Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The land of the Swiss

Icelandic volcano ash permitting, I will be winging my way to Switzerland in a few days for a holiday and I am so looking forward to being back.   It's been two years since I was last there and that is a long time not to see a particularly dear friend.   I was unable to make last year's trip, in large part, because of the chaos caused by the dust spewed out by the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption (more images here).  This year, tickets booked, airline strikes over and fingers crossed (let's hope the latest Grimsvotn volcanic eruption has done its worst) and I'll be on my way. 

Some pics taken during previous visits to get me in the mood.

from the Graubunden Region

And if luck takes a bad turn and the latest volcanic eruption interferes with my return travel plans, I can think of worse places to be stuck until the air clears. 

Bis später!  Aufiedersen!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

"Doon the Watter" - Dunoon and Benmore Gardens

Last Sunday Suzanne and I, gluttons for punishment that we are, headed "Doon the Watter" to Dunoon in Argyll.   We had committed ourselves to attend a craft event being held as part of Benmore Gardens Open Day and although I didn't have a particularly good feeling about the craft event itself, thought that if nothing else, we'd be in a wonderful location and we could take it in turns to look after each other's table to allow us time to wander and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

What then transpired wouldn't make much of a post.  Suffiice it to say that my uneasy feeling was justified.  When a "craft" event has you placed next to someone who is selling shop bought hair brushes and Avon costmetic products - you just know you're in the wrong place. 

The weather toyed with us the entire day.   When it rained - it was in torrents.  When the sun shone - it was glorious.  When you're in a marquee with wet grass underfoot and gusts of wind blowing giant water drips over your products - hugely frustrating!

However, nothing could take away from the fact that Benmore Gardens, what little we saw of them, is a stunning place.    So much so that we have resolved to make a proper visit over the summer (perhaps expecting summer weather is tad optimistic) but sometime in the next month or two we will take another trip doon the watter and take in the delights of this beautiful place.

In between showers - below is our day in pictures (click on pictures to enlarge). 

Taking the ferry from Gourock - the journey was cold wet and windy - with little to see - simply dreich!

Dunoon in sight and our journey to the gardens

Some pics from the garden - when the sun shone

The beauty that surrounded us

Time to head back to Dunoon to await the ferry.  Bottom right photograph in this goup is Heilin' Mary located at the Pier overlooking the River Clyde and towards her lover Rabbie Burns.

Fantastic Dunoon Ferry Terminal

When the weather is kind to you - the views!

Looking back on it a week later, it looks like a pretty good day out actually!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Loch Fyne - So Fine!

On Saturday I accompanied Suzanne to the Loch Fyne Food Fair where she was exhibiting in the Craft Tent.  The weather forecast was for sunshine and heavy showers - and so it was - but we managed a pleasant journey there entertained by the majestic Scottish landscape.

On this occasion I was a travel buddy/visitor rather than a stallholder so I was able to enjoy the day wandering around and clicking away on my camera - in between the driving rain, sunshine and howling wind! In Scotland you'll never be stuck for conversation because there's always the topic of the weather.  We say  "stand for  10 minutes and it'll change" - and it did - every 10 minutes! 

I visited the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Farm Shop stocked with the best of Scottish seafood and delicacies. 

As long as the weather conditions were right I snapped away.

Since my last blog I have discovered the joys of Picassa.    As I had taken lots of photographs (too many for my blog) I experimented with the Collage element of Picassa and so,

here in pictures, is a flavour of the day - and boy were there some flavours on the day!  The best of Scottish fair was on offer. Lots of people came and ate lots of delicious food. The smell of the award winning Arbroath Smokies, smoking outside in the traditional way, was outstanding and there were queues of people waiting to purchase pretty much all day. 

Suzanne's table was tucked in the top corner of the craft tent and she was in good company!  Tom Butcher's (Mansefield Studios) pottery pieces were on sale from the table next to her.  Next to him was Sam of Highland Bling jewellery.  It was a nice corner selling wares of a high standard.  If you click on the photograph below,  Suzanne's table is top right - and beautiful were her Harris Tweed and Japanese Linen products too!

In the evening there was to be a ceilidh but no heel stompin' or toe tappin' for us - we were tired and ready for the journey home.   On the way, we stopped to spend some time in the tranquility and beauty of Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens where the bluebells were in bloom (though a little drookit (soaked).  A beautiful spot - but we could have done without still more rain!

As tradition would have it, no day in the countryside is complete without a fish supper at the end of it, so we stopped at the Chippy in Arrochar

and drove to the car park in Tarbet where we scoffed our (not exactly award winning) fish suppers overlooking Loch Lomond (bottom pic left).  Another lovely day spent in the Trossachs! (Sigh!)

(I must say, I'm loving the Collage facility in Picassa - allows me to post more picutres this way.  Click on each photograph to enlarge.)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Fickle or Faithful - which are you?

A number of years ago  I discovered the Cath Kidston brand and I really liked it.  It was fresh, flowery, and, at that time - for me!  

I've purchased some of her distinctive boxes and fabrics and various bits and pieces online and, as with virtually all fabric I have bought over the years, I intended to make something with it.  Slight problem then (slight problem still) - I am useless with a  sewing machine!   Anyway, the fabric has been stored in one of my many, many  "drawers of good intentions"  - and there it is destined to stay for the foreseeable future.   Why?  Because Cath Kidston products appear to be everywhere I look these days!

And today another of her shops opened in Glasgow city centre!

Great for Cath Kidston but the joy I feel when I find something I really like dissipates when it becomes (in my opinion) too popular.   I'm afraid I show my fickle side, and don't like it so much - so I drop it!   Am  I unusual in this regard?

In my heart I think I still like some of her products - but I know I'll like them more - when they are less available!

Are you a fickle or faithful shopper?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Road to the Isles (6) - Morvern Gallery and the Stones of Callanish

Still on the Isle of Lewis, on the same day as visiting the Blackhouse we managed to fit in a visit to the Morvern Gallery.   The Gallery is a beautifully converted stone byre and coachhouse.  It is bright and airy and on a good day has great  views over the Atlantic from its large picture windows.

I treated myself to this lovely piece of Hebridean basketry.

From there we headed for Callanish and the Standing Stones.  The atmosphere during this visit was very different from our previous visit - not least because we were sharing the space with what appeared to be a camera club outing - and red anoraks were clearly the order of the day!  I did manage to time my picture taking as the anoraks disappeared behind the stones.    But it was a different time of year, a different time of day - just very different. 

Stones erected some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago - simply awe inspiring!

A long and very interesting day.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Commemorative Stamps Giveaway - Winner

A short post to say that the winner of the commemorative stamps is.......  Annabella!   Thanks to the others for your comments.

Annabella, please send your contact details to me at bellabheag@hotmail.co.uk and I'll get the stamps in the post to you.

Road to the Isles journeys will resume shortly.  Got to get those details down for posterity!