Category Archives: Travel

pphhhhhhh…….what a SIZZLER

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just a few  images of my summer – being retired means you can relish every minute!

beautiful Oriental poppies full of style, colour and delicate beauty

beautiful Oriental poppies full of style, colour and delicate beauty

BUT  even those beauties suffer from 'the morning after the night before' look - still look stunning though in a bedraggled way!

BUT even those beauties suffer from ‘the morning after the night before’ look – still look stunning though in a bedraggled way!

my favorite plant, well one of them - what a colour and I love the black  centre

my favorite plant, well one of them – what a colour and I love the black centre

this Campanula has blown me away this year - it obviously loves sunbathing!

this Campanula has blown me away this year – it obviously loves sunbathing!

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

wall art - obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

wall art – obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

my cool spot under the copper sycamore

my cool spot under the copper sycamore

wish I could grow chickens in a pot but no, this one thought I'd made her a nice dust bath!

wish I could grow chickens in a pot but no, this one thought I’d made her a nice dust bath!                                

on Knuckles and my daily walk we found some beautiful Butterfly orchids

on Knuckles and my daily walk we found some beautiful Butterfly orchids

 natures sculpture -this always reminds me when I'm a bit down that a life with no heart is no life at all - hope this weather is  not melting you.

natures sculpture -this always reminds me when I’m a bit down that a life with no heart is no life at all – hope this weather is not melting you.Knuckles having a cool off - I even have a paddle and it is so....... C O O L   aahhhh! Knuckles having a cool off – I even have a paddle and it is so……. C O O L aahhhh!

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tunnel vision is up and running thanks to William

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the SWEAT

the SWEAT

had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench - not in the original scenario!

had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench – not in the original scenario!

 at last - covering the skeleton - after quite a bit  thought as we laid out the 11.2mx9.2m polythene to drape over the supports - very nerve wracking! All sweat, no blood, or tears ( or the dreaded actual tear as in rip)!

at last – covering the skeleton – after quite a bit thought as we laid out the 11.2mx9.2m polythene to drape over the supports – very nerve wracking!
All sweat, no blood, or tears ( or the dreaded actual tear as in rip)!

you take the soil etc out then guess what you put it all back - its called ballist (and b........y hard slog)!

you take the soil etc out then guess what you put it all back – its called ballist (and b……..y hard slog)!

tomato and peppers plants cheering when they see the polytunnel looking sleek and secure - at last a proper home!

tomato and peppers plants cheering when they see the polytunnel looking sleek and secure – at last a proper home!

and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.

and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.

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my potting shed is up and ready and I love it!

If you really enjoy doing something and its a feasible fantasy just go for it – you can make things happen with a bit of thought, help and courage. Sometimes dreams stay as dreams (I have plenty of them!) but if you set your sites within your own perimeter so much can be achieved and so much pleasure derived. By the way this was a time when I missed my car but guess what within 20 minutes I’m onto the bus with my shopper and collect the timber we needed – no problem. And enjoyed a little rest going in and out of town plus chatting to a neighbour! Guess what I bored him with!!!the wonders of polytunnels. Now I think about it there was a look of gratitude as the wee bus trundled into sight.

I am so often inspired by reading other blogs there is so much energy and love out there so thank you inspiring bloggers who live a life however seemingly small.  My world is tiny but it is mine and I love and try and cherish it.  Sometimes I’m in the zone and nothing can faze me but…….well there is always a butt so just kick it very hard and move on!

trying to find my spring….

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times are hard.  It seems the whole world is struggling and I’m in there thrashing about with the best of them.

But I get on my local bus and Alan the driver always greets me by name as he does most of his passengers.  And if Davy, who uses his bus pass to gently while away the day by just sitting and observing to and fro on the local journey up past the Beauly Firth, can help someone with a pram or a suitcase he does with pleasure and a shy smile.  People are basically kind and friendly – we all need a pat on the back occasionally and we all blossom when we are acknowledged for just being a person.  Because I am retired and my hobbies are quite isolating climbing onto ‘my’ transport taking me into the ‘world’ has become a simple pleasure.  Now and then I do miss not having a car but I only have to look at the debit and credit accounts on owning a car and I know for once I’m on the right side.

Not long ago I signed up for a course at the Highland Printmakers Studio ( should be able to link this but sorry I haven’t got there yet). A really great place full of creative energy and very helpful, friendly artists who are eager to share their enthusiasm.  As I have no knowledge, or experience of printmaking I just found a course that still had room which was Collagraph.  Never heard of it but thats what I wanted to go and tackle the unknown!  Next week is the last of a 6 week course and I have really enjoyed myself.  Back to childhood covered in glue and ink, thank goodness for aprons.   I have started drawing again I have been made more aware of shapes and textures and my first love colour was given free rein but in a new constrained way.  I loved the way you created a ‘block’ you printed from with paper, card, bits of fabric, cotton thread, string pretty much anything that would work all torn or cut into shapes and glued onto card – the net bag lemons and oranges often come in add brilliant texture.. Then you applied printing inks – hard work this as you had to rub into all the edges then remove some etc etc etc.  or you used a print roller for a different effect.  The inking is up very interesting  as there is always an unknown element after its been under the press.  So exciting as all the protective layers are stripped away and you gently peel the dampened paper of the block to either a shocked silence or a little yelp of pleasure.  I am now busy at home making a ‘block’ for the last session – its been a fun experience and pushed me gently along a path I know I want to explore and enjoy much more.

Just wish the weather would cheer up a bit.  But the potatoes are coming through and so are the cabbages and leeks must check on the broad beans.  Indoors my tomatoes seeds have germinated as have the cucumbers and peppers so now I have to nurture them onwards and upwards.  The polytunnel eventually gave up the ghost this winter but we can re-cover it so all will be ready (hopefully) by the time the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers need to be in their warmer home to grow and produce some wonderful fruits.  I realise with gardening you either love it or tolerate it or hate it. Like  most things I need to get into the mood but once in I love to garden.  For me its a great big adventure playground and in fact this year I am going to put up our big green canvas tent to use as a summer house  plus the barbecue and a mattress and a sleeping  bag and my summer holidays are sorted.  The dog will be delighted! If you want to join me bring a tent  (and the sun) I’ve plenty of room and you’d be very welcome!

new hobby studying timetables

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but I still manage to get it wrong. Ok, appointment for my flu jab in the local town 10.45am Tuesday morning. Gathered myself together for arrival at the bus stop with a few minutes to go. Perfect. On the bus fine. Quite full as its the Tesco run apparently. But when we turn onto the main road the bus goes right instead of left. I sit wide eyed in horror then thought well maybe it turns left further down and goes on the back roads. But no we are definitely on the road I do not want to be on. Quite alot of expletives take over my thinking at this point. Then I surreptitiously fish out the timetable (by this time I believed everyone must somehow sense I am a fool, and are chortling behind their hands – yes I am also neurotic!). I realize what I have done is catch the first bus which was the 9.50am and was a bit late instead of the second which was at 10.00am. And of course being proud and cool I didn’t check with the bus driver (who is cheery man called Alan). More expletives explode in my head. Only thing to do is find the positive.

So I end up cancelling the doctors, (had to go to the library and ask a kind librarian to find the number because of course I hadn’t my address book or my mobile phone). Then onto the bank and making an appointment to sort out some stuff that I keep putting off. Wandered round to the Highland Print Studio and luckily the friend I hoped would be there was and I was able to discuss the possibility to blow up some photos and he showed me some amazing stuff they are doing on beautiful Japanese paper using a modern version of etching. The black and white images were stunning. And they made me a cup of coffee. So I came out of there my head buzzing with new possibilities. Then a nice stroll up to Lidls – their parmesan is a good price plus some other bits and pieces including a fresh jam doughnut which I ate at the bus stop (could have had more jam). Then home again. Still feeling pretty stupid but felt I had at least nearly redeemed the situation and achieved something. I had to go back in the afternoon
and then home again on the 9.00pm bus. I have to admit I was very tired not physically but mentally my head was all over the place which meant sleep would be poor and I was back to listening to my faithful friend the radio. Wonderful programs called Up All Night, Through the Night. You are never alone with a radio. But I’d much rather sleep.

4.26am

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awake but warm and cosy.  My new ‘no car’ life is fast approaching.  Am planning all the things I must do whilst still a car owner.  All very mundane really.  Suddenly dull jobs like filling the car up with old carpet pieces, a rusty bike frame, numerous broken and useless items which sort of hang about well, for years must be sorted NOW.  My mental planning resolves itself  so I turn to my trusty friend the radio for some early morning company.

My sleeping for some time has become erratic.  In the past I could  just manage to read a page or two of my current title before the gentle sound of snoring plus the crash of a falling book woke me for a minute, so light off and then back to the snoring. Thank goodness this ability to drop off easily amused my poor husband  as he never found sleep easy to come by.  But now if  I manage four or five hours its fine.  It doesn’t worry me.  I don’t make cups of tea or nibble biscuits.  I sometimes try to read but mostly I have a good think with just the gentle night sounds for company and then I turn on the radio.  What an extraordinary night world there is out there.  Talk about travel I am always being transported to the many, many countries I will never visit, to cultures I had no knowledge off, and simply to gasp at the enormous breadth of human existence that inhabits our beautiful jewel like world.  Then there is the shipping forecast which takes me all round this little green island, whipping up pictures of cold rough seas tossing small fishing boats full of hardy folk trying to make a living.  And I’m cosy and warm and awake! Last night there was a lovely interview with a youngish Australian photographer who has an exhibition of his work at the moment in London.  He is part aboriginal and has been exploring  his ancestry . He started out being a wedding photographer but now enjoys the luxury of being “answerable to no-one about my work’.  He was interested in peoples take of his work but had a really lovely attitude towards it being ‘art’ . He just did it because he could and luckily he found an audience.  Good luck to him. And its takes me nicely to 6.00am so I think I’ll have an good hour of Radio 3 to set me up for the day. Good morning day.

worry less, save more

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On Tuesday October 30 2012 at approximately  11.30am I was given the news my car had failed its MOT.  I gave a slight gasp as I had already parted with lots of money in May to fix things.  So bodywork falling apart I had not anticipated (maybe in comparison with my own bodywork the cars looked fine).  The news deepened into a tragedy.  For the price so far mentioned was just for the part and did not include the labour.  And to dissemble and re-assembly could take two days. I could feel myself slipping into shock/horror and the dreaded tears.  But I stammered on trying to listen and leave with some dignity as I wrote out a cheque to pay for well, nothing except that this knowledge was to force me to face a few facts of life.

As I drove home quietly sobbing feeling defeated, scared and helpless I realized owning a car now was just not on.  Through the next few hours I started to look clearly at when I used the car, what for and how much it was costing.  Slowly the truth emerged clearly through the haze of habit, laziness, pride that my car was now simply a luxury.  I did not have to go anywhere regularly, in fact I would actually worry because I hadn’t taken the car out!  I have for last few years used the internet more and more for purchases including a weekly grocery order.  All I could honestly find I really needed it for was carrying dog food, chicken food and bird seed, a bale of straw now and then and taking my dog to a walk just up the road we enjoy for a change.  Its useful for picking up family and friends if/when they come to stay. Its useful when you want to go to the theatre or some social gathering in the evening.  So I looked at how my life was now panning out.

I hardly ever go out in the evening and that is not going to change. And if something wonderful came up I would get there somehow. I’m sure my family and friends could cope with taxis or buses ( I would still meet them and thats the lovely bit). I need never worry about tax discs, insurance and MOT’s.  I need never worry about the price of petrol.  I can stop worrying about cars and enjoy the journeys.  I wave my lovely little card  and sit down and concentrate on where I’m about to go, enjoying the mini adventures.  I don’t have to park.  I get on and get off. FREE.  Where is the problem, where is the dilemma. I’m car free.  And already it feels good and the car is still here but not for long!

So for the next few days I will be frantically stocking up with dog food etc. etc. and checking up on bus times.  I know I shall miss the luxury of having a car apart from anything else I love driving but this is a new challenge and I know I shall relish the delights and the drawbacks.  Must make sure I have some really warm boots.  As I am a knitter the woollen gloves, scarves, hats are no problem.

I really had no idea how stressful it was having a car when you use it very little.  I really love walking my dog everyday but having to take a car out for its health really is stretching affection a bit to far.

So on Thursday or Friday I will start using my buspass with new respect and gratitude. And I can splash out on a coffee! Whoopee!