Monday, 24 December 2012

A Little last minute shopping.

Our daughter Lucy arrived Saturday after a long journey by train from London. She is spending Christmas with us here in Ullapool. Today I thought the nicest thing to do would be a trip to Cromarty to introduce her to the delights of the Black Isle. Needless to say we ended up in Gardiner and Gardiner and being heavily into vintage delights she fell instantly in love with this wonderful Aladdin's cave of antiques and curios to say nothing of a wonderful warm welcome from the proprietor Helen Gardiner. 
I'm so pleased that Lucy also fell in love with this late Victorian beaded caplet I had imagined her wearing it on my last visit to the shop. I love the way she has teamed it with a Gap vest - very chic!
One of my 'finds' was just as pleasing, a roll of heavy satin name tags  that was obviously from a London store, It looked quite old and a little web research revealed the  department store was famous for having it's windows smashed by the suffragettes in 1912.
An hour or so spent beach-combing (the best pastime ever) on the sands and rocks of the Cromarty Firth finished another lovely day.
Seasons Greetings to one and all.



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Playing Cricut

I've been layering up some cut-outs from my new (second hand) cricut machine and adding a few beads and stitch, very frivolous but just the colour hit I needed today.
I stitched one frame down completely and just stitched the second frame very lightly. I like the fact that it frame stands away from the background making the image 3D. I wish I hadn't stitched the first frame down flat, must try another sample and layer the the frames with minimum stitching.

You can see how the curly frame sticks out on this side view, definitely more play to come.
I've made some memory pebbles to remind me of last week's outings with my friends. I've added the date and their names on the back of each one so that I can recall the exact day we went to various beaches. I find it more and more important to record  good memories in some physical way. My blog is a great aide memoire I just wish I'd started it sooner - like fifty years ago, ha ha! 
My last little piece of work was a very plain felted purse that I have embellished. I bought in a craft fair last week in the tiniest village hall on the Gairloch coast. It was heaving with people despite being miles and miles from anywhere of significance. The tables were filled with the absolutely amazing local produce and crafts and the little kitchen was turning out the most appetising stuffed crepes I've ever seen.  People live so well up here. 
Talking of which I've ordered the christmas fare today -  a haunch of venison, a side of hot smoked salmon and some scallops (weather permitting). I must look out for some Stornaway black pudding for our all time favourite starter - Scallops and black pudding seared with chillies and olive oil. Sounds an unlikely pairing but it is scrumptious. I think I will have to climb a few mountains to burn off the extra calories in the new year (as though that is going to happen). 


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Clootie Tree and Cromarty



The Clootie Well on the Black Isle driving out  to Cromarty is one of the most fascinating sights to come upon. The tradition which is thought to have originated in pagan times revolves around taking the waters from the well and hanging fragments of clothing of sick members of the family in the trees in the hope of a cure. This tradition is still taken up with some enthusiasm because there are about fifty yards of textile hung trees. 

Our friends, Biddy, Fran and Bill found the experience fascinating and slightly unnerving.  On a icy cold winter's morning it was quite surreal to wander amongst the hopes of so many people.
The aim of the day out was a visit to
which proved to be the best experience of all. It was lovely to be with people who had knowledge of some the wonderful things we looked at in Helen's shop. Chinese pottery and robes, old linens and tapestries, treen and intricate copper stamps, paisley shawls and fossils. The list is endless, everywhere is artistically arranged with treasures and curios and a big log fire and tea made by Helen herself which was very welcome. We could have stayed for hours and listened to Helen telling us stories and showing us rarities and desirable objects.
We all came away pleased with our purchases (as usual I had a bag of linens). 
The week has gone so quickly and tomorrow John will drive our friends to Inverness Rail for their journey home to Peterborough. It will be very quiet without them and the dog is going to be devastated without all their attention.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Day to Remember

Today was memorable in many ways, good friends, good food and a perfect winters day. When I saw the early morning sparkling light I knew it would be a good day to introduce our newly arrived friends to Achmelvich beach. After a drive through the dramatic scenery of Knockan Crag and Inchnadamph and a walk alongside Loch Assynt we arrived at Lochinver just in time for lunch at the famous 'Pie shop'. It lived up to it's reputation,  it was so good to watch everyone enjoying the meal. We decided to walk lunch off on Achmelvich beach.
This is the first time I've been on the beach when it was frozen solid, a strange experience, even the dog refused a swim (the first time ever).
The car temperature said -3c in the relative shelter of the car park. I think it must have been at least -5c down on the shoreline - I could feel my eyelashes freezing. It was glorious, we spent almost three-quarters of an hour playing with our very hyper dog and collecting shells before the cold drove us back to the warmth of the car.
We have enjoyed each others company so much today - what more can you ask for? (Some people had pies for tea as well).


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rainy Day Crafting

I have been crafting for the past two days, the weather has kept me in the workroom. It has been relatively mild but that means rain and a bit of a storm blowing. The waves on the loch have white tops to them today - very nice to look at through the window but too blustery and wet for a comfortable walk.
It gave me a chance to work on my third altered book. Not quite there yet on layout, however this is as far as I can get until I get home. I thought I had packed for all my crafting needs for my five week stay here but I forgot my Dremil (a tiny electric drill). I use this to drill the needle holes for stitching into the pages.
I've also used the time to finish off these little dresses for Isla.
I'm not sure where the trim on the second dress comes from, it's a vintage piece from my collection. I think it could have come from a traditional costume from somewhere like Armenia it has a very eastern European look. The stitching is very skillful and so tiny - I love it! I've stitched it to a cashmere base - these are definitely best dress wear.
I almost forgot - I have a new gadget! I picked  up a Cricut Expressions cutter on ebay for a bargain price and it arrived a couple of days ago. These machines are used primarily by card makers and scrapbookers. I use lots of paper cut outs in my work and wondered if it would handle my painted papers. So an hour of producing a dozen large papers later (I have to say an Aga speeds the drying process up no end) I tentatively started cutting or should I say the machine did - Success, who knows what else this machine will cut - the experiments start here!  



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Strange Light

A little dress making today - for Isla who is growing out of the last two dresses I made for her in 'newborn size' and is ready for the three to sixth month sizing. I 've used a lovely soft corduroy in chocolate brown ( how seventies) and some very worn Indian silk, probably forties/fifties era.
Our walk this afternoon was amazing!
I often take this shot, it is walking north out of Ullapool where the loch enters the sea  and the route the ferry takes to Stornaway. I'm not sure if you can see it but there was a peculiar white halo around the Summer Isles, making some of them look as though they were floating above the sea. I must ask one of my local friends if this is a well known phenomenon, I'm sure it was down to light conditions.
 It all adds to the 'other worldly' feeling that I love about this place.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Lazy Sunday Afternoon


I didn't want to venture out today. I just wanted to finish this book ( so I could start another one). The days are short up here, it's easy to hibernate and not get any exercise but John and the dog needed to walk so reluctantly I tagged along. No snow in the village yet but the surrounding mountains have a good dusting of the white stuff.
I've promised myself that I will go swimming in the local pool, It will have to be bath temperature at least to get me in. It's one of those ideas that sounds wonderful when you say it but in reality not so tempting at this time of year.
I did feel warmer for the walk and it gave me some thinking time for the next altered book.