Tuesday, 29 March 2016

An Easter break

Plockton  Ross- shire Scottish Highlands

Our easter weekend, my birthday celebration, was planned sometime ago by our friends Marlene and Jim, who live about half an hour drive West of Stirling.

So we drove up to them on Wednesday the 23rd and gave the new car it's test drive. We arrived at their home after about six hours including a pee & tea stop, at around 3pm. 
A journey of a tad over 300 miles via the M62/A1/M74.
The ride was quite comfortable for both of us, but particularly for me as the driver. 
I don't like the system that switches off the engine when stopped at traffic lights etc, but I now know how to override that.
We stayed with our friends for the evening, getting through a great deal of wine and spirits, and decided that we would set off in the morning at around 10am.
And so we did, after a good night's sleep, and headed for Plockton on the West coast, North east of the Skye bridge, via the A87 and A82.
It took us just under 5 hours including a lunch stop. I volunteered to drive for the whole break..
We were staying at the Plockton Inn for 3 nights b&b.
Our rooms were on the top floor of the annexe opposite, they were purposely chosen by Marlene for the view.
Pauline and me in room 13, our friends in 14. 
Very comfortable rooms, but for me, the tallest, twice hitting my head on a low door and on the eaves, was a quick lesson learned.
A quick sloosh down and then to the bar, the beers on tap were Timothy Taylors Landlord and the Plockton Brewery Hitched
I was satisfied to drink both as a tester, and had three pints before retiring for a shower,  to be back early for pre dinner drinks. 
Our table pre-booked for 7pm. 
There's nothing flashy or pretentious about the dining room, but the food on offer was excellent with a  long menu, and an even longer specials board.
There was some concern at first about the number of dishes on offer and the possible effect on quality. 
Any doubt was soon waylaid our individual choices from the predominantly fish menu, had all four of us well satisfied, and full.
It was a full house tonight, in fact all three nights were crowded.

The Plockton Inn

We were so satisfied with our food we decided to book the next two evenings for dinner, which quite fortuitously saved me missing out on the beers by having to drive further afield.
In the meantime, we went back to the now very crowded bar for live "folk" music played by local musicians. 
It was my birthday so the whole evening was thoroughly enjoyed.
Next morning breakfast was between 8 and 9am, and without going into detail of everyday of our stay, breakfasts were  very well cooked, and I have to say that my peat smoked kipper, on the first morning, was the best I've ever had. 
Full breakfast and smoked haddock with a poached egg, were enjoyed the next two mornings by me.
Marlene, Jim and Pauline didn't have a bad word for their choices over the three mornings.

The weather wasn't very good for our stay, so not a great deal of walking done, but what we saw of the area, and the Isle of Skye was enough for us to perhaps return again, maybe at autumn time after the midges had calmed down for the winter.

So, we drove back South on Easter Sunday for another night at our friend's house, before heading further south and towards Storm Katie on Easter Monday.
A damp journey home, but the storm had crossed the sea well before we got home to a bright sunny afternoon.
We settled down for the evening in front of the tele, and I finished off my bottle of Caol Ila bringing back a smokey memory of the kipper!

All in all a very good short stay, the Plockton Inn being well recommended by all of us, should any of my readers venture that way.
The Annexe

Eilean Donan Castle

The car is now well "run in" and has 1300 plus miles on the clock already.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

At the end of the day


That's it for another river season.
I'm sorry to say, and it all my own fault, that my trips to the river totaled three excursions. The Wye,the Dane and the Upper Witham.
The mojo is just not there, the thought of an hour drive to my nearest fishable river is just not giving me the spur on I most certainly need.. 
Roll on our last house move, which is no closer to actually occurring than it was last September. 
It will be closer to a river though..... when it does come off.
I did get out down into the valley on tuesday evening of last week for two hours, with just some cockles, hempseed and plastics. One carp to show for it at about 6lb.

Mother Nature

All around the garden the birds are showing their instinct for mating with the blackbird, song thrush, robin, chaffinch,wren, woodie and collared dove all sparing for territory in their different ways. Still loads of sparra, but they seem to get on as group.
For the first time however, I was witness to the literally dying minutes of a tussle between two female blackbird.
I looked out of the front room window onto the garden, wondering whether to keep up with the neighbours, who've been cutting grass all winter, when I noticed a female blackbird  under the laurel hedge having a furious peck at what seemed to be another bird. 
At first glance I thought it may have been eating carrion.

As it turned out the bottom bird was still alive, but not giving a good fight of it. 
I took a couple of shots through the window glass, hoping that the one underneath would fly off, it didn't and the other kept up the attack.
After the top bird was frightened off, the other still managed a weak flutter for a minute or two and then stillness. 
She was now dead, so a fight to the death!

Talking of territory, a pair of house sparrow have claimed our nest box and beaten the great tit pair to it....so far.

The International Drinking Society

On our return from Plockton after Easter, I've arranged my birthday do with the old boys from IDS. We're meeting up at The Gun on the side of the Thames and Canary Wharf. 
An old pub site from the early 1700's.

Got a new motor