30 Jul 2010

Happy as a pig in the proverbial smelly stuff

So, this is the reason I've not blogged in a while. We've been building, sawing, hammering, and running around like a blue ***** fly trying to get the houses ready for the various new  additions to the 'good life'. So the new chooks, 6 hens from an organic farm up the road, and one very young black cockerel who's been henpecked like mad by the others ever since he arrived. We've called the hen in charge Maureen, and the cock Giuseppe as we thought he needed a bit of an Italian stallion sounding name to encourage him and give him a bit more confidence. He's got one hen who he perches next to, like a pair of little love birds, so we think she may be a Juliet in the making. Perhaps he should be Romeo? We've put them in an old garden hut we raised 6 feet of the ground, and made a wee ladder for them to climb up so they can shut themselves in a night. They all quite happily go up, minus one who gets kicked out by the others so we have to put her in ourselves to deter the foxes.

In addition to this little family, we also acquired a share in three little Tamworth pigs. They're for the chop come end of the year, which is a bit unfortunate as I think we've all fallen for them. (Well I have anyway) We spent ages building the electric fence and mending the arc, and thought all was solid, when within 2 minutes of the weaners arriving they escaped, like the fence was never on. I fell about laughing, so much for our craftsmanship skills. An hour later we finally got them back, three little sows, all stuck together like glue.
They're slowly getting used to us, but still very jumpy, so the only chance I can get to draw them is when they're chomping. So, I imagine there will be many more sketches on their way, next time in colour. As for their names? Bacon, Chorizo and Salami....

7 Jul 2010

Sandwood Bay

I recommend to anyone who can face a 4 mile hike, and an extensive trip right up to the north west highlands, to visit Sandwood Bay in Sutherland. It takes your breath away, and its not just the hike doing that. Its a John Muir nature reserve, about a 2 mile or so long white beach with a loch behind it, and when we got there a thick ha was creating such an atmospheric scene, it felt like you stepped back to the time of pirates and the ghosts of the Spanish Armada.
We had heard tales of the resident ghost, and treasure that is supposed to be on the beach from ships that have run aground there, so we did the 4 mile hike with metal detectors.... like we were going to find anything on a huge white beach with massive sand dunes, but hey ho. So while one of us went off scanning with the detector, I sat and tried to paint the ha, the dogs ran wild up and down the dunes, and it was so idyllic, not even the ghost could scare off the sea eagle I saw perched by the loch. Bliss.

3 Jul 2010

No head for heights

Drew this the evening before we were due to head up one of the Cuillins on Skye. This lot are the Red Cuillins, and I had my back determinedly facing the Black ones that we were due to climb. I love climbing Munroes (mountains above 3000 feet), such a great sense of achievement - and the views if you've not got your head in a cloud are to die for. Well hopefully not literally.
Anyway, this was my first attempt at a Cuillin, and also the first time I've taken the dog with me. Initially I was more worried about her, but she turned out to be a real natural. Jumping about like a mountain goat and balancing on the most precarious rocks like she's been doing it all her life, and not disturbing an inch of scree. I was fine on the way up, a beautiful day, but the way back down, as I've not head the best head for heights, I was clinging to every bit of rock imaginable. Steep drop on each side, and trying not to hyperventilate. Breathe in at the nose, out from the mouth, in, out, in, out. But, they say you've got to face your fear don't they, and I'm glad I did, and now got another fear tackled and dealt with. Maybe not for good but at least vaguely conquered. It could have been a lot worse as my friend slipped down the scree and banged his head, and the sight of blood pouring out stopped my own panic and made me concentrate on his. Luckily not a big gash, so sticky plaster on, carried on down and dogs patiently waited for me to crawl down on my behind, and a very refreshing skinny dip in a crystal clear mountain burn cooled me down in all sensed of the word. Bliss.