Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Plans to be made

I've been hoping to complete the Eastern Cairngorm Challenge, if there is one this year. It's around 14 miles long over slightly hilly (!!?) terrain, it starts just north of Dundee and goes North West to Braemar and I'd really like to do it. I had thought it wasn't going to happen, because I had no idea what I was going to do with the children. The logistics of not having a car was proving to be a problem, however, one of my good friends has come to the rescue. In return for having her boys for a sleepover one night in February, she will come and stay here with my children for a weekend. Sorted!

Now I can get really excited.

And look at maps.

And decide whether to camp after the walk, (there is a ceilidh, I will attend. I may not ceilidh...) or treat ourselves to a night in an (albeit cheap) hotel, so I can have a long, hot bath.

Decisions, decisions.

If there is no challenge this year, (last year was an inaugural event for the opening of the 'new' path, Jock's Road) I may still persuade Jo to look after the children, so David and I can catch a train to Aviemore, camp, walk to Grantown-on-Spey along the Speyside way, camp, walk along the Grantown to Forres disused railway, which sounds dull, but has been made into a beautiful walk, the Dava Way, through woods and over moorland with fab views and wildlife. Still not quite camping wild, but practicing till I'm really ready for it.

I'll keep my eyes peeled on the website for the dates.

Monday, January 29, 2007

They know, ya know

Yes they do.

Do you know how I know they know?

Because over the weekend, there wasn't a huge amount of bird activity in my garden, but enough do the survey, just not representative of my usual variety.

Today? Oh yes, today. There where scores of birds. Of all varieties, including the ones that usually turn up that didn't this weekend. Nothing exciting, just sparrows, greenfinches, those sorts of things.

Typical. Humph.

Had a nice day today though. Strolled into Forres for some bits and pieces and bumped into a friend in the school playground that I haven't seen for a while, so we've decided we need to get together properly sometime. I had a text from another friend, inviting herself round for coffee tomorrow morning, but it will be lovely to spend sometime together with no children (or other interruptions!) for a change. I had to bake some bread today, so I made some oatmeal cookies at the same time.

I might share.

I might not...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stamping feet

Just a few things that are bugging me and I need to stamp my feet on my soap box to get it off my chest. I've probably mentioned one or two before, but never mind.

On Friday evening, another two young lives were lost in a car crash, just outside Forres on a notoriously accident prone road. Both 17 years of age, both male, with the three other occupants of the car escaping with minor injuries. All extremely tragic but frighteningly commonplace.

I don't think there is any one solution to this, but my idea would be to limit the cc of a car that a young/inexperienced driver can own or have access to, similar to the limit put on motorbike ownership. This would include not being allowed on a parent's insurance so that an inexperienced driver can't borrow daddy's BMW and then wrap it around the nearest tree.

My other main bugbear has always been education. I'm all for equal opportunities, but to me this means clever pupils from a poor financial background are still able to follow on to further education should they want to. At present, I feel it simply means that the standard of education has been lowered to allow those that do not have a good enough academic standard to go on to University. This is perhaps a rather broad generalisation, but it is the impression I get. Also, the idea that children should not be streamed so that the children in lower sets don't feel worthless. Children certainly shouldn't be made to feel worthless, but at the same time, if streamed, children at the same level can be educated at a speed and standard that suits all in the class, rather than trying to teach a mixture of levels and speeds when someone is bound to miss out.

Anyway, that's all in my humble opinion and is enough to start with. I have more, but for another time, when the ironing isn't screaming at me!

The Birds (cont.)

It's so dark this morning, I can't see outside yet. This doesn't bode well as, if it is a dark, miserable day, the birds may well decide to stay away. In their droves. Should have done this yesterday.

As soon as it starts to get a bit lighter, I think I shall have to nip out and fill the feeder, I think it's been so blown about in the night that it has emptied it's contents on the floor. Only problem with that is, it's throwing it down out there, blowing a gale and I'm still in my pjs. Not to mention the rest of the household are still in bed, so I'm trying to be quiet. Ish.

So, I did quite a good count this morning, but I knew a few of my regulars were missing, so I decided to do another one now, and send in the results of the count most representative of the birds I regularly get in my garden.

I decided that last count had more of my regulars, so that is the one I submitted. Feel much better about it this year, a robin and two blackbirds has been a previous best and that just wasn't good enough.

Anyway, I have time for one more post on an entirely different subject before I get the ironing done and make a lovely Roast Pork dinner. Haven't had one of those in a while.

I wonder if I can squeeze in a snooze? (It's my age you know, I just can't help nodding off in the afternoon.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Birds

Well actually, the complete opposite. Yet again, come RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, the birds are conspiring against me and my garden is devoid of birds. Not a single sparrow. My birdfeeders are full, there are apple cores on the bird table, there is water in the bird bath, but there are no birds in my garden. Usually I see them in the dull light just after dawn as I come down to make breakfast, just after seven. Not a dicky.

They are playing with me.

I'll be back. (Oh no, that's the wrong film...)

Ok, so now I have a few very aggressive birds in the garden, including a dunnock with serious attitude! But I've just realised, I can't do it now. Not only is my mother going to ring, as usual, around five minutes past nine, but my two youngest have been invited out for the day and are going to be picked up some time after ten, so I need to organise their breakfast and getting dressed. Where is hubby, you might be asking, can't he do that so I can concentrate?

Well, he can, but he might find it a little hard from his bed.


It's getting a bit dark now. I haven't done my count. My family are now conspiring against me! My mother rang just after nine to say she won't speak to me today, she'll call tomorrow. Then there's the rest of the family. Or perhaps it's my own weak willpower.

You see, (beware, pathetic excuse coming) around twelve, Aedan's friend phoned to ask if he'd like to go for a sleepover, so I quickly had to get him lunch and supervise his bag packing* and at the time I was half way through a bread dough for pizza. After Aedan left, I realised it was an ideal opportunity for David and I to take our eldest daughter out for lunch. So, we donned our walking boots and jackets and off we went to Findhorn. Again. There's a nice pub there, good food, real ale, yum.

I was persuaded we should catch the bus home, (shame on hubby) but then friends stopped in their car and asked if we'd like a lift. Did we need to be asked twice?

No. So, now it's too dark and I've still got a bread dough to convert into pizza.

I'll do it tomorrow. I will! You'll see.

* I recently discovered that Aedan can take things a little literally. I told him to 'get his bag ready' to go for a sleepover at Robert's. A few minutes later, I asked if he'd got clean pyjamas and underwear. Aedan's reply?:
"Oh, you meant pack it. I thought you meant find it."

One empty bag sitting at the bottom of the stairs...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

All for a good cause

Now, did you know that this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch? All you have to do is sit for an hour sometime over the weekend, counting the birds that visit your garden. Not just hopping on the fence or flying over, but actually alight in your garden. You just count the largest number of any one type of bird at any one time, so if the largest group of chaffinches is eight, then that is the figure entered and so on. All the information can be found on the RSPB website, www.rspb.org.uk, so take a look.

I have done this for the past few years, with or without the children's 'help' and I do get satisfaction from taking part and providing useful information about my local bird population.

Or at least, I would, except for one thing.

The birds don't come to play when I need to count them.

I feed my birds, regularly, often daily, depending on the weather and they have a bird bath to boot. I put out allsorts, from commercial wild bird food, to apple cores and cheese scraps, but nothing too big, I don't want to attract rooks and seagulls. I do it all right, all year round.

But they know.

I can go for weeks with scores of chaffinches, greenfinches, blackbirds, sparrows, robin, dunnock, wrens, I even had a juvenile blackcap the other day. The siskins aren't around much because it's not cold enough, (!!?) but I have regular identifiable visitors.

They just don't like to stand up and be counted. One robin and a blackbird is not a true representation of the birds I get. So I didn't send my results that year.

This year I am determined I will have a garden full of birds, all varieties and maybe a visit from the sparrowhawk right the end of my count, so as not to upset the numbers too much.

They do know you know.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Conall classic

On seeing their dinner, another first time dish, Conall exclaimed, (with just a hint of disgust):
"Chips and peanut butter!"

...it was actually Tuna Melt Potato Wedges.

I ask you, as if I would!

The verdict, btw?

"Mmm, yum!"

Going a little mad

I've just bought a new tent.

Yup. Another one.

This one, (for those of you that know I recently bought a tent...) however, is a little smaller.

In fact, it's the complete opposite to the last one.

This is a two man tent, (or in our case, a married couple tent!) and it has a hydrostatic head of 5000mm. That's impressive, I promise. It means we'll be cosy, (for cosy, read cramped) and dry. I won't be able to stand up to get changed and having an argument and falling out is not an option!

Hopefully, we will get the occasional opportunity to go away by ourselves, do some more strenuous walks without the children and take up less space at the campsite!

I will post photographs when I have some.

And it's still not snowing up here. Not a flake. Very disappointing.

Just a stroll

I wish!

David had the day off yesterday, so as the children were at school, we decided to go for a walk. From here to Findhorn, (again) then east along the beach past the back of the base and to Roseisle, a rather nice forestry commision bit with a beach. We sat and ate our lunch there while watching a treecreeper, then walked back to Findhorn.

If we hadn't have stopped at the pub there for pint and a plate of chips (yum. Real ale and chips) we wouldn't have had to route march the last two miles home in time to collect Conall from school. Actually four hours and ten minutes on the move to cover fifteen miles. Not bad, I thought.

Going to regret it tomorrow, I think.

Have you ever noticed how it takes two days for exercise to catch up with you?!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
(Accompanied by funny little tribal dance, with hands, arms, legs and everything.)

Just incase you were wondering, the children went back to school today with no stress/fighting/lateness/forgotten items.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

And another

We went for a stroll today, two and a half miles to Findhorn, a walk along the beach and then home again, so around six miles I suppose, but all on the flat, so nice and easy. Didn't take too long either, just over two hours, including a hula hoop stop on the beach.

On the way back, a little voice piped up:
"My feet are as hot as an elephant..."


Saturday, January 06, 2007


Olly Smith, the wine expert for Saturday Kitchen, (James, James, James!) has been at it again. Whilst describing a wine this morning, he declared it made him want to "Clench my bottom cheeks in time to the National Anthem." Oh, what a description, the images it summons up, fabulous! I would go out and get some, but he was talking about a Reisling, which I just can't get into, so no bottom cheek clenching for me.


So a little later, sat sitting watching Rachel's Food, David asked Conall,
"Which chef is that?"
"Don't know." Conall replied.
"That's Rachel, who's the other chef?" says David.
"James Bond." replied Conall, knowlegdeably...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So that's Christmas 2007 sorted

No, I haven't hit the sales and bought cards, wrapping paper and gifts well in advance, (not even I am that organised!) but I have decided what gifts I will buy for friends and family this Christmas.


Yep, you read that right. Trees.

I was inspired by one of my sil's Christmas gift last year, (last year already?) of buying a breeze block for each family member to build a school in an African country, organised by her local Catholic church.

Now, that was a lovely idea, but you know me, all things environment are my thing. So, this year, I will be buying trees for my family and friends. Probably not tagged or with a plaque, because then I can buy more!

Might even get one for David.

And me!


Monday, January 01, 2007


Just couldn't resist my first post just after the bells, listening to a wonderful pipe and drums band on the telly, very scottish. Lots of fireworks too, just as the children go to bed, (yes, they made it!) deep joy.

All the best, one and all!



Just noticed my deliberate (!!) mistake. I drafted the previous post on Saturday. Then published it on Sunday.

My nickname is Donkey...