Posts from October 2009

Glencoe revisited

We're on school holidays here so spent 3 days in and around Glencoe and had a thoroughly marvellous time.

The combination of the mountains and the sea lochs give this area great presence whatever the weather. I used to come up here every year for a long time but haven't spent a holiday here for ages so it was fabulous to return for more than a day trip. Especially with a visit to old favourite the Clachaig, albeit dining in the lounge bar rather than the climbers bar (life post children).

We took the easy option of a ride on the Aonach Mor gondola to get to just over 2000ft up the hill. Had a stroll out to enjoy the views and a visit to perhaps the highest children's playground in Britain. At least it was done nicely in timber without vivid plastic . This is the ski area for the winter season but with the gondola operational throughout the year it brings people in particularly for hillwalking and big downhill mountain biking. The record for the downhill from this point to the car park, a distance of 2.6km, drop of 520metres, is something like 4 minutes which it totally and utterly beyond belief. Thankfully the children thought it was too steep (but for how long?).

The Pap of Glencoe, a mere foothill to the wild and scary Aonoch Eagach ridge but nonetheless an impressive sight either from the woodland south of the visitor centre or from Loch Leven to the west.

Finally - top foodie find - the Lochleven Seafood Cafe which is on the north side of Loch Leven. The food was divine, service excellent, views across the loch wonderful. Sorry no photos but do call in if you're up that way. We'll certainly go back there.

Storms, the garden, the heat pump - bit of a catch up

Sunday morning was gloriously sunny so a couple of hours in the garden was fun. With work during the week and a wet n windy day on Saturday I've barely looked at the garden.
Behold - the ravaged spring greens aka caterpillar central. I've tried picking off the caterpillars and feeding them to the hens but in all honesty I don't think the hens like them; the hens easily demolish slugs and worms but perhaps these hairy black and yellow (cabbage whites) caterpillars aren't awfully tasty.

The ravages of Autumn....we've had some proper wild seasonal weather now; this is Loch Lomond on Saturday, looking more like the sea than an inland water. The changing stormy skyline looks impressive and its great having a refreshing walk by the Loch; but also nice to get home to a roaring woodburning stove and the cosiness of the house. Last night the heat pump switched itself to winter mode which essentially means its been consistently cooler outside now (ie the average outdoor temp including nighttime is below 10degC) so if the internal temp drops then the heating will come on in the house. For us we've set the internal temp to 20deg, although its usually 2 or 3 deg cooler upstairs where we have no heating.
Not sure if I'm pushing my luck by trying to sow a few seeds this late but 2 weeks ago I carved out three mini-plots with some old Aberfoyle slate and distributed spinach, sorrel and mispoona. The latter is a combination of mizuna and tatsoi; essentially an oriental style green which should work well as a salad or cooking vegetable. I tasted a few leaves today, it has a full buzzy vibrant taste like peppery rocket. So long as we get a bit more sunshine I think we'll get some pickings through October. Nothing ventured....

Other parts of the veggie garden are still in great vigour; we've just finished the courgettes and cauliflower but have recently started harvesting savoy cabbage. Brussel sprouts are forming nicely, the leeks are growing and of course the ever exuberant chard. Plenty of iron rich greens!

There's still plenty of colour in the robust calendula which seem to have survived the early Autumn storms. I do like this flower, its so simple, so happy. When I remember I pick a few heads and pluck then dry the petals; they make a good addition to a bath for relieving excema and dry skin. Even better when placed in a muslin type bag with organic porridge under a running tap - it really works.

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