Category Archives: out and about

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 —


with even a touch of frost first thing.


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 —


with long shadows cast from the sun on my back —


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


Loki has fun on the Beach

More sunshine today so we did make sumthin of it —

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Loki our flat coat retriever has web feet so he made the most of his chance —

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to splash in the foam.

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Ably supervised by Boss Lady back from her trip —

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Down Souff —


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Posted by on November 3, 2019 in out and about


Pan Euro ST1100 Shines in the low November Sun

Sunglasses are de rigueur on the few occasions that the sun favours us with it’s rays at this time of the year as it seldom climbs much above the skyline.

No worries – the reflection from the old Pan today is more than a match for it —

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It was a great feeling just to be out there with her. Because of her weight and tight seat to peg configuration she is seldom first choice to come out of the shed but the old knees stood up well on today’s short ride.

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While it looks as if the big rib has been hauled out and prepared for a winter on the trailer the Pan might be coming into it’s own. No point putting the new X-ADV 750 out on salt covered roads when the bold Pan can take them in it’s stride.

Pan Cuan 2

She has been up for sale for quite some time now without getting much interest so why not put her back to work.

Pan Cuan

No doubt the problem in that regard is more with myself than with the bike. The ‘givitsum look’ to prospective buyers/tyre-kickers probably says it all – ‘What do you mean you want to buy my bike for peanuts – can’t you see it’s one of the best on the road!’

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Posted by on November 2, 2019 in out and about


Honda X-ADV 750 Wild in the Country

Here she is in black n white —

Showing a few scars from a slight mishap when she tumbled over by the petrol pumps t’other day.


The paint on the plastics is no thickness at all but the stainless steel protection over the can did it’s job and the exhaust emerged unscathed.


Which is more than I can say for the barkbuster type handguards that the bold scoot came with – supposedly borrowed from the Africa Twin. They shattered on hitting the hard pave’ when the thing toppled over. The ones I have put in their place have been on my various off-road bikes over the past thirty years and have been well tested along the way..


As for the fore n aft pics – I’ve had them right-way-up countless times but she is determined to go for the horizontal pose in the end. Probably as easy to explain as having filled the tank and paid for my fuel I emerged from the shop to find Betsy laid horizontal in real life – I hope she isn’t going to make a habit of it.


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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in out and about


From Deer to Donkeys

Just a few of our visitors today.

First we had a gorgeous doe —

and her mate wasn’t far behind —

Then we had a couple of donkeys inspecting a tangle of fence wire —

The grey reminds me of ‘Patch’ – who made a habit of dragging my ten years old son through the thorn bushes when we lived near Gusau while on a road-building contract in North-West State- Nigeria.

The black donkey remains aloof –

as he studies the road out —

before the sun goes down —

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Posted by on October 28, 2019 in out and about


Crystal Waters Running Deep

With another dry spell coming to an end Loki and I took a turn round by Toberonochy moorings for a look-see. Nothing new apart from a stack of lobster or perhaps langoistine kreels judging by their lighter weight than usual.

We have seen the old wooden hull on the far shore so often but it was only when we walked round the black gravel beach that we realised the hulk had a name.

Crystal Waters —

Running not very deep on this occasion —

Well – you have been warned —

The for’ard winches haven’t seen oil or grease for many years —

and to venture below decks isn’t for the faint-hearted

and this is as close as I’m gonna get unless I’m going ‘down the hatch’ —

Clear Waters right enough – but hardly enough to float her.

It’s not for the first time I’ve said in these posts – ‘if only boats could talk’ for I’m sure they would have many an interesting tale to tell. I believe this one earned it’s corn on the North Sea before being stripped of her gear and towed round the north of Scotland where she has been put into retirement.

Or – like Loki is she just patiently waiting? I for one have a kernel of an idea involving the old hull that I would love to see turned into a mighty oak and be of use to us all. Such a shame that I have been telling myself for the past twelve or thirteen years that I am retired now —

What do you think Loki?

OK Loki – that look say’s it all – I promise I will stay retired.

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Posted by on October 22, 2019 in out and about


Mitsubishi L200 Pickup – an oilburner for a logburner

It’s leaning towards the end of October – time to wind the clocks back so let’s wind ’em all the way back to 2005 when I lived in my ancient converted bakery/millhouse on the Welsh border.

As ever with these old cottages ‘improvements’ never stop and any man worth his salt in the DIY biznez would have a pickup truck and a chainsaw.

There’s not much room in that little house once you allow for the walls being a metre thick but having built up that door and installed patio doors in place of the window I managed to squeeze my new logburner into the corner where the door had been. Got that?

I certainly did and earned myself a short stay in hospital when my ambition was to prove more than my body could take. Sandstone blocks are heavy things and it didn’t help that when I broke the wall out under the window I found a sandstone lined culvert which had been the outfall for the watercourse used to drive the original millwheel.

Surprise – surprise! Dry now – it had run all the way under the house from front to back till it would merge with the stream at the bottom of the garden which eventually joined the River Severn a couple of miles or so downstream..

No worries – bodies repair themselves and with the hard work done it was off over the border into Wales to where the ash trees were going cheap – if you cut and hauled them home by yersel.

That was when my L200 came into it’s own.

She was a proper workhorse —

She carted everything from bikes to building materials and logs to name but a few.

and no – I didn’t cut my leg off – at least not on that occasion. The 17 stitches I have in my right thigh muscle are from a mishap while building a coffee table for my first house down in Nottingham in the late sixties.

Decking laid —

tool shed and logshed built —

The tough L200 earned it’s place in my heart —

as I became proficient with the chainsaw and the logpile grew.

Even Midge was impressed no end —

especially when winter arrived.


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Posted by on October 19, 2019 in out and about