Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent quiet

Further south the country may still be reeling from the chaos of Black Friday and gearing up for the increasingly frantic countdown to the festive season, but up here in the far north of Scotland, the sum total of my Christmas shopping so far has been the church’s Christmas Bazaar in the village hall yesterday afternoon.

Thanks to my recent misadventure, Advent for me is starting on an even quieter note than it did last year. Not only can I not drive, I can’t even make a start on the baking, so I’ve been busying myself with writing Christmas cards and notifying relatives and friends of our new address at the same time. Other preparations will have to wait until my left arm is released from its plaster prison, hopefully within the next 10 days or so.

This means that yet again I have the privilege of savouring in tranquillity at least the beginning of this period of anticipation we call Advent, one of my favourite seasons of the church’s year. Later on I will begin to revel in the increasing excitement and busyness, but for now I can contemplate the wonderful landscape that surrounds us and ponder the meaning of it all.

Image via Google

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Life in the slow lane

Typing has never been my strong point, but at least I could get up to a fair speed with my two index fingers.  I  can now tell you that typing with one index finger is almost glacially slow. The reason for this diminution in my typing speed is that on Friday morning I had a fall and broke my left wrist rather badly.

I can also tell you that an 85 mile ambulance journey with a broken wrist over often narrow, winding and bumpy roads is not an experience to be recommended, but the paramedics were kindness itself, as were all the staff who looked after me in hospital.

Interestingly, in his pre-op visit to the ward, the surgeon asked me what my interests are now I'm retired. As soon as he heard that I'm learning the clarinet, he told me he would put a plate in, as it would give me the best chance of retaining flexibility in my wrist, though the risk of complications is slightly higher. I was also told that the plaster would only be on for two weeks, rather than the six I was expecting and I should then start to exercise the wrist gently but consistently. At the moment, though, it’s a rather painful nuisance, so you will forgive me, I’m sure if my comments and replies are rather shorter than usual.

Now to go and eat the soup DH has just heated up for us. Thank goodness I always keep the freezer stocked with soups and stews. DH has many talents, but cooking is definitely not one of them… ;-)

Image via Google 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A little light relief…

…and I mean that literally. After several days of leaden skies, which necessitated keeping the lights on all day if we wanted to do anything, it was a joy to wake this morning to a clearing sky and watch the sun drive away the last of the clouds. Fired by all this unaccustomed light, I headed out for a walk to the post office to post some cards and buy a few items and took my camera with me. It’s still remarkably mild for the second half of November, though I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying so, and the stroll up the hill to the post office and back was sheer pleasure. Unfortunately my camera battery ran out before I even reached the halfway point, so the final photos are of the glorious sunset we had on Saturday before the cloud took over.

The last rose of summer?

At least the birds will be well-fed this winter

A real Highland cottage

Ben Loyal with his nightcap on

Sunset reflections in the Kyle

Red sky at night...

Nor sure about the sailor, but it was my delight...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hints of eternity

Family and friends sometimes ask us why on earth we make one of our twice-yearly visits to Scotland at the very tail-end of the year. What makes us, they wonder aloud, head north as the hour goes back, the dark evenings close in and winter approaches?

The answer is simple. This glorious, rugged and unspoilt landscape is breathtakingly beautiful at all times of year and in all weathers, and the warmth of the welcome we receive from our friends and neighbours is undimmed by the vagaries of the weather. The bonus is that there are no midges!

Because we travelled up by car this time, I’m able to drive myself about while we’re here and this morning I headed across the Kyle causeway to Knit and Natter. Halfway across I stopped to gaze at Ben Loyal, swathed in dark, turbulent cloud and to try, of course, to capture the scene.

After a very enjoyable morning of coffee and cake, chatting (and coughing) and even knitting, I headed home, but on a whim stopped in a lay-by to visit again what must be one of the most wonderfully located cemeteries in the world. It stands alone, close to the causeway, looking out over an austere but beautiful landscape of sea and mountains that has something of eternity about it. Like the war memorial, high on the opposite hill, at which I attended the service of  remembrance last Sunday, this simple cemetery, in its stunning setting, catches the attention and focuses thought in a very profound way.

Eventually I dragged myself away and drove quietly home, my mind filled with a kaleidoscope of images and impressions. This glorious corner of the country gives us so much enjoyment, but it also makes me think and that must be good.


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Northward Ho!

After a really lovely week of family visitors, culminating in the warmest Halloween on record in the UK, we’re suddenly being reminded that it’s November after all. DD and her family are safely home again and here in Wales the temperature has dropped drastically during the day, the wind is getting up and the rain has started to lash the windows.

It’s the kind of weather that usually  turns one’s mind to thoughts of semi-hibernation, but not in our case. Instead, as we recover from a busy week of talking and laughing and eating and playing board games, DH and I are simultaneously making preparations to head off on Monday on our autumn migration to the north coast of Scotland.

DD and I bonding over my fiendish birthday jigsaw

It will be a shorter visit than usual, but we’re really looking forward to the journey through such glorious scenery and to seeing our friends again. While DH is busy with the database project he’s working on for a local group, I’ll be settling down to knit and natter with the best of them, getting on with a sadly-delayed pair of socks for him, while catching up on all the news. I’ll also have lots of time to make up for my recent shameful neglect of your blogs and find out what you’ve been doing with yourselves whilst I’ve been otherwise engaged.

The very small campervan won’t be transporting us this time. Instead, for both speed and comfort, we’re travelling in the extremely small car. This means that I’m packing with great care and selectivity and DH is reconciling himself to not taking almost all his tools with him, as he usually tries to.

It will be wonderful to see the North-West Highlands again, knowing that when we return, it will be to the new house, which already feels as though we’ve lived here for much longer than three weeks. Who said retirement is boring?