Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Midsummer sunsets

After some fairly horrible weather around Midsummer's day itself, with not a midsummer sunset in sight, things have improved. The weather hasn't actually improved that much - torrential rain yesterday afternoon made my drive to Aberdeen rather more interetsting that it could have been - but the sunsets have been in evidence again and I've been enjoying them over the last few evenings.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Summer plans

My visit to Orkney in the summer will coincide with the Tall Ships, and with Chris & Barbara's return with the Spirit Dancer.

Don & Kye climbing the rigging of the Statsradt Lehmkuhl to get a bird's eye view of the Spirit Dancer for photography.

Evening paddling in Kirkwall Bay.

After that, I'll be heading on to Shetland as I had such a fab time there last summer. And again my visit to Shetland will coincide with the Tall Ships and the Spirit Dancer's first visit to Shetland!!

To quote a friend of mine, "All good".

Friday, 24 June 2011


I'll be heading to Orkney for a few days in the summer holidays. I think it'll be quite strange to be back there actually, although I'm looking forward to it too.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Show season

Well it's the time of year for the agricultural shows starting. A couple of weeks ago I went with a friend and her children to the 'Royal Northern Countryside Live' show at Dunecht, near Aberdeen.

We were pretty impressed with the organisation - £5 entry fee for adults; free for under 16s. So £10 for a day out for 5 of us, including parking! A bit cheaper than the Royal Highland Show, which is on this week and costs £25 plus another £5 for parking. Mind you, it'll have a lot more stalls, etc - and the animals too - but we were happy with our day out at Dunecht. And with 5 of us to feed, etc. the cheap entry fee made the day very attractive.

There were 5 different show areas with shuttle buses running very regularly between them. At times the queues got very long, but the buses were so regular that the waits were actually not too bad, and a couple of times we just walked instead as it was only 1/2 mile or so between some of the areas.

There was lots on offer - from stalls selling produce and crafts, to demonstrations, sheep shearing and tractor rides.

There was an explanation for the large number of 'orphan' lambs. They're farming a new breed of sheep in the area. I can't remember what it's called but it's from Wales, and generally has 3 lambs.

The sheep can only look after 2 lambs itself, so there's a large number in the 'orphan lamb shed' being fed milk from these teats attached to the fence.

The one disappointment was that so much was watching other people do it, rather than trying things yourself, which for the older children got a little wearing. We felt that the advertising hadn't made this clear, and there seemed to be less to do at areas 4 and 5 compared to 1 and 2, which meant that your hopes were built up and then you were disappointed as you moved onto the next area.

 Tree climbing and forestry displays.

Chainsaw carving.
My pal and I managed to pick up quite a few useful teaching resources (do all teachers automatically pick up resources everywhere they go?) and even a few freebies for the kids too.

 Blacksmith at work.

 You could stick labels onto the Shetland pony to learn the names of the different body parts.

We finished up watching the gun dog trials.

All in all it was a really good day out, despite the small disappointment of being a lot to see but not much to do. Lots of ice creams and tractor rides made up for some of the disappointment for the kids.

We'd definitely go back to the show another year, which is always the sign of a good show.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Blog settings

Well I was trying to change the design of my blog, only blogger has had a fit on me and decided it doesn't like my changes, and now it keeps randomly changing things itself! So apologies for the current look of the blog, will hopefully get it sorted soon....

UPDATE: Think it's my internet connection that's causing the problems. I'm having huge problems uploading photos here too (and with a couple of other sites too) and have tried 2 different computers and 2 different browsers.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Back of Bennachie

Most days (weather dependent!) on my way to work I see Bennachie in the distance.

I've been meaning to visit Bennachie ever since moving to Aberdeenshire. It's a place I've heard of for years ... not least from the words of the Old Blind Dogs song "Gin I were whaur the Gadie rins". I finally made it there a couple of weeks ago. As I'd had a long day out already I didn't do a long walk there, maybe sometime soon I'll make it back and go to the top of Mither Tap.

I parked at the "Back of Bennachie" car park. The Forestry Commission have 4 car parks on Bennachie and a visitor centre too. There's plenty of forest walks of varying lengths, all well signposted.

I followed the 'Wild Wood' trail, where there are a few sculptures en route.

"The stretching of the trunk is the lengthening of the timber."

Up ahead I spotted what looked like one of nature's best sculptures ...

... but when I got to it I found it had been added to.

The wording on this one says "The loss of a great heart is the gain of a small invasion" and it's accompanied by carvings of some of the 'small invasion' of creatures which inhabit the dead wood (and live wood too) in the forest - such as woodlice.

There were lots of wildflowers too - and I realised that I'm going to have to start looking them up as all the common ones in Orkney whose names I knew aren't the same wildflowers found here.

There was another one, with a star like white flower too. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a good photo of it (and then the camera battery ran out) but handily the next week Ian Johnston blogged about it, so I now know it's chickweed wintergreen, a member of the primrose family.

I thought the Forestry Commission had everything well planned and organised to cope with large numbers of visitors without doing much damage to the evironment through footpath erosion, etc. The only thing that disappointed - and really surprised - me was their attitude to dog sh*t. Instead of asking people to bag it up and TAKE IT AWAY they ask you to "flick" it off the path. What on earth is that all about????? That's surely not encouraging responsible access to the countryside?

So beware if you're out walking in Aberdeenshire. There's a lot of dog dirt about pretty much all over the place as far as I can see - so you always need to watch where you're putting your feet anyway - but whatever you do don't step off the paths in the forests as the Forestry Commission are *encouraging* people to *leave* dog dirt there polluting the place!!!! Very strange!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Aberdeenshire Music

Aberdeenshire music isn't something I know much about (although I'm missing the Orkney music a lot....) Most of what I know is either Bothy Ballads (and I don't know many of those) or songs done by the excellent band Old Blind Dogs.

I've now been out exploring a bit further afield, and have come across some of the places mentioned in OBD songs.

The Back of Bennachie....

O Gin I were whaur the Gadie rins (I passed whaur the Gadie rins on my way to the Back of Bennachie.)

Battle of Harlaw - I passed the site of it too.

More about the Back of Bennachie soon..... and hopefully more Aberdeenshire music in the future too.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Changing View - part 2

Having moved recently, I'm still missing the amazing views I enjoyed previously. That's not to say that my new place doesn't have good views too though... 

These were all taken from my balcony.

Shalders and dunters are common.

Plenty of boats to watch too...

 ... including the Pharos which moored out in the bay one evening. That's another boat I last saw in Orkney.

Some wilder weather.