The Woodlife Way

Handmade in the Highlands - Woodcrafts and B&B

Month: April 2015

Can’t see the mountains for the trees.

Two exciting happenings to report today

1: our firewood was delivered – all 25 tons of it! Hooray! (Nearly in time for the summer!) However it’s taken up most of the bottom of the garden and in some places partially blocks the view – so that’ll be the job for the next few days – move the wood… So that guests will be able to see beyond the stack. Not complaining though, it represents warmth…. Although we did look at it and also think ‘Man, that’s a lot of buttons!’ It arrived at 8pm this evening and lo and behold three cars needed to pass in the 20 minutes it took to crane of the timber.

forestry lorry

forestry lorry

can't see the mountains through the trees

can’t see the mountains through the trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2: We finally got our awaited letter from the crofting commission. All is good and we should be fully-fledged crofters by 25th June. Lets just hope we haven’t bitten off more than we can chew!

We did manage to get some of our interestingly shaped newly finished beech buttons onto the new hessian backing amidst all the excitement.

 

beech buttons

beech buttons

 

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The promised fauna update is still a little lacking due to the cold spell. Last week it was more spring like and it felt as if the seasons were changing – but everything seems to have stopped for the mo. What was around last week is all that’s around this week – dog violets, gorse flowers, buds starting to break on the trees – and in some sheltered areas the first few leaves, catkins on the willow – including creeping dwarf willow (a new and interesting discovery this one and we like it’s name!), the fruit bushes have flowers and the butterwort leaves are starting to emerge. The mosses and lichens appear to be turning greener too and every once in a while you come across the tiny flowers of the Devils matchstick (also known as British Soldiers) – and that’s about it! So when more happens ‘out there’ more will happen on here.

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british soldiers

Heading in two directions

I today went to the sprawling metropolis that is Thurso It is the northernmost town on the British mainland, at just under 50 miles away it is our closest town! You get used to the distances pretty quickly up here – our nearest roundabout is about 70 miles away and Thurso is home to our nearest traffic lights! Todays trip involved adding some of the newly finished buttons (Spalted Beech on our latest tartan backing) to our retail display in Elizabeth’s fabrics (a great fabric, crafting, sewing knitting etc shop) I also took a couple of our new extra large Driftwood feature buttons. We also needed some new hessian – we have been hunting high and low for a new natural heavy duty backing and hooray to having finally found it! Our trips to towns are few and far between because of our rural location so we have to make the most of every urban adventure – we keep a town ‘to do’ list open so that nothing is forgotten.

Lea and Bruiser caught a lift to the Melness end of the Kyle of Tongue causeway  as a starting point for a walk home. It is one of our favourite places for nature watching. It is here we have seen otters and long tailed ducks to mention just two species and where we regularly see the lapwings at this time of year and the seals bobbing about in the water.

Before leaving I set up the table and sander for Lea and she sanded big feature apple wood, little apple wood and some more big feature pine buttons that we cut last week – they still need more sanding but a start has been made! Photo’s to follow. Weather wise – I had snow, hail, rain, almost sunshine and clouds….lots of clouds, whilst Lea had mainly sunshine, until I got home and brought the cold and cloudy with me! except for one moment when the sun shone on Castle Varich across the water, giving it such clarity and highlighting it’s spring browns it made a striking contrast with Ben Loyal behind still frosted in snow – and all from the comfort of a warm living room! See photo below.

contrasting varich and loyal

contrasting varich and loyal

We will for tomorrow’s blog add an emerging flora update!

The day dawned bright and clear….

The day dawned bright and clear…. And cold! The snow was still on the ground around the house and covering the mountains – a good morning for new website photos! So we dug our winter clothes back out and took a stroll to the cairn that’s half a mile behind the house and which affords the most incredible 360degree panorama – from the Watchhill past Ben Loyal, the Kyle of Tongue, Ben Hope and across the Moine, taking in Ben Hutig and around to Talmine and it’s harbour, over the Atlantic and the Small group of islands in the mouth of the Kyle – truly stunning stuff and probably my favourite view point in the world! Glad it’s only a short stroll away!

Those Photo’s taken we jumped in the car and headed to loch Loyal (the deepest local inland loch at 200ft) for some more photo’s – really beautiful walk along the beach next to Ben Stumanadh and a recent muir burn with blackened heather stalks contrasting with the snow. We were still dressed in winter gear when halfway into our walk the wind dropped and the sun beat down – not really hot, but when you’re wearing lots of clothes it felt a bit like an oven! By the time we got home all the low lying snow had already melted away.
The sun however, soon went too, to be replaced by more grey skies and cold winds – strange old days!
We hid inside and buttoned away (making new strips of buttons, waxing, computering and trying to get the backing right for the big feature buttons) until the evening walk – and another change – large white clouds mixed with blue skies with orange and purple hues…. an incredible ‘sunset’ to round off the day.

We woke up to these scenes this morning

We woke up to these scenes this morning

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 on our walk this afternoon

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 after the muir burn

where loch Craggie and Loch Loyal meet

where loch Craggie and Loch Loyal meet

Spring is snoring

After yesterday saying that spring had gone back to bed, albeit with one eye open I can today say that both eyes are now closed and spring is snoring!
The clouds lie low over the land and for the first half of the day it’s been trying to snow – only light flurries, but constant – and the outside temperature is struggling to get over 5C!
Luckily we have no guests tonight as you can’t see the mountains, you can only just see the causeway! This is what spin doctors might call the haunting beauty of ethereal Scotland…
also luckily we have lots of work to be carrying on with indoors – trying to make a hat band for a custom order (have discovered that hessian is not ideal for this so looking at cotton herringbone ribbon), lots of photo’s of new products to take and upload, buttons to wax and stitch and the evil that is paperwork to start. If anyone wants to do this then we will put you up for the week, I hate paperwork!
In the early afternoon the clouds lifted just enough to reveal that all the surrounding hills and mountains and even creeping as low as a few hundred metres above sea level was covered in a dusting of snow – bear in mind this only happened a handful of times over the entire winter gives an idea of how wintry it has again turned!
We went for a couple of walks this afternoon – one by the banks of loch Hope and the other on the old Moine road, the sky remained overcast but the mountains were visible – and incredibly stunning, once again it’s hard not to take 100 pictures (actually took 107!).
This evening brought a snow storm that properly laid….. And so tonight we go to bed with the forecasters giving us temperatures of -6 overnight and snow outside! It is like winter – except true darkness comes after 10pm nowadays!
Well…… We moved here for colder weather….!

spring snowstorm over the Kyle of Tongue

spring snowstorm over the Kyle of Tongue

Sunshine in the snow

Woke up this morning to find Spring had decided to go back to bed, albeit with one eye open! Over Ben Hutig, the Moine and in the back garden it was snowing – and yet over the Kyle the sun was shining and the seals were basking on the sandbanks during the low tide, behind them the peaks of Ben Loyal and Ben Hope were dusted with snow and the morning light was glistening. The clouds were scuttling fast across the Kyle both high and low, one minute the mountain tops would be covered by wispy fingers the next the clouds would lift to reveal blue skies once more and again the light would dance across the countryside, highlighting textures, hues and colours across the landscape.  It was a morning of constant change.

We had a lovely couple staying with us in the guest room for B&B last night who also seemed totally taken by our Highland micro climate. The smell of freshly baked bread made its way through the house and over breakfast they were able to watch the seals and a host of garden birds on the feeders.

We took the dog for a walk in the afternoon around Loch Hakel, at the foot of Ben Loyal, the day was still a constant change with snow and sunlight still the theme, giant snow clouds engulfing the mountains and then as quickly as they came they would be gone and the sun would warm the air again.

A beautiful day of contrasts.

We hope these photos show this a little.

Loch Hakel at the foot of Ben Loyal. Snow cloud just moved over to reveal the sun once again.

Loch Hakel at the foot of Ben Loyal. Snow cloud just moved over to reveal the sun once again.

clouds coming

Clouds coming

blue skies behind

blue skies behind

and clouds going

and clouds going

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