Friday, 15 September 2017

Next week-end marks the end of an era - the last duck race! For years now the church have been running their duck race down the burn at Dippen on the September week-end. People come from far and wide to take part, and  the fight even to get a duck leads to fisticuffs outside The Glen. Some brilliant names emerge  (there are prizes for everything from the winning duck to the wittiest name) , much barbecue food is scoffed, and many visitors who only see each other at this auspicious occasion go home delighted to have had yet another memorable September week-end. And this is the last! Here's hoping some other exciting event will take it's place - but the ducks were getting a bit weary.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

One of the surprises of living down here is that you never know quite what's going to turn up on the entertainment scene. A far cry from booking Fleetwood Mack 6 months in advance and just knowing you'll be watching it in a concrete arena with the band tiny specks in the far distance.
Anyway, an e-mail from Crear reminded us that the following week there would be a string quartet playing at their  wonderful venue at Kilberry. So as usual we got together a picnic and trundled off on the hour's journey on single track roads to our little spot overlooking Gigha and Jura. Nicely sustained, we arrived at the venue for the most marvellous concert by the Gringolts Quartet. What a treat. A wonderful crowd of people sitting around tables listening to outstanding music with a brilliant view in the background. AND tea and buns at the interval!
Sadly the Crear Concerts are being discontinued, but no doubt something equally surprising will take their place.
And so to Carradale's treat last Saturday. Word got around that Lachie and Sheila were doing their 'herring thing' again. Fortunately we got a ticket as, arriving at our usual last minute, we found the hall packed to the gunwales (appropriate phrase). The presentation is the most unusual and fascinating mix of slides and video of the old herring fleet days interspersed with poetry, readings and music. Chris Stout, Carradale's favourite fiddler, just happened to be staying in the village so better and better. Tatties and herring were somehow doled out to everyone in the interval - a real loaves and fishes effort - and it wasn't until 11.30 that the show finished. A few stalwarts stayed on for music and dance afterwards.
So the moral of all this is that if you are staying in the village and see some event advertised , then don't miss it. It will probably be unexpected and very good, and you'll be made incredibly welcome.

Friday, 11 August 2017


Wonderful news for the village - Heather and Johnny have taken on the Paterson's shop.

When Angie decided to sell there was gloom and doom - would the village be without a shop? would we have to cobble together a Community buy-out? (in Carradale!), but no, these brave youngsters are going to run it .

Heather is one of the extensive Mackinnon family (2 of whom work for us here in the casting business) and old hands will remember the wonderful days when Mum, Josie,  ran the Network Centre cafe. Amazing  baking - what about Effies' Heavy Stuff........?     Heather then went off to Catering College, and the next thing we know she's running 'The Green Room' above the harbour. More wonderful baking. But that closed and off she went to Glasgow, only to return with Johnny and a wee one!  Some girl.

So they took over at the beginning of August and  - breathing a sigh of relief - we all wish them great success.

As well as that excitement we had a busy time last week. The ladies in the church ran their bi-annual flower festival and this year they really excelled. The theme was 'Musicals' and we had everything from 'Singing in the Rain' in one corner to Les Miserables setting up the barricades at the end of the pews. Huge imagination and a lot of hard work made this a terrific display and it seemed a shame that it has to be so short lived.  

We then had the Camera Club's annual exhibition and again we saw just how talented so many members of the community are.  A great cross-section of ideas and subjects and over the years it seems to get better and better. While some Clubs in the village come and go as enthusiasm dies, the Camera Club seems to go from strength to strength  - if only the Bridge Club had been as tenacious.






Monday, 24 July 2017

Well, we had a great day yesterday - went to Gigha.


It takes just over an hour to get round to the ferry terminal at Tayinloan, so off we set in plenty of time, on a lovely sunny day. Too often in the past we have found ourselves hurtling up the west side watching the boat heading for the slip, but not this time. Parked up and first stop is Big Jessie's cafe. There you can sit outside with a latte and some lovely home baking and watch the ferry approaching, then it's all aboard for the 20 minute sail.

The M.V. Lochranza is one of Calmac's more dilapidated boats but it does it's job just fine. Originally built for the Lochranza- Claonaig crossing in the eighties, it was soon moved over to the Gigha run and has been plying backwards and forwards ever since. I would like to say 'in all weathers' but nowadays Calmac seem to draw the line at sailing in anything much more than about force 4. Gone are the days when the web site said ' the Master will decide'. Nowadays it's the Met Office who decides about 2 days in advance.

Anyway it was a lovely calm sea and there is nothing nicer than sitting up top as the ship tootles across the Sound of Gigha - keeping a hopeful eye out for some porpoises or dolphins, or measuring the very shallow bottom as we approach the island.

Then it was into the Boat House where we had ordered lunch. Being a sunny day the place was thronging with people and it was more akin to Ayr beach than little Gigha, but in the seclusion of the restaurant we were able to enjoy our splendid seafood in peace. But too much to do and it was off to visit the Gallery (alas, closed on Sunday) and then down the road to Achamore Gardens.

 Some people take their cars across for their visit. Mistake! The beauty of Gigha is the magnificent hedgrows full of roses , montbretia, juniper, grasses, heather all mixed up in a wonderful jumble of shapes and colour. The meadows on either side - meadowsweet, thistles foxgloves - with butterflies flitting around are mesmerising, and of course we took so long to stroll to the Garden entrance that there was no time to go in and we had to stroll back again! Note - don't go on a Sunday when the last boat is 4.30.

Anyway, there was still time for a tub of Gigha Ice Cream from Joe and Hannah's shop which WAS open and then back to join everyone for the sail back in the sun, with Islay and Jura on the horizon and a shadowy Northern Ireland away in the distance.

A good day.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Well, the Carradale Canter went without a hitch - no fatalities as they say. Loads of medals doled out and some very exhausted looking people panting past our kitchen window - did they realise that this wasn't actually the route?

Church Sale of Work last night. The art is to go early and place your hand on your favourite chocolate cake so that when the opening speech is over you've already bagged it. Lots of people attending as ever - it really is an  evening that's in the regular visitors diary. So cakes in the workshop this afternoon!

Weather continues to be pretty awful - one day shine and the next rain. Midges aren't too bad this year although I met a visitor the other afternoon on a lovely sunny day, not a midge in sight, with her midge hat and veil on. Clearly this had been the instruction in her travel guide, though how she could actually see to walk down the hill I'm not quite clear. Secret as ever is lots of Jungle Juice, cover up well, and get the chimera puffing away if you're sitting outside.

Next on the agenda is the Golf Club Dance which was great fun last year. A good old ceilidh dance in the Village Hall. At the April Dance we were at I ended up being hurled across the floor in the Dashing White Sergeant so better be a bit more careful this time. After a generation of youngsters who couldn't dance a step, they are all now well into the familiar dances again and thoroughly enjoy Stripping the Willow with the best of them.

After a very disrupted start to the season the Ardrossan- Campbeltown crossing has got going again and is a nice alternative to the road over the Rest. Saves driving but not much else. Give it a shot - details on Calmac's excellent web site.

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.