28 day photo challenge – day 3

Day 3’s writing prompt brought many things to my mind: My favourite smell is…

One of the smells I mentioned in what I wrote that day was the smell of the sea.

I have lots of pictures of the sea, but the one below particularly evokes the scents I remember from a holiday on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

After a warm sunny day, the evening air was balmy and thick with the smell of pine trees and salt sea air.

Port de Pollensa sunset_2

Port de Pollensa, Mallorca, at sunset. The air was warm and piney with a salty tang.

Categories: 28 day photo challenge, Mallorca, My favourite smell, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

28 day photo challenge – day 2

The writing prompt for day 2 consisted of one word: socks

I wasn’t surprised to discover that finding a photograph for this one was a bit tricky. After a fair bit of rummaging around, however, I unearthed the picture below.

I took this photo of my nephew a few years ago at a family gathering, showing off his socks while being held by his Grandpa.

Get away!

My nephew, Sam, showing off his little navy blue socks.

Categories: 28 day photo challenge, Photography, socks | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

28 day photo challenge – day 1

Four days ago I started a 28 day online writing challenge, which I mentioned at the end of a previous post.

It occurred to me that as well as doing this, I could set myself the additional challenge of finding an appropriate photograph inspired by the topic for each day.

I have a large and not at all well organised image collection, which includes slides and prints as well as digital pictures. For some of the topics it would probably be easier for me to take new photos, but to make it harder for myself I’ve decided that I can only use pictures that already exist.

I’m four days behind at the moment but I hope to catch up and will attempt to post every day until the end of the challenge.

Day one’s writing prompt was: When I was five…

When I was five, in 1977, I don’t think there were any general environmental guidelines for the public about conserving sand dune habitats. I certainly enjoyed launching myself off the top of sand dunes whenever I got the chance.

Me leaping into a sand dune at Port Logan, Scotland, June 1977.

Me leaping into a sand dune at Port Logan, Scotland, June 1977.

Categories: 28 day photo challenge, Photography, Scotland, When I was five | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dog Awareness Week

Thanks to a postmark on an envelope, I have discovered that this is Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Week.


Dog Awareness Week 2015 postmark

On average, eight postal workers a day are attacked by dogs across the UK. The campaign aims to raise awareness of this problem. This is what Royal Mail’s website has to say on the topic:

If you have a dog, here are some tips on what to do to help us deliver your mail quickly, easily and safely.

Keep your dog in

  • Make sure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives.
  • Place your dog in the back garden or a faraway room.
  • If you have a back garden, make sure your dog can’t get round to the front when the postman calls.

Be careful at the door

  • Shut your dog into another room before you open the front door.
  • Make sure children don’t open the door, as dogs can push past them.

Occupy your dog

  • Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered.
  • Wait 10 minutes after your mail has arrived to let your pet back into your hallway.
  • Keep your dog calm.

Letter box

  • Consider installing a wire letter basket. It will protect your post, and your postman’s fingers.
  • You could fit a secure mailbox on the edge of your property.

I’m pleased to say that my six little dogs, which like to watch for the postie every day, pose no threat to anyone at Royal Mail.


Six very well behaved little dogs watching for the postie.

Categories: Dog Awareness Week 2015, Photography, Royal Mail | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Hot chocolate and black cows

One of the most delicious drinks I had on holiday in Galloway last week was a hot chocolate. It disappeared down my gullet so fast I didn’t manage to photograph it until halfway through.


I had this tasty treat at the Gallie Craig restaurant, which is located at the Mull of Galloway, Scotand’s most southerly point.


Abundant wildflowers beneath a signpost near the Mull of Galloway.

According to the Mull of Galloway website, this spot is one of the UK’s best kept secrets, although you wouldn’t have thought that the afternoon we toddled down there. The place was hotching with tourists.

It was also quite busy with cows.


As can be seen, the cows were black with glossy coats. Observing them closely, my dear mama was heard to utter the following perspicacious remark: ‘They’re awfully dark, these black ones.’

The delightful beasts were roaming freely across the countryside. As we drove away from the Mull, three of them took it into their heads to progress in our direction on the thin strip of tarmac that constitutes the only road into and out of the area.


Three awfully dark cows engaging in a bit of friendly banter along the road at the Mull of Galloway, seen through car windscreen.

After a while they wandered off and allowed us to continue on our journey back to the cottage we were staying in.


View from Willow Cottage, Culmore Bridge, near Sandhead, Galloway.

On a different topic, in the comments section of my last post Cherry mentioned a writing challenge that begins on 1 July. Anyone can sign up for free and all you need is five minutes a day for 28 days.

“You’ll get one prompt to get your writing juices flowing every day for 28 days. The challenge is to write about that topic for 5 minutes…you will get into a healthy habit of writing every day, which is the number one piece of advice in every single book on writing.”

If you fancy joining me and Cherry and the many others taking up the challenge, you can sign up here.

Categories: Cows, Hot chocolate, Mull of Galloway, Photography, Scotland | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Scones I have known – no.5

Last week, on holiday in the south-west of Scotland, the delightful assistants and I revisited an eatery that has always come up trumps on the scone front: Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead.

We arrived at the tearoom shortly after it had opened on Thursday morning, hoping to find that the scones were as good as they’d been in previous years.

As we walked past the counter, which was full of tempting cakes and traybakes, I scanned the shelves carefully and saw not a single scone on offer.

Gripped by anxiety, I accosted a waitress in order to enquire about this state of affairs.

‘We’ve got plain, fruit and cheese. They’re freshly baked, I just haven’t had time to put them out yet.’

This was music to my ears. Not only were there scones, but they were so hot off the presses that they were still resting in the kitchen after coming out of the oven.

We all ordered fruit scones and they were delivered to the table warm and delicious looking. Butter and jam came with them but I shunned these condiments for my first bite, desirous of enveloping myself in the raw pleasure of the unadorned treat.

It was a wise move. The scone was soft, fluffy, packed with sultanas and utterly delicious. My grateful thanks to Woodlea Tearoom for rounding off my holiday with such a top-rate scone.

Scones I have known - no.5: fruit, Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead, 25 June 2015

Scones I have known – no.5: fruit, Woodlea Tearoom in Sandhead, 25 June 2015

Categories: Fruit scone, Photography, Scones I have known, Scotland | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

Scones I have known – no.4

Scones are mysterious creatures. Because they don’t have the decoration or icing often associated with other baked treats, their generally plain appearance can hide the truth of what lies within.

I don’t know how many times I’ve approached a scone anticipating its probable taste and texture, sometimes not expecting it to be up to much, only to find that it takes me by surprise and often exceeds expectations.

One such scone I remember well was a treacle affair I had in the quiet environs of Whithorn.

Whithorn is a small town in the south-west of Scotland. It’s a former royal burgh and the location of the first recorded Christian church in Scotland (founded by St Ninian around the year 397). Among its modern day charms is the Pilgrim Tearoom, part of the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre. Since I’ll be in that neck of the woods again soon I’m wondering if I might try and relive the excellent experience I had on a previous visit there.

Gazing upon the scone again now it strikes me as a pretty attractive looking item, but at the time my hopes were far from high. I think I was imagining it might be a bit dried out and tasteless. In fact, it was soft, moist and deliciously treacly, and I would be very glad to have another one just like it.

Scones I have known no.4 - treacle, Pilgrim Tearoom in Whithorn, 13 August 2013

Scones I have known – no.4: treacle, Pilgrim Tearoom in Whithorn, 13 August 2013

Categories: Photography, Scones I have known, Scotland, Treacle scone | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

5 day challenge: the ravell’d sleeve (5)

Today is the final day of the 5 day challenge and I’m rounding off with a much happier picture than I posted yesterday.

Some of my best childhood memories relate to family camping holidays. My parents had a succession of camper vans and every summer the van was packed up with a tent and our belongings, ready for the next adventure. Some of these trips took us to foreign countries but mostly we stayed in Scotland, frequently bound for the soothing and quiet countryside of the south-west.

Some years ago, in an attempt to relive these happy days, I got myself a small tent. One July morning I stuck it in the car along with a duvet (I find sleeping bags claustrophobic), a stove and various other required items, and drove off towards the south-west coast.

I didn’t go to the old campsite we had patronised when I was a child (which was pretty basic in our day) but instead found one not far away with a large area of flat grassy land and – most importantly for my comfort – a newly equipped shower and toilet block. (I’m not quite a glamper (glamorous camper) but admit I’d probably choose glamping over camping wild).

I arrived on a cloudy but warm and dry afternoon, pitched my tent, and lay down to admire the view from the open flap.

view from my tent

Knitting up the ravell’d sleeve of care al fresco, Galloway, July 2010.

Throughout my life this quiet area of Scotland has been a refuge from the cares and worries of normal existence. I still take holidays there every year, although generally in a self-catering cottage rather than a tent. Tomorrow the delightful assistants and I will be scooting off there for a week’s repose and I’m already looking forward to the many tearoom treats awaiting us.

Categories: 5 Day Photo Challenge, Photography, Scotland | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

5 day challenge: the ravell’d sleeve (4)

Two days ago I posted about a rather traumatic night when I set fire to my bed. I’m sorry to say that it hasn’t been my only bedtime disaster. I’m beginning to think it might not have been the best idea to theme this challenge with sleeping arrangements.

In 2006 I moved to the city of Aberdeen, where I rented a ground floor flat. One evening I was in the kitchen in my pyjamas preparing a bedtime snack, when I heard an almighty thundering crash. It sounded as if it had come from the flat upstairs, but what had caused it I couldn’t guess.

I left the kitchen and went to my front door. I looked up into the stairwell to the floor above, but there was no sign of any disturbance coming from there. Back in my flat, feeling puzzled and a little shaken by the strangely explosive noise, I opened my bedroom door. Expecting to see my welcoming bed all ready for me to hop back into, I was astonished and horrified by what I saw. The room was littered with dust and debris, including heavy lumps of plaster that had fallen from the ceiling onto my bed.

Plaster fallen onto where I would normally be sleeping!

Knitting up the ravell’d sleeve? Not tonight, missy. Aberdeen, 2006.

Before that night I hadn’t realised old plaster was so thick and heavy. The bits that landed on my bed and floor were like thin slabs of concrete with painted wallpaper stuck to them. If the ceiling had collapsed only a little later it would have fallen directly onto yours truly, no doubt resulting in injuries of some sort.

That night I slept on a makeshift bed fashioned from sofa cushions laid on the floor of the livingroom. I placed these under the dining table due to nervousness about being squashed by the ceiling in the night. I’m pleased to say that the livingroom ceiling remained intact and I moved out of that flat as soon as I could.

Categories: 5 Day Photo Challenge, Aberdeenshire, Photography | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

5 day challenge: the ravell’d sleeve (3)

When I was a child I longed for a captain’s bed several feet up from the floor at the end of a ladder.

My wish didn’t come true until many years later working at sea, where there were beds that were quite similar to the one I had dreamed of as a tot.

On one particular boat I was given a single cabin of quite extraordinary design. There was one narrow berth in the room, positioned at a curiously high point, like a big shelf sticking out of the wall. I really don’t know why it was so high up, because the space beneath it was only good for storage and the bed could easily have been lower down.

It was too high for me to climb straight from the floor into the bed and there was no ladder supplied. There was, however, a desk on the other side of the room which proved invaluable. If I scrambled up onto the desk I could launch myself into the bed from there. The whole business was made all the more challenging by the bed being so close to the ceiling that I had to enter and exit the bed semi-horizontally to avoid bouncing my bonce on the ceiling. More than once at the start of the trip I woke up forgetting how close the ceiling was and nutted myself unintentionally.

a bed rather high up the wall

Knitting up the ravell’d sleeve (3): a challenging sleeping arrangement at sea, September 2011.

After a while I perfected the art of getting in and out of bed without injuring any part of my person, and I must say I quite enjoyed the sheer eccentricity of the routine.

Categories: 5 Day Photo Challenge, Bed, Cabin, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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