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Fishing from an Otter’s Toilet

There are times when a bloke feels he needs a holiday somewhere warm and sunny like down here behind the Kariba Dam wall —

To think that I fished for Tiger fish down here in the gorge below the dam almost fifty years ago – and water skied in the 173 miles long by 48 miles wide holding area above the dam back then. When I went looking for a photo to use in this post I found reports that the dam wall is in danger of collapse due to the plunge pool where the white water lands eroding and under-cutting the integrity of the whole wall.

All that water stored up behind has got to go somewhere and it is reckoned that 3.5 million souls could or would perish in the floodpath – I almost wish I hadn’t gone looking for that photo. The biggest danger to life back then were from rocks falling from the tunnel roofs as we constructed the North Bank Power Station after the dam had filled – from crocodiles while fishing from the bank in the gorge below and from the most dangerous wild animal in the whole of Africa – the flotillas of hippo in the still waters of Lake Kariba. The clear waters allow you to see the hippos ‘running’ at speed along the lake floor and their favourite food is the fibreglass boat.

Changed days – there is talk of a barrage complete with tidal powered turbines being placed here at home in Cuan Sound where I fished in the rain this afternoon. Judging by the amount of water that rushes through here at the ebb and flow of the tides there should be enough current to drive the things and give enough power to boil my kettle.

Well I enjoyed being out there in the fresh air – just as well for it won’t be fish for tea although I’m told the mackerel and occasional sea bream are running. The only thing I saw move in the water besides the kelp swaying in the currents was a lively seal which popped up next to me and gave me the eye for a while before the ebbing tide swept it onwards.

I won’t blame the seal altogether for today’s lack of fish – it was most likely down to my motley collection of tackle. I picked up my reggae beach bag in Jamaica several years ago and it now carries my growing collection of line spools – hooks – lures and other nameless things that don’t get chucked away until the smell becomes too much for the faint-hearted —

Back in the day when I fished in the Zambezi I carried a two piece twelve foot beachcaster everywhere I went.- it would hardly be worth the trouble getting it through security at airports now – changed days indeed. My lightweight 5 piece spinning rod which I came across in a tackle shop in Dumfries may not lob a lump of lead very far but it is much easier to live with.

Nope – I could blame my tools but I won’t – it was more than likely the local otter group that had beat me to it —

Judging by the many otter ‘poo’ piles I encountered not very far from the water’s edge as I trudged forlornly up the bank fishless on my way home they were a darn sight better at catching fish than I am —

They were all over the bank – some tidy —

and some just squirted out any old how —

Thanks to the seal and shitty otters frightening the Cuan Sound fish, I had more success at Kariba hunting Tiger Fish —

and that’s not me holding the thing – I’ve got more respect for my fingers than to put them anywhere near those teeth πŸ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Wildlife

 

Weekend Wandering

With all that’s been going on since the wedding – flitting – trying to fit furniture from two houses into one and various bits n pieces – it hasn’t all been about counting spuds from the garden at Bardrishaig – or watering the sweet red pepper plants that appear to be flourishing on an upstairs – south facing windowsill —

Helen and I have spent a few hours out and about this weekend —

From a weather point of view Saturday was the best day and a couple of shots from Helen across Oban Bay set the tone —

On Sunday it was back to rain and reduced visibility – nevertheless we were on the road again – this time to the picturesque Glen Orchy which I have promised to show H for some time.—

Still very beautiful but I did struggle to remember it from my many previous visits by car and motorcycle over thirty years ago —

Probably down to the tree growth – as I seem to remember the river as being more accessible back then —

No worries – I did get a chance to wave to the camera —

Here I am – over here – the ijit in the green jaikit πŸ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2017 in Gardening, Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Prolific Potatoes – 36-1

I’m like a kid in a sweetie shop when I go down the garden with my fork to dig up another shaw of my Bardrishaig Bard potatoes.

The tubers are filling out daily and the count this morning was 36-1. Yup – thirty six spuds from one seed potato.Perhaps that’s normal nowadays but I can’t remember getting anything like that when I was a schoolboy picking his ‘stint’ in the field while on his annual two week October Tattie Holidays.

Yields were undoubtedly lower back then but there was still enough to give me many a sore back from being bent over while trailing a heavy – sodden – mud covered wicker or wire mesh basket between my legs as I gathered the tatties that had been uncovered and scattered by the spinning wheel on the tractor-drawn tattie digger before it came round on it’s next circuit.

The quicker you could pick your stint – one of twenty or thirty marked out by the frightening foreman with pieces of broken branches across the drills depending on how many pickers there were – the sooner you could stretch your aching back.

It was all worth it when payday came at the end of the two weeks. That new pair of rugby boots might be achievable now or some other item of school clothing – anything to get away from the continual wearing of worn-out ‘hand-me-downs’ that came from being number three of four brothers in the family.

 

Ah – 1948 – the year after the ‘big sna’. I started school at Blair Athol that year and made the front page of the Scottish farmer while my dad was competing in a ploughing match with his two Clydesdale horses up by Blair Atholl Castle.

But it didn’t lead to a career in modelling unfortunately πŸ™‚

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Gardening, Isle of Luing

 

While the Cat’s Away – the Mouse Will Play

and for once I don’t mean our Seamus – although he doesn’t always come home at night now either.

No it’s the new missus that’s gone south on a bit of biznez leaving my idle hands to get up to no good.

This time I was up at first sparrow fart – whipped the covers off the Honda 250 Rally —

slipped a rucksack on my back and rode over to South Cuan to catch the early (7.30 am) ferry to neighbouring Seil island and a quick blast had me over the Atlantic Bridge to the mainland and in Oban for 8 o’clock.

What’s the rush? The street’s are empty —

Seems nobody get’s up at this time – even the main newsagent where I’ve come for my weekly comic to keep up with motorcycle racing reults and gossip doesn’t open till 8.30.

Aha – I see a hint of movement behind Kronk’s coffee shop window – perhaps a stiff Americano-to-go will put my world to rights.

It must have been a twin-shot belter for I was soon along the front – cup in hand – checking out our new Council backed marina which is currently being constructed in the bay —

no – not that bay – nor this one —

but this one round the corner —

where the guys are setting the running posts —

which will allow the floating walkways to rise and fall with the tides — times like this I wish I was still working —

but all I need is the feel of grips in my hands and I quickly get over it —

Yes that ford was deeper than I expected on an Old Drover’s Road down in Wales about twenty years ago – it filled my boots —

when it drowned the spark plug on my tough old XT600 right in the middle of the crossing πŸ™‚

 

Two Wheels to the Trig Point

I suggested to my ‘lad’ last time he was home that it would be nice to try a run up to the Trig Point that marks the highest point on the island. Him on his 300cc Scorpa Trials bike and mesel on the new CRF 250 Rally.

Bugger me if he didn’t just slip away and do it by hisel and came back with photographs to prove it.

I reckon he was getting his own back for the times I went off over the hills competing in long distance trials – leaving him to play and practise wheelies in the paddock on his Yamaha TY80. Here he is in the pic on the left giving the front wheel a little air up on a farm on Rannoch Moor about forty years ago.

He must have thought a ride up to the Trig Point was out of my league and that I would probably hurt myself in the process. We will see about that.

Most of the way up there was quite easy —

It was just on the last little bit —

that I had to take the bull by the horns —

 

and go for it —

But I got there —

without even raising a sweat —

Wouldn’t be surprised if he takes my bike keys with him to keep me out of trouble next time he goes back to the rig πŸ™‚

What a day to be up there though —

and the way down was just as much fun —

and home without so much as a scratch πŸ™‚

 

Tatties Galore at Bardrishaig

I expected the roe deer to be a nuisance in the garden in wintertime when food was short in the wild but our local population appear to have become domesticated and are regular visitors to our garden even now in mid-summer. They have trimmed our young Braeburn apple and Damson trees already and appear to be working towards our new – Pear – Plum – Cherry and Β Bramley’s.

Now with the wet season here any thoughts that our redundant snake-like water hose lurking in the shrubbery would give them food for thought has joined the pile of wishful thinking.

I should have left the orange glow Daleks around them – they may have been unsightly but they worked a treat while they were there.

The Tenderstem Broccoli patch barely slowed the roe deer down – it was gone in a night – decimated.

They have yet to show a taste for gooseberries but I have it on good authority that the birds are watching these fellas and unless I net them they will be nabbed by our feathered friends as soon as they ripen —

They may be sweet and tastybut these few brave berries won’t go far – so it’s just as well we planted some spuds.

They are growing great guns with the Marris Bard in the forefront —

The King Edwards aren’t far behind and we still have drills of Kerr’s Pinks plus another three potato varieties showing good growth —

The deer will need to be hungry before they make a dent in these fellas and unless someone introduces wild boar to the island —

we should be eating tatties from our own garden till Christmas at least πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2017 in Gardening, Isle of Luing, Wildlife

 

Honda 250 Rally on Wishing Tree Lane

A quiet Monday after what has gone before – time to take the covers off the CRF and go for a spin.

There’s a hill way over there I would love to cross —

But first there’s a spot of TLC to attend to – the final drive chain for instance – she looks to be on the dry side. I’m using Putoline Chain Lube on this bike – a first for me. I’m quite impressed with the flow from the aerosol and the job it does.

But – the CRF hasn’t got a centre stand and up till now it’s been a bit of a wrestling match to get the rear wheel off the deck – spin it and spray chain oil with my third hand – which I haven’t got. It’s probably why I needed a wife but they are seldom around when you need them —

No worries – a couple of wood blocks and my scissor jack did the lifting job just fine and set the 250 Honda up in the air quite safely.

Even the hill crossing turned out to be a piece of cake on the 250 Rally —

Some of the steeper parts on the far side had been torn up by tractors or four wheel drive vehicles but they were of little consequence to the CRF which just sailed up them —

I didn’t even bother switching off the ABS on the rear wheel for the long – loose surfaced downhill section with it’s occasional steep bits leading into tighter turns and cruised on down —

The wee bike is proving to be as sure-footed as a mountain goat —

The downside being that tea break arrived far too early —

and the reminder clipped to my binos was hardly necessary as I never raised a sweat on the whole ride – sorry about the picture quality —

just could n’t get ’em right today —

which is a shame —

 

as the views were out of this world πŸ™‚

 

Auld Claes n Parrich

Or ‘old clothes and porridge’ – I can still hear my mother saying it in her Aberdeenshire dialect when I had returned from doing something out of the ordinary that had no doubt cost more than was sensible. She meant I would be living frugally until there was cash back in the kitty.

Luckily my lovely and lively new wife get’s as much pleasure from the simple things in life as she does from the expensive —

Hence her undisguised joy to be back home on Luing yesterday afternoon while we walked in our wellies on the shore by the old slate quarry at Cullipool.

And Humph the horse from Calachally House has just messaged me to let me know why accommodation was in such short supply for our visit to the Isle of Mull —

It would appear that Clan McLean were holding a family gathering with bloody McLeans from all over the world attending. They had virtually Block Booked the whole of the Island of Mull.

Auld claes n parrich or not – It’s nice to be home πŸ™‚

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Call the Coastguard – Act Two

Helen and I are newly-weds – legally married – something I never expected to be again in my life! Off on our honeymoon – not on a Cunard liner but something more down to earth – a Calmac ferry bound for the Isle of Mull.

OK – so this is not the actual boat – ours is even smaller – but it sets the scene.

We had tried to book a mid-summer hotel room on Mull back in January only to find the island was virtually fully booked – then Ian from the Calachally House called us back. We could have the ‘end room for one night on the 21st with a bathroom down the hall all to ourselves’.

Wonderful – that would be great!

About a forty minute drive from the Mull ferry terminal – we eventually found Calachally House hidden away under some massive beech trees.

Maybe not much to look at from outside but the interior is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and a good one at that —

Book lined walls – even for an avid reader like me it would take the rest of my life to read but a fraction of them – and what books! Being an old Colonial family the books go well back in time and cover most parts of the world – as an old Africa hand they are right up my street – even the hallway to our room was lined with them —

 

Driving back from a nearby pub in the evening gloaming we spotted a red deer stag in the neighbouring parkland who slowly turned his massive head our way and watched our progress.

A little further on we were entertained by two beautiful horses having a ‘before bedtime’ canter around their paddock —

Did someone mention bedtime? ‘Step this way please’ said the spider to the fly —

Having a room with windows in three walls the morning was always going dawn bright and clear – but some thoughtful soul must have had their doubts as to the ability of two ancient honeymooners to make it through the night and had obviously called the coastguard —

Luckily there was no need for their assistance this time and they were soon on their way to more important issues —

By mid-morning we were also on our way- to tour the northern part of the island on it’s single-track – mainly coastal road.

A kindly photographer with a massive lens pointed out a pair of golden eagles huddling in a treetop in a roadside forest. We would never have spotted them without his help – so well hidden were they,

No photographs are available of the eagles who never stirred from their huddle —

but we did spot a resting buzzard posing by a roadside waterfall —

Next stop was at the famous Calgary Bay —

where the mahair has been nibbled almost out of existance by the local landowner’s sheep.

‘Bloody freezing’ considering it was midsummer’s day —

And it took a few cups of strong tea to bring Helen back to smiling life —

Or it may have been a coffee or two —

 

Next stop was Tobermory where we would catch an afternoon ferry to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan.

I found us a comfy bed by the harbour while waiting for the boat —

We had a quiet crossing to the mainland made interesting by watching a small helicopter making numerous short trips while unloading supplies from a large vessel anchored offshore. It appeared to be a dangerous game carried out at ‘Bondstyle high speed but there were no mishaps. At least none while we were watching.

Bye bye Mull – for now – as Arnie says – ‘we will be back’.

We were soon on Ardnamurchan and heading down another twisting – undulating single track following the northern shores of Loch Sunart past Glenborrodale Castle and Salen Hotel on our way to Corran Ferry. A road I’ve driven and ridden many times in the past.

A chance meeting with my younger brother John and his partner Sandra over a cuppa at Strontian broke the journey.

They were on their way to their home near Glenborrodale in Ardnamurchan from our wedding the previous day and looked rather worse for wear having spent a lively evening in Oban with my son James and partner Diane. We did well to bail out of that one.

A brief crossing at Corran Ferry and a short drive to Appin had us in our lovely water’s edge room at the Pierhouse Hotel by 1800hrs giving us time to restup before dinner – and what a dinner! Having had very little to eat since the wedding lunch the previous day we went for it!

H settled for the ‘big’ salmon steak with dauphinoise potatoes. Probably doesn’t sound too adventurous but remember – we were in the recently crowned – ‘Best Seafood Restauraunt in Scotland’ and Helen described this meal as the best she has ever had – some accolade!

Against my better judgement I tackled the ‘Pierhouse Platter’.

There were no holds barred and last to go was the oyster —

Well a man needs all of his strength on his honeymoon πŸ™‚

Bye for now ::-)

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Call the Coastguard – Act One

‘Call the Coastguard’ – a strange title for wedded bliss – but – let’s see where we’re going with this.

We have to start somewhere – so how about we start with a bit of trepidation in the Oban Perle hotel room where the bride-to-be has been conducting her final preparations with the ‘help’ of daughter Lauren – matchmaker Wendy and best friend Tracey under the watchful eye of Diane – hairdresser extra-ordinaire.

Trepidation in spades —

No worries – with a hop and a skip Helen was soon at the Registrars office where Callum – her personal piper piped her in (try saying that round a hot choriso sandwich) —

There after a touching ceremony conducted by the Assistant Registrar Fiona she signed the register with her customary flourish —

With 135 years of life and over 60 years previous experience of marriage between us some may say we must be gluttons for punishment but love is love whether you are sixteen or sixty and we would be fools to let it pass us by.

Formalities over it was time to hit the street where we posed with piper Callum —

He had just experienced his own brush with officialdom when a young embarrassed police constable was sent from the Sherrif Court across the street with a message from the magistrate conducting a case there to ‘stop that bloody row!’ Apparently we were ‘infringing the accused’s ‘uman right’s’ as he couldn’t hear what was being said during the procceedings.

After ignoring the first missive a second request was carried to us in the form of a ‘Court Order’ so it was time for a few more photos on the steps —

Jaxson wasn’t impressed and he has probably gone off the polis for life. Time to go before we were all put in a cell for the night.

Callum had a good head of steam by this time – no doubt brought on by the unexpected intrusion of the law and set off down the street blowing fit to burst. We followed the skirling pipes acknowledging the surprised greetings of passer’s by with smiles and stately bows —

In no time at all Callum had us at the local fish and chip shop where we were to have our celebration lunch —

But not before a blushing piper got his just reward —

Ok – time for food and to meet the rest of our guests—

Orders taken – cuffs and ties undone —

Kirsty – one of our guests from the island had brought her guitar and sang our choice of song beautifully —

If you know the words of ‘Always a Woman to Me’ by Billy Joel you will know that it gave our Wedding Song some added flavour.

Main courses out of the way – flowers and favours admired —

it was time for the wedding cake which had been carefully baked and beautifully presented by our friend Mary in the Hat —

The flowers were nicked on the Isle of Luing from Jane MacLachlan’s garden – and believe it or not – they matched the stripes in my ‘Guard’s tie —

Cake cutting ceremony was accomplished with no blood being spilled —

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coffee n cake duly demolished –

it was time to say our goodbyes and nip round the corner to the harbour for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to the Isle of Mull for our short honeymoon.

Magic! πŸ™‚

 

Thanks to Commons/Wilkipedia for the use of the Calmac ferry photo.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about