cheering up passers-by as we have yet another awful week-end ;  sitting on the balcony overlooking Dougie's sodden fields is a bit like being on the bridge of the Arran ferry. (well, we don't actually sit on the balcony at the moment, just press our noses against the salt strewn glass hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the sun).

Currently we are waiting for Andrew  to come and do some painting in Mairi's Cottage, for Ewan to chop the tree down in Colin's garden, and for Gerry to put new windows in.  It was a shame that Mike packed the tin of paint badly so when he opened the car door it upended over the car park;  still, it missed the back seat which was something.

Latest chat is that a fabulous cake maker has moved into the village (as they do) and is planning a super tea shop so we'll see; but the place seems to be reverting back to its holiday persona again and who knows what will be in store for you this coming season.

Meanwhile the dog is barking so I better go and see who's at the door....