Catching up

Kevin was asking when the next Rona Blog was coming and after finding out I’d missed posting last months effort, I’m trying in between torrential rain to get up to date with Rona things. It has been extra busy with the house for sure and the weather has not been too bad until the end of this week when it has rained, got cold and of course windy. No yachts in to speak of and just the odd sail out there. But it has dried up here at lunch time so I guess there will be a visitor in the Bay tonight. (2 in at 7pm)

It seems a long time ago since the Raasay kids from the primary visited, 28th June I see!!

Raasay Primary

Cottages are busy and that was where we were this Friday night transferring our guests at sea, the tide was too low for MV Aspire’s draft alongside the pontoon so we transferred everyone and the baggage at sea, even the dog!! Brian and Gill know the score but Malcolm and Dascha our new and first Airbnb guests were not sure what they had let themselves in for, but it was very calm and very safe.

Sea Transfer 1

Tesco’s delivery at Sea

Lying alongside

Getting Ready to cast off

That was Friday and Brian, Gill and Teal the dog who had been with us for a month were heading home and we were sorry to see them go, been good to get support during a busy building month.

The house is coming on fine and after our initial hiccups with folk coming onto the site I have to say almost everyone has respected our signs and been aware of diggers, dumpers and material getting shifted. Rona, off Yacht Eynhallow’s was an exception to site rules and I think she approved, especially when she got her usual venison bones.

Rona Visits The Site

(More on the house build page)

Summer Afternoon on Rona

Early on this month the weather had been exceptional, however we did have a few days of real crappy weather, but overall we cannot complain. These last few days have been trying but the sun’s out now. Yachts have been thin on the ground. That has not stopped some of them blotting their copybook.

Stuck on the Mooring Chain

The Morning After

This yacht reversed onto the strop of the mooring, why yachts have to moor so close to our mooring I have never worked out but it leads to this type of debacle. Once they cleared the strop from their propeller, or rudder? They put their anchor through the mooring chain and promptly got stuck. They messed about with it that night then for a couple of hours in the morning they did the same. I asked them to come ashore with their contact details but once they freed themselves they took off, I was  not impressed. Because they may have damaged it. I will check!! We know where you live!!!!!!!!!

We Have a Swimming Pool

To say we had some rain is an understatement, so much so that we had an accidental swimming pool, now sorted.

Back and Fore to Portree

Been good weather for multiple trips to Portree,  passing Yacht Sea Rose quite early one morning.

Gathering

I don’t think I’ve missed a gathering off the cliffs around Portree bay. Every year I seem to catch the shepherds on their vertiginous walk, always impressed at the dogs speed running back and fore.

Essential Supplies

Of course we did have building supplies on board but it is dry work.

Danish Visitors

We had Danish visitors for a week in July and a fishing trip was arranged. We were invaded by RIB’s just as we left, they were on a West Coast 500 boat trip, heading I think to Ullapool/Lochinver and then round the top of Scotland.

Stags Down South

We caught a few mackerel, some langoustine and even a lobster, which the guests enjoyed very much.

Hiding in the Bracken

When we were down at the South end it was good to see the stags hanging about there, even one with one antler.

Outboard Trouble

Coming back from Portree on one of the evenings  and the engines started playing up. We spent a whole day (which was missed from the build) trying to fix the engines but were not successful. They still did not run right but they did come good last thing at night when I took a final run round the bay.

Round the Corner.

I got a surprise when we came onto this huge yacht moored out of sight, the engines were going well so I decided I would go to Portree in the morning.

Welcoming party

Again Portree was like a Blackpool weekend, very scary.

Our only Kayakers this year.

Back to Rona with building material later that morning and our  paddlers from Applecross who stayed overnight were ready for the next part of their trip, around Raasay. Weather very good.

Shifting Steel

Round about that time (Which seems weeks ago) we decided to put up most of the steel, a slow process but all went well and thanks again to MacKay’s engineering Invergordon for their precise engineering.

Double Pick Up

Yet another trip to Rona but this time I found out what was wrong with engines of the boat, the fuel pipe on one petrol tank had split and was drawing air, sorted. This trip was to pick up Ian Bolas from Rum and Hugh at Arinish, Raasay. Ian was coming to sort out the Applnet / Rona side of the internet service and he set to sorting it out in good time, much appreciated the in depth training, on how too………

Full Up

Back to Rona early evening to find a fair few yachts in the Bay.

Sula

Good to see Kenny on Yacht Sula over from Shieldaig with his mates, we enjoyed a dram that night with them, good fun and a good diversion from the build.

Steel is Almost There

Back to the house and the steel went up quickly as the connections were as they should be.

Room With a View

From the front window

Here’s the view we hope to enjoy next year when we are all done and dusted. Without the digger boom!!

Grey Day

One of the greyer trips to Portree, shades of things to come with more rain forecast.

Sure Enough

Sure enough on Saturday during the changeover it poured which was a bit of a damper on a relatively good week.

Grey but not Too Bad in the Bay

The rain did not last long that day, I think it was on all day Sunday but once the sun comes out it is pretty clear. Red Moon charters were in for a few days, with no charter that week they were holed up on Rona.

Yacht Shivinish

Yacht numbers are a bit down but I don’t think it is because we are shut, possibly the weather and too much information via Internet weather websites? But it was nice to see our good friends John and Jane MacInnes from Tayvallich rock up on their latest Yacht ‘Shivinish’.

Jane and John MacInnes

Always up for a job it was not long before I press ganged John into a nights fishing.

Flat Calm Fishing.

Also a quick trip next day  to Portree yet again to pick up some 9×2 for the web packing of the steel on the house. Flat calm and the boat went well.

Yet another Portree trip

But there is always the unloading and these guys are not light.

Early Morning Crowd

Another good day and I had a wee prowl looking for a stag, it was a very calm bright morning which I’m sure the yacht people enjoyed waking up to.

Chief Burger Maker

Having got the stag and butchered it in between shifts at the house I gave Brian a day off the tools and as he was good at mixing concrete I gave him promotion to chief burger maker. With lots of contractors and helpers about the venison is not going far.

I’ve lost track of days that all the above happened but this was last Tuesday, Joyce had been in touch looking for Rona whisky and was very keen to visit Rona. There was a boat last Tuesday with the architects and we offered her a seat on it. I had been to Portree first thing to unload a lorry load of insulation and then pick up Hugh, it was quite rough and as Kevin was coming out with the rest of the load Joyce went on MV Aspire and had a great day.

Joyce

The architects, Hazel and Nick had a look around the site and answered all the questions then all to soon they were on their way. Joyce’s round trip was North Berwick to Inverness, Inverness Portree, Portree Rona and all on the way back over three days, well done.

Time to go.

Once they had departed it was back into the house build and again shifting lots of material, this time 90mm Quin therm. But where to put it?

Easy Unloading

In an effort to save my back it is always wiser to work with the tides.

The Weather Has Broken

But the rain came on pretty quick and to be honest it has not stopped since (although there are very hot spells when the sun does shine).

Back To The Day Job

With the build in progress it has been difficult to keep up with the breakdowns servicing and repair. But needs must. The JCB suffered bent forks when unloading the Spanish John in a hurry one of these nights. With Hugh’s 14 tonne digger and a bit of heat we managed to bend the pin that holds the forks together back in to place.

Result

And Finally

Our guests this week are Paul and Claire, they said they were prepared for wet weather and when I was over delivering some venison steaks I could see how, quite a selection and seems to be a common thread in our holiday cottages……………. Hopefully it will not be a month until the next blog.

 

 

 

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Drones and Nature

OOPS!!!! I’ve just discovered that this blog post from a month ago has not been posted, maybe something to do with our internet being down. Both Applnet and satelitte gave up the ghost at the same time. Applnet with reconfiguration taking forever and I hear it may go off again to-day, hope not. AB Internet our satelitte provider has gone out of business so we still have a slower link direct with Avanti but for how long……….. That is my excuse, but here goes, the news from a month ago.

A Lost Post!!!

Well it has been a while, that’s because we’ve been flat out with the new house. However, life goes on around us and we have to deal with it. First moan!!!! Drones have their place I guess but for us here not on Rona. Why you would want to come to a peaceful, remote harbour and have this irritating machine buzzing about is quite beyond my comprehension. Especially with the best year yet for nesting birds, in fact 10 feet from this Drone Pilot there was a gull sitting on eggs. It was bombing this guy and he was still going to fly his drone.

Why Would you

But on the next tide Angus and John our yachting friends arrived and as usual mucked in with whatever we were doing, in this case trying to keep the timber dry.

Angus and John

Moan no 2: We have signs up, “construction Site Keep Out” etc etc, but these guys ignored them, walked onto our building site and told us that they don’t read signs, they ignore them and they were  “just having a Look’!! ‘We’re doing no harm’. Okay so now we have completely closed down because we cannot deal with people wandering all over the site ‘just to have a look’. Well done Yacht ‘State O’chassis?’ Clyde Cruising Club.

Yachties Don’t Read Signs (he said) !!!!!!!

Back to the real world, water woes. I was having problems with the water supply, using loads of filters and could not work it out.

Water Woes

Temporary in line filters were quickly blackened with the rain messing up the peat in the water.

Temporary Supply

Then I noticed the sheep trough overflowing, one of the sheep had pushed the ballcock in and the trough had been ‘leaking’ for days.

Here’s The Problem and Not the First Time

But it was a while before it settled.

1 Day

Yachts had been scarce but that was more to do with the weather rather  than the fact we are now closed.

Storm Brewing

Although it has been unsettled there have been good days.

Nature At its Best

It is normally me that suffers breakdowns (Central heating pump to-day) so it was quite an event when the Spanish John delivering his third load suffered a burst hydraulic hose, quite an event to see someone else in trouble.

Burst Hose

Hugh had been over but after the work got up to date he had to go off to deal with other jobs. A quick run to Arinish and he was on his way.

Hugh’s Heading Home

Next day I thought I’d take an hour out and check the creels, nothing in them except a very fat octopus. Been a while since I lifted them.

Fishing At Last

A quick run down to the end of Rona and to see if any stags were about, I was not disappointed.

South Stags

Back to Rona and a check up the gut to the East of the house and here was a couple of yachties? camping. They had come in in the teeth of the gale the previous night and spent the next calm day on Rona. Would have been nice if they had come to the Lodge to say hello, maybe told us they were ‘Wild Camping’ just over the back of Rona Lodge!!!!!!

Wild Camping!!!!

Anyway, back to the Drone. Here’s our hopeful gull sitting on eggs.

10 feet from where the drone pilot was playing with his toy.

Our Nesting Gull, Droned out.

Sadly after four weeks of sitting and bombing people here eggs were rotten.

Just as I suspected, too much disturbance but top be honest not the most ideal place for a nest.

Twice in One Day

On a brighter note on a beautiful day I had the pleasure of two trips to Portree. Quiet until 10am, but when I went back around lunch time it was like Blackpool on a Saturday afternoon, busy, that’s not the word to describe it. Mobbed maybe.

I’m Retired

Back to Rona, next day Kevin and Pam arrived back from MacDuff, freshly painted after being on the slip there for a week or so. They had a lively trip back especially round the top of Scotland!!

Back In Business

The boat is looking well and we were very happy to see her back.

Polytunnel Doing Well.

This is the bit of the blog where I discovered that I had not posted it DOH! So I’m now having to look back and see what happened. The polytunnel is now like a jungle but not with weeds, more cabbage and kale, great though.

The New System

The water I have to report is working well which should stand us in good stead for the new house and extra usage.

Glance

This is where I finished the blog a month ago, with Yacht ‘Glance’ on the mooring. Good to see Isobel back with her 100+ year old yacht a real classic.

 

 

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New House Start

Here’s the Spanish John arriving with the third load of building material, last Monday. One more to go this coming Tuesday and that’s it until Hugh goes away with his digger’s and machinery. The pictures below are back to front, just the way WordPress loaded them!!! But you can work it out. The load on this L/c was not typical and we had some fun shifting everything, especially the container. Anyway it is now in place and looking good.

The Daily Photo

This picture was to-day in the pouring rain, we got the container seated and then Hugh dug out rock, much more of that to come.

The steel came too so we’re almost there. Been an extremely busy time since our few days away in Edinburgh which seems like long ago. Lots of yachts visiting  but due to all the machinery working we have had to close the Lodge down but I’m sure the yachting fraternity can do without our wifi and venison for a wee while.

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Long Sunny Days and Too Much To Do.

It has been a good month overall, glorious sunshine day after day and lots achieved. So busy that I find it difficult to put aside some time for a blog post. So, I’ve decided on a different tack. I think I’ll upload photos daily possibly without much writing, the photos are easy it is the story that backs up. 53 photos uploaded to-day but it has been a while since the last blog. We’ll see how it goes.

Hiding

The deer are about feeding during the day just now, they are looking pretty scruffy as they shed their winter coats.

Coming On

Although in a week or so with the good flush of grass they will certainly look a lot better, they have wintered well.

The New Solar Array

Lots of jobs piling up pre’ the first landing craft this year. New power for the new house is the first consideration.

OKAY, It is a little squint!

We decided on timber for the solar array as the steel was getting pricey, although when I was doing this I sometimes wished I had gone with the steel.

The Firewood Mooring

Another tick off the list, old concrete used up for a mooring. Over at the forest this mooring will be handy for running a line ashore for the firewood retrieval in the future. A bit of a mission but it is now there, just hope a yachtie does not pick it up!!

Disaster

Getting ready for the landing craft, just about there and a hydraulic pipe burst. No problems with the tractor since we bought it years ago but now three rotten pipes!!! Just when I need it most.

A wee bit of Ingenuity

After struggling with the JCB pump last month, I called the Goldoni dealers for suggestions on removing the steering wheel and he suggested manufacturing a tool. Works too.

Sunday Ferry

The start of the month saw a Sunday ferry bringing Craig and Laina (plus dogs) to give us a hand for week or so and in the future.

First job for Craig a scary tow up the hill.

First things first, get the tractor off the shore.

Topping and Tailing

Then onto the very sore job of dealing with the lambs tails and the male lambs………

The Polytunnel Is Getting resurrected

Next job fixing the bits and pieces with a view at the end of the week to getting the plastic onto the polytunnel. The roll of plastic has only been here for over a year!! But with sunshine forecast the pressure was on to get it fitted.

Stopped For a Blether

The landingcraft was on its way and we had arranged to pick up Hugh at Arinish, on the way down we spotted Jaqui B and stopped for a blether and maybe a chance of some squatties.

Levelling

Hugh was off the boat and onto the JCB in double quick time to level off a rocky bit we had had issues with in the past when unloading.

First Load Of the Spanish John

With the tractor out of action we had asked Greg to take his Manitou/forklift to help unload, a great tool.

On Hire

It was a bit warm and the lens of the camera got misted up, must have been the speed we unloaded the boat!!

Got a bit warm here.

Very quickly with the boat unloaded, empties were aboard and they were on their way.

Heading home

A quick lunch on the decking of the bunkhouse then it was back to Raasay with Hugh.

Enjoying The Sun

Passing ‘Eda Frantzen’ on the way out of the harbour.

Eda Frantzen First Visit This Year

No Surprise The Yachts Were Here.

4 In The day of the landing craft

The Next Day

First thing next morning we had a yachtsman at the door, his engine would not start and he had been having problems. With no wind there was nothing for it but to call Hamish and the crew (through Stornoway Coastgaurd) to see if they could help.

Without Further Ado

No Joy With The Engine

They got Hooked Up

And they were on their way.

Back to the day job.

Shifting the Delivery

We had to put all the material from the landing craft away.

Ooops!!

The pallets the blocks come on will not travel. Usually they go on the tractor, not this time.

Then Fuel To Dry Harbour

By now I’m really missing my tractor.

The Sun Still Shines

With the sun still shining it was time to fit the solar array, pity it was not up in this weather.

Leveling Out

Now We’re Talking

At the end of the day an invite to Dry Harbour for tea was gratefully accepted.

Thanks Derek

Friday we finally got the plastic fitted, in a very blustery wind which made for an interesting install.

Sun’s Down

Almost ready for the Gardeners coming.

Looking Good

Hugh (Scoraig Wind), was coming, he has been promoting solar for years and we had finally gone for it in preference to a new generator. Saturday our cottage guests arrived and departed with some of the cable and fittings.

Hugh Arrives, Sunny Tuesday

And was quickly getting down to the job.

Fitting The Panels Together

Of course the old system had to be stripped out first.

Stripping Out

In the middle of it Paul from Arinish arrived with the mink traps we had lent him.

Up From The End Of The Road

He was interested in our installation and we had a good chat about each others systems. Good to see him and Ross.

The Last Day Of Sun For A While

Hugh duly finished the install and the sun shone but the forecast was of course for grey overcast and rain.

Dry Harbour Install

Next Morning and it was up early over to Dry Harbour and we installed the Big Harbour system there to boost the power. With the ferry coming there was a bit of pressure on but Hugh managed admirably and the system was running fine when I checked next day.

Donald’s Hens

Some of our hens are not laying, some have died and much to Lorraine’s apprehension I ordered 4 new ones from Donald at Struan, they looked good after their journey over the sea.

Sigh Of Relief

I’m sure Hugh was glad to be on the boat and heading home, it was a pretty full on day and a hint of days to come.

Performing Well Despite the Cloud

So now we have a new system, the weather: flat calm and grey. BUT the generator has not run, the washing has been done, the hair dryer used!! This is all very good and to-day the volts are up big time, sitting at 60v just now, excellent.

Visitors scratching their heads

Nothing left for it now but to enjoy the visitors for a few months plus build a house. Here we have a few trying to figure out our signs!!!

Where’s The Wifi

And just like the mainland one of the first questions ” where’s the WiFi”?

The Tidy Up Continues.

What is left in the short term before we start our house build is to clean up the winter damage/rubbish and get the stores and stocks ready for the summer invasion. It is all go, ditching, firewood and a hundred other things.

Now to The House Build:

With the first load of material arriving we are up two gears now and the bits and pieces are coming together. Now all that is left is to get it here together. First thing is the steel work for the ring beam. Fabricated by MacKays Engineering Invergordon, this piece is key:

Steel Frame Pre-Erect at Invergordon

What fun!!!!!!

 

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Colin Gibson Commemorative 2017

We are pleased to launch to-day our 2017 stamp issue. It was a great discovery to find that one of my favourite writers “Colin Gibson” had visited Rona in 1933/34 as part of an expedition exploring the flora and fauna of South Rona, Raasay, Scalpay and Longay. His articles in the “Dundee Courier, People’s Friend and The Scots Magazine”and his distinctive black and white sketches drew my attention wherever they turned up in print, his writing was an inspiration to observe more when out in nature.

His daughter Gillian Zealand came to Rona several years ago and from there the idea was born to produce a set of ‘Colin Gibson’ stamps. Gillian kindly supplied copies of colour sketches and we have now three stamps issued to-day.

Presentation Set of Three

The presentation set features three sketches of Dry Harbour, Church Cave and the cliffs seen in rough weather from Dry Harbour. The colour of the Lewisian Gneiss captured as it is to-day.

Set of Three

Or there is a plain set just of the three stamps. A first day cover has also been produced and awaits return from Staffin Post office where the only hand frank left on Skye is still in use.

First Day Cover Picture

One of the sketches kindly supplied by Gillian Zealand was a black and white clearly sketched from Meal Acarseid (Our highest hill) looking East along the cliffs from Dry Harbour. This sketch has been used on the first day cover.

Colin Gibson

During our research into Colin  Gibson’s time on Rona we came across many articles and publications, we have re-produced our favourites.

From ‘Colin Gibson Artist and Naturalist’

From the booklet published by David Winter and Sons Ltd, A Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Exhibition.

On contacting D C Thomson Newspapers in Dundee as I was sure Colin Gibson’s articles appeared in the Sunday Post, I had a reply from Norman Watson DCT Company Historian (below). I was mistaken and it now turns out it was the articles in the Dundee Courier I used to follow.

Norman Watson.
DCT Company Historian.

COLIN GIBSON began Nature Diary in October 1954 after he was asked to try a “few” nature articles. He later recalled, “I was told, ‘We’ll run them for six Saturdays and see how they go’.” By popular demand, Nature Diary became a weekly fixture.Colin filled the space about 2500 times for us-accurately, charmingly, interestingly, informatively-becoming a much-loved part of our paper, as well as a household name across much of Scotland. His death aged 90 in April 1998 sadly allows us now to paint a picture of a man who used to chortle, eyes twinkling, when we asked him if he would like to be remembered as an artist, writer, naturalist or historian. “Me?” he’d reply. . .”I’m just a man who has enjoyed the world around me.”
Colin Gibson was born in Arbroath in 1907 and attended Keptie School and Arbroath High School before taking up the palette and mixing the hues of his future life at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.
He later recalled that his first drawing of a galloping horse so impressed his teacher at Keptie School that it was taken before “Grumph,” the headmaster, while his first article, The Woodcock, went to the Arbroath Guide when he was still a teenager and “must have been very near a Nature Diary!”
At Gray’s he won the Founder’s Prize (1926), the Barker Legacy Prize (1927), a Byrne Scholarship for post-diploma study (1928), the Robert Gordon’s Colleges travelling scholarship and the Brough Memorial Scholarship (1929). To help student expenses he sold football cartoons, interviewing and drawing the players “on the spot.”
In 1930 he took up two scholarships to study in Madrid, Toledo, Venice and Florence. On his return to Scotland he took the first teaching job offered, at a school in a coal-mining town in Northumberland, but returned north a year later to the art department at Dundee High School, where he spent 12 years as assistant art master.
In 1943 Colin’s gift for portraiture was recognised when he won the Royal Scottish Academy’s Guthrie Award for the best work by a young Scottish artist for a picture of his wife Lisbeth, whom he married in 1938. The award was shared with Alberto Morrocco, the Dundee artist and RSA academician who passed away in 1999.
Colin gave up teaching in 1945 to become a freelance artist and writer. For a number of years he wrote and illustrated articles for the People’s Friend. Then, on October 2, 1954 came the first Nature Diary for The Courier, a tale about the roaring of stags. No one involved then could have foreseen how popular and long-lived the column would be.
Meanwhile, Colin published the first of several books, The New Furrow, and illustrated a volume of children’s verse by Perth’s bed-ridden poet William Soutar. Eventually he published work in other titles, including The Scots Magazine, the Arbroath Herald annuals and the Carnoustie Guide and Gazette, and classic stories, such as Treasure Island and Lorna Doone, for Oxford University Press.
In 1979 he received an honorary Master of Science degree from the University of Dundee, his testimonial concluding. . . “for all he has done for art and nature in Dundee and Scotland.”
In the later stages of his life, visitors to his home of 50 years in Monifieth enjoyed a couthy chat, a huffy look from his cat Blackie and a sweetie from a dish on the dresser. Talking art, nature or life generally with this grand old man of the Scottish countryside was an unforgettable experience.
After Colin passed away in 1998 his daughter Gillian Zealand responded to public demand by producing the long-awaited collection of her father’s work. Titled Colin Gibson’s Nature Diary, Gillian collated words and pictures to form a showcase not only for her father’s unique work, but also of the landscapes and wildlife that inspired him.
“A collection of his pieces in book form was something people often asked him about. And, after he died, they began asking me!” she explained earlier this week.
“The number of people who bought the book was very encouraging. I did a book signing in Dundee, for example, and many of his old friends turned up to reminisce about the column and my father. Everyone had a story! At the Angus Jubilee celebrations at Glamis this summer one elderly chap kept me busy with his recollections for about half an hour!
“I would love to do another book, but the first one involved a great deal of hard work and quite a lot of expense.”
Colin’s love of his subjects appealed to several generations of nature lovers. But his depth of knowledge was evident just as much in every word written as the lines drawn.
“He put a lot of effort into his writing,” recalled Gillian. “He knew the length of Nature Diary off pat, but honed and honed it. I remember he always wanted to round it off with a sentence which would link to the start of the article.”
Similarly, Colin often regarded his drawings as working pieces and went back to them again and again. In 1988, however, the familiar scraperboard images were allowed to shine in the artistic firmament when Dundee District Council staged a hugely-popular exhibition of his artwork in Barrack Street Museum.
With such a large body of her father’s original work still in her family’s possession, Gillian staged a successful Nature Diary selling exhibition of nearly 100 works at Eduardo Alessandro Studios in May 2000. She has been encouraged to stage another exhibition, perhaps at the same Broughty Ferry venue.
“I would be quite keen, and when I mentioned to Sandro Paladini that it will be the 50th anniversary of Nature Diary in 2004, he was quite enthusiastic, too! But we’ll have to look at that possibility. In the meantime, Joyce McGlone at the Queen’s Gallery in Dundee has expressed an interest in some of Dad’s life drawings. He did quite a lot of other work, including many life drawings and landscapes.”
Gillian is also delighted that the McManus Galleries in Dundee has secured a number of his pictures from her for the city’s permanent collection. “It is lovely to think that the city’s principal art gallery will have a representative selection of his work,” she says.
She first became aware of Nature Diary as her father’s constant companion as a wee girl on jaunts to the Arbroath cliffs, the Sidlaws, and so many other places. In fact, their Sunday outing often became the basis of the following Saturday’s column! So no one knows better than Gillian how Colin would have viewed today’s passing of the Saturday appointment which has made him a friend to generations of Courier readers.
“Well, he would have been delighted by this attention. He would have loved it! But Dad was fairly philosophical. He accepted the need for change, even though he didn’t like it himself!
“But I have also lived with it for a long time. I was 50 earlier this year, and Nature Diary started when I was two. I have seen it in The Courier every Saturday through my conscious life. It’s quite a thought that it won’t be there any more.”

 

 

 

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The Long Horizon

At this time of year we have what we call The Long Horizon. We call it that not because of Iain R Thomson’s book but when describing this affliction , it was the title that sprung to mind. From around the end of March onwards we keep catching ourselves taking a glimpse out of the window and that is because after the long winter layoff, the visitors start to appear. So, we are continually looking out towards Portree for a sails or motor boat visitors, it will pass but only after the yachts/kayaks become common place, round about July.

Our Dutch Friends

So it was no surprise that we have now had 4 yachts in. This one “Albatross”, anchored round the corner of the harbour it had come down from Stornoway where it had spent the winter,  Jan and his wife had flown in picked up the boat and were heading South, possibly Ireland for summer cruising. The weather is not so good at this time for sailing in fact to-day it is bitterly cold and would not be pleasant sitting out in a boat in the brisk wind. But when the sun comes out and hangs about it can be very pleasant as long as you have a good heater!!!

Checking the Creels

In fact we have had good days and bad days over the last few weeks, I got out with some creels and had a few welcome crab, I was sorry to see this sheep floating by, I guess it was the one I saw stuck on the cliffs at Eilean Tighe. I see the Sea Eagles are more or less permanently there either on the North cliffs or on the very top of the hill. I’m sure they are partial to the odd lamb or carcasse, maybe they pushed it off the cliffs I have seen them at that?

Sorry Sight

I dropped the creels at Dhu Chamas which is reasonably well sheltered for picking up later and I’ll get them out elsewhere in a few weeks time.

Watching the Gap

The Range Boat was out at the West side of the gap spending the day hanging around the mouth of the harbour, must have been a Sub’ out in the Inner Sound, I see that was way back on the 10th of April, I can’t believe how the time has flown this month.

Yet another Mink

But life goes on, a Mink had been spotted at Dry Harbour so the traps were set and he duly got caught, one less to worry about and maybe the ground nesting birds will have a few extra young this year. I’m sure during nesting time the mink have a field day with the Seagulls, Oystercatchers and Sandpipers nests as usual so one less is always a bonus.

Surprised to See You

Although we have this affliction inadvertently looking out the window or out to sea at this time, It was a real surprise to see MV Brigadoon pull up at the pontoon. It was forecast gale 8 and certainly had blown up pretty wet and windy.

A Driech Experience

A short while after the boat arrived four souls headed up past the house for a walk (I guess).

Bumpy Return Trip

Later on I headed down the pier to see what would take them out on such a poor day and the charterer of the boat told me that they had booked the boat to come to Rona “to tick off the Island” and this was the day. Pity they did not leave it until the next day which was calm and broken cloud/blue sky. It poured all day but I think it was calmer on the way back, quite what they got out of their trip I don’t know? Wet perhaps!!

Beating up The Poorly Hen

The lambs are coming on but sadly the grass is not. The field is like a billiard table and a shout in the morning brings a very hungry flock running. The lambs are pretty entertaining though. These three were beating up one of the hens we got from Paul at Arinish. Funny how the lambs (and other hens) know that this hen is or should I say was in a bad way. It had sour crop amongst other things and was very poorly, old age? She had spent a pretty miserable week or so until I had to deal with her yesterday.

A week ago on a particularly cold wet day I went out and found her lying seemingly dead at the back door, I gave her a shake but no life, I then threw her into the back of the jeep for later disposal and that was that. However on going out to feed the sheep the following morning here she was very much alive and looking like she had recovered, very much in the Easter tradition!!! But alas it was not to be, but I’ve ordered fresh hens from Donald, we’ll see them soon.

Early Warning System

Been messing with the water supply trying to work out a simple early warning system for when the water filters clog or the pipe gets air in it. After having major problems last year and a house build, plus summer guests on the horizon we know we needed to get something sorted. Float switches, alerts by text or internet and all sorts were considered but Dave who was over from Ireland shooting hinds in November had the solution. Shift the outlet up high so that if it does start to run out at least it will still have 2/3 still in the tank, sorted!! That will give us time to find the problem.

The Last Lamb

Apart from house build planning, water woes and the odd visitor we had the last lamb about a week ago, this ewe had had a run in with a dog a few years ago and she disappears when she is due to lamb, she hides the lamb for a few days then turns up the proud mother. This time she was bawling up above the house site for a day so I went up to see what the problem was and here was a very healthy lamb a couple of days old. The blackies have lambed well this year, no problems at all, no death and good healthy lambs. Unfortunately only three ewe lambs, three times as many tup lambs, they’ll be heading for the sale in the back end.

The Solar Array

The big job just now is pre-house build power. We have the solar panels lying in the shed and new batteries ready to be installed. The panels need a frame and we priced steel but at over £2000 for a frame and then the hassle of getting it level on site, the easier solution was to make one ourselves. The first thing was to try and roughly square it, not the easiest site I have to say.

Working Fine

Rain stopped play so I went up to check the water tank, it was filling nicely but had a wee leak, nothing much to worry about and now working fine.

More Drainage

Now that the gales are less likely it was time to put the hen shed and run on the move. With the help of the JCB and bike I put the hens out into the field and it will make for an easier cleaning regime plus it will keep them away from the house a bit. The drainage in that area continues.

No Rona Rescue This Time

A week ago yesterday we had another family going off after their week in the family house, we had told them about Michelle’s incident and lifeboat trip the previous week but they had had a trouble free week. That was until John put his had into the recycling box on the pontoon where a broken bottle happened to be in the perfect place, slicing his hand open and first stop off the boat was Portree hospital. 6 stitches later they were heading South, none the worse. MV aspire was the lifeboat this time!!

Servicing

Yacht number 5 on the mooring but it was Calum over for some electrical work and servicing the boilers. The weather and tide was not so good for the pontoon so he gave the recently renovated mooring a try, seems to be ok!

Tags n Drugs

Sunday, our day off and all the lambs were in the park. I thought if I get them all into the small pens I’ll dose them. Sure enough they all went in and another Sunday off was lost. But without a dog it was too good a chance to miss. All were tagged and jagged, re-numbered then let go. Hopefully next weekend we will get them in for phase two tails and……….

The Chancers

Feeding the sheep it is no surprise every year to see the lambs becoming opportunists, especially the twin lambs. When the ewe is feeding from the trough the lambs will run in and have a free feed off any obliging mother, some mothers are too busy feeding to be aware it is not her lamb. In the photo three lambs are having a go at the one sheep, good luck with that.

Taking Shape

The weather early last week picked up and I got some more of the solar array frame made but it was/is trying me getting it level. Fingers crossed it works out.

Nearly There

We look forward to getting it connected but especially getting our new batteries connected too. The ones we got three years ago do not seem to be performing and the sooner we get this array up and working the better, the genny is fairly using the diesel just now.

Early Morning Departure

Talking about the Long Horizon, this was yacht number 5 this year, it came in on a very windy day, anchored off the pontoon but not in my opinion a good place. But right in front of the Lodge. The crew came up to the house and announced they were on Rona under duress, their steering had been playing up and could they buy a pint of milk!!!!

When I got up in the morning and it looked like they had moved onto the mooring. I was just going out to feed the sheep , with the camera as always and was just in time to see the yacht leaving the mooring. On checking the post box for the mooring fee I was disappointed to see no fee there, it is only £10 to tie up to the Rona mooring, we have only one. We do not make much money out of it and I only recently bought £500 of chain for the mooring and the pontoon. Plus the fact that the insurance is more than the income, it is not a good earner for Rona. So, a loss of £10 is more irritating than anything else.

But I always have to wonder why some (and I stress a few) choose to pick up moorings, risk their prized possession on it in often poor weather, then do not bother to pay or find out the owner of it?

Anyway the long and the short of it was that I headed off to Portree that morning and found said yacht on the pontoon but no crew. A quick word with Ronnie the harbourmaster who was more than happy to collect £10 from  the offender, he himself has many stories to tell about this subject.

The crews excuse for non payment: “I was going to email”, and to quote Ronnie, that old chestnut.

So there is my first rant of the year and as it says on our clearly labelled mooring buoy:”There are no free lunches here”!!!!

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Rona Rescue

Monday last it was all hands on deck when one of our visitors Michelle cut her hand badly, whilst making a cake!!!!!!!

On Call

The weather was foul and not safe for our ferries so a call to Stornoway Coastgaurd was necessary. The lifeboat crew were out pretty quick to take our casualty to hospital.

Hamish and the Crew

We are lucky to have a lifeboat in Portree and long may it continue its stay there, it is a great asset.

Backing Off

It was a bouncy trip back, plenty white water all the way.

Bouncing Back

The lifeboat certainly had a few bumps but in the middle of the day a Yacht arrived at the mouth of the harbour. I had had a call from a yacht the previous week but was not expecting them to arrive in the weather we had. Later when I was speaking to the crew they had said it was pretty hairy out in the Inner Sound. The yacht ‘Equinox’ went on to  the mooring which surprised me as I had told the guy that contacted me that it was in need of servicing. It turned out it was not the guy I had been talking to, it was another and that was after they had spent a ‘safe’ night on our mooring. Thankfully nothing gave way!!!!!

That Night

Later on Monday our vistors arrived back on MV Aspire, the wind had dropped and they had a relatively stable crossing, all bandaged up and with instructions to call the hospital Wednesday.

Springs Here

Thankfully after a blustery start to the week our cottage guests had some sunshine but not as much as the week before with an unsettled period coming in off the Atlantic.

Working Inside

It is usually no problem working inside on poor days and we have had our share of these over the years. Now we have to quantify the material for building the new house it is not the best job spending a day poring over plans especially when the sun is shining which it did off and on for the rest of the week

The List Goes On

The plan is to get a job done from my long list each day then head for the house to look at more drawings. The gate up at the water supply had settled on its hinges a while ago so that was first, I raised it 3 inches and all was well. Then onto the new water supply for the larder. The tank we have is too small and we run out regularly causing air locks, so, a wee bit of plumbing and we had the new tank full ready to go. Another tick off the list.

New Larder Water Supply

I then moved onto the main tank where we are trying to set up an early warning system to let us know that the water is not filling long before the tank completely empties, should have that done next week.

Bit of a Plumbers Nightmare

Before we knew it the week was almost over and it was Friday night which meant a trip over to Dry Harbour to let our guests know the time for the Saturday ferry.

Three Legged Mike

Saturday morning and everything must run like clockwork, it never does. The first thing I found on going out to feed the sheep was that we had two new lambs. One went into the field the other took off and ran up the hill behind the house site, almost to the top. Then flopped down, where it was born I guess. I crept up on it and managed to capture it, then re-united it with its mother. That took half an hour of precious time.

Settled Lambs

The reason I needed time this Saturday was that the guests had a few boxes and bags!!! Which meant two trips to Dry Harbour. Michelle (with the bandage) did mention that they were moving house!!!!

Just a Few Boxes!!!!!!

The night before we had another yacht in, early for sure this time a local boat. We did go down to let the yachtsman know about the mooring’s state on Friday night but our visitor was unperturbed and was happy to spend the night there.

Yacht No: 2

The yacht left and ten minutes later Kevin was on his way with our guests looking forward to a breezy crossing.

And They Are Off

The week had been relatively dry, great weather for the lambs and the place had dried up. There was a damp patch that was annoying me so Saturday afternoon I dug up the ‘puddle’ to find that the join in the home made drain pipe was leaking badly so a wee bit of duct tape and flashing it was put back together and finished Sunday before a lamb fell into the hole. The grey morning had passed and the rest of the day was glorious warm sunshine.

Leaking Drain

Fingers crossed it does not leak now.

All Done

I had been waiting for chain to arrive after using the last length we ordered for the mooring to hold the pontoon. The chain duly arrived on Saturday and as I missed the low tide on Saturday  it had to be a Sunday job to be ready before the next yacht came in and picked it up.

Mooring Repair

As you can see from the pic’ the chain was pretty worn in fact paper thin at the strop end. A couple of metres down it was pretty good so rather than lift the whole thing I replaced the 2 metres and the shackles. There was a safety chain on the original but it was pretty thin too so I may try to find  new one to beef it up a bit later this season, as it is the chain should be fine and I will check it once a month.

Mooring Repair 2

Next winter/spring I think we’ll have the lot up and replace the chain right through. Every season it gets a fair bit of use and I think that some of the yachts we have had on it are a bit too heavy for the gear so more notices will be going up and also to let them know it is not insured this year. The income from it last year did not cover the insurance premium quotes this spring, so we are leaving it up to the visitors if they want to use it or not.

New Chain/Old Chain!!!!

The link on the left is the new chain the one on the right is the last  (Half)  link onto the strop which had been there for ten years, this time last year there was hardly any wear on it!!!!!

Two lengths of chain from Gael Force £190 each delivered!!!!!!

Suns out, the lambs are going bonkers after a grey start and rainy afternoon, looking forward now to next week.

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Yachties | 2 Comments