Friday 30 September 2022

Out and About in Saratoga

We took a trip into Downtown Saratoga today as Leslie had a hairdressers appointment. We had coffee and Muffins in a nice pavement cafe.
Gaye with Leslie after her haircut 
Frasers House from Riverdale Court
This house on my morning walk has a Termite problem so the treatment is rather drastic and expensive. I walk past the house daily on my morning walk with Sammy.
To treat the problem it is covered with a marquee and then fumigated for a couple of days and this kills everything.

Sammy was pleased to see us on our return
Coffe and Muffins. I shouldn't be eating them but was unable to resist. Wont have another one as they were very expensive.
Saratoga main street

Monday 26 September 2022

A Busy Weekend Relaxing and Getting over Jetlag

The weekend was spent getting acclimatised to Pacific Time Zone and for the family it all centred round a Soccer Tournament involving Thomas. He was playing in a big tournament about 20 minutes drive away from Saratoga with hundreds of kids playing several games over the weekend. He played a one hour game on Saturday morning and another one late Saturday afternoon. On Sunday it was the same format with his afternoon game the playoff for the Bronze Medal. They won 3 out of the 4 games and he scored 2 goals. It was a well organised tournament for both boys and girls with various competitions in different age groups. He was very pleased with his medal. His mum spent most of the weekend travelling to and from the sports ground and watching Soccer.

On Sunday evening we had the first BBQ in the new house with Fraser and his friend Stephen preparing a great BBQ on the brand new outdoor Grill.

Stephen prepared huge Chicken pieces at home and then finished them off on the Grill.

Dining outside is certainly the way to entertain in Saratoga. This new table was only installed a few weeks ago and this was it being used for the first time. It is being replaced this week as it has developed some cracks so a brand new one will replace it by the company it was bought from.

After our meal Fraser lit the Fire Pit with wood from some of the trees chopped down 2 years ago to create this lovely garden that previously was completely overgrown with trees and bushes.

A nice way of ending the weekend as it got darker and with a few Beers in the company of family and friends.

Gaye enjoying her iced lolly as it was still a nice warm evening.

Monday morning and I headed off with Sammy for our regular morning walk along Wildcat Creek. It may be a Creek but most of the year there is no water in it.

It is very popular with dog walkers and all of them must be kept on a lead.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Our first day in Saratoga

I was up very early this morning as my body clock is still on UK time so at 7.00am was in the cool of the morning in the garden with Sammy who has a desire to pinch shoes.

This young chicken is kept separate from Frasers 2 Hens so tomorrow we are going to buy 2 additional ones as companions for him. 

The new front door on Frasers house. The transformation since we were last here in 2019 has been fantastic with the house almost rebuilt and the garden totally landscaped.

Gaye decided to get measured alongside our 3 grandchildren. Tommy is 11 and almost as tall as Gaye

Eleanor is as tall as she has nothing on her feet while Gaye has sandals on

Elliot has a bit to go yet.

The outside Kitchen at Frasers house. Apologies for so many photos with Sammy in them but he loves to have his photo taken.

The outside dining area

The sitting area which will be in shade all afternoon

My new best friend Sammy who follows me everywhere and joined me on my morning walk.

Saturday 17 September 2022

Four Days on Coll and my 59th Scottish Inhabited Island

Almost a year ago I received a text message from Bob Milne our ex Minister in Langholm inviting me to The Island of Coll next June. He had been asked to preach at the local Parish Church on 2 Sundays and was therefore allowed to use the Kirk Manse. He had heard that I missed out on a trip to Coll a few years ago and it was one of the few Inner Hebridean Islands I still have to visit. I accepted immediately, but unfortunately the date was changed to September due to a mix up with the Session Clerk on Coll. It soon came round and on Tuesday Gaye and I headed out to Coll for 3 nights stay in The Manse as guests of Bob and Sheila Milne. The journey over was perfect and the sea flat calm for the almost 3 hour Ferry journey. This is one of the many beaches Bob and I walked the following day.
Our walk on Wednesday started at Cliad Nature Reserve and the first half of it followed the shoreline and at least 5 beaches. The beaches were very clean with very little plastic litter on them. The farm at Cliad is owned by Rob Wainwright who used to be Captain of the Scottish Rugby team and also played for the British Lions. Bob met him at church on Sunday but not being a Rugby supporter hadn't realised who he was. 

My early morning walk on Wednesday just took in the village of Arinagour where we were staying. 
The small Jetty in the village. The owners of this Yacht had arrived from Plockton and were taking 2 weeks to do as many of the Inner Hebridean Islands they could manage in that time. 
The only row of houses on the whole island
This is one of the beaches on our big walk on Wednesday. We walked for 3 hours and never met another walker.
Yet another beach. The second half of the walk was along a very quiet road.

Coll Parish Church
On Thursday we drove to the south end of the island for a walk on Crossapol Bay beach which is probably the nicest beach on the island. Sheila and Gaye joined us for this much shorter walk.

Our perfect hosts Bob and Sheila
After our beach walk we went to the RSPB place on the island which is one of the best places on all of the islands for hearing the sounds of Corncrakes. They have left the island just recently but will be back in the spring. They are very shy birds and are rarely seen but often heard. This seat is the place where in April and May you can hear them calling to each other.
Our CalMac Ferry arriving from Three on Friday morning to take us to Oban on yet another calm crossing. With a north wind at our stern we actually arrived in Oban 20 minutes early.
Gaye and I did some exploring on our own on Wednesday afternoon and at this inlet next to the road we found several beautiful beaches. Unfortunately I did a very stupid thing and laid my Sony Camera on some rocks while I took photos on my phone. I forgot to pick it up and by the time later in the evening when I remembered what I had done with it the area it was left in had been covered by a high tide. 
The photo I took with my phone and left my pocket camera behind. I console myself with the fact that I never really liked it and it was hopeless to focus on distance shots of birds so may just do without one or maybe get one in California.

Gay with our hosts Bob and Sheila
Arinagour from the Jetty
The Manse where we stayed. It was very basic and needs quite a bit of attention to it, but we were comfortable enough. No Wi-Fi working, no TV working, and a few other things were past their best but our hosts really looked after us.
Crossapol Bay and low tide. such a beautiful beach.
The runway at Coll Airport but there are no scheduled flights any more. We really enjoyed our time on Coll and finished our visit with a fantastic meal in The Coll Cafe just a few yards from The Manse on Thursday evening. The food and service were fabulous with my Beef the most tender I have ever eaten.
In my quest to walk on all of Scotlands inhabited islands I now only have Rum and Canna in the Inner Hebrides to do and 4 or 5 each on Orkney and Shetland to do. These will be difficult as they are the more remote ones on the northern islands, but hopefully in the next few years I will complete the task.


Monday 12 September 2022

A Short Visit to South Wales

We have spent 3 nights in South Wales with our friends Doreen and Norman Southwell. Doreen was our Chief Bridesmaid 50 years ago and we had promised to visit them this year but they had Covid in April just as we were about to go and then in June we had to cancel due to a rail strike, so this was third time lucky and everything went to plan, except the weather was not very good.
We travelled down on Tuesday and on Wednesday we did a 3 mile walk at Ogmore by Sea. The dog with us is their daughter Lindsays one and who is looked after by them while Lindsay is teaching during the day. He is called Milo and is such a lovely dog. 
Back at home he has his own chair and he pulls the cover over himself to hide from everybody.
The river Ogmore enters the sea in this bay
Friday morning and a group photo before we get the train home from Bridgend
Thursday evening and dinner at Lindsay's with Milo realising Gaye is a soft touch for food.
The photo was taken by Lindsay's husband John who was the chef for the evening and an excellent meal it was too.

The mouth of the River Ogmore. Many years ago we were in Wales for the Wales v Scotland Rugby International in mid February and Tom, Norman and myself went a long walk and ended up on the wrong side of the Ogmore river. To avoid a 6 mile return journey we took our boots and socks off and waded across the river just here. Boy was the water cold and it was much wider than this and about 2 ft deep.
On Thursday we headed to a place called Pennsylvania Woods and a lovely 4 mile walk through a wooded area with plenty to see and at times some lovely views across the valley.
The Fence is in the form of a Welsh Dragon
The entrance to the wood and our walk. We were lucky as within 5 minutes of finishing our walk the heavens opened and for an hour our so it was extremely wet. A most enjoyable few days with good friends despite the poor weather. We came back by train on Friday and arrived back in Langholm on the Borders Bus from Carlisle station bang on time. 

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