Monday, December 28, 2009

White Christmas

It started snowing here on Saturday 19th December and we have had flurries and heavy showers ever since, even snowing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was really magical especially as we were watching the Bing Crosby film 'White Christmas' as the snow actually fell giving us and our guests a real White Christmas. Our guests have had to leave their cars at the top of the lane leading down to the cottage as the snow is just under one foot deep. The temperatures are well below zero during the day now with the threat of -10C tonight. Look at the forecast for the Highlands. Beautiful as it is we have not been able to get out in the car since last Tuesday as the driveway is sheet ice and the side roads are treacherous. Birds have been well fed and the deer and red squirrels have turned up now and again.
Enjoy the photos......
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all who enjoy this cottage diary

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Red squirrel in the snow.

While we were preparing the cottage on Saturday for our Christmas guests the snow began to swirl and then fall quite thickly. We were very surprised to look out and see a red squirrel on the nut feeder outside the lounge window. The longer he stayed eating the more snow gathered on his bushy tail until he looked a bit like a Christmas decoration but he ignored it and just carried on enjoying his lunch. The red squirrels do not hibernate and need feeding all year round so thanks to everyone who 'Bookmarked a Squirrel' during the year.
Enjoy seeing him turning into a Christmas decoration.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lunch in Dores.

Met up with friends and enjoyed a very good lunch at the Dores Inn with lots of laughs and a varied menu. We all enjoyed different foods including local braised pheasant,Black Isle turkey,steak and pork. The restaurant was tastefully decorated and very busy and noisy. It is always advisable to book a table especially at this time of the year. Luckily venison was not on the menu as we had a young deer wandering along the front bank in the afternoon and we would have felt rather guilty. Thick snow on the mountains now and a few frantic flurries around the house with the promise of more heading our way over the weekend accompanied by plunging temperatures. Our Christmas guests are arriving on Monday after staying near Loch Lomond on the way up from Yorkshire. The scenery is looking very festive now and we could be in for a White Christmas which would thrill their two boys. The numerous birds are well fed every day and we get an amazing variety of bird life at all the feeding stations dotted around the garden although smashing through the ice every morning on the bird bath is becoming a real challenge

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Freezing fog.....

Could not see anything out of the windows yesterday morning except a very thick fog which stayed for most of the day. Could just make out the trees in front of the house but no sign of Loch Ness and we felt really cut off. The whole of the east coast had it very bad and Inverness airport was closed for a while due to the extreme foggy weather. At 5pm a mountain rescue team were called out to an area known as the Lost Valley in the Three Sisters in Glencoe in the Highlands to assist two climbers who had foolishly ventured out in these atrocious conditions. Unfortunately one of the climbers had died after falling in the mountainous area and the other is now recovering in Fort William Hospital. Today the fog has lifted slightly and we can see a little more of the loch and Urquhart Castle looming eerily out of the mist on the opposite shore. It will be below freezing all day and promises of -4C tonight. The log fire beckons.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pheasant for Christmas ?

Spent the morning up at Aspenwood decorating the tree and making the cottage really festive for our special Christmas guests. Every time we looked out of the window,hoping to catch a glimpse of a red squirrel, the fog was still there and we could not see anything beyond the tree line at all. We know the squirrels are about as we have spotted a few dashing around but usually at this time of year they rely on their secret hoard of nuts that they buried nearer their dreys in the better weather. We did have a rather plump female pheasant strut along the top of the fencing. This reminded us to sort out new fencing at the front of the cottage during January as it is in need of renewal. We hope to have a platform along the top enabling the squirrels to perform to their hearts delight for the watching guests.When we came back home the male pheasant was picking up the residue of the bird food under the feeders We do feel that these are the same pheasants that we saw grow up from fluffy chicks in the summer as they really know their way around and where all the food is likely to be. The thick fog has stayed all day and the nights are now in the below zero zone. Enjoyed a lovely evening yesterday with guests and we sat by the fire having a good chat or blether as it is known north of the border.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Scenic route home.

Had a really good day out yesterday - clearing our gutters! This is a job we both hate but one which has to be done - one of the perks of living in a forest full of leaves and pine needles. The overnight rain finally washed them clean and now our gutters sparkle like new. Unfortunately it also washed quite alot of the snow away from the mountains opposite apart from the very tops. On our way back from Inverness this morning we took the scenic route home passing by the lochs on the top road, a road which used to be the main route from Inverness to Fort Augustus. This is always a pleasant ride which we never get tired of as there is always something new to see and my camera is always at the ready for snapping birds,wildlife and scenes such as these.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Long tailed tits arrive.

Very cold today with freezing fog drifting down the Great Glen from the west. For a few hours in the late morning the fog cleared revealing a clear blue sky with snow still laying on the mountain tops opposite. We wrapped up warm with the intention of clearing our gutters of debris but found that the leaves in the gutters were actually frozen to the plastic pipes and also the hose was frozen. We had a quick vote and abandoned the idea and decided to wait until the temperature was at least over zero. While we were inside warming up with a special coffee we noticed a flock of long tailed tits arriving on the nut feeders and suet balls...their first appearance this winter.