Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Postcards: Sea Fishing





































A wonderful afternoon out on the sea. Our first real fishing trip - a boy's first fish - his mum's too! It was a great experience- the weather was a bit wet, but the sea was so calm. We learned such a lot from our skipper, about fishing, sea creatures and bird life. He took us out to where a pair of sea eagles were raising a chick - see how wonderfully camouflaged the male is against the rock. We pulled up lobster pots and examined the creatures we found. We went home with full hearts and a full creel. Now I have a full refrigerator, so I better get on with it... 
If you are ever in the area, have a wee sail out with Hebrides Fishntrips - highly recommended!

Over these summer months, I have disabled the comments, but thank you for visiting xxx


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Holiday Postcards: assortment














What a fantastic week we had in Skye- having fun, sightseeing, playing outside, relaxing with a good book, some rainy days, some blue skies and lots and lots of love.

I have disabled comments for the summer, but thanks for being here xxx


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Holiday Postcards: family












Precious days with my grandchildren and daughters - James too, of course. Feeling blessed.


I have disabled comments for the summer, but thanks for visiting xxx


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Holiday Postcard: Over the sea to Skye


So many shades of blue as we sail towards the Isle of Skye. Looking forward to spending time with my daughters and their families.
I have disabled comments for the summer, but thanks for being here xxx

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tidelines


I am endlessly fascinated by tidelines. I walk up and down the shore for hours following the shapes left by the ebb and flow - the unique tracing of each wave.



I wander slowly, examining the patterns and colours left by earlier tides, absorbed in the tangle of seaweed, shells and tiny fragments that have been left behind by the ocean.  



A bit like life, I suppose. We drift in, make our own individual tide mark, then return to the deep. But we leave traces... and treasures. No two tides are the same.




There's a magic about the shoreline- that liminal space - not quite land, not quite water. It's a cleansing place - the rhythm of the waves - the silence in between - it washes out the relentless chattering of the world. Breathe deeply, return to centre.



It has only been six weeks, since John drifted out on his tide. Six weeks! So recent- so new, and yet it feels so long ago...

My head is full - thoughts racing all day - things to do, plans, fretting over jobs not getting done, thinking ahead, firefighting ... But my body feels numb and lethargic so nothing much is achieved.  I know, I know, it's all still so raw, so recent - that word again...The other day I tried a relaxing meditation and I could not feel my heart beating, though I searched for it. But I know it still does, for I am alive - and well, (most of the time). I am getting through the days. Grief comes like waves. Here I am, ambling along the edge, dipping my toes in, when a sudden surge catches me out, and I am drenched by it. That's ok, though, because I can feel it - it knocks me out of the detached torpor that I can so easily slip into.



But for the moment, I am not ready to plunge into that deep pool of grief. Yes, the odd splash may catch me out, but not yet...

I have a few things planned for the summer, and intend to immerse myself in those - my children and grandchildren, mainly. Hopefully some summer sun, and a bit of art and culture maybe?




I am taking a bit of a blogging break too. Not fully - I will send postcards, but no words. Remember I did that before? I will disable the comments, to give you a wee break too :)  Oh, I cannot tell you how much your kindness and love has meant to me -  how much it is has really helped and sustained me - not only in the last six weeks, but over the last year,since this journey began. I go back and read them often, and they never fail to lift me up - thank you.

And so I am off for a few weeks, searching the tideline for more treasures... who knows what I might find? I wish you all the most wonderful of seasons wherever you may be. xxx

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seven Days

















A sad start to our week, as we had to say goodbye to our collie, Mick. He had been suffering from a degenerative condition for a few months, but seemed to be managing ok. He became worse after John died and it had come to the stage where we were moving Mick around on a blanket, as he was unable to walk. Sadly, it was the end of the road, and our caring vet had to put him to sleep. He was a good dog, but he was John's dog, We miss him , and still feel his presence in the house, but's nice to think of them together again.

There has been a lot of thunder and lightning this week, and we have watched the storms rolling in on the south wind.

We have enjoyed a couple of evenings of live music down at the visitor centre this week, as a celebration of their 20th anniversary. This is the wonderfully named Raw Peat. They sounded great too!

I found a delicious recipe on a lovely blog, and tried it out that very day - Tuna and herb pasta went down very well, and made a nice change from our usual tuna mayo pasta.

Then, at the end of the week, summer arrived, and we headed straight to the beach.

On the way home from an evening with friends, we stopped in at one of our favourite bays to enjoy the late evening light. Well worth it

And today, after a lazy start, we just went out for a walk around the neighbourhood. Sunny weather, beautiful scenery and the best company - a lovely end to our week.

I hope your week ahead has some sunshine, warmth, good music, delicious food, great company and happy memories. xxx

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Strawberries



So many posts about strawberries just now - and why not? Nothing else shouts "Summer!" quite like these shiny scarlet jewels. Punnets of local strawberries are piled on counters in many of the shops and petrol stations just now, and its a very rare trip that sees me return without one or two of the fragrant packages in my bag.



And so, several times a week I find myself with strawberries draining in the sink. What to do with all this delicious bounty?



Well, you can't really have too many strawberries and cream - probably our favourite way to eat the ripe lucious fruits just now. I like to macerate them in a spoonful of caster sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It really seems to bring out the sweetness even more, and then, smothered with double cream - or perhaps even ice cream, it is truly the taste of summer.



Then, of course, there is strawberry jam. I like to make a few small batches each year - most gets eaten or given away, but keeping a couple of jars to open in the depths of winter is a treat.  I tried a new method of jam making this time, but I need to warn you in advance that it takes 3 days - a small amount of stirring and boiling and lots of leaving covered with a cloth. Anyway, I used 2 kg of berries and 2 kg jam sugar*
Rinse and hull the strawberries, but leave whole
Place berries in a large bowl, and layer up with the sugar.



Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave until next day.
The sugar will have begun to dissolve and the strawberries will have softened.
Empty the contents of the bowl into a preserving pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn up the heat and boil hard for 5 minutes
Put the contents back into the bowl, cover and leave for 48 hours.
transfer back to pan and bring back to boil until setting point is reached - about 10-20 minutes.

Keep checking for setting point, as you don't want the fruit to be hard. I usually use the chilled saucer method: drop a dollop onto a chilled plate, wait a minute or two then push to see if it wrinkles. if it does then its ready. Or, if the jam falls off the spoon in large flakes, then it is at setting point.

Leave in the pan for 15 - 20 minutes, to allow the fruit to settle, then pot into warm sterilised jars.



What else is there to say.... just enjoy!

Strawberry and mint ice pop? Go on... it's a lovely day. Take 5 sprigs of mint, 150 g caster sugar, half a lemon and 700 ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn down heat, add 500g strawberries and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid. Simmer until the strawberries are soft. Remove pan from heat, cover with a cloth and leave to cool overnight. Strain the liquor -  push as much of the strawberries through the sieve as you can, but remove the mint and lemon. Freeze in ice lolly moulds, or you can decant into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge to use for future popsicles, or as a syrup base for drinks, ice cream drizzles or mixed into yogurt.



 Maybe even crush one of your ice pops up and mix with a splash of Bacardi and soda water for a refreshing strawberry mint daiquiri.  Definitely a recommendation, that one.



Or, just maybe, you could eat them straight as they come. 
Hope you are enjoying the season. xxx


*I used jam sugar with added pectin.

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