Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Balcary Bay Walk

Rob, Brock and I went on a coastal walk today. It was about 4 miles long and started at the car park next to the Balcary Bay Hotel. A similar walk can be found here. It was muddy in places, with some very narrow paths next to steep cliffs (not for the faint hearted!). There were sheep and lambs, donkeys, cattle and calves along the route, so dogs will need to be on a lead at all times.

The start of the walk. 
Balcary Bay and Hotel
Hestan Island
It was a very windy day, which made the cliff top section rather hair raising in every sense of the phrase!

The waves were crashing onto the rocks at the base of the cliffs: very dramatic!
Some donkeys living along the beach and cliffs
A tiny hawthorn, bonsai style thanks to the winds

We had a delicious late lunch at The Loch Arthur Creamery Restaurant at Beeswing. Very highly recommended!

All photographs © Rob Walton 2013.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Union Jack Bed Quilt

I had an enquiry from a customer in Switzerland to make a bed-sized Union Jack quilt - a much larger version of my patchwork quilt wall hangings.

I had to scale up the small version to make full-sized templates, then take the fabrics and patchwork them together to fit the templates, before sewing the whole top together.

I used a variety of cotton fabrics, including a few recycled pieces which I thought were strong enough to take the wear and tear of a bed quilt. All the fabrics (except the wadding) were pre-laundered to minimise the shrinkage that occurs with cottons, but I did allow some extra length and width, because of possible shrinkage to the wadding.

The pressed backing was then laid out with the cotton wadding in the centre and the ironed quilt top on top. I used a small basting gun to join the three layers together (these use a finer version of the plastic tags that attach labels to garments in shops).

The quilt was then machine sewn, following the lines of the design, and using matching (red, white or blue) thread on the front, and white on the reverse. The quilt was then trimmed to size and bound using white cotton fabric using both machine and hand stitches.

A label with the quilt name, 'Austerity Britain No 10', and my details was added to the back.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Holiday to Inverness: Days 7 - 8

29 - 30 March 2013
Dornoch, Tain & Inverness
The Journey Home

The beach at Dornoch was our first stop of the day, for a walk along the sands. This was followed by coffee and a cake in the town, and a look round some of the shops. It is a picturesque town, with some beautiful houses and buildings, surrounded by lovely countryside and a long, sandy beach. It is about 40 minutes drive north of Inverness.

Lunch was at Tain in the 'Sunflowers Too' Coffee Shop, where we ate jacket potatoes, which were okay. Nice staff, but lots of children running about, so not very relaxing.

Brock enjoyed yet another walk around the River Ness islands, back in Inverness. We did a bit of shopping in the city centre (including some 'Herbalism' cleanser for me from LUSH) before heading back to The Bothy.
 Still plenty of snow in the mountain ranges (this photo taken through the car window on the journey home)

The end of the week had come around so quickly and we headed for home just after 10.00am on the Saturday. Being the Easter weekend, we decided that Dunkeld would be too busy and stopped off at House of Bruar instead. It is a site near Blair Atholl in Perthshire, where the company sells clothes, food, souvenirs etc; like an outlet centre without the discounts! This was somewhat of a mistake as it was packed with holiday makers. We made a bee line for the restaurant, where I had a main salad plate, Rob had vegetable lasagna and salad and we both drank Americano coffees. The bill was around £21. The food and staff were very good, but we couldn't enjoy it, with the packed in crowds of people. The ladies loos had a 10+ queue waiting to use them. We were glad to be back on our way, and got home in time for dinner.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Holiday to Inverness: Days 5 - 6

27 - 28 March
Forres, Culbin & Findhorn
Ullapool & Achnahaird Beach

We started the day with a 4 mile walk around the woodlands and coastal trails at Culbin. It is a huge area of forest-covered sand dunes. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)


Lunch was at Simply Red in Forres. We chose their small dishes offer of five plates for £22:- salad, Chinese vegetable rice, ravioli with pumpkin filling, garlic mushrooms with bread, and potatoes dauphinoise. It was quite an eclectic mixture and I fear that the Chinese dish contained some unwelcome fishy essence, but these were the only (supposed) vegetarian options. (The menu didn't have a notation for vegetarian dishes.) The waitress was friendly and service was pretty fast. The one downside was the table we had picked: next to three doors for exit, toilets and kitchen!

We went back to the Findhorn Foundation to have a look around the Moray Art Centre, which had been closed on our last visit, then had a coffee at the Blue Angel cafe. The exhibitions were:- Coastal Scenes by Ian McLachlan Scott and a collection of modern art from students. The sea paintings were beautiful - very impressionistic.

On Thursday, we drove to Ullapool, stopping off at Rogie Falls to walk Brock.

We all had a walk round Ullapool, before Brock went back to the car for a rest, while Rob and I had lunch at The Ceilidh Place. It is lovely inside, with a bookshop selling books, mainly about Scotland and the local area; a woodburning stove, polished concrete flooring and wooden-beamed ceiling.
The waitress was friendly, but we had to wait half an hour for our food to appear: too long when you are hungry! Rob had potato, cheese and leek bridie (pasty-type pie) with chips and salad. I ate grilled field mushrooms with taleggio cheese and salad. The food was good. I had ginger beer and Rob had Sencha green tea, which he did not enjoy. I thought it tasted like nettle or comfrey tea.

We walked around the town, taking in the breathtaking views from the harbour. 


 Fishermens' crates on the quayside

We had an indifferent coffee and cake at the Frigate Cafe before driving on to Achnahaird Beach - about 40 minutes drive north of Ullapool. The mountain views are amazing and the beach is beautiful, with acres of sand, surrounded by sea and mountains, and only a few visitors. 


Monday, April 01, 2013

Holiday To Inverness: Days 3 - 4

25 - 26 March 2013
Nairn and Findhorn; Glen Affric and Inverness

Brock's second walk of the day was along the long, sandy beach at Nairn, followed by a walk back through the town.

We had lunch at The Bakehouse in Findhorn. The food and coffee were superb, but quite a long wait (half an hour) for the main courses to arrive. We started with an Americano coffee for me: green tea for Rob. Rob had a piece of pecan tart, while I had a delicious, gluten free chocolate cake. Probably the best gluten free cake I have tasted. Rob had a felafel, hummus and aubergine dip platter with home baked flat bread. I had hummus, olives and gluten free bread. (Bill came to around £22.) It was all first class and we would have eaten here again if we had been in the vicinity.

(Photo of The Bakehouse taken from their website)

The Findhorn Foundation was our next stop. Brock walked around the site with us, admiring the growing number of eco-friendly houses. One of the older, three-bedroomed houses is up for sale at £300K. The interior looks beautiful on the website. There is a really good food and gift shop on the site, too.

On Tuesday, we drove to Glen Affric and went on a 3.25 mile walk through stunning pine forest, with distant views of snowy mountains. The waterfall called 'Dog Falls' (we kept Brock firmly on the lead at this point, just in case ;o)), and the small Coire Loch added to the interest of the walk. Although we felt quite warm with the walking, there were icicles hanging in the gorge, and we had a light snow shower on the way round.

We had planned to drive on to Fort Augustus, but a bad traffic accident had blocked the route, so we returned to Inverness.

Lunch was at the Pizza Express. Rob had Giardina pizza followed by Cafe Reale dessert (figs, marscapone cheese and coffee). Rob ordered 'chips' and got polenta chips as a side order, which he didn't like. I had a rather oily Goats' Cheese Salad, and ice cream fudge sundae, with a Peroni beer and macchiato coffee. The bill came to £37. We had a bit of a shock at first because the waiter had added a third main course to our bill, making it £47. It was expensive enough without that! The restaurant looks a bit tatty, with chipped paintwork and food on the floor; our first choice of desserts was not available, and then we had the problem with the bill. We decided that we probably wouldn't go back there again for those reasons.

After a brief look round the shops, we bought some nice food from M&S for dinner and headed home to relax for the evening.


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