Posts Tagged ‘2016’

The Shout

September 19, 2016

When we holidayed in Scotland we called in at Tighnabruaich each evening because I could get internet access there and could send and receive messages. Our chosen spot was by the lifeboat station which meant we were there when the lifeboat was called out. It’s an inshore type. It was darkening as dusk turned to twilight.

I was sitting in the car when I became aware that the lifeboat was being hauled out.



It was pushed into the water on a cradle behind a special tractor.

image006Once in the water the engine was started.


The lifeboat set off.


As it set up its wake it nearly created the need for another rescue.


That floating pontoon really did the rock and roll but the photographer out on it somehow managed not to fall into the briny.

We saw the boat return, rather more sedately, when we were back at our holiday home in Kames.

The next day we visited the shop at the lifeboat station and learned what had happened. A boat described as a dinghy had suffered engine failure off the island of Inchmarnock. The sailor had installed his reserve engine which didn’t start. As he was drifting and without power he called for help and was safely rescued. He had called at the lifeboat station earlier that next day and, we were told, put a good contribution in the box

How lucky we are to have volunteers willing to ride out and effect rescues


On the Waverley

September 16, 2016

The paddle steamer Waverley has featured before on this blog for I have seen this lovely ship in various locations. However, at the end of July in 2016 we stayed in a location that was close to Waverley sailing routes. And, what’s more they were in Waverley’s Clyde area homeland for this venerable vessel had been built to take Glaswegians ‘doon the watter’ to places where they could enjoy sun sea and air. Our plan was to catch the boat at Dunoon for a tour of Loch Long.

Annoyingly, for me, it was not possible to keep tickets. I did take a photograph, though.


And so it was that we joined a queue of at least 250 people all boarding at Dunoon. It looked a lot, but somehow once on they seemed to thin out. It didn’t feel crowded.

But first let’s see the wonderful paddle steamer arrive.




On board it was really rather elegant. There was a café with Lloyd Loom furniture.



There was plenty of space on the open decks.


But for me it was the engine room that made it.

At the control panel.


The engine itself.


You can click here to see and hear the engine at work.

Or click here for a second film of the engine.

The scenery was as lovely as you’d expect. With a loch side castle at Carrick on Loch Goil as an end point.


Then back to Dunoon where we left this delightful boat to sail off – it ought to be into a sunset, but the weather wasn’t that kind.


Bragging rights

September 13, 2016

Back at August Bank Holiday weekend we had our village produce show. So who came away with the bragging rights?

Some of us have to make do with odd little bits of success and I am proud of the fudge I make. I have learned, by being a helper at the show, to take note of what judges like and to learn from what they say. I have learned that our food judge seems to be very fond of my fudge. It has won three firsts and a second in the last 4 years. It looks ordinary but it is packed with everything bad for you and seems to be very popular.


So that’s my fudge on the small blue plate and I’m totally happy for my wife’s sweets, on the yellow plate came third. And here’s the judge’s comment.

image004I’m very happy with ‘lovely flavour and consistency.

But my wife has the real bragging rights with a collection of trophies but I’ll pick on her first prize loaf of bread.

image006And the comment here…

image008Brilliant – now who wouldn’t feel just a tad smug with that comment?

Cotswold Summer

September 12, 2016

A couple of days ago I wrote about going to lesser known places. Bourton on the Water, in the Cotswolds, isn’t one of them. It’s a trippers honeypot and throngs with people. We were there for a visit in connection with a granddaughter back in August. It was a very hot day.

We met up with granddaughter at the model village. I was never well placed for photographing my people but I could take some of the village.


This group were posing for a photo taken by someone else. They were nothing to do with me, but were very cheerful and friendly.



It was out in the full sized village that the crowds became clear to us.


The world was thick with people trying to keep cool. And this photo has captured the village sign.


It isn’t my first choice to be in crowds like these were, but it is an experience and it is lovely to see happy people all around.


September 10, 2016


Regular readers may have gathered that I rather like going to lesser known places and lesser visited places. Kilchattan is close to the south east end of the Isle of Bute. It has probably fallen off the bulk tourist trail these days. It felt a homely sort of a place. What caught the eye straight away was a marine weather vane.


Now I found that absolutely charming. That’s a Clyde puffer used as a vane. It looks as though we had a North wind, but it was gentle and certainly not particularly chilling. And a bit later a latter day equivalent of the puffer passed, on its way up into the Clyde.


The vane was by a small jetty with gentle grassland reaching down to the shoreline.



Here’s a part of the coastal village – pastoral and very pleasing is how I judge it.


Despite the rural loveliness, the folks at Kilchattan clearly thought international.


Kilchattan Bay – popular with visitors for 7000 (yes, seven thousand) years.


Visit by a Princess

September 6, 2016

People expecting visions of female beauty or grandeur might as well look somewhere else now. There’ll be grandeur and some might think beauty, but it will be of an engineering kind. This princess is a steam railway locomotive which hauled a special through my locality on its way from London to Minehead.

Back in my train spotting days around 1960 I’d have said that the Princess class of locos was my least favourite of the express passenger designs I might have seen. There was a mix of regional bias and aesthetics in this. I automatically put the Southern Railway designs first and this loco was built for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

However, we steam enthusiasts take what we can these days and I was pleased not to miss this loco pass by.


The loco was built in 1933 and is called Princess Elizabeth. Actually, it ought to be the Queen now but it has always been affectionately known as Lizzie and the other dozen similar locos were referred to as ‘Lizzies’.

I never saw this loco in my train spotting days. In fact I don’t recall ever seeing one on a train. My sightings were of engines idle in a depot.

I’m reasonably happy with my photo. I’d have liked a spot a little further to the right to get a bit more side on to the loco. But other enthusiasts had beaten me to the prime spots. I could have gone across to the left, but then I’d have been shooting straight into the sun and had she been working hard she might have been obscured by wind blown steam.

So I took what I could.


And do you know what – she isn’t so bad really.

The Bute Sheep

September 5, 2016

Now how could anyone resist this gorgeous beast we saw when walking on the west coast of the Isle of Bute in Scotland? We were to the north of Ettrick Bay.


Actually, how could anyone resist the whole scene? Yes, the ram is a singularly handsome brute and he was one of several. But the green and the trees were a delight as well. But it had to be worth a bit of patience to get a closer view of one of the rams.

After a few not so good attempts I finally snapped this one.


The horns are spectacular although they may make things hard for the ram. Where are his eyes? They are hidden behind his horns. I love the nonchalant way he has one stalk of ‘grass’ in his mouth. It’s a bit like a traditional cartoon of a straw sucking country bumpkin. I think he’s a Scottish blackface. I thought it was worth going to Bute just to see him.

The big baler

August 31, 2016

What a transformation in the last 30 or so years. After the corn harvest by combine harvester, a baler would go round and compress straw into bales of a size a man could lift. That no longer happens in this area. The process is the same but the scale is different. These days the bales are enormous and need power lifting gear.

I took my suburban grandson to see harvest in operation on the edge of Salisbury Plain. The combine seemed to keep away from us but soon the baler arrived and grandson was impressed by the size of it.


I was surprised that the tractor drove along with the huge row of cut corn, as left by the combine, between its wheels.

Soon the first bale was issuing from the back of the baler.


Compared with days of yore this is a high speed process. It’s a big field, but it seemed in no time the combine had finished and there was a spread of bales across the field.

At this time of year farmers make use of time and so the next night, after dark, I could see tractor headlights in this field and I knew the bales were being collected into piles.

Since then a field a bit closer to home has been cropped and baled. This time it was a large round bale machine that was used.

I think harvest around here is now all but over.

Kilbride Bay

August 30, 2016

The Cowal Peninsula, where we recently spent a holiday, is a rather complex mix of land, sea and also islands. The arrow on the map below points at Kames which is where we stayed.


At the southern end of the bit we were on there’s a bay with a big sandy beach. It is about a mile’s walk from a car park which is just about big enough for three cars so it is never going to be crowded. The walk down to the beach gives you a chance to enjoy some delightful flora and fauna and that’s what we’ll look at here.

We’ll start with knapweed which happens to be one of my favourite flowers.


There is ancient and fantastic woodland to pass through.


The bracken is wonderful too but there is a well-made path and you do not need to push your way through it.


Foxgloves, which I also love, grow along the edge of the path.


As you get nearer the beach area it begins to look a bit like Scottish machair scenery. The sandy soil produces other


There are harebells amongst the ragwort and other flowers.

image014Now harebells are another of my favourites.

There is life on the huge beach, but it was a long way from me so my much zoomed in photos aren’t special.


That’s as taken – already on an 18 times optical zoom. So below we’ll do a bit of digital zooming as well.


Aha! It’s a ringed plover. There were quite a lot of them scattered across the beach.

Right. That’s moved us on to the fauna so now we’ll return to the woodland.

image019This was a tiny bird, making use of a bit of man-made scenery. I’m not 100% sure but I think this is a young chiffchaff by colour but its size made me think young goldcrest. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Cloud iridescence

August 28, 2016

Odd bits of rainbow in the sky

A few days ago we were driving home from the east which meant that as it was evening, we were heading into the sunshine. Up in the sky there were two blobs of colour in the clouds on each side of the sun – not that close to it but seemingly equidistant from it.

Eventually, after the best had faded rather, I was able to stop and get a photo of one of them.


I recall seeing something similar before – also when driving only that time on the M5 motorway with no chance of stopping.

So what, I wondered, caused these bits of colour. If we believe Wikipedia then this is cloud iridescence.

Apparently tiny ice crystals or water droplets cause this effect. It is noticeable in thin clouds and the droplets, apparently, diffract the light – separating it into colours. This is something similar to what you see with a thin film of oil on a puddle of water.

But whatever the science, it looks lovely and, apparently, is not a common sight.