Sunday, June 18, 2023

Holiday Highlights Part 2

In my last post, I promised a peek at the photos from the Isle of Skye.  If that's what you came to see, you are in the right place!

You can't go far on the Isle without seeing water, and waterfalls are abundant.  So, when your cottage landlord recommends a particular set of waterfalls, you know it must be something special.  Before we even arrived at the cottage, we made a stop at the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins along the River Brittle. 


It was a short drive from the Pools to the cottage in Carbost, and we were delighted to inspect our "home-away-from-home".  Ironically, it was decorated with a camping/exploring theme!!!  And the view of the loch at the bottom of the garden/yard was the icing on the cake.  I loved the changing light around the boats in the harbor as the sun set on our first night there.

The landlord had also suggested a tour of the Isle of Raasay, a short ferry ride from Skye.  Raasay's main village was built to house iron ore miners.  Remains of the mine can be seen, but the island is primarily agricultural, with limited activities for tourists.  As we drove the remote, one-lane roads on the island, we relished its isolation and rugged, preserved beauty.

The legacy of the MacLeods endures on Raasay; the ruins of the MacLeod's 15th/16th century stronghold of Brochtel Castle appear to grow out of the cliff-top rocks.








Northwards, you can follow Calum's Road, a remarkable achievement by a 20th century member of the MacLeod clan.

The trails of Raasay beckoned, and we followed the call on two short hikes.  Dun Cana, pictured below, is the "mountain" that dominates the southern part of the island.

The "Hallaig" trail starts at the "end of the road", quickly narrowing to a track next to mossy stands of birch.  The trail rises toward the headland, gradually revealing sheer limestone cliffs that tower over the meadows and coastline below.  These cliffs are protected for their chalk-loving plants such as dark-red helleborine.

In the picture below, you can see Dun Cana from another angle - somehow, it looks even more dramatic from a distance than it did close up!

I like maps, so I couldn't resist including this photo of the island's map.   

When we returned to the harbor to await the ferry, we popped into the cafe at the Raasay House, a hotel that overlooks the marina.  The coffee and cake was so refreshing.  Time also allowed us a quick run into the local shop - Spousal Unit purchased some samples of Raasay whisky - what else do you buy when you are in Scotland???


*** Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  Prompt for June 22:  remember the ice cream truck driving around your neighborhood in summer? Did you go out with your money, stand in line and get a treat? What was your favorite frozen treat? Is there an ice cream truck that still goes around your neighborhood?

I don't have memories of an ice cream truck in our neighborhood.  Maybe that explains why we would run over to a friend's house after dinner in the summer - her mom would give us ice cream treats - the one I remember had a crumbly, sprinkle-like coating on it - so delicious.  I am not sure we ever told my Mom ...  And I laugh out loud when I think about an ice cream truck in our CURRENT neighborhood!  We are fifteen miles out of town, and then you have the three plus miles of dirt road ...

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Holiday Highlights

All too soon, our sojourn in the UK will draw to a close.  It has been a whirlwind of time with cherished family and friends, sprinkled with new experiences.   I hope you enjoy these highlights!  

We rarely fail to fit hiking into our holiday, and this trip was no exception.  Some walks were short strolls; others offered a bit more challenge for a variety of reasons.  Beginning at the end (why not?), a few days ago we climbed 3,000 feet in a little more than 4 miles to scale the tallest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.  I was suffering from congestion that day, and it was a push to complete the final mile or so on very rocky terrain.  But our smiles say "We did it!"

Below, Spousal Unit on a bridge near the beginning of the hike.

Can you see the red arrow in the picture below?  That is our destination!!!

Scenes along the way.


(By the way, Spousal Unit has done this hike one time before - the day that Charles and Diana were married - July 29, 1981.  He hiked it with his father and one other family friend.) 

The day after arriving in the UK, we completed a short walk along the River Tees.  Rain was threatening, so we took in two waterfalls and then retreated to the cafe for coffee and cake while the rain lashed the windows.


After the pandemic, we started a new tradition with my in-laws: each time we visit, the four of us go away for a week or so to some part of the UK.  You can read about a couple of those trips (November 2021 - Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5); April 2022 - Post 1, Post 2Post 3).  A mental note for me - check that I have finished both of those trips, and start posting about the October 2022 trip!!!

This year, we went to the Isle of Skye.  Connected to Scotland's northwest coast by bridge, it is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles.  The largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago, it has an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior.  

It is such a long drive to get there that we stopped for our first night in the village of Dunblane, hometown of tennis champ Andy Murray.  Nearby is Stirling Castle, famous for the Stirling Heads.  

The Stirling Heads, displayed on the ceiling of the King's Chamber, declared King James V's status as a European monarch.  They proclaimed his royal bloodline, his powerful connections, his fashionable court and his aspiration to be a wise and virtuous ruler.  As one of the docents said, "It was his Instagram!"

The pictures to the right and above show hand-carved and painted copies of the originals.  When the ceiling collapsed in 1777, the originals went to the four winds, and have since been painstakingly re-collected.  Many of them can be seen at a special display in Stirling Castle - check out an example below.

The picture to the left does a poor job of demonstrating the scale of these "medallions" - each one is a little more than three feet wide (a meter), and was hand-carved from 16th century oak.

Check back next week for a post about our time on the Isle of Skye!


Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  Prompt for June 1: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream at the moment?  Who makes it?  Soft serve or dipped?  Do you buy it in the huge box or a pint at a time? 

My favorite does not waver - mint chocolate chip.  I don't have a preferred brand, and we don't buy it for home consumption - not because I am worried about calorie count - we just don't generally tend to sweet snacks or desserts - we much prefer salty snacks.  Ice cream (dipped almost always) is a treat when we are out for the day and the conditions are right - hot and sunny, or any day at the seaside!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Going Home Again

Do you have a place that, when you think of it, just makes you warm all over?  Aromas might involuntarily come to you, as you look at photos from this special locale.  Recalling the place might bring on a little shiver of anticipation.  One memory cascades into another, just begging for new memories to be created, all while being in the moment.  The above sentences are my feeble attempt to capture the emotions racing through me as I consider our upcoming trip to the UK - the childhood home of my husband and my adopted home.  

As usual, I am way behind on blogging about our LAST trip - October 2022, but better late than never.  This blog shows just one day, and it shouldn't be surprising that it features a walk in the countryside, one of our favorite things to do anywhere, but certainly in the UK!

The Tees Railway Path is a 10 km route that provides an excellent way to discover Teesdale.  The Tees Valley Railway was the remnant of a plan for a line from Barnard Castle to Aston.  It was opened in 1868 by an independent company and was taken over by the North East Railway in 1882.  The line closed in 1964 and is now a fabulous way to explore Teesdale on foot.

And not too far from the church?  Stocks!!!

Sheep are ubiquitous on a countryside stroll in the UK, but I was especially tickled by one white sheep in the field - perhaps the "white sheep" of the family?

Part of the trail borders on Balder Banks Woods, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1991.  The steep and barely accessible slopes within the woods have allowed the vegetation and wildlife to flourish - they have been virtually undisturbed for several decades.  The designation ensures the protection of the flora and fauna.



For me, I cannot resist pausing in admiration of ancient trees - I love imagining all that these trees might have witnessed below their branches.

The trail descends and we reach the River Balder.  Just to the left of the picture below are the ruins of the Balder Mill, in operation from the 1700s to the early 1900s.  At that time, problems of water supply resulting from the construction of the Hury Reservoir brought about its closure.  

Would you like a couple minutes of tranquility?  Check out the video of the small waterfall, nestled among the moss and ferns.  Some golden leaves are caught upon the rocks, and yet most of the trees stand fully clothed in glossy green.

I love bridges - many have a symmetry that appeals to me.  Maybe it's a deeper meaning that grabs my imagination - "crossing over", or a bridge as something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things or two groups.

The moist environment is an ideal location for lichen and fungi - so beautiful in their own way.

And it was about to get more moist!  It began to rain, softly at first and then with intention.  But I couldn't resist this friendly sheep, which walked right up to me as I passed through its field.  I shared this photo with my Dear Neighbor Friend, who knows a thing or two about sheep and goats.  She said this must have been a hand-reared sheep to approach me so readily.  I think she's right - for the 30+ years I have been walking the footpaths of England, this had never happened before!  UK, here I come!


Linking to Leeanna's Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  The prompt for May 11 is:  do you have a favorite musical style?  What kind of music calms you, makes you want to dance, or stimulates you creatively?  Generally, I am into country music (Sugarland is a favorite), modern Christian music (I love Lauren Daigle and Anne Wilson), and old school folk music such as Gordon Lightfoot (so sad he passed recently).  The folk and Christian music is my solace; country is my muse for creativity (also good for cleaning the house!)  If I want to dance, I would rather turn to a "party" play list expertly compiled by the Spousal Unit - we love to dance together!

Linking to Saturday's Critters

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Spring Thanksgiving

April is dancing her way toward May - I better get in at least one post this month!

I scrolled through four weeks of photos, being reminded of the fickle nature of Montana's weather at this time of year.   The heavy snow on March 11 added to the two feet that already blanketed our property.  Not complaining of course -- just look at this scene from cross-country skiing on the property of my Dear Neighbor Friend!

And now, the snow has all but receded, leaving behind flattened grass and bushes, bowed down by five months under the weight of the white stuff.  It's not attractive, but the House Finches have returned to the feeders, and in the afternoon we hear the haunting calls of the Sandhill Cranes as they do a flyover of Hodge Lake - "Open water yet?" they seem to be asking.

Speaking of birds ... Spousal Unit went to Ohio in March for a Bruce Springsteen concert (unfortunately postponed for illness) and came back with several items that have been taking up space at the house of my oldest sister - I was worried about shipping delicate items that belonged to my Mom, and my sister has generously been storing the box.   We have been hand-carrying fragile objects - the "mom and dad" birds above are the last of the collection to get here, joining the seven individual birds that represent the siblings!  He also brought home two pieces of Mom's china and eleven red ruby glasses.

On March 19, 2018, our household goods were delivered to our log home (see this post), possessions that had been in storage since June 23, 2016.  And on April 14, 2018, we made the move we hope will be the last we ever do (see this post).  Off and on for the last five years, we have looked at the large open wall in the kitchen, and imagined a piece of art to fill the space.  Until recently, we always discussed a metal sculpture.  And then we saw paintings by Kylie Mahood Trull, a neighbor.  And together, we dreamed up an idea.  Is it just a coincidence that Kylie delivered this masterpiece on March 19, 2023????

We gave Kylie several of our favorite pictures from Glacier National Park, and specifically requested a moose, a fly-fisherman and an island.

She came up with the flowers, and I love them!!!  Isn't she incredibly talented?

Installation was fun ... if your kids (or grandkids) ever ask you why they need math, this is it!!!
At the end of the month, we made a trip to Idaho Falls, an early birthday trip for #1 Son.  Most of that trip will be the subject of another post, but for now ... check out these paintings from the Museum of Clean.  Elise Wilding stated that this was one of her favorite undertakings and it shows her love for sea creatures that we are eliminating by polluting the oceans.

And I will leave you with pictures of Daisy and Ruby, the divas who really run #1 Son's apartment.  We miss having cats (maybe not the fur and the litter boxes and the vet bills), and so a weekend with the girls was a bonus!

*** I am joining LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  Her prompt for this week is:  are you a morning person or a night owl? what do you like about being this way? Would you prefer being different?  I am usually in bed by 11 or 11.30 pm, and I am drinking my first cup of coffee by 8 or 8.30 am - what does that make me?  Generally, I do not like having to get up early in the morning - I did that for 30 years, and one of the greatest joys of retirement is the freedom from an alarm.  I do sometimes wonder if I could get more done if I rose earlier, or if I am missing morning wildlife by "sleeping in", but it hasn't bothered me enough to make me change! 

Linking to Thankful Thursday

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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