Monday, April 30, 2012

Just some details

Back home now there is the settling in, washing, resumption of printmaking classes, and the sorting of thoughts.  Here are some of the details I took, for reference, as colour swatches, because an idea stirred, ....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wildly windy

The wind increased tremendously overnight, and our next outing presented quite a challenge not only standing up and walking, but even getting out of the car.  Nonetheless, the beauty of the weather here is that, wait a moment and things will change. 
Our next trip was to drive over to Elgol to look at the Cuillin mountains.  (Note the sunshine and calm waters in the photographs on the Elgol link!)  One of the many fascinating things about the landscape around Skye is that it changes so much from one peninsula to another, and even from one side of a peninsula to another.  The colours also alter and modulate in the changing light, even as you drive past.
Also, talking of driving past: several roads involve single carriageway with passing places, which on a curving route with blind hillocks can be a mildly stressful experience.
Yesterday our first stop was at the McKinnon family graveyard which is in a magnificent setting with many elaborate graves.  This link tells more about the family, and 8. shows a map of the graveyard.
We have been particularly impressed not only with the variety of rock on the island, but also with the range of lichens to be found.  This graveyard had quite a few of the latter.  I was most taken with the cream and white ones here, and with the strange 'millefeuille' rocks around (draped with wisps of wool).
We were by now so wind-battered and exhausted just from standing up that we were delighted to see at the parking space that the Blue Shed Cafe was only 3.5 miles up the road.
Relief came in the shape of coffee and lemon polenta cake (scummilicious!)  And I was entranced by the friendly pig out back - which makes a change from the ubiquitous sheep and cattle.
Then, fortified, we were back on the road over mountain and down to loch until we reached the coast.  Overcast and wildly windy, there was still a great deal to see and to wonder at. (And trying to prevent the car door from crashing into a neighbouring parked car or from alternatively breaking a leg as we got out was a challenge all of its own!)
From up on the mountain we could see the 'pleasure' boats.  (Remember those lovely calm sunny scenes on the Elgol link?)  From up here it was almost impossible to see the mountains opposite because of the low cloud, but once we had plunged down to the harbour of course the visibility had changed a little.
Of course on our way back the sun came out, but even the sheep and lambs were choosing to forage amongst the birches rather than face the wind
which remained wild and forcefully blustery - until this morning, when once more we had calm sunshine with huge fluffy clouds.  But, as I type this and look out of the window at the loch the specks of white are increasing.  Never a dull moment, weatherwise.  A week is too short a time really.  Tomorrow morning we set off on the beginning of the long drive back home.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Windswept rhubarb

Yesterday's twilight brought the spectacle of a triple rainbow over the end of the loch.  Unfortunately my snap through the window captured only one strong one on the left, another  extremely faint on its right, and the third not at all.
The light rain travelled from the direction in which this picture was taken, up the loch past the boathouse where we are, barely spitting on the windows, and past to the wide loch.  The weather is so localised here, doubtless due to the extremes in terrain. 
So far we had had sunshine and showers.  Today we have had showers and sunshine, and WIND.  We drove to the peninsula to the west: Waternish, and then to Neist Point and lighthouse.
The view from the top is spectacular, if one can stay upright - which I did by leaning hard into a wall.  This is looking over Moonen Bay to Waterstein Head, which is the left-most rise.  Beyond that are the Western Isles.  When turning to examine the wall, I was fascinated not only by the rocks which made up the wall, but also the determined plants like this little succulent flourishing in the cracks.
Today was a day for indulgence.  We had lunch at the Three Chimneys restaurant.  It is a lovely place, with most pleasant service, and fabulous food.  In the diningroom we encountered the paintings of Diane Mackie (who also did the interior design).  Opposite me was an intriguing oil painting of rhubarb which I think looked windswept.  (My husband wasn't sure about whether it looked windswept or not.)  This led to much speculation on my part as to whether rhubarb would be windswept - but it does blow a gale around here, and especially up on the edge of the peninsula where the artist lives.
Anyway, after our splendid and satisfying lunch we walked a short distance up the road (at an angle of about 45 degrees against said wind - we are out of practice as we have not lived in Edinburgh for over 40 years) to the Raven Press gallery.  I am not one for tourist craft shops or galleries, but I had seen a leaflet about this one, and had liked what I saw.  Nick Carter's photographs are an interesting and pleasing abstracted aspect of realism, and Kathleen Lindsley's intricate wood engraved prints are in the style of Thomas Bewick - not a skill I could or would ever aspire to, but one which I admire.  I bought a small unframed print of oyster catchers as a souvenir of our visit to Skye.  And, as ever, a display of books caught my eye - in this case a beautiful volume entitled Wildlife in Printmaking, which contains some of Kathleen Lindsley's work as well as a wide range of other styles.  I justify the purchase (I always feel that I have to justify the purchase of books which are visually such a delight, although I am the first to say that input can of course be beautiful as well as informative) because of my desire to include animals as well as people in my printmaking attempts.
Our drive back on a wide southerly loop took us past an extraordinary variation of the same colours in different configurations, and in different lights as the wind moved the clouds, and the rain came and went.  I am hoping to try, try, try to capture some of those colours in pastel once I return.  What I'm attempting to fix in my memory is the colour of the winter heather - in some lights it looks just like the finer leafless twigs of birch, but in others it has more of a slight edge of orange, ....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On the way - second and third days

Another day of sunshine and showers - with far more of the former than the latter, we have been most lucky with the weather, despite dire warnings of extremely heavy showers.  Already in Cumbria we decided to explore the coast, starting with the Solway Firth, the border between England and Scotland.  It was a delightful drive, much more interesting than simply the flat land indicated on the map.
The longest stop we made was at Maryport where we enjoyed watching fishermen unloading their catch.
On the next day we crossed the border, and once more the weather was astonishingly warm and sunny in between the clouds.  I just love the colours of the countryside here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On the way - first day

From North Hampshire to Skye is quite a wee stretch, so we decided to take it easily, enjoying the journey as well as the destination.  After a start in horrid rain, once we got well past the conurbations, we arrived in the mountains: the Lake District.  Our first stop was at the Castlerigg Stone Circle.
The weather was now sunny with threatened showers, which made the light variable, but the clouds beautiful.  I love the way the trees without their leaves yet shine white in such light.
I think of Cumbria as the beginning of 'stone country' when we go North to Scotland.  Dry stone walls are made with the attractive grey stones, and even stiles in many places are ingeniously included.
Stones are also used as gate posts and entrance markers.
After spending some time there we went to nearby Keswick to look at an exhibition of Percy Kelly's work which was on exhibition at the Theatre by the Lake.  (See also the link to the exhibition by clicking on the Percy Kelly image on my pinboard.)  And after a refreshing pot of tea for two we strolled down to the lake itself: Derwentwater.
We continued on our journey, taking minor roads rather than the motorway from now.  We had a meal in Cockermouth, which has suffered with horrific floods in recent years, and then on to bed in Carlisle.  The end of a lovely day, and we already felt well into holiday mood.