Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Scottish Adventure Day 4
This morning we headed to the imaginatively named “Sand”, made famous by the TV programme “Monty Hall’s Great Escape” about a decade ago. We popped on wetsuits this time and went for another swim. I waded around to the rocks where the water was so calm and clear that I could see flat fish, lion’s mane jellyfish, sand eels, other little fish and loads of different types of crabs in the shallows. I called the others over and we spent so long exploring the fauna that a curious seal popped up behind us to see what we were doing.
On the journey from Applecross around to Gairloch we stopped at a coffee bothy for scones where the owner was expressing dissatisfaction with people using her car park as a picnic spot. Her scones were fabulous though so we didn’t mind her grumbling.
In Gairloch we visited our favourite bookshop / cafe combo in the world before setting up camp for the next few days. This is probably the biggest campsite we’ll be visiting this holiday but we know and love it. The sea breeze keeps the midges down, they have a well appointed shop, cracking views all around and a beach on the other side of the dunes.

Scottish Adventure Day 3
The path to Sandaig runs through native forest just beginning to regrow after the forestry commission cut down the pines.  Birch, alder and myrtle are growing with bracken and purple and white heathers. Butterflies, dragonflies, pondskaters and wheatears bustle busily among the flowers. Down at the Ring of Bright Water we are tempted by the warm sun and calm water and get naked for a dip.
Last night we camped at a tiny site tucked away at the top of Glenelg.  No phone reception at all, hence not posting Day 2 until this morning. At bedtime the dreaded Scottish midgie made itself familiar with our persons, so despite the fabuloussunset over Skye to the west we retreated into the campervan where we doused ourselves with Skin So Soft (Avon’s best seller in the Highlands due to its magical midge repellent properties) and smoked ourselves out with Citronella fumes.
After our luxurious dip at Sandaig and the slow walk back up to the car we got the ferry to Kylerhea where we watched a large gang of seals playing or hunting in the strong current, sometimes even breaching. Having nipped on to Skye we nipped off again over the Skye bridge and had a properly luxurious picnic overlooking the Kyle of Lochalsh.
Chris was keen to show the children one of the most photogenic castles in Scotland. The first time I saw it, at sunset one day about thirteen years ago, I was in raptures and desperate to take aphoto. On this occasion though, Chris called outto “look at the castle,” and while Charlie fumbled for his camera, Isobel merely glanced up from her book and then got straight back into it - you can’t win them all!  Coming over the Bealach an Ba to Applecross though, they were both excited by the undulations, switchbacks and breathtaking views of the road. We got booked in at Applecross campsite, had a fabulous dinner at the pub and are now enjoying a pint al fresco while thechildren potter on the shoreline.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Scottish Adventure Day 2
The silver birches crowd along the banks of Loch Linnhe, reaching out towards the light and water. We speed past along the road in our red, flowery campervan, children in the front drinking in the view while mummy peers out of the back window. On dark nights or long journeys the back seat is best, you can put your feet up and snuggle up with the dog in a nest of cushions. When driving through stunning scenery though, this seat is the equivalent of being stuck behind a pillar atthe theatre: glimpses of grandeur but you feel you’re somehow missing out.
Fort William - outdoor adventure capital of the UK. Let’s face it, it really needs razing to the ground and rebuilding. So much more could be made of the fantastic loch side, where now there’s a busy road and the scruffy backs of the concrete town centre buildings. I envisage a lovely pedestrian esplanade fronted by the shopping area, the main road passing behind, on the landward side.On fine days (they do have them), people could sit on benches overlooking the loch, or dine outside cafes. We came into town in search of knitting needles as Isobel has recently taken up the hobby, but snapped her needle on Friday. We accidentally also bought trainers, a jumper and lunch. That’s what happens in Fort William.
I love this part of the world. I get a sort of wanderlust. My eyes are drawn to ridges, gullies and woodland with an insistent pull.  You could set off up there... What would the climb be like? What would the view be like? What would that water be like to swim in? I know the reality involves bogs, scree, sharp rock, cold water and the dreaded midgie, but the pull is there nonetheless, and thedesire to row across that loch, or set out on a journey into those hills.
The plan we had in mind today was to catch the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye, then drive across to Kyleakin and catch the ferry back to Glenelg on the mainland where we would camp. Unfortunately we made a slight error by not booking the ferry, so faced with a long wait to seeif we might get aboard “on standby” we decidedto turn back from Mallaig and play Chase the Steamtrain with the Jacobite all the way back towards Fort William before taking the inland route north.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Scottish Adventure Day 1
A long drive. Charlie getting more and more crazy cooped up in the campervan. Views becoming more and more beautiful as we headed north.  Arrived in Glen Coe which is stunning as always, if a little crowded with other tourists. Went for a walk by the loch. Blossom went bonkers. Now settling down. Isobel has already made new campsite friends. I’m cooking burgers and drinking cider. The beginnings of a great campervan routine.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Mel's Murals

Murals are great.  They are individual.  They are fun.  They are art right there on your wall.

We are planning to have murals all over our house (not planning to move or sell in the near future!) to reflect our personalities and interests.  However, these things take time, and while the bedroom walls were painted last autumn, the murals for the children's bedrooms have taken a while to happen.

Mister Build-it wanted: a lifeboat, puffer-fish playing musical instruments and a frog on a lily-pad.  

To begin with I drew the life-boat in chalk:
After a while... I painted the top orange.  It was like that for a few weeks and he told me it looked like a hover-bus.
This weekend, my sister-in-law took Mr Build-it to the Grand Prix at Silverstone as a birthday treat (wow!).  This was my opportunity and my deadline to get the rest of the job done.  So I searched on Pinterest for some inspiration and then sketched what I thought the Pufferfish orchestra might look like:
I added it to the wall beneath the lifeboat.  In another corner of the bedroom I drew the frog on his lily pad.
Then I started painting...

Let it dry, do some other jobs (including starting to tidy and reorganise the bedroom).  Then came back and painted a bit more...
You'll notice the grey smudgy bit in the sky.  I'd tried to make the clouds a bit greyer, but they began to look like a horrific storm, I tried to rescue the situation but made it worse.  So I had to paint over that bit with one coat of the blue emulsion.  That's one of the joys of a mural.  If you make a mistake it's only cost you a bit of paint and some time, and you can just paint over and start again.
And then got in there with a fine paint brush to put the details in.  I know smugitude is not a good thing, but I am SO PROUD of myself!  Don't you just love it when the thing you have in your head actually turns out just as you hoped?! (That never happens when I'm baking or decorating cakes!)

If you're interested, we just used normal matt emulsion for the walls (no idea of brand or colour), then these are normal kids poster paints.

Want to see what I get up to when I finally get around to the other rooms in the house?