Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bookmark and frills

This year I again contributed a bookmark to the University of the West of England's Bookmarks project.  The website has recently gone live.
I must find out what this frilly phenomenon is - lichen or fungus?  I found it growing on an old tree in an old ruined graveyard on Skye.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rampant crocosmia

When we were on Skye a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to see so many flowers still in bloom, along with the expected heather. 
There were many native wild flowers, and I was used to seeing fuchsia growing fairly wild, as it has done around the edges of habitation in Scotland since I was much younger.  I did know too that crocosmia was also becoming a frequent sight, but was not prepared for whole swathes of it to be covering the lower ground.
I must say that I love the plant and its effect, the flowers and the leaves both.  And it goes so well with another favourite of mine: dock (rumex).  Crocosmia makes an appropriately stunning foreground landscape views, and for dramatic photographs of the mountains on Skye
On the shore of Loch Bay at Stein I was particularly amazed at the extent of the 'invasion'.  All the grass-like plants as far as can be seen round the bay are crocosmia, and this was but a small part of the sweep of the plant.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Positive distractions

Today I completed and very much enjoyed reading a relatively recently published monograph on Sonia Lawson: Passions and Alarms.  I look forward to seeing her paintings every year at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  As a Royal Academician she exhibits regularly.  I always find seeing her work inspirational, and the book has filled me with a positive thrust.
I continue my stitching towards the deadline that looms, but also need other distractions - largely to rest my fingers.  Today another doodle that arose from the title Hand to mouth.  The image prompted is not what one would immediately think on hearing the expression, ... but there it is.
Tomorrow my intention is to meet a mini deadline within the greater deadline for the large piece, and I shall be able to go on to the next stage involving machine stitching, so I shall try to keep away from my Painter program.  The computer, of course will be on because I love listening to radio programmes on iplayer as I work.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Back at my desks

I am spending most of my days stitching away at a big piece which I must finish soon; but all the while mulling over memories, ideas, and possibilities.  I am stitching at one table, which supports the weight of the large piece, and I pop over to my computer desk for interludes of work here - perhaps diversions, or doodles.  But they so often turn into the basis for something which I take further.
Today I made some use of the gravity of a stone and the airiness of a feather.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Playing with a peahen feather

The peahens we encountered at Talisker Bay were busy moulting, and I managed to find an undamaged example lying near our car.  Today I scanned it with a sheet of crumpled purple tissue paper as background, then cropped it to see what emerged.
Here are a few results:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The journey

A journey is a strange beast, with a life of its own outside both its beginning and its end.  This one started with the weather we had originally half anticipated, and perhaps wanted too: that lowering power of the mountains peering through mist and rain swept by wind. 
We stopped for a splendid breakfast of hand roasted (! with heat-proof glove?) coffee and the lightest delicious pancakes at Café Sia in Broadford before crossing the bridge back to the mainland.  Windscreen wipers pounding we crossed the country to Dunfermline where the sky cleared and the sun shone warm.  That stayed with us the next day on our way to our last stop in Scotland: Eyemouth.
Curious to see the place, I now know I must return if only to sample some ice cream - I draw the line at such indulgence for breakfast.  Our next stop was Newcastle to see a fascinating exhibition of photographs, and to enjoy the Laing Gallery
We had sunshine all day, warming us on our way past the Angel of the North to our night's stop in Darlington where we missed Train by David Mach. (Not surprising if this is the state it is in!)
Then on to the Joe Cornish Gallery for coffee and delicious frangipane - and to see the exhibitions, before continuing through agricultural fields dotted with cylinders of baled straw to Fountains Abbey for a walk and lunch.  Below is about as near as I got because my knees protested. 
Once back on the road the rain came, and the weather stayed more or less foul until some four or so hours later when we reached home and the sun came out again so that we could unpack in the dry.
That was Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Today, the washing, the sorting, and the making of lists.  Tomorrow or so, back to normal.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The road home

A week seems too short a time here, but tomorrow morning we set off our staggered* way home.  If we are lucky we will not run into a mass cycling event, and avoid overspillage from a highland games gathering - but perhaps we will catch a glimpse of the Forth Replacement Crossing.
*We are taking three days, and taking in a couple of exhibitions.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Architectural angles

Today's weather was balmy - hot and sunny, but with a strong wind (so definitely no midges!).  We explored the Waternish peninsula, (another link here) having our lunch at the Stein Inn (delicious local langoustines), and visiting Dandelion Designs specifically to see Liz Myhill's collagraph prints.
I also collected snaps of various bits of architecture:
Fairy bridge
A lone house at the North end of Loch Bay shore at Stein
A typical collection of architectural details in Stein
Trumpan church
St Mary's,  Dunvegan
A ruined large architectural complex near Dunvegan Castle (former stables? barracks?)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The view

The house we are renting is in between the Waternish and Duirinish peninsulas of Skye.  One of the beautiful attributes of this island is its finger-like construction of mountainous peninsulas with narrow lochs in between.  There is so much reflected light from the water, and ever-moving shadow from the clouds and the mountains.  No wonder photographers here say that if the weather is not right for the shot, just wait ten minutes and it will be!
We were fortunate to find a house which is central enough for trips in all directions, but which also has a wide window with a glorious panoramic view.
The hills opposite are known as McLeod's Tables, and there are several flat-topped plug-like hills and hillocks around.  The geology is fascinating.  (Here is another informative site.)
I spent a lovely peaceful time stitching in the summerhouse porch in this afternoon's sunshine, hearing the lapping of the tide in the loch, the birds, and the breeze.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Summer - at last !?!

First, I forgot to say that drinking coffee on Skye these days is quite an international experience.  On Sunday we had a delicious brew from Sumatran beans, and yesterday at Mor Books & the Windrush Café Textile Studio we had soothing Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere Premier Cru! - lovely stuff, whatever.
Today's surprise was not culinary, however, but an encounter with unexpected birds: peacocks and peahens sitting on the road.  Here we expect sheep, sometimes the odd curious cow, or even deer on the roads, but not peacocks!  In the end I counted seven: three cocks and four hens, all looking rather bedraggled at this time of year, but definitely happily ruling the roost and making cars wait and swerve while they took their time.  I later met a woman who explained that the original two had been given to someone nearby as a gift, but soon abandoned, they adopted her and over the years have multiplied.
My walk today was full of delights: first through trees (after a tree in a box), and without midges today! (I note that Skye had a forecast of the highest nuisance level this week, but we definitely recommend Smidge for keeping them at bay despite attempted onslaughts.)  Shapes and colours were my particular focus.
I stood watching sheep being gathered on the far side of the glen - most of the work being done by one dog - and over a wide hillside too.
And then, having started the day in cloudy light and with a slight nip in the air, to lunch by the loch side, in blinding sun and heat!  We had to open the windows of the rental cottage when we got back, and as the sun sets we are still trying to cool off.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Venice of The Isles -?

I am feeling thoroughly selfish and wishing that there were not quite so many other visitors to Skye. 
Even though this is not peak season there are just so many folk on the roads, and (so often badly) parked on the (narrow) road around the most popular spots.  I have no right to feel this way, but I do nonetheless.  I like to get away from the every increasing traffic round home, and would be perfectly happy to do without cafes and galleries to enjoy solitude (although public conveniences are so often a welcome sight!).
But of course the answer is simply to step away from the popular paths to find that solitary magnificence. (My snap of the real photographer - the pix on this blog are all my snaps.) 
I am intrigued by and attracted to the manifest variety of the geology.
The signs of mankind which I do enjoy seeing are the interventions of those who live by the land. 
(And yes, I do know that Skye is better off with all this money coming in, with jobs provided, and that the land rendered a harsh poor life for those whose income was and is solely derived therefrom.  As I say, I am selfish.)