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Tea Growers Anonymous

An interesting article in our local Oban Times last week listed many of the tea plantations currently operating in Scotland – everything from The Wee Tea Company with 14,000 plants growing on high ground – formerly a sheep farm near Dunkeld – to a new plantation with 500 bushes planted at sea level recently on our fellow Lorn Island of Lismore.

There are also small operations in Invernesshire – Peebles – Orkney – the Isle of Arran and our nearby Isle of Mull. If their reporter – Sandy Neil -had looked over the wall above Fladda Cottages here on the Isle of Luing he might have seen OUR mini-plantation where Helen and I have six healthy plants of the green tea producing Camelia Sinensis variety growing happily in our south sloping garden despite their recent exposure to several degrees of frost —

The Lismore growers find their biggest challenge is to fend off the legions of voles which burrow through the roots of the plants. Voles shouldn’t be a problem here as our Seamus does a great job of keeping them and their sort in order – no —

Our public enemy No.1 is the roe deer – they just love to munch on tasty fresh green tea leaves —

Yup – here she is – early in the morning outside our bathroom window casing the joint – hence the security detail of Daleks which did a great job of protecting our young fruit trees in 2017 – this year they are on Camelia Sinensis patrol —

Oh yes – what of the Nepalese Prayer Flags – just a personal touch to make our Himalayan tea plants feel more at home 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2018 in Gardening, Isle of Luing

 

Mad March is Over

Yesterday was April first – April Fool’s Day – we had our own ‘Fool’s Day’ mid-March when we joined the Mad March Hares and had our first barbie of the year down the old slate quarry to celebrate my 76th birthday —

The ‘Beast from the East’ was in full flow so the old quarry on the western shores of the Island provided most shelter from the howling snow-filled gale force winds that were coming our way from Putin’s Russian Steppes —

with the added bonus of a view out to Fladda Lighthouse and the islands beyond —

once the smoke from the burning oak logs had dispersed —

and the sausages were browning nicely in the frying pan —

M-mmm — can’t beat a bit of carbon on a bap —

and even Helen looked happy although she was chilled to the bone —

Seamus couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about and his demeanor says it all —

He is such a clean cat —

and insisted on having a bath to wash the smoke out of his fur when he got home 🙂

 

Skye – the latest Ferry Dog

It comes with the job – it would appear that being a ferry skipper is not complete without a version of ‘Man’s best Friend’.

Here she is all ready to cast off the good ship Belnahua at North Cuan – our latest refugee from the dog pound —

Wait a minute! They say dogs look like their masters —

Maybe that’s why my missus would like to bring Skye home with her 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2018 in boats, Isle of Luing

 

Bare Faced Rider meets Roland Sands

It seems I’ve turned the clock back much longer than I care to remember – all because I couldn’t resist an original Bell open face helmet for sale at a knockdown price from the Glasgow Harley Davidson shop recently. The clincher was the Roland Sands quality finish inside and out which I got for free —

I bought my first open face Bell back in 1960 from a pal in Dunblane who didn’t need it any more as he was finished with bikes having crashed head-on into a coal lorry wrecking both his Norton Dominator which my brother was in the proccess of buying and the coal truck. I kept up the crashing habit of that particular helmet a short month after I got it when I wrote off the ill-used Bell and broke my neck while suffering a head-on in my own little mishap while riding my ‘race prepared’ BSA 650 A10.

I might have more to add to this Post if I find any pics from back then – oh – and the facial fungus is my new look – riding in any weather can be a painful experience with a bare baby face when the rain – sleet and snow start pinging off my chin 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Motorcycling

 

Postman Pat rides a V-Strom

With a little help from his friend —

That’s snow on them thar Morvern hills on the far side of Loch Linnhe and it’s nippy out here too – brrr —

Although the sun-trap by the old Creagan Railway Station made a welcome photo setting —

Next stop was in Glencoe village on the southern shores of Loch Leven where Postman Pat stuck a newly purchased package up his jumper for the first leg of it’s journey to Japan —

If his beard get’s any whiter they will be calling him Santa Claus —

No worries – after a bit of lunch and a natter with a man who owns one arm and three Vincent motorcycles we were on the return leg and made it back to the Island in time to wash the salt and travel stains off the V-strom.

Helen snatched a quick pic of the snowdrops in our garden just before they closed their petals for the night —

and then watched as the sun went down over Garvellachs (a chain of uninhabited Hebridean islands with longstanding holy connections just a mile or three off our own island shores)  —

What better way to end a perfect day out —

than enjoying a welcome mug of hot tea at the bottom of the garden 🙂

 

650 V-strom on Ice

There was I singing the praises for the CRF250 Rally yesterday – a short day later with a hint of sun above I was heading for the first ferry of the day at 11 o’clock on Helen’s 650 V-strom. The Luing Island drama group are rehearsing their annual play to be performed this coming Fri/Sat which mean’t H was heavily involved and I was off on my ownio to enjoy a bit of 650cc V-twin power.

An hour later under grey skies and dropping temperatures I rolled onto the ‘popular’ Green Welly Bike Park to find nobody there! Perhaps the snow had something to do with it.

No worries – at least the macaroni and cheese was good and after an hour reading the Sunday Mail I did the old trick of sticking it up my jumper to keep the cold out and held that 650 V-strom honest on the way home. Her heated grips certainly put one over on the much vaunted CRF250 Rally on a day like this 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Motorcycling, out and about, Suzuki 650XT V-strom

 

CRF 250 Rally get’s Gold

No we haven’t been taking part in the Winter Olympics – better than that – the Rally has been elevated to the ‘go to’ bike and is the one that comes out every chance I get. She can’t exactly swim from the Island over to Easdale this weather but she can do almost everything else I ask of her.

So-o – what better accolade than to fit her with the alloy gold Renthal bars that have graced many of my bikes over the past twenty years during which time these bars have visited France – Andorra – Spain – Portugal – Belgium – Holand – Germany – Luxemburg – Austria – Italy – Croatia and several other Baltic and East European countries plus almost every nook and crannie of the UK.

They are the perfect width for me – with bent arms coming parallel from the shoulders they are less tiring on a long day in the saddle than others I have tried.

The bends are spot on too – my hands fall naturally on to the grips with no strain on the wrists – again unlike some I have come across.

The Acerbis brush guards – bought for off-roading in Wales back in the nineties have lasted well and I was pleased to find them in one of my many boxes of bits out in the shed as the Toys r Us guards that come fitted to the Rally as standard are neither use nor ornament.

Yes – she is a much better bike than I expected her to be and well deserves her Gold Bars 🙂

 

 

 

Home is Where the Heart is

‘Home is where the heart is’ – I’ve heard that one before. In some cases it’s had a hollow ring to it but not always.

Our ‘Home’ stands foursquare and it’s just as well considering some of the weather it has had to withstand recently —

The view across the garden isn’t bad —

and Tammy the Tamworth piggywig hasn’t much to complain about either —

Not with all those trees and brush to explore —

even if it is a bit on the cold side when you aren’t exactly blessed with a fur coat – bristles leave something to be desired when it’s like this —

Henry the horse in the field across the road comes better equipped with his neat winter coat from Harrods —

as he admires the view —

to the snow-covered hills in the distance —

Even the sunsets – currently over Lunga – are to be cherished —

Wherever we may travel —

morning noon or night – there’s no place like home 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Over the Rooftops

Living in the highest house on Luing has it’s downsides – mainly the road up to it which is deemed impassable by the Royal Mail and most other delivery services but we are nothing if not self-sufficient in that regard —

Being almost on the same level up here as the mains water reservoir and it’s gravity supply system means we are the first to run dry when the level drops – but hey – what is bottled water for if not for such an emergency and if that runs out —

there is always the spring water by the roadside at the bottom of our farm track. Many of the long term residents on the island swear by it and prefer it to the ‘new – improved’ mains water.

Looks like summer – but it was only yesterday we had the wall-to-wall sunshine —

it’s a bit different today with temperatures below freezing and icy rain storms rattling off the windows —

Seamus has taken the sensible option and kept his nose dry indoors all day 🙂

 

 

 

Seamus the Free Range Tabby Cat

I wasn’t the only one walking on the wild side this morning – Seamus went out about 07.00hrs while it was still dark. I saw him later from the bedroom window in daylight hunting up on the hillside. I don’t know if he caught any mice but he was certainly enjoying the hunt as he leaped and danced amongst the long grass and dead bracken fronds.

He met me by the gate to the old steading as I returned from my walk but I have Helen to thank for these lovely pics as he ambushed her out there later —

He loves to patrol the old stone wall —

The mice like it too as it gives shelter and cover from the many birds of prey resident on the Isle of Luing —

We occasionally have golden and sea eagles visiting from Mull and I can’t help but imagine what they would make of our Seamus.

He made the most of his day in the sun and was so tired when he arrived home after sunset that he didn’t even make it onto the big chair – simply dropped on the carpet by the fire and observing us through half shut eyes —

But he did recover and came up to join me later – adopting the imperial position on the well cushioned sofa where we enjoyed another film from Netflix 🙂