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....

Tuesday, 5 January 2016


The year started well for us here in Carradale;  while everyone was struggling with floods and closed roads we got off very lightly with nothing more than a stiff easterly gale.  Mind you the poor souls coming down for New year had to do major expeditions - the Rest had a landslide, Callendar was flooded, the burn was over the bridge at Drymen.  But they all made it , feeling rather smug.

I have now got next year's prices up on the web site so you will have to pay a deposit - being a simple site we can only cope with one year's rates at a time and although it will take a booking, it is beyond it to work out details like deposits.  But all is now clear and we have only put up prices slightly - what with minimum wages (it's O.K., we've always paid well over th minimum wage) , and various other price rises it's important to make a slight increase each year rather than suddenly having to do a huge jump.

Carradale is looking forward  to good year;  the Glen still goes like a fair, the Ashbank has new occupants, and Alen tells us that at last the house down at the quay will be repaired after the fire, so we'll all be looking very smart.  The ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown has been confirmed as a permanent (summer) fixture which is wonderful and could save some of you a big chunk of the journey.  Keep an eye open for slightly more sensible timetables than it's had in the past.  Occasionally it decided to go home via the Kilbrannan Sound, so sitting on our balcony we could see it chugging  past.

Hopefully a bit of decorating  will be done in Mhairi's Cottage, and a bit of refurbishing elsewhere - although before we know it Easter will be upon us and the cottages filling up. We have been incredibly busy with our main business - our coup being to supply pendants for Tim Peake to take up to the space station - but this is the time of year when that side of things eases off.

Anyway, look forward to hearing from you all .