The Woodlife Way

Handmade in the Highlands - Woodcrafts and B&B

Category: Fauna (page 1 of 3)

The longest day 2017

The longest day 2017

Wow, the longest day already and temperatures are starting to soar. With many friends living in the south having a hard time with temperatures passing the 30C mark and today is set to be even hotter.

Our guests headed of west yesterday to explore the Loch Hope, Loch Erribol and Durness area. We headed east to Duncansby head, The truest North-eastern tip of the UK, temperatures there I would estimate at around 15C with a fresh cool breeze making it perfect for a stroll. With those awe inspiring views of the towering Duncansby Sea stacks which makes you feel the size of a grain of sand.

Sometimes these very special places help us connect with our living, breathing, evolving planet that we call home. Nowhere is the saying “leave only footprints” more apparent than in these last untouched un-spoilt wildernesses.

The Fulmar filled crags were alive with frantic activity and the air filled with excited cries of the seabirds breeding site.

It is a spectacular sight with so many different species all going about their chores of survival. The top cliff ledges filled with Fulmar, the bottom ledges belong to the amazing Guilimot, the Arctic Skua patrolling the air just ahead of the cliff edge, and the amazing little Puffins and Pufflings in the grassy burrows among the thrift. What an absoloutely perfect day.

Many recent sightings of cetacean including Orca kept me at the cliff edge for a while although I was not long enough, no tick there.

We have had so many wonderful guests already this season, however so many of them stay for only 1 night and our time with them is brief. Some of our guests stay in touch with us which is really lovely. Some guests share the experiences of their stay in our area, We have permission to share with you some drone footage which hovers over our house and croft, and also flies all along the our beautiful beach, and along the neighbouring strath, we hope you enjoy it. I cannot upload video here so you will need to CLICK THE LINK TO WATCH VIDEO. Drone footage and photo’s

We also have permission to share one of our lovely guests beautifully engaging blogs of her experience of the North Coast 500 trip, which includes her stay with us. (day 3 into day 4) We hope you enjoy it, maybe like or comment on her page if you do. Thank you so much Sarah for your very kind words, we look forward to your return.x

I couldn’t find a link to the whole trip so here is a link to our part of the journey Sarah Mason Photography North coast 500 blog day 4 and if you click around you will find the rest of the trip with much information for anyone contemplating the NC500

We hope you enjoy our photo blog below which will bring us up to present day. It is currently June 21st, 17C outside, seals are on the sandbanks, cows are out the back, Steve took some photos of the Deer passing our bedroom window this morning at sunrise.

Rainbow over the house and landing in the Kyle.

Heartening to see that some of our smallest trees survived their first winter on the croft unprotected.Some of the birds from Duncansby.

Bruiser enjoying his walk

Calves coming up the driveway, Bruiser did try and give them a ball

Steve didn’t like my Robin

This made my Robin sad

To top it all off a fantastic spontaneous visit from Steve’s parents, Carolyne and Peter.


Another major event is the arrival of a companion for Saffy, her name is Gucci and she is adorable. They deserve their own blog post so I will try and put one together soooooon!



A productive period, an unusually wordy blog!

We have both rooms full at the moment, (a lovely family, with family connections from Talmine)  they are leaving today for Skye. We hope that they have a fantastic trip along the best part of the North coast 5oo route.
Breakfast room set for four people. With home made bread, home made bread pudding and flapjacks. 5 cereals, 2 fruit juices, yoghurts, cereal bars, fresh fruit. Cheese and crackers. Coffee and Tea. All by a log fire with views from the windows of snowy mountains and the sea. Not so bad.

Breakfast room set for 4

We then have sat sun mon free (from B&B) for crofting and crafting, I think!
We have been very productive though, as well as having the rooms booked, we have added some new products to our crafts and made lots of new stock, we sold so many items that we had to replenish, we only had 1 board of buttons left and had sold out of Knitting Jennies.
We now have some of our key rings for sale in Tommy’s Talmine Stores and post Office in….. yep you guessed it Talmine. Which must be the most picturesque location for a post office ever. I am happy for you to challenge my claim if you have one that you think could knock it off of our top spot and  we can put it to a vote? .Although even if you did find a competitor you would still need to compete with Tommy’s legendary sense of humour which we think makes the posting of a simple letter an event.
We spent a couple of nights away in a beautiful airbnb in rural Nairnshire, which was absolutely perfect.
This is a view from the door. Click on the photo for more information and booking site.

This was our weekend away view.

Back home,we have put some shelving in my shed which has enabled me to tidy and organise it into a productive workspace, Jobs like that are so rewarding because they make everyday life easier when you can just get at the tools you need without having to move all the tools from the day before etc.
We (Steve) has put 2 new wheels on the Buggy (croft tractor), with a tractor style tread which we hope will cope with our terrain as the golf grass tyres would definitely have had a melt down.
We laid some more track and gateway stone reinforcement. Now the prancing pony doesn’t need to get her feet muddy when changing fields. We have repaired (to a fashion) the fences in the Bull pen as this is where we will be introducing Gucci (She will be latest addition to our little clan) to Saffy. Gucci is a beautiful 14.2 coloured cob and Saffy is to date unmeasured assumed 15.2 ish coloured cob. Gucci is Piebald and Saffy is Skewbald.  Fingers crossed they will like each other and settle quickly, or at the very least not hate each other and get hurt. I am so nervous about it! same field or adjoining fields???  Both are barefoot so that is a bonus and about the same height and size. Happy horse photos for the next post I hope.! We made 50 personalised key rings for a beautiful holiday accommodation site in Germany, our first major pyrography job.
Here is Steve’s drawing of a Highland coo which we are using for a Highland keepsake keyring.

Steve’s Highland Coo

Very first Hairy coo keyring.

Very first Hairy Coo Keyring taking pride of place on our buggy Keys. On a very lovely little Beech piece Thank you Daniel

Daniel has been brilliant supplying us with some lovely pieces of wood please phone him 07771403961 for firewood Logs if you don’t have a Facebook page. Alternatively you could pop into The Altnaharra Hotel for a meal cooked by Daniel. We looked at many and this was the style we found that worked best with pyrography.

Then my Scotish thistle.

Scottish Thistle, Pyrography styleNo, we won’t give up our day jobs yet!


Tomorrow we have Tess coming (black lab) for a visit which will amuse Bruiser. More croft work and hopefully some cutting and sanding of wood in the garden for new stock. There is some beautifully marked Laburnham that we are very exited about which is currentl dark bark edge, very green and creamy stripped with a dark brown heart. I have cut a few from the very small button sized pieces and they are stable so I will attempt some of the larger branches this week.


Then a bit of roofing to make safe, and some walling to attend to. Oh and some trees need some extra protection as the deer have found and started on them. I had planned to make some paper this week for the feature button backing as we are running very low on them. But I am adopting the very Highland term of  “do it tomorrow”. There are some more photo’s but we haven’t got them into the computer yet so this is a very unusually wordy blog!

Catch up post. Mainly photo story.

I was so pleased to be invited to help (with the fleeces) In the clipping shed. The sheep were very pleased to be unloading the weight.

The clipping shed

The clipping shed

The clipping shed

The clipping shed

The clipping shed

The clipping shed

At the clipping shed

A short break at the clipping shed, Riona with her adorable Bo (Highland calf) and Bert (Bo’s very own pet lamb).

In the evenings I have been attempting to card and spin the wool. I have made a drop spindle and am at present getting the fleece to resemble thread! I learnt from youtube video’s and no 2 are the same so trial and much error! Time is the main factor.

We have had many visits from family and friends, sadly I have written the photos to our other hard drive and need to upload these before 7am (data allowance) So I will attempt another family and friends blog sooooooon!!

Here are some summer into Autumn photos.


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland


First snow of Winter 2016


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland




Amazing guests

These guys are professional photographers, check out their work.


Some things I love about the Highlands


The terrible two. Our lovely friends black labrador over for a visit.




One of our favourite ruins


Our lovely new fence on the croft. Thank you Tommy,


On the beach at the bottom of the croft.


beach Ben Loyal and Ben Hope


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland


From the back bedroom window.


Dunrobin castle.


Seals on the sandbank


Devils bit scabious sowing it’s seeds


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland


local wildlife


fallen from the nest but mum still fed and looked after it.


from the front bedroom window


most nights this week from the back bedroom window. The Aurora Borealis.


A trip down the west coast


First snow of 2016


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland


Walking in the Highlands of Scotland

Currently we are working flat out on the croft. We are building drystone walls, repairing tracks, fencing, planting trees etc. The daylight hours are short so sun up to sundown there is no time to waste having a break, drink, rest take photo’s etc. Another subject for the next blog. We are currently creating a track down our croft , which anyone who has visited will be aware REALLY needed attention!

Saffie is enjoying the company

Saffy is enjoying the company



Just June

The June photo blog is a bit late, we are already halfway through July… Hey ho!

One of the best things that happened in June was the first visit from eldest daughter and grandchildren, and how they have grown up in the last couple of years, from children to young ladies.




and now:


Young Ladies

We spent a lovely week together, and hopefully now that they have conquered the journey once it will be less daunting next time.

Missing family and friends is the hardest cross to bear when you up sticks and move hundreds of miles away to partake in a new life journey.

Saffy enjoying day 1 of her Turmeric concoction to try to help with her sore leg.

Turmeric face

Turmeric face

Field of view

Field of view

The view from Saffy’s newly bedded out shelter, whether she uses it is yet to be seen. She has no problem coming in when we go in there. Not so sure that she will use it to shelter from the extreme weather though, only time will tell.

We took a day out in the sunshine to visit Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, an incredible castle near Wick.

castle 2


and then on to see the puffins at Duncansby head


and Puffling


and of course see the Duncansby sea stacks, a favourite haunt of ours.

duncansby stacks

Cherries and Apples appearing on the new trees on the croft

cherries 2


One of our favourites, the beautiful Butterfly Orchid.


Bog cotton

bog cotton

Fragrant orchid and burnet moth


Not sure what this is so ID please?

id please 2

Bruiser having a majestic moment out on the Moine


Our first ever sighting of Red throated divers, so a very special day for us, they were on Loch Loyal.

red throated diver

We had to go out because Bruiser had his jabs – it’s only 70 miles to the vet! So we dropped down to Tain and had a little walk that included going over a pedestrian suspension bridge.

suspension bridge at Tain

Rainbows at the bottom of the garden.


Steves idea of a play on words…

Bruiser’s favourite tipple – a little drop of peat pool (a family favourite wine is Picpoul….. isn’t he funny?!)

peat pool

A Few other June photo’s showing off the Kyle!

The Kyle of Tongue Hostel looking splendid.

Youth Hostel looking spectacular

Sea Haar rolling in

sea haar

The sea haar later on, taken down on the beach.

Lovely furry little antlers

furry antlers

Being June we have also been chock-o-block with B&B guests – after the family left we only had 1 night off for the rest of the month – and we had to block that from the calendar so that it wasn’t booked out! Fantastic stuff!

We also received our 100th five star review, which we are incredibly proud of and can’t believe we have that many already!

Thanks to the Mackaays for the following – (can also be read here: along with all of our Guest room reviews)

“This was the best of the 7 AirBnB’s we stayed during our five weeks’ trip! Steve and Lea are wonderful hosts and have created a fabulous place to stay in the most glorious scenery imaginable. Every detail in the house has been crafted and set up for a perfect stay. Photos of the house and of the scenery are absolutely true to life. Steve’s breakfasts are a wonder and his service is impeccable. Enjoy the music, all who venture here! The ‘crafting and crofting’ lifestyle Steve and Lea have created for themselves and for others to enjoy is a delight. They are hospitable and generous hosts of the first order.”

You could not ask for a lovelier 100th review.




Savouring the last of winter

Savouring the last of winter

The front garden

The front garden 6th March

These last few weeks have mainly been about the snow. We love the Highland snowscapes and tend to spend as much time in the snow as we can afford

Enjoying the snow on the path to Varrich castle (Bharraich Caisteal)

Enjoying the snow on the path to Varrich castle (Bharraich Caisteal)

Steve and Myself both had Birthday trips, Steve’s (Cap’n Matt Black) we spent at The Cottage residential recording studio on the shores of Loch Fyne, with bestest bud and joint founder of The Black Wreck Music Project Defoe (Robinson Wreck). Recording some of the pirate songs they wrote together (in the Dorset Barrel) in a pro studio, we came away very happy with the results, we just need to mix and master them now. Any help with installing logic x onto our laptop would be appreciated! email us if you can help.

Whilst my Birthday we spent walking all day in the  sunny snow.

Loch Meadie

Loch Meadie

It was my absolute perfect day. Walking in the snowy mountain landscape along the side of Loch Meadie, With the Majestic Ben Loyal  Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck surrounding. We took our homemade bread and flapjacks for lunch, with our little Espresso pot of course, as we never travel without it.

Snowy walk

Snowy walk


Youngest daughter, her Partner and best friend and her partner drove the 700+ miles to visit us for the week in between our Birthdays which was brilliant. They had a great journey with a fantastic overnight stop in the Lake District on-route. They travelled through the snowy Cairngorms and arrived just after dark to vegetable curry and blazing wood fires. The highlight of their visit was our walk up Ben Hutig, mostly in the sunshine with the odd hail and snow periods thrown in to add drama.

Planking on-route to Ben Hutig

Planking on-route to Ben Hutig

Hat and Amy

Hat and Amy

Nearly there

Nearly there

Hutig snowcloud

Hutig snowcloud

We went from glorious views out over the Atlantic Ocean, of the Orkney Islands- to not being able to see the footprints we had just trodden. Glorious day indeed.

After the cloud

After the cloud

We also had a voucher to use from Airbnb which was about to expire and we used it to spend 2 nights in the Cairngorm national park. We stayed at Kingussie and walked up to the mountain railway and Ski lifts to watch the Ski-ers on another amazing day of sun and snow

Ski-ers on Cairngorm


only to awaken to a snowed in car and thoughts of another unplanned night on the road,

Overnight snow

Overnight snow

but as it happened the thickest snow had passed before leaving the Aviemore area so all was well.


On the home front we have been just as busy with

: Guest room – calendar already filling up with little space left for June or July and we even have bookings going into October!,

: Croft – awaiting the decision for a crofting grant to help with the fencing costs of the new planting area

: Buttons – getting some new lighter weight space saving display Trees made ready for this years new outlets, organising and cutting the new stock from this seasons prunings. (we still have a spruce branch to cut and collect from a neighbour, and already have orders for the Coasters which it will make).

: Renovation – preparing the Stone byres for their much anticipated new roofs. Trying to find dry storage for their contents whilst they are being done, and places for the new roofing material to live pre-use. As well as dismantling of the old tin roofs, trying to keep the stone walls in tact whilst completely removing all of the old timbers.

At the same time we are finding our time has to be managed to fit in the cutting and chopping of the firewood to try to keep the house warm to guest standard. Linen washing and drying in the winter.

Trying to get our new page up and running for our Wilderness music project.

Working on the packaging and marketing of the new Croft grown produce we are are adding this year.

The Snowdrops are adding their very welcome bloom, the the crocuses popping through, and currents coming into flower too. The frogs and Toads are making their presence known, The Lapwings have returned and the Skylarks have started to sing.

The birds are all busying themselves with nest material. The Marsh Marigold leaves are starting to appear too. The Gorse is starting to Bloom. We are awaiting the arrival of the first Melness Lambs, hoping they will be spared the snow and freezing temperatures this year. Last pictures for this entry are the amazing Mothering Sunday aurora. What a night!

Mothering Sunday aurora

Mothering Sunday aurora

 Mothering Sunday aurora 2

Mothering Sunday aurora 2

There was no way our little camera could shoot the whole sky which was filled with the beautiful show.


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