Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cee's fun foto challenge: Gardens (of the quirky variety)

Yes, another challenge, but part of blogging is connecting with other bloggers and I love how differently people interpret themes given by the challenge setter. Cee's fun foto challenge (CFFC) is a weekly themed challenge with a photo or photos from our archives or totally new pics.

This weeks theme was Gardens and I have loads of pictures of these so decided to choose the slightly quirky ones to share with you.

This garden had loads of interesting creations in amongst the plants with this cheeky chappy catching my eye - I think with how big and red his nose is he may have a drinking problem.

This gardener has an interesting use for boots - very versatile planters.

Beautiful mini garden in a bathtub at the side of a road.

Seaside themed corner of a garden, complete with a fake seagull.

Before you go, why don't you pop over to Cee's blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with to interpret the theme - click here to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and enjoy some garden time this week.

Pamela & Ken

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cakes, a castle, and a monkey in a fez

This week our landlords gardener told Ken about a lovely coffee shop on the road to Grantown that we'd never visited, so today we remedied that very quickly. The Coffee Lounge at Dava School House serves Cairngorm Leaf and Bean coffee and very scrummy cakes. It's decorated in a really nice style with lots of natural wood and stone with quirky additions.

I loved this clock, with the missing piece of the face attached to the pendulum.

When we left the cafe we headed to Lochindorb which is a nearby loch with a ruined castle in the middle of it. It's a great place to see lots of bird life and in the picture below is a fairly well camouflaged grouse - I've zoomed in for the picture after this one.

I'm not sure if she was sitting on a nest or just staying still in the hope that no one would see her.

Lochindorb means Loch of Trouble in Gaelic and it is in the very desolate landscape of Dava Moor.

The castle in the middle of the loch was built in the 13th century and was inhabited by Scots and English during it's troubled life which ended in the 15th century.

As it's spring there were quite a few baby birds around including this family of ducks - there were at least eight babies and it's a good thing Ken didn't decide to record me as I sat looking out the window making oohing and awing noises for ages. I love baby animals as they're such cuties.

The other thing that we found really strange was the gulls that were nesting on the ground across the moor. I wanted to get a picture for you but everytime we stopped the car they all flew up into the air ready to dive bomb us if we got too close. As we looked across the moor there were little white dots where the heads of the gulls stuck up amongst the ground cover.

After a nice drive around the loch and communing with nature we headed for Logie Steading which is a rural shopping village. It has a great cafe and as it had been a few hours since the last coffee and cake it was time to refuel our energy levels. I had this delicious looking creation which was a mini banana loaf with caramel sauce on top of it.

There are lots of window boxes and plant troughs around the area and they are all gloriously in bloom - loved these as they were purple.

It's been way too long since I've been able to post about a nice toilet so was glad to find something today to share with you. These flowers were in the ladies toilets and they're beautiful as is the message with them. On the card about saving the bees it says; For the bee, the flower is the fountain of life, for the flower, the bee is the messenger of love.

There's a fabulous second hand book store at Logie Steading and I always go and see if there's any interesting books about cats, and yes I found two today, one from the sixties and one from the seventies. Ken found another great book for me and of course I had to liberate it from the shelves - it's a book of traditional Australian ballads which I've been trying to sing to Ken so it's no wonder he's just gone to bed.

The last picture I'm going to share with you is one of the  book ends on a shelf in the book store - it's a monkey, wearing a fez and a waistcoat, sitting on books and reading a book, and it's fabulous.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a really good week.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Top Ten Thursdays - Bucket List

This week with our top ten we're looking at our bucket lists - I have so many things that it's really hard to choose what to share, so decided to give you five that I've ticked off the list and five that are still to be done. Thanks as always to Tamara, Part-time Working Hockey Mom, for hosting this challenge.

Five that I've done:

1. Visit Paris with someone I love. Ken and I have been to Paris once together and it was a really fun few days - not quite as romantic as I pictured. The Eiffel Tower helped me discover my beloved's fear or heights and we couldn't work out how to open the window in our hotel room so we nearly died of heat exhaustion - at one point in the night I got up and laid on the tile floor in the bathroom to cool down.

2. Visit Dubrovnik. I'd wanted to visit this beautiful city since I was young and remember crying when I saw it being attacked in the war. When we had a holiday in Croatia on the island of Hvar we had a day trip to Dubrovnik and when I first saw it I cried again - it was everything I'd hoped for. The fact that a bird pooped on Ken's head whilst we were there makes it all the more memorable.

3. See the Southern & Northern lights. When I was little my dad woke me up one night to show me the Aurora Australis - beautiful green and yellow lights dancing across the sky. Ever since I've wanted to see the Aurora Borealis and this finally happened last year - living in Scotland is the perfect place to see them. I think I may have even cryed a little - are you getting the sense that I'm a bit emotional when happy?

4, Become a vegetarian. Okay, I'm only half way there, as we're now Pescatarians, but it's something I've wished I had the will to do for years, and yet when I made the decision it just took a split second. My reasons are very personal, but they include ethical reasons and for my health.

5. Marry my best friend. I always told people that I didn't want to get married and even had bets on this. Part of the reason was that I didn't think I would ever find someone to match up to my dreams including the fact that he had to be Scottish. How wrong I was and I'm now married to the most fabulous man in the world.

And now five things that I'm yet to tick off.

6. See Puffins in the wild. Since moving to Scotland this one is slightly easier, but we've yet to be in the right place at the right time. I think Puffins are such cute little birds with their lovely colourful beaks - be warned, when I do finally get to see them I'm sure there will be lots of photos where you have to play spot the puffin.

7. Have some of my poetry published. This is a difficult one, as to have poetry published you have to let other people read it and judge it, which is incredibly scary. 

8. Walk the West Highland Way. This walk in Scotland is one of the most well know long distance routes in the UK, starting in Milngavie and ending 96 miles (154 km) later in Fort William. It's something I'll definitely have to train for as I'm not the fittest, but I'm sure I can achieve it one day.

9. Be fluent in another language. The closest I've ever come to this is when I lived in Saudi Arabia for a year - by the end of my time there I could sit and have a semi sensible conversation with my patients. Unfortunately, as it's 24 years since I worked there, I now only remember bits of it.

10. World peace, end of starvation, marriage equality, no animal cruelty, and lots more along the same theme - I can dream.

So there you have a bit of an insight into the way my mind works - what's on your bucket list? Before you go why don't you pop over to Tamara's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - Click Here to Visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and see if you can tick something off your own list this week.

Pamela & Ken

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ancient woodland, ancient graves, and a pair of odd socks

In our previous post, a trip on the whiskey line, the train had a brief stop at Drummuir which we thought looked really interesting so after our train trip we went and found the station again.

At the station there are two wonderful carved wooden statues, one of an old man and one of a story telling chair, which I absolutely loved. I think Bramble looks really cute sitting in it.

The chair is set up with seats around it and I really hope it gets used by groups for storytelling.

The walk through the woods is really lovely and runs along the railway siding. The station is part of the Isla Way walking route which is 13 miles between Dufftown and Keith. It's one we're going to go back and do one day, especially the part between Dufftown and Drummuir as I'm sure we could do that in enough time to get the train back to the car.

In the undergrowth is a carpet of beautiful wood anemone. Interesting fact about wood anemone is that it is very slow to spread and can take up to one hundred years to spread six feet so a large amount of wood anemone is a sign of an ancient wood.

After our wander through the woods we went to a nearby church that we had spotted as it looked like it had a fabulous graveyard. The war memorial outside the church is really lovely but has several of the same surnames which is really sad in such a small community.

This is Botriphnie Church which was built in 1816, though the original church on this site was built in the 12th century.

The graveyard is a really interesting mix of the old and the new. Some of the really old headstones are propped up around the walls and others are covered over by the grass..

We found this headstone which dates from the 1600's and we loved how it looks like they just kept adding people wherever they could fit the writing.

This headstone is an old example of recycling - on one side there is the inscription for whoever is in the grave and then when you look at the back there is an upside down headstone which is obviously older. See, recycling isn't a new idea.

Here's a couple of the graves that the grass is taking over - some of the writing is visible on the one on the right which shows it is from the 1600's.

Here's another headstone from the 1600's that was propped up against a wall with the moss slowly enveloping it.

I have to give a warning before the next two photos - WARNING, WARNING, ugly angel/cherub alert. The duo aren't the prettiest, but the next one is quite disturbing and I think it was done by someone who has never carved a face in their lives.

Two of the gates in the churchyard - I love old metal gates, they add a touch of atmosphere to the setting.

There weren't very many celtic crosses but these two are lovely with beautiful carvings on them.

 This bench in the church grounds is to the memory of Reverend Ranald S R Gauld who was minister of the parish 1995 - 2014. We were intrigued by the odd socks carved into the bench so I googled the minister when we got home and discovered that he did indeed wear odd socks when he preached. There are two other benches to commemorate him that are in the grounds of other churches in the parish, and yes, they have odd socks on them too - I think we'll have to go and find them one day.

One of the modern headstones for a lady who died in 2012 had a beautiful inscription from her husband; "she was the love of my life and my best friend". So lovely and heartfelt.

As we walked around the churchyard there was a really strong smell of garlic in the air, which was due to all the wild garlic which was in bloom beside the little stream.

Just a few random shots from our journey home - landscape view, a lovely house that's in desperate need of some tlc, and a car in my favourite colour.

It was a great day out in a lovely area which we would definitely recommend you visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and be kind to yourself this week.

Pamela & Ken

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A trip on the Whiskey line

What do you do when you haven't' got anything planned for the weekend and are feeling a bit unmotivated? Well, you drive to Dufftown (41 miles away) and take a trip on the heritage railway that runs between Dufftown and Keith. The railway was opened in 1862 and was closed in 1991 but then a group of devoted railway enthusiasts got together and reopened the line in 2000.

The Keith and Dufftown railway association maintain the station in heritage style and it's really lovely.

I loved this drinking fountain with the enamel cup chained to it. Great luggage scale inside the station.

The journey between the two towns is only 11 miles but takes 38 minutes with incredible scenery on the way. As Dufftown is the whiskey capital of the world you go past lots of distilleries. On the train there is a proper old fashioned conductor who comes around and punches your tickets.

I know it's difficult to see but this field was full of sheep with their cute little lambs and cows with their adorable little calves. I want to rescue them all and put them in a sanctuary where they'll never be eaten - need to start playing the lottery.

Anther field we went past was full of donkeys - I love donkeys, they're so cute. I'd definitely have room for donkeys in my sanctuary.

This field that we went past was more Ken's cup of tea - he would've loved it if the train had stopped so that he could explore all the bits and bobs scattered around.

There is one stop between Dufftown and Keith, Drummuir, where people who want to do any of the forest walks can get off. It only stops for a minute - it looked really interesting so we went back later to explore (post to follow).

At Keith you can go into the town and get a later train back, or like us you can hang around for 20 minutes and get the train straight back.

Keith station is restored with period touches just like Dufftown and we found out that they do train driver experiences, which would make a great birthday present for someone.

Our train sitting in Keith station.

When we returned to Dufftown station we went to the lovely cafe that is set up in an old kitchen car.

Of course we had to go in and have a lovely latte and cake - it was scrumptious.

There's lots of old photos on the walls of the kitchen car and some lovely old metal advertising signs.

So there you have it, our day that started out with us not knowing what to do ended with a lovely adventure that I've so far only shown you half of. Until then, be good, stay safe, and have a wonderful week wherever you are in the world.

Pamela & Ken