Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Knapdale Rainforest

Not many people know it, but I live in a rain forest. With an annual rainfall of around 1600mm, mild climate and dense tree cover, conditions are perfect for supporting a wealth of moisture loving life: ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens.
Since much of the area was sadly turned over to commercial forestry in the 1930s, little of the original ancient Atlantic Oak Woodland actually remains. Thankfully some pockets have survived and are protected, such as Taynish National Nature Reserve which covers the peninsula forming the western shore of Loch Sween.
The woodlands of Taynish have a history of management dating back to neolithic times, but are not thought to have been changed significantly in all this time.
Though the conifers are relatively new, the climate of Knapdale and the native bryophytes have set to work, creating a strangely silent, dark, damp and oppressive atmosphere. It looks as though it ought to be the set for a haunted forest movie.

It doesn't seem to affect Fox and Whisper's ability to enjoy themselves however.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gone Fishing...

We've had some wonderful weather recently (although interspersed with heavy rain which is really slowing down the sheep shearing process!) and Chris and I decided to catch some sunshine down at the Faery Isles and see if we could find some fish for dinner.

Chris of course did all of the fishing, while I played with the dogs and tried to convince them that he really wasn't throwing something for them every time he cast!

It didn't take long before we were in business. Mackerel swim in shoals and so every now and then a shoal swims past and things get a bit manic for a few minutes, followed by a period of not getting so much as a nibble.

Periodically a shoal of juvenile mackerel would swim past, glinting deep metalic turquoise in the clean blue sea. Following them would inevitably be a shoal of larger fish trying to eat them!
My job was the killing and gutting, while Chris continued to pull fish out. Inside several of the fish, I found a load of juvenile mackerel. I guess when you're a mackerel, anything of the right size is fair game!

At the end of the afternoon we had 20 fat healthy fish landed and ready to eat. We gave a couple to some young girls lighting a fire on the beach, and some to friends. There's nothing like catching your own local, sustainable dinner :o)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Forest Hideaway

We're enjoying living up here in Scotland. Our little house is perfectly nice... but it's a bit expensive... and a bit over looked... and there's no space for things that we like... like veggies... and flowers... or a little fire pit to relax by in an evening.

A few miles along a track, into the middle of the forest, we've made some very nice friends in Diane, Sam and Hannah, and now Dino, Ali and Bob. They have a tiny little community all of their own... and it just so happens that Dino and Ali also have a little cottage that is just waiting for new inhabitants who will embrace the spirit of the place, and enjoy living there...

gazing at the view over Jura...

and laughing at the antics of the goats...

could that be us...?

Saturday, 4 July 2009