Thursday 26 February 2009

Hebrides Countdown 2009.....part 3

A definite highlight of the Hebrides is the marvellous white sandy beaches and sparkling clean seas and lochs.  This picture pretty much sums up the word "sparkling" I think! Our first walk when we get up there is usually a beach one - West Beach on Berneray has become a favourite, three miles of wonderful white sand and peace and quiet! This year we have been considering taking a look at Vallay - an uninhabited island off the north west coast of North Uist - to get to it you have to check the tide times carefully - you basically need to follow the tide as it recedes in order to gain as much time as possible on the Island. The main attraction over there is the ruin of Vallay House which looks absolutely fascinating. I think setting an alarm to warn us when the tide is on its way back would be a good plan though, and we will definately be carrying a compass just in case the story told in the article I have linked to comes to life!


Sunday 22 February 2009

Odd shaped balls.....

Well - bit of a grudge match yesterday following the last meeting between the 4ths and Chingford - that resulted in a fairly unflattering scoreline for Harlow, although the fact that we only had 13 players goes some way towards explaining that! Anyhow - it made certain that the entire team were incredibly focussed for yesterdays cup match, never a bad thing. Chingford clearly thought their work was done before they even set foot on the pitch - confident would be one way of putting it, arrogant possibly another - oh how wrong they were to be proved, with the 4ths scoring try after try in the first half, and then carrying on in much the same way in the second.  Final score 43-7, taking Harlow on to the semi-finals of the cup competition which sadly happen when we're on holiday. Well done lads!

Thursday 19 February 2009

Hebrides countdown 2009.....part 2

Wow - just six weeks to go now - we need to start getting ourselves organised!  This weeks's picture is looking back over Loch A Ghoill to the cottage we stay in - doesn't it look small?!  This is the same Loch where we watched otters on the day we arrived last year, and I think this picture really gives a good sense of how remote the cottage is. Although small it has a surprising amount of room inside - it sleeps four comfortably enough although we've not put that to the test yet! The main bedroom is a good size, as is the kitchen. The front room is comfortable enough, but definitely cosy! The second bedroom is quite small but we purely use this for storage so it doesn't worry us, and the bathroom is just fine containing, as it does, everything you need!  

A "normal" day when we are there starts with me getting up when I wake up - but usually for the first week about 7.30am, and a little later as the body-clock adjusts in week two. I throw trousers and a fleece on, and it's into the kitchen to switch on the kettle and see if there is anything interesting swimming around on the loch. If there are birds about I'll pop straight out then with their food too. Once the tea is made then it's to the hall cupboard for the Tippy and other fire-making supplies, and clear out the ash and re-set the fire ready for the evening - this is a job that gets quicker with practise - first morning I always panic a bit thinking I've forgotten how to do a fail-safe-certain-to-light fire but once you start it's easy enough. Ben usually meanders through shortly after I've finished - immaculate timing! Breakfast is sometimes just toast and marmite or preserves, on other days maybe scrambled free range eggs or a fry-up depending on how we feel, but always sat at the table looking out over the loch...... We buy our food on arrival - people who take food with them to self catering places should be shot and then strung up as an example to others - these places rely so heavily on tourism in a lot of cases and it's only right that if you are going there to enjoy the scenery, views etc, then you should aim to put something back too. And there endeth the lesson.....! 

Sunday 15 February 2009

Marmalade magic...part 1

'Tis the time of year for marmalade making... well, it was when these shots were taken anyway!  Here are our lovely seville oranges cut up ready for juicing.... they are REALLY bitter at this stage - no wonder marmalade takes quite a lot of sugar! we made two batches - the second of which was the better we feel as it made a firmer set and also a more "old english" flavour. 

Juicing complete, it was time to scrape out the shells then finely shred the peel - that was surprisingly hard work as there was quite a lot to be shredded! The peel goes into the pan with the juice and quite a lot of water - plus a muslin bag which contains the pith and pips, all of which contain lots of the all-important pectin to make the marmalade set. The whole lot get simmered for 2 hours after which the peel should be tender (but still bitter - as I discovered when I had a lip-puckering taste!)

Part two to follow........

Thursday 12 February 2009

Hebrides Countdown 2009 - part 1

I've done it again haven't I?! Promised faithfully to pay more attention to updating this and then forgotten about it almost instantly and neglected it again. (Attention span of a forgetful goldfish you see!)

Well it's that time of year again, and as I hardly posted anything from last year's holiday it seems like a good time to correct that......

This shot was taken on Berneray - home of the writer of the Silversprite Blog that I follow. Although a small island it has a lovely atmosphere and lots of interesting things to see too - there is a lovely walk around the island which we did on the first Sunday we were over last year - we came across a wreck on the shore at Borve, and spent a fair bit of time wandering around it and photographing the bits that took our usual my love of texture and contrast came to the fore!