Tuesday 31 January 2012

Bejasus I won an award.

Actually this is the second one - but I never got to grips with posting  the Leibster award properly.  Doh.

So thanks to Mums Simply Living Blog, the link is on the side of mine.

I now have to select 15 blogs to nominate.  15!!!!    Well, it just so happens that I have 15 blogs I regularly follow, all on the right hand side of my blog.

The reasons I follow these blogs is that I learn from them, some make me laugh, some cheer me up when I am down, some make me think , some make me feel inadequate!  We are all such complex beings.  So if you are on the right hand side, consider yourselves nominated.

I now have to tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself.  So, like her, I will tell all.

1. I am not a natural blonde.
2. I like all animals except rats.
3. I once was a girlfriend of Wee Willie Harris's drummer.
4. I dont walk anywhere unless I can drive to it.
5. I was pregnant for five years. (on and off)
6. I really enjoyed being a supermarket check out person.
7. I am losing my memory so cannot think of anything else.

Thanks again Mum.

Monday 30 January 2012

Snowdrops and other stuff.

Carpets of snowdrops in Craigellie Woods, across the road from us.

A young Shag at Fraserburgh.
Isnt he a smart fellow, just waiting to be painted !?

My attempt at a Gannet landing.  Water colour.

Next week's art lesson is harbour scenes.

Not really excited about this one I took today.
So have asked the Dawn Patroller to do his stuff.

A few minutes after taking this photograph of the small fishing boats the sky darkened and we had lashings of snow, none settling.

Back in the warm now and an evening of knitting and house magazines.  

Hope you are all cosy.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Where did all the birds go?

RSPB Garden Bird Watch weekend.  You are asked to watch for one hour and count the birds in your garden.  Normally our garden is full of birds at the many feeding stations we provide.  But every year we do the garden bird watch they all disappear!
This year we think we found the culprit.


A Merlin.  This zoomed across the field at the other side of our fence, so we couldnt even count that as it wasnt over our garden.  As soon as it disappeared - and our hour was up - all the garden birds returned.  Sheesh.

While we are on the bird subject.  Bit if a cheat on the sky only picture, but ho hum, a murmuration of starlings.

Hope your garden was full of birds today.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Slains Castle.

There are, confusingly, two Slains Castles on this stretch of coast. The original lay a mile north east of Collieston (good whale viewing post and lovely old fishing village,) and about six miles south west of its successor. This was built in the 1200s as a fortress. But in 1594 the owner, the Earl of Erroll backed a plot by the Earl of Huntly against King James VI, James responded by blowing up Old Slains Castle, and not much remains today.

The Earl of Erroll returned from exile in 1597 and made his peace with James. Rather than try to rebuild Slains, he instead used a tower house at Bowness as the basis for a new Slains Castle. The tower was extended and ranges of buildings were added around a courtyard.
In 1664 the castle was again expanded and altered, and a corridor was built across the courtyard. The final major change came in 1836 when further wings were added and the underlying castle was given a granite facing and generally Disneyfied.
Building costs and high living did little for the family finances and in 1916 death duties forced the 20th Earl of Erroll to sell Slains Castle. The new owner allowed the castle to fall into disrepair, and in 1925 its roof was removed.
Slains Castle today is a slightly unsettling place. It comes as little surprise to discover that Bram Stoker, who stayed at the Kilmarnock Arms in Cruden Bay,  used it as inspiration for his story of Dracula. Despite the claims re Whitby Abbey, nyaa. 
Earlier distinguished visitors included Samuel Johnson and James Boswell on their tour of the Highlands and Islands.

An illustration from one of my most prized possessions, a first edition of Buchan by the Rev. John B Pratt, M.A. published 1853.  How Slains looked before it became a ruin.

Regrettably Slains was bought by a development company who were planning on turning it into holiday apartments.  Ye gods.  Fortunately the recession and the odd criminal conviction of certain of the parties involved it has gone on the back burner.  Aberdeenshire Council or somesuch should really get their act together over this.  It should stay as it is, the locals want that and so do those involved in tourism.  Just needs a bit of maintenance.
Currently the owners have fenced it off - elf and safety - but we managed some years back to walk around and within.  
And when we ran our b&b we had a lovely couple from Liverpool who stayed with us.  The chap, with our assistance, and that of the Kilmarnock Arms, took his girlfriend to the castle and proposed.  Down on bended knee in the mud.  She accepted.  
They had a lovely celebratory meal at the Kilmarnock Arms, champagne gratis and returned to us for the night, with more champagne, red roses and chocolates in their room.  So Slains has a special meaning for us and them.

May it continue .

Friday 27 January 2012

Do I come here often?

A trip to Macduff on Thursday, a meeting of the Best of Banffshire and Buchan Bed and Breakfasts, and the side effects of old age.

The port of Macduff lies opposite Banff at the mouth of the River Deveron. Originally known as the sea 'toune' of Doune, the settlement's name was changed to Macduff in 1783 by James Duff, Earl of Fife who built a harbour there. Macduff took over the fishing trade of the older settlement of Banff and became a significant herring port in the 19th century.

Macduff Shipyards is one of the few remaining shipbuilding
and repair centres in North East Scotland and is a significant local employer.
Wooden as well as steel-hulled vessels are still constructed at the shipyard.

Also well worth a visit is the Macduff Marine Aquarium.  Open all year round.

Our meeting didnt take long, on the agenda was where to go on our first jaunt of the year.  Then we moved on for our 'catch up' session.  Which soon began to be Grumpy Old People.

We decided unanimously that we do not like call centres.

Or Doctors' receptionists.

Or the fact we lose things, forget things, "Do I come here often?"

At this point I stopped taking minutes and joined in.

We just managed to get back home before the sun set.

Well, I think we did.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Wednesday witterings.

Yesterday's session in school we used the Catties Tails to make something.  All very exciting.  I started a Rainbow Fish.  The kids had to stick on their Tail where they wanted to.  Most, however, went for an individual picture and so we had quite a few small fish and some hearts.  Each group has a scribe and they have to write down what the group has done.  Some of the spelling is a bit off, and one is never sure whether to correct it or not, as a mere volunteer.

Photo from the internet.  In these days of political correctness crap we arent allowed to take photos.  Howsomeever, 
"Its aye easy to write it doon, but its nae easy to do the thinking of what to write."  I was instructed.  Quite right.

Hump Backed Whale.  Picture also from Google.  Should you wish to try and spot one here are a couple of web sites.
This covers the whole of the UK, you have to select your region.

http://www.wildlifeweb.co.uk/forum.  This covers the North East of Scotland and is used for all animal and plant sightings.

This chap you will only find in my Summer Hoose, waiting to be finished.  Acrylic on canvas.  
At art class today I spent the second of the two hours re-doing my Gannet coming into land.  If I had been in the Summer Hoose it would have just gone in the bin.  Apologies to  my mate from school but, "Its easy to do the painting, its the thinking thats hard."  Or in my case doing any thinking at all.

Monday 23 January 2012

Up and down the North East coast.

Youngest daughter's second day of her holidays was going up and down the North East Coast.  Due to the weather there are lots of things to see as birds get blown where they might not possibly want to be.

Great Black Backed Gull, still not mature.  Also a native.

This one, however, is an Icelandic Gull.

One of my favourite birds, Oyster Catcher.  Although these are in the proper place, by the sea, you might be interested to know about their nesting habits.  They prefer gravelly ground and flat.  So what suits them can actually be found on flat roofs!!  Aberdeen has many of them as it had a big building surge with supermarkets and industrial units etc . Aberdeen is one of two places in the whole world where Oyster Catchers can be seen nesting on roofs.  Indeed there is a chap in Aberdeen who you can contact should you find a baby that has fell off the roof and he will come and put it back!

Seals in the Ythan Estuary, just north of Aberdeen.

The Ythan Estuary.

Seals playing.  or possibly......

Two mute swans.

And a redshank.

As you can see - much better weather - altho "Its ay cold".

What you will not be able to see as it was too far out for a camera to capture was a Hump Backed Whale at Collieston, just North of Aberdeen and South of us.

We got it all here!

Northern Lights.

As there were no sky pictures yesterday.  You might like to see the sky we had last night.

Aurora Borealis over the North Sea.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Day out in the Cairngorms.

Train station for the train to the top of Cairngorm.  I always thought trains went on the flat....

But this one goes up a mountain.

and up.  Youngest daughter, visiting us, appearing very calm.  What if the train broke down?

Then you get to the top and are told you should not go outside as the wind speed is 100 mph.

Lovely view of Glenmore.  Not viewable from the top...but quite clear the nearer ground level you got.  Makes sense.  I always see things clearly when I am not stressed about falling off mountains.

Collecting mad walkers half way down.  Cant they see the snow and feel the wind?
Do they do it for fun?!

Skiers being told to not be so silly, its way too windy.  Go home.

Down at ground level, not enough snow for the husky trials.  So they used wheels.

Now if I could have sat on one of them I might have gone out for the day in the Cairngorms.  But on balance I am quite happy I stayed at home.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Thursday Triumph.

We won!  Our second assessor from the insurance company inspected the summer house, its roof piled up at the rear, 
"I am looking for wood rot, I can't see any."
"What I can see is a well built, well maintained, wooden garden erection."  (Sorry, I giggled.)
So he has approved the insurance claim.  Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaah.

My view from same as the sun sets.

And a new roof to replace the old to come.

Todays sky picture.

Family.  Eldest daughter on left, holding granddaughter, third daughter on right holding second grandson.  They have swapped babies for this picture.  We most of us now live so far apart.  Eldest daughter is based in Edinburgh, Third daughter in Lincoln.  Eldest daughter took youngest grandson to visit Lincoln branch.  And we are Skyping often.  Something to be said for the wonderful technology of today.  I cant touch, or cuddle, or kiss, but I can see.

Thursday triumph.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Wednesdays witterings.

Well here you go.  Bit more Carole Klein than Lulu....

 Needing that glass of wine.  And possibly more polyfilla for the wrinkles.

Art class this morning on pastels.  Pity the bottle was empty.

Sky picture.

I will speak more once my neck has warmed up.

Thank you for your comments!  Thank goodness all saw it as a sparrow hawk.  Or similar. We will draw a veil over nasty anonymous's comment, in fact I took great pleasure in deleting it.

Sorry folks (or anonymous mainly)  but I shall continue taking pleasure in my art attempts.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Tuesday Tittle Tattle.

This is the school which I visit on a Tuesday.  As you can see it is two storeys high.  Most unusual in a modern school.  There are two staircases.  One of which we have to mount to reach our classroom.

The school is on the potential 'hit list' for closure.  Which is a shame.  It is a lovely school, with great aims and ethics.  Presumably one of the reasons is that it is on two floors and therefore does not comply with being disability friendly.
The children were pleased to see us return after the Christmas break.  In fact for the first time ever I was called a lady.  
"Oh the ladies are back!"
The ladies are racking their brains as to what to do with all these cattie tails.  Needless to say Isobel has an idea ..... If it works more will be revealed next week.

My first attempt with acrylic paints.  The camera hasnt reproduced the colours quite correctly, and it does look a bit parroty, so I will see if any of you can tell what it is supposed to be.  I may never paint again if everyone gets it wrong.

Work for the evenings is this lovely saffron coloured wool  intended to be yet another hoody.  This time for a growing granddaughter.

Daily sky picture.  Some of the pink footed geese that go over our house, off to feed.

And finally.  I am off for the chop tomorrow.  Hair wise.  And this is the picture I am taking for Ange, my hairdresser.  I can do the gormless look okay.

Thats it no more tittle tattle.  Until tomorrow.