15 Jun 2019
|15th Jun – Saturday
It was noisy last night, but we had the window open for some air, so maybe that was why. We have a quick breakfast, check out and walk to the railway station. Our train leaves just before 11am, and takes a couple of hours to get to Strathcarron, where Kurt is waiting for us. We drive to Lochcarron for some supplies, and then on to Kishorn. We turn off before the village, so we are not sure what is around here. It is about 90 minutes walk back to Lochcarron, so we hope we won’t run out of milk, or beers.
Jack is home, we last saw him when he was 12, he is now nearly 19. He has grown into very pleasant young man. Torty was out getting her hair done, and arrived as we were finishing lunch. Great to see everyone again. Quince is happy to see us too, and she still has a spring in her bum. Torty apologies for the state of the house, but it is a building site, so it is to be expected. The whole house is in the process of being renovated.
We go next door to see Carol, Torty’s mum, and her partner Alastair, and meet their two dogs, a terrier named Piper, and a lab named Thistle. We are looking after all three dogs while everyone is away in Mallorca.
Back at the house we have a long catch up, and Torty takes us through the dog’s routines. They need a couple of short walks a day, so we probably won’t be going too far in the meantime. It will be good to relax and not be on the move for a couple of weeks. There is a lovely view from the house, out over Loch Kishorn, past Kishorn Island and Loch Carron, through to the Isle of Skye. Skye comes and goes through the clouds. The tidal fall here is a massive 5m, there is a huge beach area and rocks exposed at low tide. There is a salmon farm out in the bay too. Lots of bird life here, encouraged by the feeders in the garden. We have a tame pair of pheasants, a woodpecker, swallows and various finches and others. Torty tells us that there are four red squirrels in the neighbourhood, having been released here away from the grey ones that have been killing off the red ones. Midges are ferocious some days, so we have to be careful to cover up when outside, and keep the lights off inside at night if the windows are open. Tics are also a problem, they carry Lyme disease, and can make you very sick. Again covering up is the only way to avoid them, so we wear long trousers and high boots when out in the long grass. Kurt shows us around the gardens, and takes us through the watering. Yes, surprisingly the plants need a bit of extra care. Through the gate of the walled garden, the one that tells us “beware of the tigers”, but we only see roe deer and a young fawn. It is a lovely wooded area, with paths up to the top of the knoll.
The days are long up here, it doesn’t get dark until after 11.30pm, and is light again around 3am. The summer solstice is in a week. Carol says that it doesn’t really get dark in the few days either side of the longest day.
16th June – Sunday (Father’s Day)
Sunday roast with the family, Carol and Alistair join us. Afterwards Tony and Jack take the dogs for a walk down to the beach.
17th - 21st June – Monday to Friday
Monday is a special day – Torty and Kurt got married at the Boatshed, Carol’s art studio down at the beach. It is 8 years ago they met, and it is also when we first met Torty at Oxenford. After the ceremony we met for coffee and cake at Carol and Alistair’s. The family are off to Mallorca today, back Saturday night. For the next few days we are looking after the doggies. And the builders, who actually don’t need looking after… So, with luck, most days will be much the same, day to day…
The weather is quite changeable this week, some rain, and it is overcast every day. We are looking after Carol and Alistair’s two dogs, Thistle the elderly lab, and Piper the wee terrier, as well as Torty’s terrier, Quince, who was just a pup when we last saw her. We are up early in the morning to left them out for the toilet, and then they get breakfast. Walkies about 9.30, and they can read the clock it seems! A second walk around 4pm before tea. They don’t like going out in the rain, especially the terriers, but they have not been given a pass to not go on their twice day wanders, and it is a good excuse to get out. We just have to wait for it to stop raining, mind you the rain keeps the midges away… Bird feeders get topped up, and the gardens watered, and the rest of the time pottering around, keeping out of the builder’s way (easy enough, as they are only working upstairs). Cynthea also pops over to Carol and Alistair’s to water their garden too. We spend a bit of time wildlife spotting, the bird feeder is always busy, and Tony spotted deer by Alistair’s gate when he brought the wheelie bins in. He thought they would take off, especially with all the racket, but they just sat in the grass and watched. Finally got to see the elusive squirrels, but taking a photo was in the too hard basket. They are quite shy, and disappeared as soon as Tony approached.
We had a couple of trips into the village, about 10km away, to get bread and milk. The road is very narrow, “single” track in many places. Common courtesy is the rule here, give way to whoever arrives there first, there are plenty of passing places. We have to take it quite slowly, as we don’t know the road, so we also let the locals past when they catch up to us, which is often. These roads are making Tony nervous not knowing what is coming around the corner. We soon get used to “spotting” well ahead so there are no surprises when we round a bend. Tony won £30 in lotto, woo hoo.
22nd June – 1st July
Torty and Kurt, Carol and Alistair arrived back late Saturday afternoon, the dogs were so excited to see them. We stayed on as there were a few things to help with (gardening, packing for renovations), and we were Quince sitting while Torty and Kurt were away for a family event in England at the weekend. On the Tuesday we took the car on a tiki tour around the lochs. First stop was Sheildig for coffee and cake. We saw a red squirrel dart across the road on front of us, but failed to spot the nesting sea eagles on the island across from the harbour. Next stop was Torridon, were we had a toasted sandwich and scone for a late lunch. We had not long left there when we saw a few people standing on the side of the road with a deer. Some were patting it on the nose, we thought it was a pet, or maybe injured. We went over to see what was going on, and were surprised that it was a wild animal, no fences hereabouts. Nor was it injured, Tony checked it for injuries and distress, but it was quite happy chewing on the grass. Tony sat down beside it, and the animal just sat there and posed for photos. We continued on around the loop, the roads a mix of single track and two way, but the pot holes were abundant. In the places where they had patched hioles, new holes had formed beside the patches…
That night at home we were sitting in the kitchen watching the bird feeder, and Tony wonders what the dog is up to… but it was a red fox. Torty and Kurt had never seen one here before. Torty rang Carol to tell her, and she says she last saw one four years ago. He was gorgeous, but too quick for the camera.
On Thursday we head off on another drive with Kurt and Torty, this time over the Bealach to Applecross for tea at the pub. It is a notorious single track road, 20 km of tight hairpins and steep grades. The highest point is about 630m, and with a couple of sightseeing stops, it takes us about 40 minutes to get there. The weather is brilliant, the views are stunning, and we see quite a few deer. Fish and chip tea at the pub, washed down with a couple of pints.
On Friday Torty heads off on the early train, she is going to Edinburgh to see Jack at Oxenfoord. Carol picks us up to take us to Plockton for lunch, in the boat. Another glorious sunny day, calm seas, and great for boating. We take our time getting there, about an hour and a half, as there is plenty for Alistair and Carol to show us. There are lots of seals about, checking us out as we pass, but the otters remain elusive. We have a wee look around the village, and have fish and chips for lunch. There is a craft fair on and we pop in for a look, the father of one of the builder’s is here selling woodwork. We head back mid afternoon, arriving home around 3.30.
Saturday we muddle along as usual, Kurt heads to Inverness to meet Torty, they are heading to Somerset for a christening, and we are house/dog sitting until they get back late Sunday.
Monday Tony goes with Kurt to take down a couple of ailing trees, and put a few logs through the splitter, to run the biomass. Kurt shows Tony where the crew from Game of Thrones hired the woods for a photo shoot. They used bleached wood chip to create snow for the scantily clad models (who asked if there were tigers in the woods!). Tony got to see some of the photos, only one or two of which made it on line. Unfortunately the rest of the photos cannot be shared (no, we haven’t got any of them, but there is a photo of the site where the shoot was held!).