Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Vegetable Garden

We're very fortunate that our vegetable garden is on a slope with a southeasterly aspect, so it benefits from the sun almost all day. When we built the house, this area was a mass of brambles and bracken, and these constantly try to invade from the surrounding croft land.

By terracing the hillside, we were able to gather the thin but fertile soil to provide some depth to the beds. We imported some soil and, each year, a very kind crofter brings us a load of seaweed. We've also dug in the produce of six constantly active compost bins.

We persuaded a very disgruntled Orchy the springer spaniel to model the last of our winter cabbages. In addition to cabbage, we are currently growing broccoli, sprouts, kale, onions, shallots, carrots, parsnips, swede, turnips, potatoes, salad leaves, lettuce, rocket, radishes, spring onions, leeks, french and broad beans, peas, mange-tout, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and, in the greenhouse, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and, in the herb line, parsley, chives, fennel, savoury, mint and dill.

We keep trying new things. I told Mrs Diary that garlic didn't stand a chance in this climate, with the usual results. The sweet peppers she grew last year, which I told her were a waste of space, are producing a second crop this year. Some things we've tried really don't do well, runner beans being an example.

Most of our crops seem to be thriving despite the cool, damp weather of recent weeks. The exceptions are the strawberries, which haven't been helped by the gluttony of a family of blackbirds, and the raspberries, which have so far produced the most disappointing crop for years. Sadly, the loss of these crops will have ongoing effects, as they are made into jam which lasts us through the winter months.

Annual Pram Race

The annual Pram Race is this Friday, starting at 12 midday from outside the Kilchoan Hotel. There are three classes, Adult, Under-14, and Under-12.  The theme this year is 'The Sea', and entry forms are available at Kilchoan Hotel.

If anyone wishing to enter is looking for a pram to decorate, there are three spare ones available in Shore Cottage, below the Ferry Stores. You can contact Richard O'Connor, Alastair MacColl or Chris Gane about using them, or just help yourself.

All proceeds from the day's events go to the West Ardnamurchan Jetty Association, which maintains the slipway by the shop and the four moorings in Kilchoan Bay.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Herculean Day

Just before ten last night, two more Hercules 'planes flew over - and these were much lower than the MC130J which we saw earlier in the day - see link here provided by an Anonymous commentator yesterday. I had no idea that there were so many variants on the Hercules, and wonder why we should have had such a sudden flurry of them over Kilchoan.

The Traveller Returns

Back in June we were mourning the loss of our friendly robin who used to join us for sundowners on the terrace at the back of the garden, insisting on sharing our bombay mix rather than the perfectly good bird seed mix. Mrs Diary had even begun to train a replacement.

Then, on Sunday evening as we were enjoying a very palatable bottle of German white wine, he returned. His first act was to 'phone his cousins in Australia and then the US - so we knew it was him.

We wonder where he's been, whether, like a modern Marco Polo, he's been travelling far and wide or whether his problem has been a wife he picked up locally who has kept him firmly at home. Whatever he's been doing, he looks older and a little battered.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Rubha Carrach

Despite the forecast for today being for heavy rain, we set out to walk from Achnaha to the end of the headland called Rubha Carrach, above the cliff sometimes known as the Cat's Face, at the base of which lie Glendrian Caves. The easiest way to get to it is to follow the old track from Achanha to Plocaig as far as the ford on the Allt Sanna....

....crossing it by the stepping stones, and then heading for one of the many gaps in the line of hills to the northeast, from which there are....

....good views all around. This picture looks back to Achnaha, with the ridge called Beinn na h-Imielte running behind it.

The countryside beyond is a rolling landscape of exposed, rounded rock and intervening bog land, all a bit dismal, particularly on a dull day. In fact, the forecast was wrong, as we only had the occasional drops of rain, and the walking good.

Rubha Carrach, with its views of Muck and Rum to the north, has a remarkably flat top from the edge of which.... looks straight down into the bay below. One island in particular is home to a seal colony. Look carefully at this picture and you can count at least twenty, as well as a few cormorants or shags.

From the end of the headland one can look southwest towards Sanna across a wide bay which doesn't have a name. It must have, yet it isn't given on any of the OS maps, however far one goes back.

This is the view east, along the north shore to the distant hills of Moidart.

The end of the headland is a pretty bleak, windswept place, where the vegetation hardly dares grow above 6" tall, yet the ling is further forward here than anywhere else.