birthday weekend

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This year, my birthday fell on a bank holiday weekend.  A rare thing and, if I was still working, a rare treat to have the day off!

So, there was some pressure on me to a) visit my family for a family birthday celebration and b) plan a treat-filled weekend.  Many times was the question asked of me ‘what do you want to do for your birthday?’ and the answer ‘just go out for a meal’ wasn’t enough.

My family live in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside and the weather forecast for the weekend was good so it made sense to get out and about.  Saturday dawned bright and sunny so Baby Sis, Top Man and I went for a hike up the closest hill, Tap o’Noth, to a vitrified Pictish fort on the top for a picnic lunch with a view over a quarter of Scotland, so it’s said.



Back home for hot showers and comfort food … bangers and mash, yum!

Next day, the weather was the same so we went to the sea, the shores of the Moray Firth at Sandend and walked the coastal path including a terrifying scramble to 15th century Findlater Castle.  Bringing our historic visits forward by about one and a half millennia!


That required some sustenance afterwards so it had to be Portsoy ice cream.  Three different flavours were chosen and all were sampled – Fudgey Wudgey, Apple Crumble and Salted Caramel – delicious.

On the actual birthday, Baby Sis had to work as it isn’t a Scottish bank holiday although many companies do now recognise it.  The weather threatened to close in around 14:00 and the plan was to hike up another local hill to Mither Tap o’Bennachie.  So Top Man and I headed out and walked up the Maiden Causeway to another Pictish hill fort.


  
  
  
It’s hard to believe that these stone walls and steps have survived 2 millennia, at least, as well as the tramping hordes of 21st century tourists.  Not only that, but the skills and knowledge was there to build them in the first place.

After sustenance at a local tea room, we headed back to my sister’s for hot showers and putting on glad rags for present opening and Prosecco.  Somehow from here on, photos got forgotten.  We toddled up the road to the local Indian and had a wonderful meal … bookended by walks there and back avoiding the rain!

A wonderful weekend, thank you everyone!

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tent again

Back from the Brittany experience and time to take the tent to the Isle of Arran.  Normally we stay with the Broons, friends/extended family who live there at Kildonan.  But this time we all wanted to try out the Stags Pavilion restaurant at the Lochranza camp site.  No likelihood that any of the party were going to be alcohol free to drive back; no likelihood of a taxi in that part of the world; even the local hotel was a bit far to walk.

So Rosneath Towers mark II was deployed in its full glory:

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Sadly, the only pitch we fitted into was a trifle close to trees and, when the wind died down to under 4 mph, it turned into Midge Central!  No matter, we deployed the citronella and were OK at the time but are covered in bites now!

The special at the Stags Pavilion was seafood platter which just had to have a picture all of its own:

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Next morning, a round of golf was attempted at the Lochranza Golf Course, only two of us completed it (not me!).  My first time actually using a driver and driving off a tee … mostly in the right direction but not very far and luckily never in the water!

Then the ironic thing was that we saw an M&J Seafood frozen fish delivery van queuing up for the return ferry.  We know the M of M&J Seafood who has a big warehouse near Billingsgate Market.  So we asked the driver if he was taking Arran produce down to London.  No, he was delivering seafood from a satellite warehouse near Edinburgh to ‘the spa hotel’ – so that’s the Auchrannie Resort not using local produce!  Hmmm

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tent delights

As you can see, I have been rather quiet since the beginning of July.  The title of this blog post may give a clue.  Yes, I have been away camping a couple of times.  The first in France as a last minute idea due to another arrangement being cancelled.

We headed to Brittany on the fast cat ferry and spent the first night in the pretty port of Binic.  There was a wonderful street and farmers’ market there the morning we left and the municipal flowers …. not like ours at all!

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Binic street market

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Binic street flowers

After extricating our car from the market parking, we headed south to a place called Lesconil.  This was going to be our first overseas pitching of the tent and included the new canopy which had not even been out of the bag!  Watched by interested locals (they seem to leave their house round the corner and spend July and August in their caravan by the sea!) we swore and shouted our way round the puzzle that was the canopy – here it is:

IMG_0244This was on a nice day … most of them were wet and rainy so we were glad we only had 6 days planned!  The last was sunny so the tent dried out before packing it up.  On a nice evening, looking up at the sky above us through the trees prompted these ..

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The return journey was fraught … every route back to the ferry port was blocked by angry French farmers wanting a fair price for their milk and other produce.  Much more militant than our farmers but the same issue.  Whatever, we missed the fast cat to Portsmouth but got on a later slow ferry to Poole, which left Cherbourg a few minutes late.  That would have been OK but the road across the New Forest closed for roadworks about 10 minutes before we got to it … the diversion was to go down to Bournemouth and take the slow road to Lyndhurst.  We got home at 02:00!  Tired bunnies!

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Roof

After stories of London heat waves, we wondered if our watering system would be up to the challenge.  In some places it was and in others not so much …

   
    
    
   

A working weekend (24 – 26 May)

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A couple of road incidents causing delays on the M8 meant the drive down to Ardrossan to get the ferry to Arran was a trifle tense. We were going to park the car and get on board as foot passengers. It was the Friday before the late May bank holiday so we were expecting the car park to be busy and queues to buy tickets.

Coming over the hill from Dalry, we could see the ferry was in harbour and the timetable allows a 20 – 25 minute turn around time! What a relief, we found a car park space right beside the access to the ferry terminal, there was no queue for tickets and actually the ferry had only just started unloading!

Our purpose for going was, as part of our Residents’ Association, to paint our sea wall as well as a fence between our development and another house. We were all expecting it to take at least two days. In all, about 20 of us turned out and the job got done by lunchtime on Saturday! So we spent the rest of the weekend with the Broons (see my family and other animals) enjoying Arran in the short breaks of sunshine available.

These were knitted flowers we found outside Brodick Castle as well as auricula and meconopsis:

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Another day we strolled round Brodick Golf Course and saw a heron, a view of Brodick Castle and this amazing shaped tree:
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I’m in a quandary over these last two images. They were cropped in iPhoto but when uploaded to WordPress, reverted to original. There was an option to crop on WordPress but no way to save the result! I give up!

(I thought I posted this a month ago and was puzzled as to why I couldn’t see it.  Just now noticed that I had done it as a Page not a Post – d’oh!)

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Sunday fun

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We came downstairs this dreary morning to see this little thing in the back garden

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We assumed he was lost but just passing through and would have gone by the time we finished coffee and toast.  Nope!  He was just hiding.  When he heard us coming he came out of his hiding place to see if we were his humans.  When it was obvious we weren’t, he ducked away again.

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By the time we had thought about families with young enough children to keep a rabbit (assuming Mr Rabbit had not crossed a road) most of our neighbours had gone to church.

So we waited a while, offered him carrots (which he loved) and then phoned around – no rabbit keepers nearby and no-one knew of any either but would ask around.  We waited to see if anything came of it – nothing.  It really had to be the SSPCA because we have no way of caring for a rabbit and there are foxes around at night.

They told me to ‘contain’ him in a box until their officer could come and collect him. No flies on our Mr Rabbit! Soon as he saw the box he disappeared under the garden shed so the SSPCA girl with a net had to chase him round the garden! What larks! She said he was well cared for so he must be a loved pet … we have a notice outside the house about him in case anyone passing by knows of a lost pet black rabbit ….

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VE 70 departure

Early this morning, a fine day with a haze over central London, 4 powerful Svitzer tugs made their way up the River Thames to Greenwich.  They arrived there to escort HMS Ocean downstream, who was leaving after a 5 day visit to celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in Europe.  HMS Ocean and the tugs left her berth at 06:10, joined by a river police launch which led the procession with blue lights flashing.

Below are the pictures taken as HMS Ocean cleared the Thames Barrier, halted the Woolwich Ferry briefly and progressed majestically past Wyatt Point about an hour later at 07:05.

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