Sunday, September 29, 2019

A road trip of books and beauty...

We have returned from a wee mini-break down to Ullapool.  It is a bustling, beautiful, arty-booky town of 1500 people on the west coast.  It is also the departure point for the Western Isles Harris and Lewis and we had visited briefly overnight once as we caught a ferry to Lewis, and had always thought it would be a place worth returning to.

So we tootled off down the single track roads and made Lairg for morning tea, then onto Ullapool via Oykel Bridge (love that name) and thru a craft market at Elphin.

We were staying at The Ceilidh Place - in part because it had a book shop, an exhibition space and seemed delightful.

I had not expected this when we arrived...

Each bedroom had a small library of books which had been selected either by a staff member or a long-term visitor. The folder listed them all with alit of blurb about the selector,a nd about the books. I really enjoyed glancing through the folder and flicking through several of the books. I managed to read fair chunk of a few of them

There was also a Guest Lounge which was really a big library, so we spent time in there as well.  There were books scattered on all the tables and in a room that was a library of sorts.  It was like heaven.  And of course there was the book shop downstairs that stayed open as long as the bar was open, so you could browse and buy well into the night...

The view across Loch Broom.

Having visited galleries and coffee shops and more book shops we turned north ward, heading of home at our own pace.

We stopped by Achiltibuie one afternoon, looking back towards Ullapool thru a rain shower.

We stopped off at Ardmair beach on the morning we left - a beautiful stretch of grey stones and pebbles. Gorgeous. Looking out to the sea where the ferry heads to Lewis.

The day was still and the light so clear, we saw some majestic and magnificent scenery.

The reflections on this loch were stunning.

Another book moment occurred at a tiny locality called Inverkirkaig - just out of Lochinver.  We had turned off the main road to discover this place and we travelled thru some tight turns and windy roads and steep bits on single track road and were thrilled to find it. Alchins' Book Shop and tea shop.

Literally in the middle of nowhere. we had scones and the and bought a book and just loved the notion of books in the wild.

On there return the main road we passed by Loch Assynt again - and once more the reflections were superb.

Heading further north to Kyelsku and Scourie the reflections continued.

And my favourite detour of the day was to a trio of hamlets Tarbet, Fanagmore and Foindle.  By far the steepest and windiest of single track roads we had driven - down to first gear in places - and yet the beauty was astounding.

We made it back to the North Coast at Durness - had a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain, and saw the beach again.  

Now back at the cottage, still a bit stunned by all that we saw on the trip, and settling back into the rhythms of our place. 

Sitting, stitching the last top of the coasters; next to sew tops to bottoms.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"I ransack public libraries and find them full of sunk treasures."

Virginia Woolf

That all sounds very pirate-y of Virginia Woolf, but it does in some ways describe those moments when y can dig an delve and explore all manner of books as you visit a pubic library.

One of the joys of the Dewey system is how it puts different categories of books next to each other; and yet within the category there are pretty strong connections.  So you actually dig deeper in your own world; or be led astray by the world next door. Love it!

I am pretty sure she is saying that within public libraries there are treasures to be found, and I couldn't agree more...

We investigated the map room at the Scottish Archive Library in Edinburgh and found this map of Armadale, before the road in was built (pre 1832-33). Our cottage would later be placed upon the new lands described on the left of the 'road) at or around no. 5 or 6 on the left. Treasure map!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Brushes and marks

I got out my home made brushes the other day to see what sort of marks they might make.

I was able to use one of my journals that I made in advance of the trip - a nice small square one - and decided the simplest thing for me to do was to draw circles.

The kitchen became the studio, with a painting drop sheet on top and everything else pushed up one end.

 I tried them all and really enjoyed the different marks.  I started first with black ink.

And then to undiluted Paynes Grey (which didn't seem that much different to black, so I will add water next time to get more of a grey feeling).

I also played more with these, rather than aiming for a single-stroke circle I let the many marks make a circle...

The wee book was perfect for this - I have made notes in it now and I must say I do love a circle within a square.

And then of course, I went a'wandering and found more potential brushes! yay.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Peace, purses and pictures

Saturday was International Day of Peace and Barry and I had hung our peace flags and doves int eh tree at home; and we had also brought a few with us to hang at the cottage.

It is always a bit of a challenge here as the wind can get up quite quickly and seriously so I am never sure they will last any distance.

Here they are at home courtesy of my dad.

We hung a few on the gate to our cottage, and then a few on a side fence that has barbed wire - somehow the barbed wire just seems to make it that more poignant and real.

Before hanging.

On the gate...

And on the barbed wire fence.

It is a day for us to stop and think about peace and the possibilities of peace, even tho we walk in aworld where there is sadness and strife.  I do have hope however, that we can find our way.

On a far less profound note, I am using cash a lot more in Scotland than I do at home.  That means I get more coins and change.  My new wallet does not really accommodate much change, so I have been making do with a tiny ziplock bag.

It fell apart yesterday so I had to think about an alternative.

I had one spare square of fabric that is 10cm x10cm  which I have been using to stitch my coasters (onto the last top!!), and I figured if I cut it in half and stitched the two together then folded it, and stitched a pouch and added a press stud, I should be good.

So I did, just doing a back stitch by hand then finishing with a blanket stitch - so a little purse entirely stitchesdby hand. So far so good, it served me well today.

And because nobody else will really get to see it, don't worry too much about the untidiness of the inside!! I promise you I don't.

And then just because, here are a couple from two different walks we did today. Stunning skies and landscapes.

And what is a trip to the Highlands worth without a coo? Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday Thoughts...

"To walk quietly until the miracle in everything speaks is poetry, whether we write it down or not".

Mark Nepo

Time away in Scotland always makes me ponder slowness, quietness, emptiness and silence.

This quote captures so very simply and beautifully that there is a miracle in everything.  Every small plant, every wisp of cloud, every shaft of light, every lichen covered rock...there is a miracle just there, if we take the time to look slowly.

I also ponder words and descriptions and capturing things with words when I am here, and often those thoughts turn to poetry.  I read more poetry here; I buy poetry books and keep them here; it seems to be a place for poetry as well, even tho all places are.

To understand that we are always in the midst of quiet, poetic, miracles is pretty special.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

To Shetland....

As mentioned we had a week away with a visit to Shetland and Orkney.  Shetland was a first for both of us and we loved every minute of it.

Here are some memories of our days there.

Enroute, we stayed overnight in Stromness in Orkney - the sky was blue.

At Kirkwall airport on Orkney there were mosaic panels like this detail - done by using floor coverings by three local artists - Sheila Scott, her husband Jim and her brother John Reed.  They were absorbing in their detail and helped pass the time during our three hour delay.

In the middle of town in Lerwick (across the road from Tesco) stands Clickimin Broch. Astonishing.  We walked out to it and over it and through it and just wondered at the skill and the talent and the skill and the ceremony involved with it all.  Brochs are a feature of the North and the Islands and are a fascination to me.

Our first night in Lerwick was perfectly still. We had fish and chips by the harbour (with plenty of seagulls) and wandered the docks until 8pm. Eating outside in Shetland in Autumn at 7.30pm was unexpected but delightful.

Its all about water and boats... reflections.

I loved this anchor.

Next day we visited Sumberg Lighthouse and this wall was so wonderful.

Jarlshof archaeological site was beyond belief and the most astonishing archaeological site I have ever visited.  Could not believe we were allowed to wander all over it as it moved from Stone Age to Iron Age, to brochs, to wheelhouses, to viking long houses, to medieval farms to a 17th century big house.

I said as I left, if you can hear a pinging sound that is my brain exploding.  It was that good.

We travelled to Scalloway and learnt so much more about the Shetland Bus at the museum there.  The 'Bus' ran dangerous and important trips between Shetland Norway to aid the Resistance during WW2.  Mind boggling stories in those treacherous seas and under the watch of armed German vessels.  This is the memorial.

For those who watch Shetland, here is Jimmy Perez's house! He wasn't home, but I delighted in learning that houses built into the sea like this are call "Lodberries".

We also visited Bonhoga Gallery which was a stunning building with a great shop and two beautiful exhibitions.  This work by local Mike Finnie made me happy.

There was so much to see and do and enjoy.  I was fascinated by the strength of the Scandinavian connection in architecture, houses and names.  Strong ties endure.