Uncategorized

Snowtime

So far we’ve escaped the Eastie Beastie*, we’ve had a dusting of snow and the hills are spectacular,  but it is certainly very cold and windy. And Storm Emma may yet give us a a pasting. The tidal pond was frozen earlier

frozen pond

 

and the birds have been glad of the seeds and fat balls in their feeders, and  seem to add variety to their diet with titbits from the compost bin.

It’s St David’s day today and we don’t quite have daffodils but they are trying their best.

daffs

And the primroses have made a brave show.

primroses

We had a great walk today over on the mainland, up past the standing stones to the trig point. It was a bit, shall we say brisk?  to take photos at the top but here are some taken from the garden later.

Hope you’re safe and warm wherever you may be.

 

*a variation on “Beast from the East”, and something I was called when I explained I’d moved here from Edinburgh.

 

 

Days out from Sheiling BnB, Tourism, Uncategorized

Signs of Spring

It’s only the 4th of February and some recent sunny days may have turned my head but I think there are signs of Spring in the air.  I’m definitely noticing longer days, it’s so nice when it stops being dark by 5pm. On my walk this morning I spotted these pushing their way through the roadside verge.

green shoots

Soon there’ll be daffodils brightening my way.  The view down to the bay was extra beautiful   too.

balvicar today

We decided to drive down to Arduaine gardens to see how Spring was looking there.

And I think beautiful is the word?

Then stopped off for a bite of lunch at The Lord of the Isles at Craobh Haven and enjoyed more gorgeous views. It’s dog friendly too.

Back home I was pleased to see these signs of Spring in our garden

and hopefully there’ll be more ready  to welcome guests soon.

 

Food, Tourism, Uncategorized

Mmmmmmmarmalade

We’re just back from a short break in sunny Tenerife where the trees were full of oranges and bananas.

 

It’s been a bit chillier here in Argyll

snowy scene

So I was pleased to find a little reminder of Spanish sunshine in our local deli. *

These.

Seville oranges

Seville oranges, perfect for marmalade. So MrS** has been busy chopping, paring, boiling and generally filling the kitchen with delicious smells.

And lots of jars of this.

Which means there’ll be plenty for our guests to enjoy later on in the year.

As long as I don’t do too much “quality control”

marmalade on toast

Caroline x

*Kitchen Garden, Oban

**MrS(heiling) aka George.

Family history, Food, Uncategorized

The story of those new names; part II

It’s been a long time since part I.  I wrote that back in August when we were at our busiest and haven’t blogged since. So I’ve no excuse now as we are pretty much closed for the season.

Nancy,  my mother, was born in 1935 in the same small village in Wales where I too was born and grew up. Her parents, Gran and Grandpa Salmon hadn’t had such a settled life. Granny Salmon lost both her parents as a little girl and was informally adopted; as a young woman  she moved from Merthyr to work as a housekeeper. Grandpa’s family had travelled from Bristol and Dorset, probably  seeking work in the mines which were booming at the time.

Mam collage

as a toddler, schoolgirl, with my Dad before they were married, a young mother (I’m just out of shot) and in the 1970s

Mam*  hated school, and left as soon as she became fourteen to work in the drapery department of the Co-operative in the next village. It’s long gone now but as a child most of my clothes and footwear were bought there. In Mam’s day the assistants wore dark uniforms with starched white collars and cuffs and woe betide if you let a customer leave empty handed. I owe my neat packing ability to Mam’s demonstrations of the correct way to fold any item of clothing.  Other skills she passed on were the positioning of a brimmed hat (on the front, never the back of the head) and what a “dropping” creamed butter and sugar mix for a sponge cake  should look like. Currently I find the latter most useful  but do have a fondness for a properly angled tifter.

in purple hat

Trying out her Christmas present

 

 

Mam and Dad met as teenagers and courted at the local cinemas and youth club then following Dad’s spell in the RAF for his National Service married in 1957. A small aside here, Dad was always very keen on our education and was proud that we girls  won places at university as he had not had a chance to go. Mam later revealed that his older brother had offered to fund university when Dad returned from service but he hadn’t wanted to wait any longer to get married. Anyway they got married but not in Mam’s home  village, she was too shy for that. Even when I was a child people stood outside their houses to watch brides leaving for church and then waited outside the church for the couple to reappear after the wedding**, and as everyone knew my Grandpa because he was the bin man there was sure to be a big turn out which Mum could not face so they married in Dad’s parish next door.

Mam and Dad settled in her village, first in digs and then in the house I grew up in, where Dad still lives.  With my sister’s birth she gave up work outside the home and then had even more work on her hands when I turned up.  Mam could dress my big sister ready for an outing and leave her to play nicely whilst she had to wait until the very last minute to get me ready or I would end up dirty or torn or both.

Mam wasn’t well travelled, she and Dad spent their honeymoon in Jersey, though that did involve a couple of scary flights in tiny planes and later we had a couple of family holidays abroad and she and Dad visited France on their own after we had left home. Most of all though she loved home and being with her family. She enjoyed meeting our friends too;  she wasn’t at all upset when my sister returned from her 21st birthday drinks with most of her workmates and was actually quite amused when one of them invited her “to make herself at home”. And when I turned up with six hungry university friends, was only perplexed by the question of what the ones studying politics would be “going in for”, feeding them was a doddle.  Her favourite country was Wales, though  Scotland came a close second after I moved here. She really enjoyed her visits to Edinburgh and I’m sad that she never got to visit Seil.

I think she would have liked the room that’s named after her. Coincidentally it’s painted a very similar colour to her own bedroom, the cushions are Welsh tapestry from Melin Tregwynt and I’ve chosen pictures and objects which were her style. Most of all I hope I can bring just a little of her kindness and generosity to our visitors.

And cake, she made marvellous  cake.

 

 

*Growing up we always called her Mam or Mammy, in the Welsh way.

**this wasn’t for the “scramble” of coins, I only once witnessed that, it didn’t seem to be a local tradition.

Family history, Uncategorized

The story of those new names; part I

The rooms are named after our mothers, Flora was George’s and Nancy mine. Before we ever found this house, when moving  was just a plan for the future, I thought I would like  to name our rooms  this way.

mums at wedding

Flora and Nancy at our wedding

Two women, born 15 years and several hundred miles apart. They had quite contrasting lives and differed in many ways, but shared love for their families and superb baking skills.  Both came from a family  of three sisters, Flora the eldest daughter and Nancy the middle one.

Flora was born in 1920 in Greenock, her father was a mariner her mother a teacher before she married.  All three Paterson girls were encouraged in their education and graduated from Glasgow University.  Holidays were spent on their mother’s home island of Jura. Following graduation Flora taught in Greenock but her future was determined when she was rescued from an “assault” by her best friend’s little brother by the friend’s handsome cousin,  on holiday from Skye.  Flora and Jim married in 1944 while Jim enjoyed a brief leave;  their eldest son Roddy was born while he continued active duty in the east.

After the war the couple settled in Glasgow and then Lenzie, where George was born, before setting off on their great adventure in 1956. The  war had precluded travel during her university years so Flora’s first trip away from Scotland was aboard the SS Strathmore to India where they would live for the next six years and where youngest son Bill was born. Future postings took the family to Scotland,  Leeds and finally  Germany before retirement back in Scotland.  The travelling didn’t stop though,  Flora and Jim returned to Germany several times and travelled to the USA and France to visit their sons. They also loved Scotland and made frequent trips to Jura.

Our suite Flora reflects this life, from the old map of Jura which used to hang on the wall in Greenock,  to the watercolours bought on holiday;  the textiles are Scottish and there are souvenirs of  life in India. Much of the furniture has been up cycled from homes in Jura and Greenock. I make scones trying to emulate the ones Flora made and my  shortbread  recipe came originally from  Jim’s sister.

Interiors, Uncategorized

Boxes, bags and bubblewrap

July and August flew past. We hosted lots of lovely guests and spent our free time walking and enjoying trips out in the boat. I caught my first fish,  it was quite a small mackerel, but delicious. The house in Greenock is now home to a new family and their stories. But we haven’t said goodbye to packing. ..

boxes2

Almost since we moved in we’ve been waiting for a start date for our extension works. Now it’s excitingly/unnervingly/thrillingly/worryingly/nail bitingly/disturbingly close and I’m busy once again with tissue paper, bubble wrap and boxes, squirrelling  away the contents of the soon to be demolished kitchen.

I’ve been arranging a temporary kitchen, MrS found this excellent induction hob

induction-hob

and we have our combi oven and an old slow cooker rescued from Greenock

slow-cooker-1

so we shouldn’t have to live on beans and toast (though I have been wondering if I should start a pop up cereal cafe).

cereals

We’re hoping we can live here through most of the  build, time will tell.

And I’ll keep you posted

Family history, Uncategorized

Invitation

I haven’t posted much recently, we’ve been busy looking after our lovely guests,  and sorting through a lifetime’s worth of goods in Greenock. That task can be heart rending, which things from a long and full life do you keep? How can you dispose of the rest? George’s background helps, he often says that the  most important aspect of archiving is knowing what to throw away.

Some things tell a story, there was the trunk, but its story was lost beyond any living memory, and there are photos whose stories can be brought to the surface of memory. And then there are other things which tell their own story.

This bag……

gold bag

 

…..can be opened up to reveal

invitation peeking

 

……………………………….this invitation

invitation.jpg

 

 

……………………………………..and tell me the last time it was used.

 

And to satisfy my liking of coincidence and circularity,

 

 

………during our sorting

 

……………..we found books of Gaelic songs

 

………………………which we passed, via a friend

 

……………………………..to Oban Gaelic Choir.

 

Food, Uncategorized

Banana bread, blogs and downward dogs*

As I write this the house is filling with the delicious scent of bananas and baking; I’m making a banana loaf ready for our next guests.

 

When I first started baking for guests I made Welshcakes, (though these are  cooked on a griddle not baked) to share a little of my Welsh background. And of course because they’re delicious

 

I also wanted to use Scottish recipes, though I still haven’t perfected shortbread despite having a few favourite family  recipes to choose from.   Oatcakes and butteries have been more successful

finished oatcakes

 

and  bolstered by that experiment with puff pastry I’ve had a go at the French breakfast classic, croissants.

ome made

Following other blogs has opened up a world of recipes for me, I love reading the posts here and made a batch of breakfast cookies last year.

cookies

 

And so back to my banana bread, it’s out of the oven and cooling down. But where did this recipe come from?

 

Well I tasted it first on a picnic last week and asked for the recipe. And this morning after yoga class I was given not just the  recipe but a little bag containing some essential ingredients.

banana bread recipe and ingredients

 

And now to share…

slice on a plate

 

*the yoga pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interiors, Uncategorized

Back to business

I haven’t posted in a while, but we haven’t been idle. Walls which were painted last year have been refreshed, furniture has been moved around and the dining  room has a new colour scheme.

We had a little uncertainty about plans for the summer, but now any building work has been pushed back to the Autumn,  so it’s all systems go for the summer season.

We woke to grey skies and rain,  but this afternoon the sun has returned. Lets hope it’s here for the summer.

blue sky and clouds