posts about travel, places i go, that sort of things

There be castles…

It is not a surprise that I like castles. Turrets, dungeons, little windows for boiling oil, portcullises

( or is it portculli ?) what’s not to like?

It turns out that the answer is spiral staircases.

That whole wedge shaped step, getting narrower and narrower as one gets higher, is less than practical. Going up is one thing, coming down requires more hanging onto walls than previously anticipated. I’m trying to imagine doing that in a huge skirt, carrying things, and can only assume that I would have been investigating remedies for broken limbs on a regular basis.

I checked 3-4 castles last week just to be sure, and no. Just no.

When I build my castle, the round turrety bits will in fact house lifts.

So far my castle requirements are :

  • Small offshore rocky island, with causeway or bridge.
  • Fibre optic internet connection
  • Portcullis
  • Big doors with those metal studs in
  • Central courtyard
  • Two turrets, each with lift ( one for people, one for furniture & books ) must have cone shaped roof.
  • Vaulted kitchens
  • Huge fireplaces
  • Secret passages in the walls.
  • Vast library

June and Winter…. actually, just winter.

Yes, i know i’ve used a variation of that quote before. I can still see snow from my hotel in inverness, however, so I think the repeat is justified. There is only one season in Scotland. It’s the reason I can recognise what year it is in all my holiday photo’s as a child by what raincoat I had at the time. ( Reversible yellow and blue mac, I miss you )

Anyhow, this is the Nevis and the Mamore range from the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge on May 31st 2015. Inviting, isn’t it? Still, it’s not officially summer until the June 21st solstice, and it’s not actually raining right now.

I’m currently 453 miles from home, not as the crow flies, but via a slight detour over Rannoch Moor, Through Glencoe, and up the side of Loch Ness. Sure it takes longer, but I was only on the A9 for 5 miles this way, and thats worth the potential death-by-tourist coach crossing the peat bogs, and the dangers of the assorted Lochs overspilling their banks onto the roads. ( October 2014: St Fillans, Loch Earnhead, Tyndrum to name only three. If driving through a Loch which has gone wandering, and there is no other way, wait for the nice people from BEAR scotland to wade through first and mke sure it’s ‘safe’)

I know some people go on holiday to soak up golden beaches, turquoise seas and to bake until crisp, and I did it once or twice when I was eighteen or nineteen, but I’ve come to realise that for me, the feeling of being exactly where I’m supposed to be in the world is having a mountain at my back, and the sea in front of me, sitting on rocks having the skin abraded off my face by the wind, with drizzle slowly creeping down the back of my neck.

The drizzle is not mandatory, but is rarely optional.

I want loneliness, except I never am, and seas that have selkies, not mermaids, and as my fourth * favourite hobbit once said “I want to see mountains again”.

( * Merry, Pippin, Sam, Bilbo. In order. Sorry, Frodo. )

Tomorrow we’re heading to Skye.

If the gale force winds haven’t closed both the Bridge and the Ferry.


June and Winter…

“There are two seasons in Scotland : June and Winter” Billy Connolly

Which pretty much holds true for the rest of the uk at the moment. And June was a bit hit and miss, even so.

So what was I doing in june?
Firstly… Not climbing this extremely tall pole on a freezing cold day. Do I need mention it was raining to?


I went back to Crail Pottery, bought more stoneware, and coveted some bowls.


Decided that the fiddly pink blanket I am making For K-k-katie , using the sarah london Wool Eater pattern in six shades of pink, was going to kill my fingers. So I broke out the Sugru and made custom thumb rests in my 4mm and 4.5mm hooks.


Visited my mum and dad, who live in an award winning village in Fife, and went to look at the beach. It was high tide, and it was raining, but… still a cracking view.


Came home via aunt peggy and uncle billy's house. Stripped clean, empty, and ready to be sold, I had to take a photo of the carpet I grew up with. It's just occurred to me thst these are the shades I dye my hair most often.

Brrr, subliminal, or what?


I may have hooked nephew A on circular gallifreyan, sindarin, angerthas, and a number of imaginary languages. Oops!


And then I did some more coveting. Circular 'Cuddler’ chairs, heaped with cushions, are exactly the right size for a library reading chair, no?



End of June update :

pink wool eater : 8 balls of wool in, 3 to go, takes hours to go round.

Pink triple strand single crocheted blanket : halfway through.

Zombies crocheted : Zero, but I have the perfect sickly green for their skin!


Must review TopGear Aquacar challenges

Ok, Monday the 17th was a bit wet, if one thinks about the deluge that ensued. It was a bit like driving through a vertical river, until we hit the M9, at which point it was like driving several feet under the surface of a river.

It wasn’t so much standing water on the motorway as it was gushing and flowing. I’m pretty sure there were ducks in the hard shoulder !

Watching articulated lorries aquaplane is not the worlds most comforting activity. Unless you have an adamantium rollcage in your car ( ** not an optional extra in a FordFiesta ) and/or you are James Bond ( I’m not )

We did set off to have a bit of a mooch about, take in the odd farm shop, do some local touristy things. GrangeMouth is not one of them. It’s a hidoues unscreen blot on the landscape. these things should be subterranean lairs under a telltubby like hill with just the chimney and vent stacks poking into the air, amidst a forest. Evil Geniuses manage it all the time, so why doesnt BP and Exxon?

It kid of spoils the view of everything in the general vicinity. Hopetoun house, which has a really cool curved entryway arch over the road. what can you see from the house? Hideous towers and gas venting into the atmosphere. Yuck.
( although I did get some cheese from the farm shop to replace last years cheese which got et by my loving family. They didnt post it on, just nibbled it on crackers, the fiends )

We passed it on the way to to the Falkirk wheel which i was really impressed with. the cheer scale of the thing does take you by surprise. As does the canal coming over the hilltop, supported on struts, and then stopping. Dead, jutting out over the basin.
The wheel itself has two duck face protusions, pointing the directiion it turns in. They don’t actually have duck faces painted on them, but perhaps they should !

Or puffins. With the big eyes.

Some folks were taking a boat trip up the lift along the canal and back again. We opted not to. I’m sure that its really well made, and there’s no way that a boat can slip out of the end of the cradle once the lock is in place, but…
and its not the going up that bothers me. Its the coming back down again. Sailing along, sailing along, er, where does the canal go… oh it just stops? Hurray ! And a little lock is all that stops us from plummeting to our untimely doom? Well, good show then.

Yes, so… No.
Instead we stood outside in the absolute pouring rain-ness of it all, and watched other poor suckers get into the steamed up narrowboat, unable to see what was happening out of their windows.

We went back inside at the point at which catastrophe was no longer imminent, and ate soup, sitting next to the slanted glass window. It’s slanted, because if it wasnt, the giant duck beaks would hit the wall on the way round. which makes sitting under it, drinking coffee, a bit ominous. There’s no obvious noise, just an awareness that something above eyelevel is moving. so you tip your head back and can see the cradle, and duck beaks, heading straight for the window. And missing.

It’s beautiful, in a weird kind of way that something so ugly and concrete and visible can be, because its absolutely engineered to perfection with smooth flowing lines and everything hidden and tucked away. I could watch it for hours, but eventually we set off as we’ve dried out in the cafe for long enough.

Trek through the frozen north 2011

October. Autumn. Season of mellow fruitfullness. Red golden leaves, Sunsets, trolling long the beach perhaps wearing an Arran sweater to ward of a slight chill.

I’ve checked the Weather. Never mind that two weeks ago I was posting about being too hot, and had the fan on in the bedroom, Today we have a sever weather warning. Snow, Gales, torrential rain.

It must be time for the annual trip to scotland !

While I was hoping for more sights like this….

I suspect that it may be more along the lines of…

I didnt pack my snorkel or anything appropriate for making snowmen.

I am become….

  • Dys … devourer of words
  • Dys … destroyer of walls
  • Dys … Constructor of bookcases

Yes, I’ve said that before in relation to Geeks, but this time I mean it.
I’m rehoming my library.

When we moved into the house four years ago there were technically 4 bedrooms. In reality this was 1 large bedroo , 1 medium bedroom and one teeeny tiny bedroom. plus the room downstairs that opens into the garden and is billed as a bedroom/study. That makes 3.5 bedrooms to my mind.

The library is currently installed in the 0.5 of a room upstairs. If we had a cat, it would have a concussion, the bookshelves are starting to creak under the load.

I have therefore hatched a plot to steal the repsol room for my library, it having an additional 100cm of width. This leaves the small pointless room … well, pointless. I measured, and adams desk won’t fit. As a desk. It sort of fills the room from wall to wall.

Solution : Remove the plasterboard wall betwen middle sized room of Orange and the pokey room. Produce a much larger room at the back of the house. Block up a doorway, redo the lighting. We now have a 3 bedroom house, or will do. Probably move into the bigger room, and install Adams desk at the end. Ok, we lose immediate access to the en-suite, but given that there are two bathrooms upstairs, thats not so big of a problem.
If we ever move we need to put a wall back up and a door back in. Not a problem.

Which means that I have to shift the futon from the Repsol Room, And fill it with bookcases. .i’m thinking Expedit from IKEA cause theyre cubey and will hold gubbins pretty well. Need a new desk that sits over the radiator.
And then carry all the books downstairs. Wheee.

Tasting,tasting, 123

think that this is a post best described in pictures rather than words. This is mostly because the words were “mmmmmm” or “Mines a pint”. My friends should have been doing this a la viz. With beards and braces and talks about nose, and hops and all sorts of things. There was a brief moment of disquiet when they learned where isinglass comes from when visiting york Brewery, but, I digress.
Instead I just drew the expressions on my friends faces when they sampled the below beverages. Apart from the sheep, but those were due to Meeeeh noises.

** Kudos to EmmaThePixie for bravely working her way through the cider section single handed!

Something,something, darkside

Of the planet. Or at least the frozen north where aeons ago continental plates smushed inot one another with enough force to form an island. Where the rock strata has more in common with canada than Norway, and we are on the same chilly as the both of those sunny places.
this is obviously why there is no cellphone reception and no internet.
The thought strikes a frisson of fear into my gadget driven heart, beating as it does on the 2.4ghz wavelength, expecting regualr updates and patches and new facilities on a reasonable release schedule.
I’m voluntarily heading off in the Stupid Little Car ™ 6 hours north, and then a left turn at Perth, across Rannoch Moor, which is pretty desolate if you ask me. Hang a right at the bottom of loch ness, look for the single track roads, and I’m there. Without a single access point within range.
I’m not sure this is so much as to prove that I can do it voluntarily for a week if i must, or if I need to be looking for the local chapter of internetaholics anonymous so i can get support.
I can give it up anytime I like, right?
There’ll be castles and brewerys and distillerys, and lonely tragic moors and heaths to look at. Deer upon occasion. more irn bru than anyone can shake a stick at, and Katie Morag storybooks in every twee tourist place.
Also Scones.
Hot scones with butter.
I’m not sure i have enough jumpers. I better go pack some more.
And a really, really really long ethernet lead.

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