Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunrise and sunset.

 Woke up the other morning to a bright sky and noticed the early morning sun light striking the mountain opposite, turning it into a brilliant red slope. The sight of the blue sky made a welcoming change to the dull overcast skies we have been experiencing lately. Actually managed to get some gardening done and as I was filling up the nut feeders Cyril the red squirrel suddenly appeared running down the tree trunk behind me. He spat at me and flicked his tail in a warning sign before tucking into his breakfast...that's the thanks I get.
Made the most of the balmy weather and went for a drive over the mountains. We were pleasantly surprised to see the heather starting to bloom a little earlier than usual on the hillsides...always a colourful sight.
After dinner we walked down to the beach and strolled along the shore line of Loch Ness. It was still pleasantly warm at 9.30pm. We sat outside with a wee dram and toasted the sunset....Cheers!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Farigaig Forest Walk.

We have recently added a new laminated walk to our Walks Folder in the cottage .... 'Walk from Aspenwood Cottage through Farigaig Forest'. Have been meaning to do this for ages as it is the pleasant circular walk we often take from our own doorstep. It is the walk along the forest track in front of our house parallel with the shore of Loch Ness, up to the lane for a short while and then turning into Farigaig Forest via Easter Boleskine House. At the house turn round and there are splendid views looking down Loch Ness towards Fort Augustus and beyond. As we walked we recorded things to look out for, took photos and roughly measured the time it took - about an hour and a half at a very leisurely pace. It is now in a laminated cover and available for guests to take out on their stroll.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

'Lord of the Glens'

The weather this past week has been quite gloomy with a low cloud base, showery, murky and generally miserable. Today it is pouring with rain and I can just see across to the other side of the loch where 'The Fingal' activity barge is progressing slowly back through the mist heading for Inverness. The weather doesn't seem to deter the hardy sailors out onto Loch Ness and several yachts and cruisers have braved the elements. Sunshine is promised for tomorrow ! The cruise liner 'Lord of the Glens' has been busy taking passengers from Inverness through the lochs of the Great Glen down to Fort William and beyond to the islands.
During a break in the wet weather the wildlife can be seen. The brown mountain hare has been spotted on the driveway eating the grass on the side verge. The two year old male deer has emerged from the forest on his own for the first time. His velvet antlers are nearly one foot tall now and he looks very healthy and in his prime. No sign of any female deer with offspring yet.
The bird life is abundant and the predatory sparrowhawk has been zooming about hoping to catch his lunch on the wing but usually goes away hungry. The young red squirrels have been keeping us amused as they chase each other in circles around the tree trunks. Had four of them in the garden yesterday and for a long time two of them were performing synchronised nut feeding - I think they deserve a gold medal at least !

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Red squirrel heaven.

Numerous red squirrels are still regular visitors to the nut feeders hanging on the fence outside the lounge at the cottage. They have even enlarged a hole near the base of one of the feeders to make for easier access to the nuts. You can really see them at close hand - about two metres away from the window and observe their very delicate but extremely sharp claws. These are very useful for hanging upside down if needs be.

Watched one feeding frantically as we stood on the decking on Saturday....great fun to watch.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. The sun shone as arranged and we were able to sit outside and enjoy a glass or three of bubbly. Cooked a lovely meal together and really enjoyed the day-eating, drinking and generally being lazy. Woke up this morning to a very different sort of day. A low mist hung over the loch and it rained on and off throughout the day....not a day for sitting outside and enjoying oneself so back to work !

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pine marten comes to visit.

Sitting comfortably in our lounge last night absorbed in a TV programme when we heard a scratching at the patio door. Thought it was one of the cats demanding to be let in and got up to be the doorman but.....surprise surprise.....saw it was a young pine marten on the top step. Our guests last week said they saw the elusive pine marten on the bank behind Aspenwood Cottage and were thrilled. We followed it from room to room it as it ran playfully around the outside of the house exploring every nook and cranny and watched as it even cheekily sat on top of the cats kennel right by the back door - luckily the cat flap was locked for the night. Both cats were fast asleep on the sofa and oblivious to all the excitement going on outside. Luckily pine martens prefer easier targets and much smaller prey...mice,voles and even red squirrels so the cats would have given it a hiss, a spit and a growl and seen it on its way. It was moving too quickly to take a photo this time but here's one I prepared earlier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fingal Barge in Dores Bay.

The weather in the Highlands has been quite bright and warm this week with the occasional shower and often overnight rain . We hear on the news that Edinburgh and Glasgow and recently Fife has experienced bad rain of late but we have been blessed with fair weather conditions....Loch Ness has worked its magic! Went for a stroll along Dores beach and watched the Fingal Barge glide silently down Loch Ness and dock in Dores Bay.

 It is a very popular vehicle offering a wide range of activities and is a frequent visitor along the loch. As we were driving to Dores we passed a group of canoeists on the water, no doubt making their way to the Fingal to be collected for the next part of their adventure. There are endless organised activities to enjoy once aboard the barge "Fingal of Caledonia". Disembark along the journey and enjoy walking, mountain biking, cycling, sailing, canoeing and wind surfing.
I feel quite tired just typing this out....must go for a lie down.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Baby Robins.

The young robins that fledged in June/July are in various stages of attaining their adult plumage. By late summer they should have acquired their characteristic red breast and begin to noisily dispute their territories. In 1961 they were chosen as Britain's national bird.

Monday, August 04, 2008

On the fence.

The lilac buddleia bush beyond the fence by the cottage decking has burst into life. It is also known as the 'butterfly bush' although it has not been attracting many butterflies this year. Further along the fence at the nut feeders the red squirrels eat,drink,scratch and generally enjoy life.
The weather over the weekend was warm and breezy with the odd refreshing shower which enticed more colourful yachts and cruisers onto Loch Ness.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cyril the squirrel.

After a very warm humid week we had refreshing overnight rain which pleased all the plants in the garden. Today is about 15C with a very low cloud base...unable to see Urquhart Castle on the opposite shore through the mist.Showers throughout the morning and the cats are having a 'sleep in'. Whatever the weather the wildlife has to be fed. Cyril the squirrel is a constant visitor to the nut feeders during the day and chases off any other potential diners to his personal 'restaurant'.