Sunday, November 30, 2008

St. Andrew's Day.

The temperature dropped dramatically on Friday. Snow fell overnight on higher ground and there was a sharp frost everywhere at lower levels which is expected to last well into next week. In the afternoon I walked carefully down to the loch-side beach and felt as if I was in a picture postcard. All the pebbles and leaves were fused together with the frost making it rather slippery underfoot. Hadn't been there long when our guests staying in Aspenwood Cottage arrived on the beach with Ben the dog. They had just returned from walking to the Falls of Foyers and back and were now looking forward to a warming cup of coffee from their flask in their rucksack.

Today is St Andrews Day - the patron saint of Scotland -and it has been well below zero all day with a slight snowfall this evening. More snow is forecast for Thursday which will please our guests arriving next Saturday who have ordered snow for their holiday...anything to please !

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Hosts at Dores Inn.

 After reading the article below we decided to check out the Dores Inn to see if it was good enough to recommend to our guests......things we have to do !
'New mine hosts at Dores Inn promise fine local food.
Press & Journal: Published: 12/11/2008
A HIGHLAND couple whose restaurant at a wildlife haven has built a reputation for fine local food will spread their wings next week by opening the doors of their latest venture on the banks of Loch Ness. Farmer Quintin Stevens and his wife Michelle, who have run the Storehouse of Foulis visitor attraction at Evanton on the Cromarty Firth for three and a half years, have just renovated the Dores Inn.
As part of extensive refurbishment, they have fitted a new kitchen, dining area and cellar, and opened up the pub restaurant to allow views of the loch.
Mr Stevens said..It is an amazing location and we felt the south side of Inverness was lacking good eateries. What better place to be than plumb on the end of Loch Ness. We wanted to recreate a traditional pub with the emphasis on food, beer and wine, which I think there is a lack of in the area. We have recreated the menu with the emphasis on local food.
Former host and ex-Highland councillor Ella MacRae called time on the inn earlier this year, ending a half-century link with the place she first worked at as a waitress at the age of 15. The popular venue has become a firm fixture of music lovers who flood into the village for the annual RockNess festival. If all goes to plan the Stevens intention is to reopen the inn for business a week today.'
The Dores Inn is positioned at the eastern end of Loch Ness with commanding views and looking onto a wonderful crescent beach - ideal for a stroll before or after eating.
We found the staff very friendly and wearing attractive uniforms. The new manageress is excellent, really making you feel welcome combined with a vast experience of the hospitality trade and knowledge of food and wines. It now serves food all day - from morning coffee and cakes to lunch, afternoon teas and an evening meal. We were very impressed with the menu, the variety of food and 'specials of the day' which made actually choosing our meals rather difficult - we kept changing our minds. The food was wholesome and delicious, the atmosphere was relaxing and the staff were very attentive. There was a choice of fresh home made desserts or large slices of chocolate or lemon drizzle cake which went down a treat. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and are so pleased to be able to recommend The Dores Inn to our guests and also to have somewhere pleasant and local to dine at ourselves.

November sunset on Loch Ness.

 Watched the sun setting on Loch Ness yesterday at 3.30 in the afternoon - spectacular.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That was the week that was.

A real start to the week with strong winds and driving rain. Quite a few trawlers chose to use the Great Glen route to avoid the choppy Pentland Firth and several ferry routes to the islands were cancelled due to the high winds. The Loch Ness Lifeboat has been seen out on training exercises. We were quite surprised to see 'The Lord of the Glens' cruise liner travel along Loch Ness towards Fort William. It glided silently past in the dusk of the late afternoon with a light shining from the front mast.
The wildlife has been abundant in the colder weather. The red squirrels have been daily feeders on the nuts.

In the morning the various birds wait in the nearby trees for their breakfast menu to appear and the tiny, but bold, coal tits fly round the table impatiently as I put out their favourite sunflower hearts. Male and female pheasants have been sauntering up the driveway and then hop over the small fence and disappear down the bank. Deer have suddenly emerged out of the bracken in the surrounding forest and munch on the leaves of the blueberry bushes.
Had snow flurries yesterday for most of the day and we woke up this morning to find it had laid on the high ground opposite. More is forecast for today all over the country with temperatures well below freezing tonight. Definite log fire and a few warming drams called for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Long Tailed Tits are back in the garden.

 The distinctive sound of a flock of long tailed tits calling to each other was heard well before they appeared out of the trees and fluttered between the nut feeders and fat balls. They are easily recognisable by their small round pinkish tinged body and a very narrow long black and white edged tail, the longest tail of any British bird in proportion to its body. They did not stay for long and soon zoomed off to their next destination.
See them in action.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


 A colourful goldfinch visited the nut feeder on the fence at Aspenwood on Saurday morning...a welcome sight as we do not see many of these although they are now becoming more common as garden birds. There are several bird books as well as a pair of binoculars in the cottage for guests to use to get a closer look at the various bird life that visit the table and feeders and bird bath. The goldfinch had a good feed and totally ignored the numerous playful red squirrels chasing each other along the fence and feeding on the adjacent feeder. The collective noun for goldfinches is a charm...what else could it be ? Another cheeky squirrel really enjoyed the peanuts that were scattered on the ground by the side of the bird bath.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seaside resort of Nairn.

 Drove a pleasant 30 miles to the seaside resort of Nairn. Parked the car near to the beach, wrapped up warm and enjoyed a walk along the footpath to the harbour where most of the boating craft are now safely moored for the winter. Cut through the sand dunes and had a more exhilarating stroll back along the beach listening to the seagulls and the waves crashing on the shore, an ideal place for dog lovers. Strange to see so many colourful autumn leaves amongst the seaweed on the sands.
Sit back, enjoy the movie and pretend you are on your holiday.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Trip to Pitlochry.

 Went for a day trip to Pitlochry-about 100 miles down the A9-to MacDonald the Butcher's to fill up the freezer for winter. As we drove through the edge of the Cairngorm National Park the snow became more prominent on the mountain tops. The Cairngorm ski season has opened one month earlier this year because of the heavy snowfall on the mountains during late October.
After a stroll down the high street and a look in most of the shop windows,several of which were adorned with christmas decorations,we left our order with the butcher and went away to have lunch. Drove to our secret location up the hill behind Pitlochry village along the colourful autumn lanes.

 Enjoyed a picnic on the bench by the pond gazing at the wonderful reflections and watching the ducks and cygnets which have grown since we last saw them in May.

After collecting our meat order from the butcher we had a leisurely drive back home and looked forward to Aberdeen Angus roast beef.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Chill out at Chanonry Point.

Went with great expectations and a packed lunch to Chanonry Point on The Black Isle in the hope of seeing the Moray Firth dolphins. Checked the time of the high tide and got in position on the beach about one hour beforehand and waited excitedly.The crowd gathered and we all froze must have only been about 2 or 3 degrees with a biting cold wind blowing in along the Moray Firth from the North Sea. A few sightings of the odd fin and nose but not enough for any photos. We did get talking to a fellow watcher who had come all the way from Edinburgh in the hope of seeing them, as her son sponsers one called Sundance. Fortunately for us we can easily come to Chanonry Point any time we fancy a break with the chance of seeing the dolphins.
On the drive back home we spotted a red kite gliding above us. These have recently been reintroduced onto the Isle and have been breeding successfully. Stopped at Dores for a view down the Great Glen....beautiful with the snow still on tops. Back at home we found five female pheasants on the rockery, a cheeky red squirrel on the bird table and later in the dusk of the evening we were visited by a young stag and hind...what a lovely place to live whatever the weather.