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Category Archives: Isle of Luing

When the Woodshed is Bare

There was a time if I needed logs for the winter fire I would grab my chainsaw – jump in my pickup truck and hi-ho off to the forest to cut a load of ash – but that was then – this is now and that miserable pile in the corner will barely keep the wee wifie warm for another day.

Every sad soul in the country would appear to have a woodburner and it’s not so easy to find fuel for them. Ash for instance is in short supply in these parts but oak is obtainable if expensive as most of it comes by boat from Latvia. Being a tight sod I have plumped for larch as it  is plentiful and as it doesn’t cost the earth to kiln dry can be found at a fair price.

 

Time to hook up the trailer and go getsum.

Mmmm- looks good and feels ok — no point running with half a load.

If it was oak one bag would be enough but Larch is lightweight by comparison – the down side being it burns away more quickly.

Get in there!

Now that’s what I call a load! I had better transfer some of it to the Yeti estate car for safety.

The proof was in the pulling – she hauled it home to the Isle of Luing and up our rough old farm track to the house no problem at all.

M-mmm — that looks a bit healthier —

and ofcourse – there’s always the oil burner to fall back on if we do run out of logs.

But on a dreich day like today with high winds and driving rain the fire wins hands down every time.

With a nice warm tummy after spending a wild night outdoors – Seamus is more than happy —

and with Loki warming his backside in the glow – peace reigns in the givit household.

 

‘Is a Shepherd’s Delight!’

Particularly when the weather forecaster’s have plumped for high winds and wet weather blowing in from the east —

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Thankfully they would appear to have it wrong. Right from ‘early doors’ when Loki came bounding out of his kennel – it has been brilliant sunshine all the way —

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with even a touch of frost first thing.

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It didn’t linger long and Loki’s tongue was soon hanging out even more than mine as we made our way across the fields above the village —

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with long shadows cast from the sun on my back —

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Hasn’t he got a lovely sheen on his coat as he prepares for the winter. He probably benefits from sleeping outdoors in his purpose-built kennel through any weather.

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Our favourite walk takes us across the bull’s field. Just as well they will soon be taken indoors for the winter because by the look of that shattered gate they could be arriving at our door without an invitation any time soon.bulls-1

This fella is probably the smallest of the nine bulls we have billeted around us at the moment but what he lacks in size he makes up for in tricky temperament – typical ‘little man’ syndrome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in Gardening, Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks, Wildlife

 

‘Red Sky at Night’

‘Red sky at night – shepherd’s delight’ —

How many times have we heard that old saying?

and is there any truth in the old homily?

Tomorrow should tell —

for this evening we have a red sky in the west.

The weather forecast for tomorrow offers 50mph gales and heavy rain coming in from the east with a significant drop in temperature.

Can’t imagine there will be too many Delighted Shepherds around in the morning but for most it will just mean turning the heater controls up a notch in their air-conditioned crew-cab pickup trucks.

Things have changed since my days in the fields over sixty years ago when my first job on leaving school was pulling and shawing turnips alone in a 20 acre field on that aptly named farm – The Mains of Panholes – next to the sumptuous Gleneagles Hotel and golfcourses. Gloves or even sensible items of weather protection were for sissies or rich farmer’s son’s in those far-off days. My schoolboy hands quickly became virtually useless in the cold east winds. Tears formed icicles on my frozen cheeks and I couldn’t have felt more pain had a miss-judged blow from the razor sharp steel cleek clumsily swung by my right hand – severed the numb fingers from my pulling left to join the all-too slowly growing rows of topped and tailed turnips forming in that god-forsaken field. The never-ending drills of turnips ran down to the main Aberdeen – London railway line and I vowed that one day I would be on a southbound train heading for a magical ‘Somewhere Else!’

In the intervening years there have been many somewhere else’s – some magical – some not-so-much – but none have left me with the bitter memories that being cast adrift on those frozen fields left me with back then.

No worries – something good may come of it – my book was to be called ‘Somewhere Else’ – should I ever get it finished. Research has shown that quite a few authors have used that title – so what! – ‘My Somewhere Else’ has a nice ring to it.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in Gardening, Isle of Luing, out and about

 

While the Deer Run Wild on His Hilltop

We are surrounded by roe deer at this time of year.

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They keep an eye on our coming’s and going’s from the surrounding hill tops —

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and raid the garden day and night every chance they get.

Helen’s kale patch has been stripped bare and they are now turning their voracious appetite on our fruit trees and various shrubs.

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The roe deer appear to truly believe this part of the island including our garden belongs to them and that we are the interlopers —

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2019 in Gardening, Isle of Luing, out and about, Wildlife

 

By Yeti for Fir and Fungi

An unusual way to spend a birthday perhaps but a good excuse to be out there in the wild. Our Yeti has five years and 52000 miles under her wheels and all she has needed apart from regular oil/filter changes and tyres has been a coil pack replaced around the 50000 mile mark.

Here by loch and glen is the Birthday Girl herself and already she has found enough colourfull fungi by the roadside to fill her lenses.

For me it’s any excuse to get off the tarmac and head into the forests to forage for more exotica.

A Yeti in a fir tree and a little bonus pops out to play.

Okay – okay – I know – ‘get your mind back on the job’ – there’s fungi by the bucket load up here.

And it can stay there too – the only fungi I feel is safe to eat these days is the stuff that comes in a pack from the supermarket and even with it I have my doubts about the compost it’s grown in.

But I do like my Skoda Yeti – they don’t make them any more so it won’t be easy to replace her when she wears out. Hopefully that day is still sumway off.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Wildlife

 

Toberonochy sur Mer

Toberonochy sur Mer – taking liberties with the name I know but we are still in the European Union at least till the end of the month so let’s givit a shout.

There are two villages on the Isle of Luing – Cullipool on the west coast which – like ourselves here at Bardrishaig – is exposed to all the ‘weather’ you could imagine and Toberonochy on the east which provides a sheltered anchorage.

I had planned to make the most of a sunny afternoon and take a few photos of picturesque Toberonochy which – along with a few other useful things – houses our small cinema in it’s village hall – but – as the bold Rabbie was fond of saying – ‘the best laid plans of mice and men gan aft aglae’ – or sum such like.

On this occasion it was the battery in my phone that gave up the ghost after two pics! We may just have had the last sunny day of the year but with a lump of the Isle of Shuna in the background at least the ADV750 got into shot.

 

Ducati’s in my Life

The first Ducati in my life wasn’t exactly mine – it belonged to my brother Jim who surprised us all by bringing one of these lil beauties home in 1959.

A 200cc Ducati – this one is the Elite but the one Jim had was more akin to the Scrambler.

To be honest my mates and I weren’t exactly impressed. Being steeped as we were in heavyweight British ‘exotica’ such as BSA Rocket Goldstars – Velocettes and Triumph Bonnevilles the tiny Ducati just didn’t cut the mustard in our gang back then.

I had to wait until the late eighties before I had my own Duke – the GT860 bevel drive camshaft model. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either due to a noisy top-end and soon sold it on. Just in time because I understand it rattled itself to near death in the new owner’s hands pretty soon after he got it home to Arbroath.

Here she is on the roadside by Loch Lubnaig – part of a collection of roads I considered to be my own private race track.

After that ‘near miss’ I managed to steer clear of Ducatis until 1995 when I rashly bought one of these.

Mine was the last of the Corse 888 family and was the full Monty race version! Bored out to the maximum at 926cc – she came with about six sets of bodywork – two race motors and a shed full of lightweight wheels. In fact it was the full package as raced by the late David Jeffries in MCN British Superbikes in 1994.

Things didn’t entirely go to plan after I bought her but such is racing. No worries – I did get one race out of her and that was the Daytona 200 with a young up-and-coming Neil Hodgson aboard. Neil managed a 5th in the Twins race and a creditable 12th in the Daytona 200 itself which was won by Carl Fogarty’s arch-enemy – Scott Russel who managed to kick Neil into the kitty-litter. Youtube is still showing the ’95 Daytona 200 and of course Neil can be seen struggling to get my Duke back on track at the first corner after coming down off the scary 50 degree concrete banking .

I managed to come out of that little flirtation with a beautiful Ducati unscathed too as IRTA – the MotoGP organisers of the day paid all my expenses and I was doubly fortunate that Scania Trucks paid me top dollar when they bought my 888 for one of their sponsored riders. Didn’t do Neil any harm either as he went on to earn a full Works ride with Ducati and actually won the World Superbike Championship a few years later.

As they say in all the best storybooks – ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’.

A-ahhh – almost forgot – there was another Ducati in my life – the white 848\

Here I am trying it for size at the old Grobnik GP circuit near Rijeka – Croatia around 2008 – but that’s another story all of it’s own.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, out and about

 

Sun shines on the X-ADV750

A good thing about having a Maritime climate – weather comes in bursts – one minute it’s raining as if trying to drown you – next it’s sunshine! It does mean you need to be ready for every occasion so a brief burst of sunshine between downpours had me out in the yard with the camera trying to make the most of it.

They say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and this lil beauty works for me. All that was needed was a touch of watery sunlight —

Not for a moment did I think I would go down the Automatic route in motorcycling but that’s what we have here. A dual clutch system means that gears can be selected automatically and she does it quite well. A choice of ‘Drive’ or ‘Sport’ modes alters the rev-band that the gear changes are made at. All I can say is that it does it well .. any momentary lapse can be easily overcome by a finger or thumb brush of the handlebar mounted manual switches giving further control of the up/down gear ratios. Changing down with the thumb or up with the fore-finger becomes second-nature in jig time.

Did I mention the handbrake? There she is on the side of the headlight nacelle – easy to miss but very neccessary. Unlike ‘normal’ geared bikes which can be left in gear to lock the rear wheel when on the sidestand on a downslope such as the waiting ramp for our ferry – this automatic scoot clicks into neutral when switched off.

The handbrake has it’s own caliper hung from the swingarm and acts on the rear disc. I did say it was easy to miss and I confess I have tried to ride off on a couple of occasions with the brake still engaged!

The Honda X-ADV750 is a far cry from the pre-war 1937 Ariel Colt my grandfather sent down to our farm cottage home in the Scottish Border as a first bike for my big brother to ride when I was still at school.

I may have been well under legal age but it wasn’t long before I nicked a ride when bro’ Jim was at work and I was soon wrestling with a three-speed hand operated gearchange fitted up on the side of the petrol tank. There were also inverted handlebar mounted clutch and brake levers plus additional levers for throttle – choke and magneto advance/retard all to be mastered. Riding safely didn’t figure high on that list.

Granpa Wright – little did you know that you had kicked off a love for two wheels that has been with me ever since.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Honda X-ADV 750, Isle of Luing, Motorcycling

 

Honda X-ADV 750

The new Scoot on our block.

She may look a bit like an electric milk float from head on – but – those angry-eye type headlights tell a different story.

Underneath the plastic she is all motorbike – until you get to the rear wheel which for sum sad reason is a 15 incher! The ADV is generally based on Honda’s NC750 motorcycle which also carries it’s fuel under the seat and what looks like a fuel tank twixt rider’s knees is in fact a luggage compartment. The swingarm has been lengthened on the ADV in comparison and coupled with the smallish diameter rear wheel thus allows for provision of a reasonable sized luggage compartment under the seat without restricting suspension travel.

To be honest I don’t even think about the size of the rear wheel when I’m riding – until of course it’s diminutive diameter exaggerates the surface ripples and minor potholes that a bigger diameter wheel would ride over. For the un-initiated a roadgoing motorcycle rear tyre is usually 17 inch and experienced off-roaders will have an 18 inch dia wheel in there wherever possible..

But that is the only ‘scooter’ type aspect of the bike – the way she spins up on the gravel in the yard and picks her way up our rough old farm track that is more suited to the local farmer’s four-wheel drive tractors is a revelation!

I did have my concerns about the amount of electrics at play with this machine – that dash for instance can do everything except cook my breakfast but then I can be quite fussy when it comes to the main meal of the day.

My morning ride into Oban for coffee and newspaper was carried out in torrential – and I mean TORRENTIAL rain showers and she never missed a beat. Looks like Mr Honda has got things right in that department.

Despite flooded roads I was a few minutes early for the ferry on my return leg – this lil scoot can be deceptive over a distance and what feels like a steady ride tells a different story on the clock. Yes she covers the ground without fuss much quicker than expected.

While the bike was getting most of my attention on the ramp it was a different story once aboard the good ship Belnahua on the crossing. The Cuan Sound appeared to be full of dolphins with two separate schools making their way through! It was quite a sight but the rain ensured my phone/camera stayed safely in the dry in my ‘man-bag’ under the seat.

So the morning two-hour dry spell promised by the weather forecasters didn’t happen – but – I’m not made of sugar and didn’t melt in the wet.

If I had been really worried about getting wet I would have taken a tip from our Seamus and spent the morning curled up on the couch in the dry.

 

Loki in the eye of the storm

Does he look bothered?

Not a bit of it – he’s fast asleep with his eyes open as usual. C’mon Loki – I know it’s blowing a hoolie but let’s nip down to the coast between showers and check out the surf.

Not bad – from up here anyway.

Let’s get a bit closer —

Considering the wind is gusting to 50mph the sea doesn’t look bad at all. Time for a wee ramble before those wild showers come back.

LOKI! – WAKE UP!

OK – I’m sorry – you were just guarding my walking stick.

‘C’mon Dad – try to keep up!’

‘There’s a storm blowing in from Colonsay and that guy over on Easdale told us before we moved here that the gales howl non-stop all the way from Brazil!’

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks