Saturday 30 May 2015

Cooking: The Books

Recently in a cafĂ© I had some splendid spicy lentil soup. I make a lot of soup. I have not made spicy lentil soup though. So I went to my cookery books and discovered lentil soup recipes do not abound. although, to be fair, The New Soup Bible did have 5 with lentils. I also found a pasta and lentil soup in Nigellissima. It would, of course, have been much easier just to go on line and choose one of the hundreds that will come up with a Google search. It made me wonder why, despite culling the cookery books several times in recent years, I still have two shelves of them: one in the main bookshelves and one in the kitchen. Apart from the simple fact that I like books the thing I love about cookery books is that you can browse and get ideas. That’s not so easy on the internet.

Sunday 24 May 2015


Saturday 23 May 2015

A Wee Trip

A week or so ago I decided that I would take a wee trip on Wednesday to Glasgow to see a friend for a few days. That involved an 0500 start. Why is it that for the previous two mornings I had been up well before 0600 but on the morning that I had to get up I didn't really want to? That's a rhetorical question (complete with ?) but it is always thus. Mind you the second I'm up I'm good and raring to go. I decided that I would go on deck for the leaving of the ferry, MV Loch Seaforth, from Stornoway's No 3 Pier. It was a cold but pleasant morning.

A few people have suggested that they would like to see more of the Island upon which I live so this summer I shall try and do more posts of the Islands. This is a start showing the town of Stornoway as we sail out of the harbour.

A few of the landmarks
MV Isle of Lewis berthed at No 1 Pier
We have three ferries here at the moment. I'l post about why on another occasion. 
Part of the South Beach Quay with the Lews Castle Grounds as a backdrop.
No 2 Pier is used for the fuel delivery ships and 40 years ago was covered, in season, with barrels being filled with salt herring.
The long-closed Caledonian Hotel where, back in the 70s, friends and I gathered on a Friday evening.
The first night I ever stayed on the Island was spent in the bedroom with the window second from the left on the top floor.
The old Harbour Master's Watchroom. The door behind the white van also led decades ago to the chair of John the Barber.
The Stornoway Town Hall. No longer used as a proper town hall but still a civic building.
The Stornoway Town Council met in the Council Chamber on the right of the building on the first floor.
It was in a committee room on the first floor to the right of the main entrance that I was offered the job that brought me to the Island.
MV Isle of Lewis with the recently renovated and restored Lews Castle. 
Lews Castle. At the top right of the picture can be seen the top of the Stornoway War Memorial

Saturday 16 May 2015

The Harris Hills

On my way into town (Stornoway) I have to cross the peninsula on which I live. 

At the highest point of the road across the moor one has a clear view of the hills of the Isle of Harris. I should, of course, have said that one sometimes has a clear view of the hills of the Isle of Harris. It has been know to rain on occasion obscuring them or at least interfering with the 33km or thereby between me and the hills you can see in the photo (somewhere round the end of the yellow line).

One day I shall do a post on peat cutting. In the foreground is one of the very few, perhaps the only, peat bank being cut on the Lower Bayble Common Grazings this year. When I arrived here four decades ago there would have been many dozens: most active crofts in the townships would have had a bank. 

This was the view a week or so ago:

Friday 15 May 2015

I've Reduced The Pile

This morning I decided (for the umpteenth time) that enough was enough. The pile really had to be reduced. I've been making considerable headway with the clearing out of the garage and my garden shed and the 'to do' lists for them have reduced to a single page each. However the myriad of scraps of paper and half-completed lists of emails, letters, blog posts, jobs-around-the-house, gardening take, and so on (not to mention the 'things-to-be-got/done-in-Glasgow' had become such that I was embarrassing myself by their multiplicity and beginning to get slightly apprehensive (i.e. terrified) by what I might find if (when) I read them. So before I set off for the gym this morning I started and I have now (afternoon coffee time) finished. The lists and scraps are reduced to five paper lists (several on my iPhone) and a shopping list. The shredder needs emptying. 

I have, of course, resolved never to let it get that bad again: fat chance.

Please tell me I'm not alone in all this.

On the plus side the garden shed and the garage are Really Tidy and I'm getting things Really Organised. Even my winter tyres are stored. The fact that I should have done this 20 years ago is beside the point. 

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Mices: An Update

Someone commented that they don't give up. Correct. They do not. I opened the bird seed container this morning and guess what? Two of the little creatures. It's taken me a long time to work out how they got in. They couldn't climb up the sheer plastic side because they couldn't do that to get out. They were attempting to jump out (the second photo froze one in mid jump). They must have dropped onto the lid from the bench above and then, because the lid was wood and gave their claws purchase, the walked side down and squeezed  under the lid. You have to admire their tenacity and skill. I've solved the problem by putting all the seed in the other bin which is metal with a close-fitting metal lid.

However as a reward for their tenacity I have established a proper cat-proof mouse feeder outside the shed so that they can survive but not encroach on my space.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Bottoms Up

I'm not sure how universal the expression "Bottoms Up" is but it's used frequently as a toast in the UK when pals are having a drink together.  The bottoms referred to are the bottoms of the glasses which have to be raised in order to pour the drink of choice into mouths.

Yesterday I was in the garden shed when I realised there was a fieldmouse in the shed too. Now I like mice but I prefer not to share my space with them because they make a terrible mess. Once when I came back from 6 months in NZ they had completely over-run the shed: there were hundreds of them. They had made nests in all the wellington boots with seed storage in the toes and lots of bedroom and breeding accommodation up the legs.  Even the bags of compressed peat had been hollowed out and were veritable warrens. Of course the entire contents of the shed had to be taken out and the place cleaned from top to bottom.  Since then I've taken steps to discourage them and have had no problems. However all the birdseed is a bit of a draw even though it's in large containers. The top of one large one was slightly off allowing access. I watched the mouse make its escape until it disappeared down behind one of the shelves. 

Then it turned into an ostrich.  Having made sure that it's head couldn't be seen it obviously failed to realise that it's rear end was far from hidden. So I'm afraid that I took advantage. As soon as I'd taken the photos I tickled it's read end and it disappeared with incredible speed out of the open door.