Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Scottish Adventure - Day 5

I can't  believe that it's only Wednesday - it feels like we have been here much longer. After calling in at the Skye Quilt Studio, where I bought some fat quarters to sew some project bags, we headed up to the north of the island again. We stopped off for lunch at the Stein Inn, the oldest pub on Skye. I had a Scottish ploughman's, which was really tasty .....

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and Mr JK had haggis. Ugh! Not my kind of meal at all!!

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We spent the rest of the day driving around the Trotternish peninsula, stopping periodically to take in the views. The visibility was great and you could see the outer Hebrides in the distance really clearly. 

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Driving around the coast we came across lots of little piles of stones and rocks. There were easily one hundred there, I have no idea why! Please enlighten me if you know!

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The ferry had just left Uig as we approached. It sails to Harris and North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. I can't imagine what it must be like to live somewhere so remote. Mr JK and I talked about what we would miss. Although neither of us are great shoppers, we would miss being so far away from things like the theatre. I think these islands are wonderful places to visit for a week or so, but not to live permanently. 

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Tomorrow we are going to head down to the south of the island, should be good! xxx

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Scottish Adventure - Day 4

We went into Portree, Skye's main town, today. It has a small harbour with pastel-painted houses on the quay side. Although it's the capital of the island, it really is pretty small, with a handful of shops. I think the islanders must do a lot of their shopping online, because they would have to travel so far to get to what most of us would consider to be essential high street shops. Or perhaps they are just satisfied with a simpler lifestyle. I think it would be quite refreshing.

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We parked next to this van in the car park - the slogan on the side made me smile.......

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There was a very cute sheepy logo too - I love the way the sheep have been knitted onto the needle, don't you?

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On the way home, we stopped off at SkyeSkyns where we found out how the sheepskin rugs were made. We treated ourselves to two gorgeous merino sheepskins, and also a small one for a certain little pussycat. I think Flo is going to love snuggling into a fleece - after all, she is a huge fan of wool! You can see the fleece under my Shilasdair yarn haul - I bought two sweater quantities of DK yarn (the purple and the pink) as well as some skeins of 4 ply that are for various Ravelry swaps I'm taking part in. I can't wait to start knitting with it, but will finish my mink and cashmere sweater first. Hopefully the weather will be a little better tomorrow, as we are hoping to see more of the beautiful scenery. xxx

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Monday, 29 October 2012

A Scottish Adventure - Day 3

Oh. My. Goodness!!! Before I tell you what we've been doing today, I have to share with you the delicious beef stew that Mr JK rustled up for supper yesterday. It tasted so good. And even better, we are eating it again tonight, with a sliced potato topping. Mmmmmm! Luckily for me, Mr JK loves to cook, and I am happy to eat! So everyone's a winner!

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We went to the most westerly point on Skye today when we walked out to Neist Point lighthouse. The cliffs are stunning and in the distance you can see the Outer Hebrides. There was a good path all the way, although it was quite steep in places. I could feel the muscles in my calves!

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There were sheep grazing all over the headland, and yet again, wonderful views!

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The cliffs look so dramatic - on a stormy day it must be amazing with the waves crashing at their base.

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Around one more turn in the path and the lighthouse came into view. The lighthouse is still used, but these days it's fully automated. You can still see the old aerial rope-way pulley system which was used to take supplies out to the lighthouse cottages.

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It started raining after lunch so we decided to visit the Talisker whisky distillery. Mr JK is fond of a wee dram, so it was interesting to learn how it is produced. There may well have been a purchase or two!!

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On the way back home, we stopped off to admire the views ......again! It really is a beautiful island, and it's made me want to see more of the Scottish Isles. See you tomorrow. xxx

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PS - I thought you might like a taste of Mr JK's beef dinner - grab a fork and dig in!

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Scottish Adventure - Day 2

Back again at the end of day two. And I have oodles of lovely things to share with you. The sky got brighter as the morning progressed, so we decided to go out and face the elements. First on our list were the coral beaches at Claigan. We parked the car and set off walking.

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 There were breathtaking views around every turn. The colours of the seaweed were just amazing.

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The coral beaches almost appear white. The sand is actually made up from maerl, which is the calcified remains of a type of seaweed growing off the coast.

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We caught glimpses of seals swimming about off the shore too. Really magical!

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Despite the odd shower, the weather didn't spoil our enjoyment of such a beautiful place.

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Of course, with all that walking, you are bound to work up a healthy appetite! We stopped off at Jann's Cakes in Dunvegan for a toastie and some cake. There was so much choice, I wanted a bit of everything! Eventually we settled on a tart made with Skye blueberries and homemade lemon curd.......

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Aren't you impressed that there are two forks?!! Mr JK and I shared a piece and it really was delicious. The lemon curd gave it a lovely tang. Pretty soon, this was the scene ......

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We plan another visit there, purely for research purposes you understand! I promise to make a full report!

After lunch, we took the road to Waternish in search of the Shilasdair yarn shop. More beautiful views, and our first encounter with a sheep!

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The sky was blue and the sun was shining as we stopped to admire the views.

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We followed the road down to the Shilasdair shop, and while waiting for Judi to arrive and open up, we stood and took in the scenery that inspires some of the colours that are dyed here.

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Inside was a treasure trove of yarn, all dyed using natural dyes ......

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There may well have been a purchase or two or three.......... I'm saying nothing!!

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After all that, we got back home just in time to admire the sun setting. This was the view from the cottage. Can't wait for tomorrow - I wonder what we'll get up to? See you soon! xx

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A Scottish Adventure - Day 1

Well hello there! Mr JK and I are currently 'north of the Border' - we are in Scotland! On the Isle of Skye to be more precise. Skye is the largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides. If you're interested, you can find out more here. We left Norfolk after work on Friday and stopped overnight at Darlington. This was what we awoke to yesterday morning ........

Yes, snow!!!! A covering of the white stuff! Luckily, there wasn't much and it didn't stop us getting on our way. As we got further north, the weather actually got brighter and brighter. We stopped briefly by the shores of Loch Lomond - simply beautiful.

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 We drove along next to its shores for pretty much the whole length of the Loch. Breathtaking views!

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We arrived at our cottage later in the afternoon. It's pretty remote, on the edge of Loch Vatten in the north west of the island. The rain had set in for the evening, so we battened down the hatches, lit the fire and were lovely and toasty!
The rain continued overnight, but the weather is set to improve after lunch, so we shall get out and about and explore the surroundings today. Funnily enough, we are not too far from the Skye Shilasdair yarn shop!!! I can feel a woolly purchase or two! See you later. xxx

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Saturday, 20 October 2012

A weekend in Bath

Hello again! It's been so hectic here chez josiekitten that since returning from Bath last Sunday night, I've hardly had time to breathe, let alone blog!! Never mind, better late than never, here's a quick recount of my weekend.

Bath is, quite simply, a beautiful city. Its Georgian architecture is the first thing you notice - you can't really miss it! It was a fabulous place to be a student, and it looks like it has got even better since I graduated 25 years ago! I meet up once a year with four of my Uni friends. We usually take it in turns to host, but this year decided it was time to pay another visit to Bath. We did all the touristy things, of course.

The Circus .....

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the Royal Crescent .....

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Pulteney Bridge .....

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and Bath Abbey ......

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There was a choir rehearsing for a wedding that afternoon and the sound of Parry's 'I was Glad' filled the nave. Just beautiful. I'd forgotten just how nice it was inside.

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We went to the Theatre Royal to see The Ladykillers and had a delicious Italian meal afterwards. There was plenty of time for tea and cake too, you'll be pleased to hear. This one was sticky toffee cake and it was rather yummy!

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We also went up to the University for a nostalgic look around. Lots of it was unchanged, but there has been a huge amount invested in sport, and Bath University was well represented at the Olympics this year. The sports facilities are just amazing.
I did manage to finish the last pair of socks, just in the nick of time on Sunday morning. My friends have all put in a request for another pair, so I have already started on those. I don't want to leave it 'til the last minute again. It was a bit too close for comfort!!

Plain Vanilla sock no11 (1)

I did buy something knitting-related from a fantastic stall in the indoor market - some printed ribbon to sew onto handknits. Very cute, I thought!

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It's only a week until half term, and Mr JK and I are going to Skye for the week. I can't wait, it's been a busy half term, and I definitely need some chill-out time. The cottage we are staying in sounds pretty remote, but it does have internet access, so I hope to be able to blog a little while I am away. I have a yarny visit planned to the Shilasdair shop, so hope to share my purchase(s)! See you next week! xxx

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The love of 'strangers'

Knitters are an incredible bunch. This past week, I have been completely amazed by the total outpouring of love for one of my knitting friends Kat. We have never met, although I hope we do one day. But knitting is a strange world, and through blogging and chatting on Ravelry, it's very easy to become good friends with people. You feel that you know them, yet would pass them by on the street as strangers. Kat is one of the moderators in the Fall in Full Color clubhouse, and is such a vibrant and kind person. Her presence in the clubhouse helps make it the friendliest group on Ravelry. She has been missing from the group for the last 10 days or so, as her husband is ill. We wanted to do something to show her just how much we care about her, so I searched on Ravelry and came up with the perfect pattern - a 'Mystery' blanket. This was particularly appropriate since Kat is a mystery writer herself and all 16 squares in the blanket are named after mystery writers. A sign up thread was started, and within 48 hours there were almost 130 knitters from around the world volunteering to knit a square for Kat! Knitters can do anything, I have decided. Maybe we should rule the world?! I was in charge of allocating the squares! My Ravelry inbox has never been so busy! Anyhow, my job is almost done, as most of the squares have been knit and posted off to two extremely kind people who volunteered to do all the finishing. Yarn was donated by Anne Hanson and Chris at Briar Rose to knit the edging too. Another sign of the generosity of this community. We are making two blankets with 64 squares in each and hope that they will bring much comfort to Kat and her husband over the coming months. Each square has been knit with so much love and hope. My square was the Benjamin Wallace square, and was pretty straightforward, thank goodness. I don't think I would have had time for anything complicated! Poor Mr JK has had to do without my company for much of this week, as I have been sat at the computer sending messages and updating lists!!

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I have also been on the receiving end of some kindness this week. Yesterday I received a squishy parcel in the post (Mr JK answered the door to the postman, and was greeted with the comment ' I think it's more yarn'!) I sent another blogging friend, Melissa, a donation for her walk against breast cancer and she entered my name into a yarn winning raffle. And guess what? I won!!! A skein of Melissa's beautiful handspun yarn, 75% BFL and 25% Tussah silk. Mmmmmmmmmmm. I think it wants to become a cosy cowl! Thank you Melissa, and good luck with the walk!

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I probably won't be blogging next week, as I shall be spending the weekend in Bath with my old Uni friends - it's 25 years since we graduated! I still have a pair of socks to finish off before I go! Yikes! Have a good week and I'll catch up with you again soon! xx