Letouttoplay

Life, photos but not the universe

What next!

Yeah, I’m tired of travelling.  Yeah, I need some time at home.

But I’d like some time without having to deal with broken radiators, weird-noisy cars and DVD recorders saying things like “this DVD cannot be played or recorded”.

Well today I got to drive all the way to, well a long way, nearly Winchester, to get a friend’s help with the DVDs. (you really don’t want to know the details).  And I got to drive the little fireball.  Actually, Petrol Head was really keen for me to take the fireball.  And insisted that I have the hood down and have the wind in my hair.  Unfortunately this also meant having the sun in my eyes.  Not so good.  Still, excessive sunshine apart it was rather fun and occasionally rather exciting.  I do like being able to overtake without waiting for a down hill and a following wind (Only on the dual carriageway I hasten to add – I don’t do much overtaking on ordinary roads, being not addicted to speed at all – Honest).

And it was lovely to see my friend and we may even have got our India, Lapland and 60th birthday tapes onto DVDs which our TV might play.  (We borrowed a friend’s camcorder for all these occasions and there are a lot of family waiting to see them).

I’m always apologising these days for lack of being here.  Current excuse is a huge number of Skye photos with a higher than usual success rate.  Which means even more hours spent sorting and processing and posting.  So I spent today tidying the house (there have been grumblings in the background) and phoning friends and family who deserved their birthdays and visits and help in the DVD department being recognised!

Anyway, I believe that I may be at home for a while.  Got to serve dinner now but I’ll be back later I hope.

The ruins at Kilchrist - with big stones

The ruins at Kilchrist - with big stones

Such big stones.  We couldn’t help wondering how the people who lived here coped with all these great lumps on their back, front and side doorsteps!

View from above Dun Scaich

View from above Dun Scaich

More mountains.  More rocks.

The Fairy Glen

The Fairy Glen

One of us actually climbed up there and took photos from the top.  Braver man than I!  though I believe there is a back way that’s easier than this looks.  It’s called Castle Ewan though I don’t think there is a castle there.

Lilies and reed in Lock Cill Chriost

Lilies and reed in Loch Cill Chriost

Cill Chriost is also Kilchrist.  So now I know how to pronounce Cill and Chriost 🙂

Kilchrist ruined church and graveyard

Kilchrist ruined church and graveyard

There were some photoshop experts in our group and I listened in on some of the talk about how to do various clever things.  As a result there’s some invented cloud shadow in this one 🙂

xxx and hugs to all of you.

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June 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Returning wanderer

That’s me.  Again.  Hopefully to stay for a while and shake off the dust and get back into some routines.

Well here are the boys, arriving at the finishing line having duly completed their 58 mile cycle from London to Brighton.  Thankfully with no incidents.

They've seen me!

They've seen me!

They're waving!!!

They're waving!!!

They're waving some more!!!!!

They're waving some more!!!!!

And off they go to the finish :)

And off they go to the finish 🙂

Aawww!

I on the other hand met all kinds of h-e-a-v-y traffic and then spent at least an hour, driving around back streets of Brighton looking for a more convenient car park than our usual one.  Since the traffic was held up in London and then I met the annual jam as usual about an hour and a half out of Brighton, further driving among the twisty one way –  (er, well system isn’t quite the right word.  What’s the opposite of system?  Chaos?  Right.)  – the one way chaos of Brighton’s tiny back streets didn’t make me feel calm and relaxed.  However, by the time I’d given up and gone to the usual car park (a long steep climb for two weary cyclists and one weary support team) the tiny streets were buzzing with Sunday commerce and consumption.  A lot of the tiny streets are pedestrianised and full to bursting with stalls and caffs and coffee shops and all sorts of fun stuff.  I went to all my favourite jewellery shops and clothes shops (and bought nothing because they’re all really for the young, arty and studenty population).  Then I had a cornish pasty and a coffee sitting in the street in the sun and got an update from the boys (they’d stopped for lunch and Eldest had got his red jacket with him so thank heavens I hadn’t lost it).  Then I headed seafrontwards, stopping at some more favourite shops (and bought nothing because they are just stupidly expensive – getting into the older fashion conscious area now).  and I sat in the Brighton Pavilion gardens and drank some more tea and took some random photos.  Just to get into the mood for the boys arrival : )

Then I had lots of cups of tea and took a hundred boring photos of milling, nay, teeming cyclists, tourists and seagulls.  Then I got my obligatory text from the top of the final eight mile downhill ride into Brighton and another to say they were in town and would arrive shortly.

Then the boys arrived and in the overwhelming excitement (it had been a long, hot, rather solitary day after all) I forgot that my auto focus was off and took twenty odd blurred photos of them waving and grinning at me as they flashed past on the way to the finishing line.

And then we looked for fish and chips* and found them in Shoreham (or thereabouts).  And then I drove two sleeping cyclists home through the most glorious sunset, past wonderful views of abbeys and castles and the very English and pastoral countryside**.

All in all a very satisfactory day 🙂

*Did I tell you, in Skye, we sent one of the group into Portree Harbour to get fish and chips  and there were two chip shops and both of them were out of fish!  And that’s harbour as in next to the sea.  Where the picturesque fishing boats go out every day to catch fresh fish from the Loch.  Well except Monday that is.

**We’ve been doing variations on this day for eight years and every year As we approach ???? on the A27, I’ve been treated to the most fabulous sunset views of ??? Abbey (or Cathedral) with trees and fields and skies around it and been able to do nothing, absolutely nothing about it!  It’s a perfect view from the middle lane of the three lane carriageway and sometimes includes the quite amazing modern bridge where the A27 crosses something or other.  Absolutely nowhere to stop!  the frustration is growing year by year!

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I’ve barely done the washing

And we’re off again – only for a weekend this time.

London to Brighton bike ride for Barney and Eldest, support team for me.  That means I get to drop them off at Clapham at an ungodly hour tomorrow and then drive down to meet them in Brighton, arriving at least an hour before any coffee shops are open!  This is so unfair.  On the other hand I get to wander round Brighton for a day which is nice.

Anyone want to join me?

Sheep floating in shadow

Sheep floating in shadow

No, that’s not Brighton, just a few sheep hanging around on Skye 🙂

xxx

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The sky on Skye is mainly blue and dry

I don’t understand why people say the weather in Scotland is so bad.  It was totally sunny and warm for the whole week.  We have photos of the sun glowing in mountain tops at 10.30 at night.  (most nights  – one evening there was a rainbow but I missed it).  It did rain for half an hour on Wednesday evening.

However, even as you get serpents in Eden, you do get midges in Skye.  I developed a technique for getting back into the cottage after having a ciggie outside without an accompanying cloud of tiny, stinging bad things.  You stand still for a few seconds, some distance from the door, Then you rush away from your little personal cloud, brushing yourself off as you go, leaving the cloud of midges flitting around in a puzzled way, where you just were, and fling yourself in through the door and close it before they reorient themselves on your trail.  Because, even though they didn’t seem to bite me very effectively, they did settle and crawl and itch and sting.  In their hundreds and thousands.  You could walk out into a still, calm evening (or morning or midday or in fact at any time at all) and see nothing except glorious views of mountains and blue skies.  A few instants later, they’d be all over you.  They are attracted to your carbon dioxide emmissions apparently.  Another reason for cutting these down.  Never mind global warming.  Consider global midge infestations.  There were no less than three books in the wildlife sections of bookshops in Portree devoted entirely to midges!

At any time, since five of the eight of us are smokers, you could see at least one person, striding purposefully up and down outside the windows of the cottage, puffing, flapping arms uselessly and pausing to snatch a photo before making wild arm movements slapping themselves around the head and face and rushing back past the window.   Two of us even sported netted midge hats. (like these)

heavily shrouded photographer defeats midges to get the shot

heavily shrouded photographer defeats midges to get the shot

which added to the surreal effect nicely.  And they are everywhere.  As soon as you got out of a car by a waterfall or a loch, there they’d be.  Your own personal attendant torturers.  I was lucky, they didn’t like me a lot.  One or two of us suffered the dubious pleasure of being much loved by them and returned home delicately patterned with little pink spots.

Other than the tiny monsters, we didn’t see so much wildlife.  A couple of deer, some buzzards, lots of hooded crows and jackdaws and some very distant seals and maybe two or three very very distant otters.  Lots of hairy cows and shaggy sheep.  At Dun Scaich I saw three different kinds of bumble bee and lots and lots of otter pooh!  Also, wherever the eight of us went, that landscape would be instantly dotted with tiny, distant photographers, crouching, perching, crawling and wandering around looking for the best shots.

At the Fairy Glen, Balnaknock

At the Fairy Glen, Balnaknock

hairy cow worshippers at Dun Scaich

hairy cow worshippers at Dun Scaich

pixie (photographer)

pixie on a rock (photographer)

smoke signals from The Storr

smoke signals from The Storr

We saw very few other people.  Well, the mountains are BIG and people are small and if you are one of the slower walkers, it’s not long before your companions become dots in the vast, serene (sunny) landscape.

between a rock and some very hard places

between a rock and some very hard places

On the way to the Fairy Pools between Sligachan and Drynoch

On the way to the Fairy Pools between Sligachan and Drynoch

There were castles and rocks and lochs and skies.  (And sunshine).

Niest Point.  The place to see the best sunsets if you're lucky.

Niest Point. The place to see the best sunsets if you're lucky. If not, you just get to see a fabulous sunset 🙂

Wild irises at Dun Scaich.  the ruined castle in the background

Wild irises at Dun Scaich. The ruined castle in the background, the Cuillins behind that.

The Fairy Pools in Glen Breattail

The Fairy Pools in Glen Breattail

Hidden waterfall at Eas Mor

Hidden waterfall at Eas Mor

Elgol.  The Cuillins towering in the background and Loch Scavaig between.

Elgol. The Cuillins towering in the background and Loch Scavaig between.

flotsam in silver sand at Talisker Bay

flotsam in silver sand at Talisker Bay

The sky fell down on the sands.  Talisker Bay

The sky fell down on the sands. Talisker Bay

There were changes of light from gold and ruby to cool and cerulean and back again and clouds puffed, white and fluffy across the sea and ocasionally brooded darkly and dramatically across the peaks of our two nearest mountains – Sgurr Nan Gillian and the one we called the Slag Heap

Brooding in the last red glow after sunset - Sgurr Nan Gillean

Brooding in the last red glow after sunset - Sgurr Nan Gillean

View out the back.  Not bad!

View out the back. Not bad! Sgurr Nan Gillean with cloud hat.

Sheep may safely graze.  Kilchrist Church on the Elgol road.

Sheep may safely graze. The ruined Kilchrist Church on the Elgol road.

I keep going on about the sun because Skye is notorious for it’s wild and challenging weather.  Lists were posted on the group before we left, of various life-saving equipment we would need to bring, like compasses, sou’westers, high visibility jackets, welly boots, torches, waterproof map covers, energy bars, thermal underwear – the lists were endless all in preparation for us brave photographers, getting lost in sudden mists and wild rain and getting caught on the hills in the gathering gloom and howling gusts of wind.  Not that I had any intention of getting high enough to lose sight of the nearest road!  As it turned out, not only did we have fabulous weather but there was more than enough to see without even leaving the road to keep most of us clicking dementedly contentedly  away for the whole week.  And as for gathering gloom, well it didn’t seem to get dark at all.  Every time I went to bed, I’d wake up thinking the moon was shining and look out to find that it just hadn’t bothered to get dark yet, or alternatively, five minutes later, it was already getting light.

view from the drive outside Allt Daraich cottages.

view from the drive outside Allt Daraich cottages.

I have to say that both individually and collectively, my companions were the nicest group of people I’ve spent time with for a long while which inevitably added to the sense of magical peace.  And although not all of us were able to climb Sgurr Nan Gillean, two did and made it to the gap between the toothy bits and the rest of us did some fairly tiring walking.  We were divided into mountain goats (who bounded away up scree and rock and were most often seen as little brightly coloured highlights in the distance) and highland sheep (who didn’t bound but covered an impressive amount of ground at a steadier pace) and shaggy cow types like me (who made the most of what was nearest to hand…foot…well you know, not too steep or far away from the car).  We all wandered amoung the preposterously large pebbles at Elgol (*laugh*) Beach.  We all trailed up glens and valleys to see waterfalls but no fairies.  The wild hills and glorious valleys called and we all did our best to answer.

Lucky lucky indeed to travel to a place notorious for the briefness of its smiles and glimpses of beauty with eight people I knew only virtually and to come home laden with memories of sun, companionship and laughter and some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable.  (The cooking was pretty damned good too!)

And after all, oddly enough, it’s really lovely to be home 🙂

I should stop now.  It’s time to cook (perchance to eat).

More soon

xxx

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

new old things and squawk!

There is a new addition to the family.

Barney has always longed for a little open topped sports car – nothing superpowerful or fast, just something he could drive around in with the lid off.  A week or two ago, one of his friends turned up at the pub with just such a car and as he got out, put a for sale sign on its window.

To cut a short story even shorter, Barney (Petrol Head from now on) succumbed without any visible hesitation to a the fulfilment of a teenage fantasy and we now have a little Mazda LX5 Roadster (the fireball*).

the fireball

the fireball, waiting in the sun for us.

I have to admit, I thought I was indifferent to cars as long as they got me from A to B and had places for me to keep the stuff without which I do not like to go out (I have a theory that subconsciously, whenever I leave the house I feel the need to have everything with me I’ll need in case I never come back – though there are some glaring omissions, like my fiddle which I no longer take everywhere, though I used to**).

Anyway, the fireball has wormed its way into my affections.  And I’ve even been allowed to drive it. It’s a sweetie.  I’m wondering whether I’ll be allowed to take it out to play by myself sometimes!  And I love the small, happy smile that I catch on Petrol Head’s face from time to time when we go out in it!  Also, we both enjoy the astonishment on peoples’ faces when they realise that his new pride and joy isn’t a landrover or a camper or a tractor but a tiny open topped sports car : )

He’s currently having a great time taking everyone he can get hold of ‘for a little spin’.  And if I fancy being taken out for a drive across the countryside,  I only have to suggest that we go for a spin and we’re off!

Anyway, glamour and showy-off stuff apart, there’s a thing I used to have called a backfriend which I left somewhere once long ago***.  Since then I’ve had a variety of assorted cushiony stuff to save my back when driving, watching telly etc.  Anyway the one that lives in the car has reached the end of its useful life – it’s made of foam mostly and its cover has worn through and the foam has been disintegrating in a particularly messy and irritating way for quite a while.  When I had my first ride in the fireball and the back cushion left a scattering of dandruff-like foam all over the little car I realised the time had come for a bit of practical extravagance and ordered myself a new backfriend.  Wow!  It arrived today and I’d forgotten what an extremely useful thing it is – it’s a rigid, hinged seat and back which means you can plunk it down on any seat with a back of any kind and be sitting in a proper supporting chair however badly designed the seat is.

Happiness is a well supported back!

Squawk!.

I’m getting just a tiny bit confused in the packing department.  First there was the Frozen North, then the heat of the Indian subcontinent and then a camping weekend in Oxfordshire which was not wet and windy as it has been for two years previously.

I may or may not have said that I’ve been invited to join a group of photographers on a trip to Skye (The Isle of).     Here, it’s unusually hot and sunny and gorgeous.  There it’s several degrees colder and quite often rainy.  I just can’t work out what to take with me (bearing in mind that I’m travelling with people I only know from the internet who probably won’t appreciate my normal practice of taking EVERYTHING I could possibly need!)

Oh dear.  I think I’m all packed out.  My head just looks at lists and says “so?”  I’ve got out a bag of suitable size and it’s just lying there emptily giving me no clues as to what I ought to put in it!   And I’m going the day after tomorrow at 5 in the morning.

I can see the headlines now in the Scottish Times (is there such a thing?) “Rumours that a there is a headless chicken loose on the the Isle of Skye have been cleared up.  It was in fact an English tourist who forgot her head when packing.  Reunited with her head after kind husband posted it to her by courier, the woman said “It was horrible – I couldn’t remember what I’d forgotten – I thought it might have been my knickers but now I realise that it was even worse than that

Hmm.

And I  must remember to make lists for Barney (who’s not coming – maybe not bringing him is what’s doing my head in.  It’ll be the first time I’ve been on holiday without him for years!)  about how to operate all the washing stuff and where the spices are and what I’ve put in the freezer for him!

Oh well.  I shall go and buy bacon for breakfasts for eight.  And hopefully I’ll remember to pack the cool bag!

Oh and I’ll be away for a while.  Again!  My feet just don’t remember where the ground is these days!

the moon and a balloon

the moon and a balloon

view from the fireball

view from the fireball

I’d better get packing!

Lots of love to you all.  I may or may not post agin before going.  All depends where I’ve left my head!

Hoping for glorious weather for all of us 🙂

*Remember Fireball XL5?  (ask The Brit Mel : )

**Even shopping sometimes – just in case I wanted to stop somewhere on the way home where I might want to play it.

***in a hire car in Ireland I think.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments