I still haven't caught up with everything so apologies these posts are taking so long to come through. I managed to upload the photos last night but didn't have the time to write anything. A quick update before I start.....the Polo was written off by the insurers but I have bought it back from them for £850. They valued it at £4,000 so, after the excess, we are left with £2,600 to get it mended. The quote for doing the work was less than that so we may have enough to cover the bill that has just come in for the Land Rover which needs constant attention to keep it running. Expensive though it is, it means we can get out of here in the winter snows; we'd be stranded otherwise. So.....every cloud.
Back to Scotland. Tuesday.....we decided to hire a boat for a few hours to look for seals amongst other things. OB's most treasured soft toy companions since he was pretty small are called Sizzie and Sam and are common Seals, so he was very keen to see some real ones in the wild. My mum had given us £70 to spend and it cost £60 to hire the boat so off we set on a sunny afternoon. It was heaven chugging around the loch and we almost made it to where Loch Goil meets Loch Long and then goes out to sea, but M thought it was too choppy so we turned back. On the way, I managed to get pictures of this Heron in flight. Aren't its wings raggedy in the shot above?
Diving into the water:
Not sure if this was the same one as I never saw the landing....
More chugging about; it wasn't a very fast boat. OB and M saw two porpoise dorsal fins rise out of the water and disappear very quickly but I missed them.....
And then we spotted the seals, basking on some rocks by the shore. OB was delighted and so were we. I took some much closer ones with the zoom but the boat was rocking about so much it was hopeless.
Sizzie (right) and Sam looking a little worse for wear.
There were beautiful Gannets soaring above us - again difficult to capture thanks to choppy water:
A red Breasted Merganser; a first for me:
We spotted this schooner in the distance early on with its sails down and then later in full sail. When I zoomed in I saw it was the Spirit of Fairbridge: a Gaff schooner built in 1982 and owned by the FairbridgeTrust, who help young people between the ages of 13 and 25 who find themselves excluded from society through drugs, homelessness, personal or health problems and gives them the opportunity to gain confidence and personal development. A professional crew operates the ship along with 12 young people for up to 7 days around Western Scotland and further:
We allowed OB to drive when there was nothing close by:
He drove us past our little house.....the bungalow in the middle of the picture. You can also see the house with the amazing viewing tower from the last post on the far right.
Wednesday morning kayaking:
And in the afternoon, we decided to climb the 'mountain' behind our side of the village. Not a big one but thank goodness it wasn't as OB and I had had enough by the time we struggled to the top. Staggering views though and definitely worth the two hour effort:
Thursday morning brought one of the highlights of any holiday ever and it only lasted about three seconds. We had an unwritten list of things we would LIKE to see whilst up there which included a red squirrel....check, Seals,.....check, Red Deer............no and a Crossbill.........no. As we sat eating breakfast at about 8.00am, something not on the list and that I had never expected to see in my lifetime sauntered onto the terrace: a Pine Marten. Unmistakable and frankly enormous so possibly a male. Bigger than Jack. A couple of people I've told about it thought I was talking about a bird so, in case you don't know what they look like, which I'm sure most of you do, here's a picture I found on The Guardian website:
The one I saw was much stockier and bigger than this but the colouring was the same. So, an exciting start to the day and then a lovely walk along the top track behind the house which took us high above the loch with beautiful views through both the pine forest and areas of less dense deciduous woodland.
I haven't cleaned upstairs for a long time and there are tumbleweed-like balls of fluff under beds and in corners. The bathroom is going to need an old toothbrush around the basin taps and it's at times like this I steer well clear of my reading glasses which might reveal the true state of affairs. Time to don my pinny and rubber gloves and get down to it. So, until next time and part 3 of our trip, I'll leave you with Jack on the Pine Marten terrace and the pair of them waiting for us at the gate to the beach at the end of the garden. The ladder was a bit beyond even Jack's capabilities.