Wednesday 31 March 2010

An old favourite....

Another day of wild weather - today to add to the high winds we have been experiencing snow and hail, sometimes together. The combined effect has been like regularly having our faces shot-blasted at close range - I believe that in America people probably pay for that sort of treatment....

The shot above is of The Old Pier at Loch Skipport - I'm sure I've featured this before - it's one of our favourite spots on the Islands and we always make a point of visiting. I had a feeling when taking this shot that it was going to end up in Black & White but as sometimes happens the shot had other ideas and refused point-blank to have it's colour removed.  Loch Skipport is a strangely evocative place - you can still catch echoes of what a busy, bustling place it once was - steamers called there up until the 1950's after which Lochboisdale at the Southern end of the Island (South Uist) replaced it in the itineraries. The pier was apparently originally built to accommodate the arrival of Queen Victoria when she visited the Island.


Tuesday 30 March 2010

Due to conditions beyond our control.....

.....the picture today isn't actually from today. Instead, I give you this Oystercatcher from yesterday. Best description I've ever heard of these is that "it looks like a magpie, carrying a carrot" - no arguing with that, really, is there?!

We went to bed last night with the wind blowing so hard it was turning the bathroom extractor fan in reverse direction - meaning that cold air was flooding into the bathroom....not ideal. We awoke this morning to more of the same, only partnered with some squally rain as well just for good measure. We did venture out, but stayed in the car most of the time, getting out only when necessary (shop for groceries, lunch at our favourite cafe) and the cameras have been left here all day, meaning no photos at all. Our ferries from the mainland have run as normal today, but Stornoway/Ullapool have had cancellations, and no boats have run from here to Harris, or from Eriskay to Barra, all day. Barra in fact has had no service at all as their ferries from the mainland were also cancelled. There was nearly no post at all on here today as we were without power for several hours earlier on....thankfully it was fixed and we are now fully lit up and internetted once again!

Normal service may be resumed tomorrow -on the other hand, and looking at the weather forecast - it may not.


Monday 29 March 2010


This shot was taken first thing this morning from the cottage. It's not unusual here that the first thing I do in the morning, before even having a cup of tea, is to dash outside with the camera to capture the view as it is then, right at that moment. From a photographic point of view you'd struggle to find better light anywhere than up here - the air is so clean that colours appear brighter and even in overcast, cloudy weather, the scenery is fantastic.

This panoramic shot was created in Canon's PhotoStitch software - part of an excellent software package that comes free with Canon's D-SLR cameras. Since the demise of the wonderful (free!) Rawshooter Essentials I use Canon's Digital Photo Professional all the time as my RAW file converter. It takes some getting used to - you really need to actually sit down and learn it rather than just trying to pick it up as you go along, but once I had got to grips with it I was hugely impressed with how good it is.
The washing machine will be repaired tomorrow, we are told. Marvellous news as, if I am honest, hand-washing Ben's not-so-smalls didn't feature particularly highly on my list of "things to do on holiday"


Sunday 28 March 2010

In a tangle.....

We'd always intended to do a beach walk today - it makes such a nice start to the break and there is something very calming about it....the weather today was anything but calm though! We walked out along the beach at Malaclete - just across from the deserted island of Vallay which we visited for the first time last year - it looks as though the house has taken a battering from the winter storms and lost some more and tides dependant we may make it across again this year to take a closer look.

At the far end of the beach we walked on was a raised area of dunes which we crossed - and on the opposite side we found crashing waves and an extremely strong blast of wind, plus this peculiar tangle of discarded rope, nets and buoys - something about the colours of it really appealed and the shot you see above is exactly as composed in camera - no cropping required on this one. My original plan was to take all the colour out of the background simply leaving the bright colours of the tangle to do their thing, but on getting it on screen back here it was easy to see just how little colour there was elsewhere in the scene, making it (in my view at least) unecessary. 

The wind has changed direction tonight, making our roaring peat fire a necessity rather than a luxury.


Saturday 27 March 2010

Here at last!

As I write we are cosily settled into Tigh Alasdair - the fire is lit and we have beer...what more could we want? The wind is blowing, but it's hitting the back wall of the cottage at the moment - the one with no windows or doors, so we can barely hear it, just feel its vibrations from time to time.
Thanks to the ferry timetables having just switched to the summer schedules, we had this morning free to look around Skye....once we had found somewhere to put a new headlamp bulb in my poor long-suffering Clio - thanks to a lapse in concentration on the part of the driver of a 40' artic at Hamilton Services yesterday, she found herself getting her third impact from a truck in her short life.....thankfully this was rather less destructive than the first two - as this one reversed into us square on - his under-run bar into our bumper - both components did their job perfectly and the only damage proved to be a blown headlamp bulb on the Clio (presumably suffering from shock?!) and a lorry driver with sore ears after I had bawled him out for carelessness! A bit of me is slightly relieved if I'm honest - they do say these things come in threes after all and if so, that is hopefully my ration!
Back to Skye then - those of you who know your British geography will recognise the famous Storr rock formations in the shot above. There are lots of these strange rock pinnacles around the main one, but the "Old Man" is the one that everyone is familar with. It's certainly a very peculiar landscape, but that's something that Skye seems to specialise in.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Saturday 20 March 2010

Hebrides Countdown...

This is the view we see from the front windows of the cottage - it is a view I associate particularly with washing the dishes - something which can take a surprisingly long time when you have that sort of landscape in front of you as a distraction - but also with the fantastic hebridean light at dawn and dusk as it changes dramatically depending on the time of day, and the weather conditions. We've watched otters playing in the Loch, and eagles circling over the hills opposite.  The hills, by the way, are Eaval on the right, and Burrival on the left with the funny little lump on the top. Ben harbours dreams of climbing both, I don't.