Monday, March 30, 2009

Squirrels and snow.

 Over the weekend we experienced a real mixture of weather patterns - hopefully signalling the end of the mad March days. We were enjoying a glass of wine outside on the bench in the spring sunshine watching the squirrels on the nut feeders. The sun was quite bright so on came the sun glasses. A few minutes later we had a snow shower which began to seriously dilute the wine so we had to dash back inside pretty quick.
The squirrel disappeared up the tree.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ospreys return.

Ospreys have been returning to their Highland nests earlier this year. At Loch Garten on Speyside a regular female known as EJ was reported on Wednesday evening sitting in a tree eating a trout and then giving her old nest a clean and rebuilding with new sticks. Observers at the site are waiting to see if her 17 year old mate called VS will return to mate with her or will a new rival fly in to challenge him.
Keep up to date with the Loch Garten Blog.
We will be keeping a look out for Ollie, our own Loch Ness osprey who has been a regular visitor since we have lived here. He has a huge 6 feet wingspan and a gleaming whitish/cream underbelly and usually hovers overhead while looking down for the family lunch. We have been lucky enough to see him dive into the loch and emerge with a fish in his talons... a magnificent sight.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trip to Applecross.

The weather all last week was warm and wonderful so we took full advantage and enjoyed a pleasant drive to Applecross on the west coast. On the way we stopped at the Invergarry view point where we got chatting to some people travelling from Skye to Edinburgh. One of them pointed out that Loch Garry actually looked like a map of Scotland even with its own Forth Road Bridge. We passed The Cluanie Inn after about 45 minutes and skirted Loch Duich with the ancient battlements of Eilean Donan Castle reaching out into the loch.Just before Balmacara we turned right onto the A890 to Stromeferry although actually there is no ferry service there. Drove round pictuesque Loch Carron and the head of Loch Kishorn. We turned left on the next road known as the old Cattle Pass which is the highest road in Scotland. Originally the only way to get to Applecross was by boat until the Cattle Pass was built in the 18th Century. This narrow road zig zags spectacularly for about 11 miles attaining a height of 2053 feet where there are breath-taking views of the triangular Cullin Mountains opposite on the Isle of Skye. 

We now began the descent to Applecross Bay and the welcoming Applecross Inn which was packed. The journey had taken us about 102 miles in 3 hours at a pleasant pace. From Applecross there are terrific views over to the Inner Hebrides - the isles of Skye, Raasay and the rocky outcrop of Rona.

The Applecross Inn

After a very good fish lunch and a walk around the sandy bay we took the coastal road back to the settlement of Shieldaig on Loch Torridon. This road was only built in 1976 as an easier alternative to the mountainous Cattle Pass. Travelled across to the east coast and home. The sun was just setting and provided a wonderful conclusion to a great day out. A good day trip from Aspenwood Cottage.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The wild snowdrops, the first flowers of Spring, are appearing in the hedgerows with their pristine white flowers hanging down like miniature candle lights. In April the wild primroses will bloom in great profusion followed in May by the carpets of bluebells. Spring is a really beautiful time of the year with lots of colour to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

International Space Station

Yesterday we experienced a rather chilly day with a clear blue sky which enhanced the snow topped mountains opposite. Enjoyed a lunch out at The Dores Inn and very nice it was too but just too cold for a walk along the beach. The Inn was very busy and we had to wait for a table.In the evening the setting sun lit up the isolated clouds as it disappeared westwards for the night. During our usual evening stroll around the outside of the house with the cats following in case we needed their assistance we noticed a very bright light in the blue night sky - top left in photo. We had heard recently that the International Space Station can now be seen with the naked eye on a clear evening and on further research on the internet we are sure that is what we saw in the sky. Apparently it is only second in brightness to the planet Venus.Read simplified information on the space station or more detailed information by Nasa.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Just when we thought that Spring was around the corner the weather this week has been alternating between rain and snow. At the moment you cannot see across to the other side of Loch Ness as the blizzard is almost horizontal with the strong winds. It is about 3C but the good news is that double figures are forecast for Wednesday so we might be able to escape for a day out then. We had a pre-arranged appointment with a person from VisitScotland last week and after a lengthy look everywhere in the cottage we were told that Aspenwood was awarded a top 4 star. We also had a visit from a greenfinch on the nut feeders which was a bit more exciting and much more relaxing. The chaffinch seemed a little bit intimidated by him and that menacing powerful beak. In this weather the birds and squirrels need feeding more than ever as their natural food source has not hatched yet. Purchased a 25kg sack of peanuts which should keep the wildlife going for a while.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Super Caley...

Yesterday our local football club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, sent a team down to Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow to play Rangers at home. It was a very tense match with no score on either side for most of the game. However, a last minute penalty by Ian Black gave Inverness a stunning 1 - 0 victory. Some of our guests, Steve, Phil and Tony are avid supporters and will no doubt be thrilled with the result.
It wasn't snowing when the match was all is now!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Time marches on.

March has now arrived with the hope of Spring sunshine. Unfortunately the forecast for tomorrow is significant snowfall on lower ground. Life goes on and the cheeky squirrels are still munching away at the peanuts so another 25kg sack is on its way. They cling onto the tree trunk with their very agile strong claws but at the slightest sound or movement they freeze to the side of the tree for ages and petend to be part of the woodwork. 

Caught an even cheekier male pheasant actually sitting on the bird table this morning and enjoying a breakfast menu of sunflower hearts, bread and porridge oats. The little chaffinch seemed quite stunned to see such a large bird on his food table.