Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Grey Heron. Taken by Mike at Strathbeg.

Oyster Catcher. Just love these birds. They sound so excited when they call as the fly. They like to nest in stony parts, on the ground usually. Aberdeen has the most pairs nesting in Europe - on roofs! A lot of building some years back and for cheapness they had flat roofs which they put gravel on top. The Oyster catchers just love the roofs. There are some problems when the chicks hatch and sometimes fall off before they can fly, but there is a dedicated person who you can phone and he goes and puts them back.

My nest - with work station. Bit of a mismatch at the moment as it is to be completely redecorated. Cannot stand the doors on the built in wardrobes. (On the left). I shall be asking the decorator, when he eventually shows, if they can be painted. Otherwise it will be the joiner, when he eventually shows, to replace them. The pictures arent placed right, just up for safety. Ditto the mirror.

Here is Sith, halfway up the stairs looking worried. I probably had the vacuum out.

Which I did today. And the mop, And the iron.

You can see in this picture the offending shiny wallpaper that is to be painted over, once I get back to Focus for the right colour....

Mike has cut the grass and is positioning the plants by the fence as we speak.

We are out for our tea tonight.

Lucy has never forgiven me for having gone to someone elses house for a meal before going to hers, since we retired. But she didnt ask! So just hoping I do not get the third degree or have to score her out of ten as opposed to the meal we had before. But I bet I do. I am really not worth fighting over.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Another bargain from Focus. Their closing down sale is currently offering 20% off everything. Just hope we have a good summer! Mike put it all together this morning, and then we had a hail storm.

This is the dining room window. Soon to become a patio door. Chap came this afternoon and gave us a quote, which was a lot less than we were expecting. I have given up on local builders.

"We'll be with you next week......" "We'll give you a call, probably next week....." Three weeks ago now. At least this chap came, and his company do the drawings for the planning department. Scotland's Planning rules are so different to England. You need some sort of form if you want to remove a toilet roll holder it seems. I spoke to the planning department first as I had seen the sort of stuff in the local paper that was asking for Building Warrants or Planning permission. Stuff you would never know had been done! Removing internal doors for instance. The problem comes when you sell your property as the solicitors want to see Completion Certificates for any alterations.
For us we have to have three copies of architectural drawings, metric scale, to obtain a building warrant.

He was very concerned that the house appeared to be built of granite. Which we discovered it was at the front. But the original cottage has been extended with breeze blocks? Anyway they can cut through whatever it is, which you can't with granite.

Whilst he was out at his car getting his camera I watched three deer run across the field at the rear.

So I shall be able to watch the sunset and the wild-life from an arm chair someday soon!

And when the decking one will step out onto is in place, and my new table and chairs possibly situated, oh! its all too much!

(And of course, this will be the worst Summer we have ever had, and I will be blown off the deck and the new chairs will smash the new patio door.)

Note to self: Check the insurance.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Perfect Day.

Favourite song by Leonard Cohen et al. Love to do housework to this.

Here is our wall art. In the dining room. Above the piano. Yet another example of something I thought I would never, ever buy or give houseroom to, but somehow it goes.

New ceiling lights in the sitting room.
And wall lights to match.

Still pinching myself that I have changed my preferred internal decor......

The kitchen patio doors curtains.

Back to sanity.

White campion.


And plantain.

This morning I began to paint. We have a wallpaper in the hall stairs and landing which is a bit too naff for our taste. Shiny pink bits in a beige furry wall paper. Against anyones taste! But after a test easily paintable over. So we had the tester pots and the large pieces of paper pinned up everywhere with the different colours. And we both chose the same one, which is a first. Focus is closing down so with a long list himself was sent off to purchase.

This morning I began to paint. After a while I was squinting at the walls and thinking this doesnt look right, I didnt choose anything cream, it was white we chose. Cotton white by Dulux, vinyl finish. Looked at paint can, Snowdrop, matt.........Right.

Then I thought ho hum I will go and re-pot the rubber plant. Into the new pot himself has purchased from the Focus sale. Old pot measured 9 inches, needed one bigger and pot for it to stand in even bigger. Pick up plant pot, smaller than what its in already. Check shopping list, quite clear what I had asked for.

Now checking out Altzheimer website so not that much of a perfect day.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Growing wild.


Bluebells. Note, these are proper Scottish bluebells. Not the invasive non native American ones.

Cow Parsley. This can be amazing brought in as a cut flower in a vase.


Please enlarge this one, it is amazing. It is a tree creeper gathering food for it's young.

Mike took all these photographs on his early morning walk round the woodlands this morning.

Later in the morning we went off to Aberdeen. Looking for curtains for the kitchen patio door. I wanted to change what was there to be totally different to when there was a parrot cage there. We also have been looking for lights for the sitting room. Successful in both!

Unsuccessful in our search for crockery to enhance our dining room. Problem always when I have a picture in my mind and then cannot find it. I want orange! I thought it was this years colour. Well it is in soft furnishings. But not in crockery. I did toy with the idea of using Creuset pie dishes as plates in my desperation - the perfect orange colour! So the search goes on.

We then called in at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel. Friends of ours are celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary and had booked in there and their friends from afar and family also.

Mike and I had to really bite our tongues. There were no tea bags, the kettle was plugged in in a cupboard in a side board, only two cups and saucers, despite them knowing they would be entertaining friends and family throughout the afternoon. The room was tiny, and had the ensuite off, upstairs was the actual bedroom on a mezzanine floor. So if I had stayed I would have risked life and limb coming down stairs to go to the loo in the middle of the night. This was special offer to them at only £89 bed and breakfast. We charged £60 and our rooms were twice as big with an en suite and we had a bowlful of fruit teas, herbal teas, ordinary teas, coffee, decaff, hot choc and home baked biscuits. The room was also airless and stuffy. Heating on full tilt and outside it was boiling hot.

Couldnt get out of there fast enough.

Back home. To peace and quiet. Well apart from the swearing and huffing and puffing as himself puts up the new light fittings. Getting wilder.

Friday, 27 May 2011


This is a lovely 'tunnel' of trees, just along the road, leading to the churches. Also leading to the entrance to Cairness House, and our friends, 'Old Manse'.

You may have to click on this picture to enlarge it and see the signs! These are in a wood nearby.


And Broom.

All growing in abundance roond and aboot.

Now comes the black part of the day. After much heart searching and discussions we have let Phoebe, our parrot, go to a new home. With daughters scattered, one with our grandson and another on the way, our third daughter also to present us with another grandchild this year, we will be travelling. Cats can be left with someone to come in and feed them. But parrots do not appreciate being left on their own for any length of time. She has gone to someone who already owns an Amazon Parrot so is not someone who is unaware of how demanding they can be and therefore will not get fed up after a while, which was my main concern. Phoebe took to her immediately. So she has gone. I feel as if I have given away a child.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Laughter is so good for you!

Come on, you are smiling - just a little bit? Laughter is infectious. As are smiles. If you smile as you pass someone by, 9 times out of ten, they will smile back. Try it.
Last night was our weekly Rotary meeting. I had arranged the speaker. Unfortunately he had had to have an emergency operation on a wisdom tooth. Not funny. Scratting my brains to think of an alternative I suddenly had the memory of years ago being on a course, one of many, and the ice breaker, normally an event that sent your heart and brain plummeting, was to chat to another course member and then relate to the group as much as you could remember about that person.
Adapting this slightly, and with my enormous egg timer made from a bobbin from a Yorkshire Mill, I announced to the assembled Rotarians that they had one minute to tell us what they knew about the person on their left. Banged down the egg timer and we were off.
The results were hilarious. Some of them were sat next to someone they had known for years, some sat next to someone they barely knew and one of these just got through his minute by talking about himself! Some were very clever and just repeated back the chit chat that had gone on earlier, where people shopped and how many wine cases they bought, what sort of day the person had had etc. It was also a lesson to be learned, particularly those who were stuck by a lack of knowledge and I hope they took that lesson on board and in future mixed a bit more and got to know more about their fellow Rotarians. But the main lesson was how good it was to laugh. Which everyone did - in bucket loads!
Today we went to our monthly meeting of the Best of Banffshire and Buchan Bed and Breakfasts. We got through the business, apologies, minutes etc. Exchanged details of who was full , who wasnt, had the usual moan about the Tourist Board, but every thing was tinged with humour.
At the end of the meeting comes the best bit, tea, coffee and a home bake. And more chat.
One couple have recently put their property on the market and are planning on returning to their roots, back in England.
"Why would you want to do that?" was the question asked.
"Well - its to die." The answer intended to mean this would be their last move.
But her partner just looked askance and said, "Well, I'm not coming with you then."
The printed page does not do this comment justice.
You know that feeling that you cannot stop laughing, and the so well timed comment goes back through your mind and you set off again? Well, that was me.
I havent felt so good in ages. Laughter, truly the best medicine.

Now we have a very blurry photograph of Crimond Airfield at dusk. Both Mike and I have tried and tried to capture this image. Once it begins to get dark these lights appear and glow red when really dark. Bit spooky. What is even more spooky that we have both been unable to get a crystal clear image and this image is the best of many but still not right.

We see these lights from our front window. Crimond Airfield is not in use any more. Some parts have to be traversed to get to one of the hides for the Loch of Strathbeg. Some parts are used for stock car racing at certain times.

The land itself is still owned by the Ministry of Defence and is a Royal Naval Wireless Telegraphy Station. The Antenna masts are 900 feet high. What concerns me is how do they make our photographs go blurry..........?

Spooky. But after today I can still laugh about it and everything!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Period and Traditional Homes.

Cannot believe this!
Thinking back on the houses I have lived in, and styled, my tastes have changed without me realising it!
Until recently my favourite magazines were of the Period and Traditional Homes, Country Homes and Interiors et al.
A lot of the way my interior design direction was, of course, down to the type of house I lived in and more importantly - finances. But I have always drooled over country house decor and furnishings.
My first home after leaving the family home was a modern maisonette. Rented. But with little money it had only the bare essentials. I had a bed. And a maisonette mate.
The second was a basic terrace with no front garden. My first foray into having a mortgage. My main memory there was demolishing the very large stone bar erected by some idiot taking up most of the space in the dining room! Again no money so what I could beg borrow or steal. I have memories of what was called a cottage suite(?) Wooden settee and chairs with cushions. Probably worth a fortune now.
The third a modern flat again. Surrounded by retired singles and couples! They loved me as I did the gardening.
Then a tiny cottage, which I loved. Bag End I named it much to the horror of my Father. The name Bag End is from The Hobbit, nothing to do with Bags or Tarts which my Father thought it indicated.
Here entered the brass bed, the chesterfield sofa, which I learnt how to recover. And lots of other cottagy things. And lots and lots of clutter.
Next was a semi where I became married, had children. Again no money, but IKEA had landed in Britain, so lots of pale wood.
A large detached followed, still no money, to such an extent we moved rapidly back down again to a semi.
Then to our enormous house in Scotland. The brass bed still with us!
Again, yes, yet again, not much money, so treks to IKEA, now much further away. Lots more pale wood, dining table, chairs and sideboard. Pine bedroom furniture.
Then we came here. It is a cottage. With memories of my lovely wee cottage years back where the brass bed entered my life I drew up plans to recreate the cottage and scoured my Period and Traditional Homes Magazines for inspiration. Then we moved in. All the things I had marked on the estate agent blurb, REMOVE, began to slowly make me stop and look again.
So this morning we had a discussion and instead of sorting out the brackets we went on the internet and sourced a bigger tele!
Who knows where we go from here. I have now freecycled the piles of Period and Traditional Home magazines and am now sourcing stuff I need from all manner of media. Watch this space.

Here is your wild life picture of the day. Taken this morning.

My first Poppy bloom. Chose to come out on one of the windiest days ever. So taken in a 40mph gale. As it was so battered I took pity on it and brought it inside. Hope to take another picture of it open and later save its seed.

Inside those soggy petals is the morst gorgeous black centre.

Odd isnt it that after all the years of chintz I find I have a black centre. Minimalist? Not sure yet where I am going, but its fun! Oh and the sound is much better on the new tele, I struggled with the last one as it boomed. Thought it was me hearing failing, so there you go, worth every penny. Though I have had to move me chair back a few feet to view properly!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Staying in!

Had to pinch this pic of the wind from Google. Not easy to photograph something you can't see. But boy, you can hear it, and I guess I could have taken pictures of the trees. It is supposed to be dying down about now, but sounds even stronger than earlier in the day.
If I was to go outside I would be blown over that's for sure.
So indoor stuff.
Cleaned through.
Bathed Phoebe, the parrot.
Cleaned out her cage.
We are hoping that now she has laid three eggs the hormonal stage will cease. She first laid three eggs two years ago. After which it was back to normal.
Missed last year.
Her shrieking becomes almost unbearable. Whenever she sees me, who is the chosen mate, unfortunately. Its either the shrieking or the strange noise I cannot describe in words which then becomes a clucking sound.
So - ironing in the bedroom, out of sight.
Then it was time to relax.

Here is the 'wonderful' electric fire we inherited with the house. And our t.v. attached to brackets intended for a much larger set! After much discussion we are to continue with the electric monstrosity during this winter and see how the warmth levels are. We had planned for the chimney to be opened up and a wood burning stove installed, but I know from friends that a wood burner is very warm. In our previous home it would have been a big plus, but here might become a big minus. I suppose you can be too hot?
As regards the tele on the wall. Again, we have decided to stick with it. Just to change the brackets so there are no wires showing, or brackets. Who'd a thought it. Me gone modern.

Now, sorry, but you just cannot escape the wildlife pictures. Neither of us can lay claim to this one as our jackdaws come to the bird table like Superman. Whoosh. We may one day catch them on our cameras, but for now, again I have borrowed this from Google.

I spent about an hour reading my 'Buchan by the Reverend John B. Pratt.' This book was published in 1858. It is a first edition and is illustrated. It is totally absorbing. Particularly the arguments and raised tempers over religion. So whats new!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

In the garden .

The above still to be identified. My friend had a go with the earlier picture which I had taken, but it was from a distance! My brain is definitely on its way out. The part that can store names of things has obviously fallen apart. The garden here has a lot of shrubs some of which I am very familiar with and therefore can be named. But a lot I do recognise but the name will not come. I have decided to follow friends and start a garden journal and list what the plants are I recognise and can name, and with a photograph, and where they are in the garden, if I also lose the memory of where I am. Does anyone else set off purposefully in a direction and then ask oneself why am I going here? I used to blame it on multi tasking, but as I now find I really can only do one task at a time, its worrying! Some of the blogs I read put me to shame. Gardening, cooking, crafting, reading. Some people do more than one blog. Would that my life were so full! Guess I am still in recovery from having been so busy catering for others in the bed and breakfast.

Here is a bed I made today.

This morning was lovely, sunny, only a little breeze, and warm. I sat or knelt and cleared all the weeds. Planted the second Buddlea and a Potentilla, (top right). As one of my books said, "Not a highly attractive plant, but does flower almost all summer long."

Now I hope you are not getting bored with all these wildlife pictures. But Mike seems to be going from strength to strength. This is a Roe Buck. Note the antlers. Taken this morning.

I cannot believe you can get so close to these wild animals. The hare below actually ran towards him, and then posed!

The flock of pheasants in the field behind us keeps on growing. There were six females, including this one which is, Phasanius colchicus tenebrosis, the male of her species is almost black. Not sure where he is. We have only seen this type of pheasant near Turrif, some miles away. Too far for her to have flown here. She is far prettier than the common pheasant female I think.

Unfortunately the weather worsened as the day went on. Now we have not got our screen of Leylandii we could watch the rain, coming down from the sky, moving towards us with the background 'music' of thunder. Fantastic.

The wind has picked up as promised by the weather forecast. So more work in the garden will have to wait.

Mike managed to get in the chicken poo fertiliser where the Leylandii were and all is ready for us to plant our climbers, clematis, ivy, quinces, and my Rogersii.

He has also been cooking stuff for our party mid June and putting it in the freezer.

I had veered from getting in outside caterers to just doing a trolley dash in Tescos! I used to love cooking, but became all cooked out running the b&b when we also provided evening meals. Fortunately Mike loves cooking and now has free rein in the kitchen! Although I do occasionally dare to make a comment, like a few times I had to remind him we do have a fan oven here, so reduce the temperature. I still have my head, not quite bitten through.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

More wildlife?

Just round the corner from our house is a wee white cottage and next door to that a sprawling house, with loads of steadings, outbuldings and a very large front garden. The garden is crammed full of garden gnomes, statues of all kinds, aeroplane propellors going round in the wind, oh, all manner of crazy things that you just have to smile at. I will try to get more pictures, but one does feel a bit intrusive! I know what I would be thinking if someone faced onto my house and started snapping away. We have seen the owner a couple of times. He is an elderly man and drives a tractor, very slowly. Attached to the tractor is a flat bed trailer and a dog sits on it, no worries about having to keep his balance!
This morning was cold, windy and grey. So plan B swung into operation. Plan A was to get the climbing plants we bought, almost two weeks ago, into the ground. Too cold for that. So it was off to B&Q in Peterhead.
We had a long list.
Mike has decided he cannot stand the wallpaper which is on porch, hallway and stairs and landing. It is not at the top of my priorities but paint tester pots were put on the list. It should be fairly easy to paint over the paper, its a bit like the anaglypta stuff, with shiny bits. Water butts, compost bins, interior doors, light fittings for the sitting room, ceiling and wall, and a small shelf unit for the kitchen, mainly for the recipe books, decking, bathroom flooring, all to look at, price and possibly purchase.
We came away with three tester pots of paint, earmarked the interior doors, didnt like any of the lights, and purchased three pots of a blue campanula which spreads, and will be planted with the clematis to cover their roots. Know the feeling, well I can afford to spend, and theres nothing there to spend it on?? If I was sixty years younger I would have sulked.
Then we went for a Macdonalds...... I always feel wicked having a Macdonalds. My daughters dont approve. I have one every few years or so, and really enjoy them. Their coffee is always very good too.
Back home to trawl the internet and then sent Mike off to Argos in Fraserburgh for a set of shelves. He is getting to be very good at flat pack furniture and the shelves were up and filled with not one swear word.
This picture shows a sample of wallpaper from B&Q which may be our feature wall in our bedroom. The flowers - and butterflies - are gold and the background is cream. Which matches the bed throw. Not a good colour reproduction here. The walls in the bedroom are currently a sandy gold which would be changed to match the background of the wallpaper. The curtains are a chocolate brown with gold cow parsley type flower on, so I think it will look okay. Even with the naff built in wardrobe doors. These are sapele, which according to the internet one should not paint as one is better off replacing them and selling them. Still not sure about that. I am sure I dont like them. They were a feature in every seventies house apparently. Well, yes, I remember them well, dont think I liked them then either.
And here, in the kitchen, is our new shelf unit.

There will be more cookery books on the shelves. Once I find them! We have come to realise that there is somewhere a box of stuff that was in our old kitchen that we have not yet unpacked. I am just hoping it wasnt one taken off to the charity shop by mistake. The stuff on the shelves will be tweaked also, I just transferred the stuff piling up on the kitchen table!

And at last the cat litter trays have been cleaned and consigned to the garage. They were fairly well tucked away under the stairs, but we were getting to the stage where lazy cats were coming in to go to the loo. I dont think so.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Theres more!

The pictures yesterday were from the internet. But - just to prove I was telling the truth -these two pictures were taken by Mike on his morning walk today. Roe Deer.

We can hear the pheasant calling/shouting and all the other bird calls but also the sound of peacocks. This photo is from the internet also, purely for illustration! But I am reliably informed there are two male peacocks at a house nearby and we can hear them from our garden.

At last! No more cold feet, trying to get cats to come in at night, and having to let them out as it gets light - 4a.m.

The joiner appeared with the replacement panel for the 'back' door and also fitted a cat door into the summerhouse. What a relief.

As you can see from the picture above we need to provide a step for the two smaller cats! At the moment this step consists of an upturned wooden seed tray. Needless to say our two males of the species are still cowering upstairs "Strange man, making loud horrible noises."

Whilst little Min, the female has been in and out without a care in the world. "Easy, peasy."

The joiner and I had long chats whilst he was doing the installations. Firstly he had installed the one in the house door the wrong way round.

When I pointed this out, he said, "But it looks awful that way round, that cant be right."

I then explained to him how the magnet on the cats collar worked and showed him. Its to let them get out, but only them to get in. They have to put their heads right in to the tunnel to activate the magnet which releases the lock on the door. So the tunnel has to be on the outside.


We then exchanged information, as you do, I got from him thumbnail sketches of who lives roond and aboot whilst he tried to find out how much we had paid for the house, where we came from, were we retired, where was my mannie the day? And so on. Satisfaction on both sides.

He also made me smile as he explained that he used to be a 'Paper Loon.' Paper boy to all you Southerners. And was afraid of the dark. Having always lived in the toon he was worried about moving to the country, where its dark. Well Strichen where he came from I wouldnt call a toon but it does have street lights, so that could explain that. But he has got over his fear and "Well likes it now."

I told him I had been far more scared living in a built up area than I ever had here or our last house.

Pointing out with some sarcasm that I would never have gone to bed with the door wide open to let cats in and out in a built up area that I had had to do here. My only worry here was a bloody great draft from not having a cat door..... Point was taken, with a rueful grin.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Our local Fauna and a bit of flora.

The above is a Beech Tree. Isnt it magnificent. Around us are some ancient woodland and many more broadleaf trees. Far superior to the Sycamore and Ash which surrounded us previously.

Wild rabbit. What do you expect when you are surrounded by tons of gorse bushes! Easy burrowing. Fortunately, so far, not in our garden.

Roe Deer. Seen almost daily. They are all over Buchan. Our previous home we occasionally saw them running across a field. But here there seem to be more of them. The countryside here is so different to what we had before. Smaller fields, with walls, and fences, containing cows and sheep as well as growing crops. Our previous home was surrounded by huge fields of growing crops, walls removed and no need for fencing, so not much shelter or hiding places for these animals.

Not seen by me as yet, but Mike has seen hares on his early morning walks.

Dotted around are man made ponds. I havent yet found out the reason for these, but the herons visit regularly, so they may be stocked with fish. There would certainly be frogs to eat. Again a daily sight the grey heron.

Cannot not mention the Buzzards. Before we came to live in Scotland the most viewed bird of prey was the sparrow hawk, which is everywhere, including here. Also kestrel. But buzzards abound here. They take small mammals, they would struggle with a full grown rabbit. We have seen them following the plough - the early buzzard also catches the worm.

The next bird I had to put in, although it has only ever paid two visits to the Loch of Strathbeg, the last visit being a few days ago. Normally it would be on the continent. It is a Black Kite.

Mike has also seen badgers. Both dead and alive.

Today I have been a lady of leeesure. One of the shops in Peterhead was offering a bra fitting service today. (I had thought it was last Wednesday and found myself in an empty shop, empty of customers that is, and was given a bra to try on after being measured. But I found it was like an instrument of torture.)

Today the shop was not empty. There were hordes of women, all shapes, sizes and ages. Pleased I wasnt the oldest there.

We were all given a numbered ticket. Having five in front of me I had to make a mad dash and move the car, it was obviously going to take longer than 45 minutes. When it finally came to be my turn I was talked into trying a wired bra. I have avoided wired bras for forty years having been poked in the left nostril by a wire which escaped during a particularly hectic dance (in the 70s.) Well - what a difference, I had to agree with the fitter. Not only did she put it on for me, showing me how to do this, which involved leaning forward to fasten it, then place both index fingers down the middle and spre-a-d, after that lesson and putting top back on I had to agree there was a vast improvement.

So I bought it and ordered the same in black. With cries of "Jordan eat your heart out", from the assembled shop assistants I left considerable pounds lighter - both purse and boobs.

This shop was yet another of Peterhead's oddities. Its a huge shop goes from one street right through to another. Loads of really helpful assistants, male and female, and the clothes selection is mind boggling. They have a large section of "On Offer £5 and half price bargains." These are all good stuff. All different, not rails of the same tat at all. Then there are rail upon rail of again quite individual dresses, tops, skirts, evening, day, coats, which do go up to quite the top end in money. And blow me, theres a branch in Fraserburgh. Just need a New Look and I never need to go to Peterhead again.