Posted by: christinelaennec | May 31, 2016

Crossing the finish line!

Hello again!  This is a lengthy post but with a happy ending.

For a lot of my life, I’ve felt I never was able to appreciate the month of May properly, because it was always a time of exams – taking them, marking them, helping students through them.  For four years the Dafter was too ill with ME/CFS to take exams, and needed to be looked after by me, so exams weren’t a feature of either of our lives.  But she was aware of them happening, and often said, “People complain about exams, but they are SO LUCKY to be able to go to school!”  So this year, we have been lucky to have exam stress.  It has been so intense that I redoubled my usual efforts to experience springtime.  And May this year in Glasgow has been really beautiful:

Beautiful cherry blossoms. Glasgow, mid-May 2016.

Beautiful cherry blossoms. Glasgow, mid-May 2016.

We’ve had weeks of sunny, warm weather – everyone asking “Is this going to be our summer?”

Clematis gracing a blue fence, Glasgow, May 2016.

Clematis gracing a blue fence, Glasgow, May 2016.

It’s been a time of intense struggle and work for the Dafter, and therefore for us.  She’s had a number of hurdles to cross in order to finish Higher Photography and Higher Art & Design.  She worked hard all through March, April and May, not even having an Easter holiday as she was going to Easter school.  Her health, not surprisingly, suffered from pushing herself so hard.  It has been a precarious month of battling through.  For example, one morning she woke up unable to see and in intense pain with a severe eye infection – two days before her final photo shoot.  I would say for most of May we have been taking things not one day at a time, but one hour at a time.

I’ve tried to rest as much as possible, and Tilly has helped:

Resting with Tilly, May 2016.

Resting with Tilly, May 2016.

I have also tried, but often failed, to go for a daily walk.  I was amused by these banners, and wanted to show you one after our conversation in January about the iconic traffic cone on the statue of the Duke of Wellington, and the affection Glaswegians have for the sight (see the comments on this post).

The Duke of Wellington statue used to advertise broadband. Glasgow, May 2016.

The Duke of Wellington statue used to advertise broadband. Glasgow, May 2016.

Tilly, in her second summer of being allowed into the garden, has begun to relax there:

Tilly in her preferred hiding place in the garden.

Tilly in her preferred place in the garden.

She prefers to hide and have a lookout but the other day she amazed us by settling down and closing her eyes in a very exposed expanse of stonework:

A first: Tilly relaxing out in plain sight in the garden.

A first: Tilly relaxing out in plain sight in the garden.

Staying calm has been a challenge this month.  Jigsaw puzzles have helped.  This one was particularly engaging:

Puzzling to stay calm: 'Jigraphy' map of Glasgow city centre.

Puzzling to stay calm: ‘Jigraphy’ map of Glasgow city centre.

By May 23rd, the Dafter had managed to complete all the work for her Photography course.  That was a big accomplishment, though she was overly exhausted.  She still needs to rest for hours a day, has only a couple of hours each day when she can work, and usually needs a day of total rest once a week or more often.  However, she had few rest days, and knowing there is so little room for maneuvre with deadlines looming doesn’t help the stress level. or make true rest easy.  For her final Photography task, a one-and-a-half hour evaluation done under exam conditions, she told me that by the end “each word I had written corresponded in my mind to a musical note.  When I get really exhausted, I get synesthesia.”

Only the two-hour Higher Art and Design exam remained.  As an educator, I have always felt that exams are a blunt pedagogical tool, and that they assess one’s ability to take exams more than one’s learning.  However, they are part of earning most qualifications. Regular readers may recall that the Dafter was too unwell last spring to finish Art, so has been completing the course over two years, this being the second.  The stakes were thus fairly high, as we all desperately wanted her to be able to complete it.

She had managed her Art prelim in January, the first exam she had ever sat, and did another one-hour practice exam in April.  These were very helpful in preparing her to take the May exam (they were the first exams she had ever been well enough to take).  Also the school was well aware that she might not manage the exam in May, so they were happy she had done well on both the prelim and practice exam, in readiness for appeal.  I cannot praise her school enough for the true support they have given her and us.

The garden during May was undergoing huge changes and was a great solace to me.

Dutch iris 'Symphony'. Glasgow, end of May, 2016.

Dutch iris ‘Symphony’. Glasgow, end of May, 2016.

My one gardening sadness is that slugs or snails (? I guess?) have eaten almost all my poppy seedlings.  This is the first time this has ever happened to me, in 22 years of gardening in Scotland.  I’m not sure what to do next year, as poppy seedlings generally resent being transplanted.  Any suggestions are welcome!

Rose 'Guinee' in bloom, Glasgow, end of May 2016.

Rose ‘Guinee’ in bloom, Glasgow, end of May 2016.

To continue with the Dafter’s journey, she was pretty flattened after finishing her work for Photography last week, but had five days to prepare for the Art exam.  Her ME was very bad, and then she came down with a stonking cold.  She spent the five days either in bed or, on two occasions, out in the wheelchair.  She was very unwell, and hardly able to revise.

This morning, exam day, dawned.  She was determined to take the exam, or at least attempt it.  She felt the chances of her managing a two-hour exam (with extra time granted, which is not always an advantage with ME/CFS) were fairly slim, given how words had become musical notes after an hour an a half, the week before.  She managed to get a bit of breakfast down, got into her school uniform for the last time, had a collapse on the floor, but revived with some foot massage and a pep talk from me.  I drove her to the school door, wished her blessings and luck, and drove home.  Michael and I sat at the table in silence, him unable to work and me knitting.  The time of the start of the exam came and went; half an hour passed and the lovely Depute Head emailed to say he had looked in and she was working away; another half-hour passed, and we were jubilant, expecting a text any minute.  Then two hours had crawled by, and the only texts were from friends hoping she had managed.

I was at the school by the time her extra time had elapsed, and she was just coming out the door, beaming.  She told me that she had been close to fainting at one point, but had been allowed to eat, which made a big difference.  She was able to answer all the questions, and told me about several of them, particularly the ones with unseen pieces to analyse, and talked me through her answers.  “I felt interested and engaged,” she said.  She must have delved deep within herself to find that stamina and focus, below her pain, fatigue and nasty cold.

Needless to say she is very tired, as am I.  But she has accomplished a great deal – her first high school qualifications, although we must wait until August to see what grades she will be awarded. She still has a ways to go before she finishes her secondary education, but I think this will have given her a great boost.

I mentioned knitting – as always, Thank Goodness for Knitting.  I finished the project that I was knitting at the Eagle Observatory in Harris:

'Orangery' shawl by Carol Feller.

My “Balance Shawl” – green being the colour of balance.  Knitting it has been a great help in keeping my balance the last while!

The pattern is called “Orangery Shawl” by Carol Feller and the yarn is Sweet Georgia sock yarn. You can find the details on my Ravelry page here.

My Oregon cardigan continues:

Oregon cardigan, with armhole steek on the left and centre steek on the right.

Oregon cardigan, with armhole steek on the left and centre steek on the right.

In fact, I finished knitting the body during the Dafter’s exam this afternoon.

Echoing the cherry blossoms this month, my easy knitting is now this lovely scarf:

Start of 'Firiel' shawl pattern by Lucy Hague.

Start of ‘Firiel’ shawl pattern by Lucy Hague.

So we made it!  Yesterday, a friend wrote, “It feels as if she’s climbed up a sheer cliff and now has to pull herself up over the top” – which is exactly how this month has felt.  But she did it!

Strangely, 20 years ago almost to the day, Our Son came to us, age nearly 4, and we began taking him to (nursery) school.  Now we are no longer parents of a school child.  But learning, healing and life carry on, even with these markers.  Thank you all so very much for your encouraging comments, messages and friendship.  Your good wishes and thoughtfulness have made a real difference to our whole family.

I wish you all a great start to June.  Let the summer begin!

Posted by: christinelaennec | May 4, 2016

April into May

It’s been nearly a month since my wonderful break on Harris, and it feels like far longer!  As I mentioned, things immediately became difficult, and my escape seemed like a dream.  But life back home – looking after the Dafter, and being at church and in the choirs – has kept me grounded.

I was delighted to see the first daisies come up:

Daisies, mid-April 2016.

Daisies in the back garden, mid-April 2016.

I remember crawling around in the freezing rain planting these and other wildflowers, for the pleasure of one of the Dafter’s favourite flowers, the daisy.

We have had very cold temperatures, but nevertheless the first of the blossoming trees carried on undeterred:

Blossom, Glasgow, April 2016

Blossom, Glasgow, April 2016

The Dafter was felled by a most horrendous cold.  She had three massive and disfiguring cold sores on her face, and looked rather like some kind of illustration in a medical book, the poor darling.  However, to our amazement, these awful cold sores were healed within just over a week!  A sign of progress.

She has been battling on to complete her coursework, with only a few hours of energy and concentration available to her every day.  Regular classes have now finished, and she has study leave and exams for the next month.  She has a fair amount of schoolwork yet to do to complete her two Highers.  She has never before had the experience of study leave and exams, having been too ill for the past five years.  So the pressure and stress is enormous.  Very fortunately she is blessed with a wonderful, supportive teacher for both her subjects.  “By coincidence” (?!) her teacher has experience of suffering from ME/CFS.

Added to the stress of schoolwork is the emotion of the end of her school days, the end of regular lunchtimes and classes with her friends, and farewells to those who will be leaving Glasgow to go to uni in other cities. But she said to me, “All I ever wanted was to make friends that I could see at high school – and I’ve got my wish.”  It was a very long time coming, but I am so grateful that she got her wish.  Many healthy people don’t have that experience!

One really good piece of news is that she now has an unconditional offer to do another Higher at college next year, which is a great relief.  (To my American readers:  the Dafter still has a ways to go in terms of achieving the equivalent of a high school diploma, but she will be doing that in Further Education – college as opposed to university, which is Higher Education.  Perhaps the best US comparison is community college.)

In April there were many sunny and cold days.  Good Tilly-watching weather:

Tilly, bathing.

Tilly, bathing.

Tilly, transitioning from bath to nap.

Tilly, transitioning from bath to nap.

Tilly has enjoyed going back out into the garden, although as you can see she really is a housecat at heart – in this case, a summerhouse cat:

Tilly outside in the garden, end of April 2016.

Tilly outside in the garden, end of April 2016.

The end of April and beginning of May brought really cold weather with hail and even snow at times:

Hailstones, end of April 2016.

Hailstones, end of April 2016.

Hailing on the back garden, end of April 2016.

Hailing on the back garden, end of April 2016.  If you look closely you can see the hail on the grass.

Very fortunately we haven’t had any badly killing frosts.  My sweet peas, cosmos and ranunculus planted in trays are all coming up (brought back inside at night).  And the spring bulbs have brought me great happiness, particularly these lovely tulips:

'Jenny' tulips on a warmer day, May 4th 2016.

‘Jenny’ tulips on a warmer day, May 4th 2016.

For fellow knitting enthusiasts, the Oregon cardigan is growing, slowly.  Here is a photo of the start of the armhole steeks.  Once I have knit to the top of the cardigan, I will slice down the middle of the steeks, graft the shoulder stitches together, and then pick up stitches along the sides of the armhole and start knitting the sleeves from the top down, on circular needles.

Steeks for the armholes of the Oregon cardigan, April 2016.

Steeks for the armholes of the Oregon cardigan, April 2016.

Below you see the front steek.  The top few rows in the below photo I had begun to decrease on either side of the centre steek, to shape the V-neck.  The steek stitches continue the same, while the patterned stitches in between grow fewer in number.  In the photo above, you can see the decreases at the bottom of the armholes.  (In fact, I could no doubt have done them a bit more neatly – the yellowish stitches really stick out.  Next time I will plan ahead the row before.)

The Oregon cardigan, just beginning to decrease for the V neck, and having started the steeks for the armholes. April 2016.

The Oregon cardigan, just beginning to decrease for the V-neck, and having started the steeks for the armholes. April 2016.

I hope you have all had a good start to the bonny month of May.  The old adage “Ne’er cast a clout til May be oot” is certainly valid here at the moment, but we are due to have some warmer weather in a few days.  19 degrees C (66 F) is predicted for Glasgow at the weekend – a scorcher!!  We shall see!

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 30, 2016

Car, ferry, bus, trains: back home to Glasgow

All too soon it was the last morning of my getaway.  I had relished every minute of respite.  I’d done quite a bit of knitting, seen dear friends, loved being out and about on Harris, read part of Jung’s autobiography, as well as about dowsing and Near Death Experiences.  It was just what I needed to put my and our current situation into a good perspective.

One of the things I enjoyed about staying at Two Harbours Guest House is their beautiful Portmeiron ‘Botanicals’ china.  Not only do I love that pattern because I love flowers, but it was the favourite china of a beloved childhood friend of mine, Diane.  She is long gone but is never forgotten.  (You can see a photo of her and me when I was 18 at the bottom of this post.) Diane would have loved this breakfast table:

Breakfast table at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.

Breakfast table at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.

I said goodbye – but not for too very long because I intend to bring Sean a book when we’re back this summer.  I drove first to Callanish, where I nodded hello to the stones but went on to a friend’s house for a lovely visit.  She was widowed less than a year ago, and her faith, fortitude and humour are very inspirational to me.  After a lovely elevenses of freshly-baked scones and homemade jam, I drove across to Stornoway, where I left my little hire car.

I found a good seat on the observation deck of the ferry, and enjoyed watching the view as we pulled away.  Here you can see Lews Castle behind the houses of Stornoway.  It sits within a pretty woodland – as you know, trees are a special thing on the Outer Hebrides.

Leaving Stornoway on the ferry. Lews Castle is in the background. April 2016.

Leaving Stornoway on the ferry. Lews Castle is in the background. April 2016.

The crossing was beautiful:

The Shiant Isles seen from MV Loch Seaforth, crossing the Minch back to Ullapool. April 2016.

The view from MV Loch Seaforth, crossing the Minch back to Ullapool. April 2016.

View from the ferry. April 2016.

View from the ferry:  the Shiant Islands, off the coast of Harris.  April 2016.

I was interested in this board, and surprised (in my ignorance) at how many people were on shift:

It takes a lot of people to run a ferry! MV Loch Seaforth, April 2016.

It takes a lot of people to run a ferry! MV Loch Seaforth, April 2016.

The bus to Inverness was waiting just outside the ferry terminal and soon we were on our way:

Snow-capped hills as the bus heads from Ullapool to Inverness. April 2016.

Snow-capped hills ahead as the bus heads from Ullapool to Inverness. April 2016.

A striking rainbow accompanied us part of the way:

Rainbow!

Rainbow!

I had a bit of time in Inverness before the train to Glasgow, and then I was on my way south.  The sunset was far prettier than I managed to capture in any of my through-the-window photos:

Sunset over the Monadh LIadh mountains south of Inverness. April 2016.

Sunset over the Monadh Liadh mountains south of Inverness. April 2016.

I changed trains in Perth, and was home by midnight.  I was met with hugs and kisses, presents were given out, and we all got to bed late.  The Dafter and Michael had done very well.  It was a big contrast with my first solo trip to Harris two years ago.  The Dafter was nearly completely bedbound back then, and Michael hardly spoke for the first 24 hours after I had returned, he was so exhausted from being the full-time carer for five days.  This year, although they were both glad to see me, they weren’t enormously worse for my absence.

Home again! The garden greets me. Early April 2016.

Home again! The garden greets me. Early April 2016.

Life immediately became quite stressful and complex, for various reasons including the Dafter having a bad cold and a downturn, and Michael needing to go off the following week. My holiday soon seemed like a dream!  But doing these blog posts has brought it back to me, and I’ve been able to recover the sense of peace and well-being that I had at the end of my trip.

Thank you all for coming along with me on my most recent trip to Harris.  We are hoping to go as a family in August, so it’s not too long to wait until our next Harrisian adventure.

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 24, 2016

A magical spring evening on the Isle of Harris

I could not have asked for a lovelier last evening on my visit to Harris.  After I had finished my picnic tea, and communed with the cattle for a bit after my afternoon in the Uists, I drove back up the West Side.  I stopped at the golf course to admire the clouds on top of Chaipaval:

Chaipaval (Toe Head), and Scarasta Beach. The Isle of Harris, April 2016.

Clouds on top of Chaipaval (Toe Head), with Scarasta Beach in the foreground. The Isle of Harris, April 2016.

The light below the lid of clouds was growing more intense:

Nearing sunset, the West Side of Harris. April 2016.

Nearing sunset, the West Side of Harris. April 2016.

I thought about going down onto Traigh Iar, but it was chilly, and besides which three photographers with tripods and huge zoom lenses appeared, which gave me an (admittedly feeble) excuse not to!  I do love this beach, though.  You can just see the standing stone on top of the hill.  This is where the Clan MacLeod had their meeting place in former times.

Traigh Iar.

Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

I went on to Seilebost beach.  You park your car near the school (sadly now closed, but it’s a campervan rental agency at the moment), and then walk across the machair and up across the dunes overlooking the beach.

Taransay, off the Isle of Harris.

Taransay, off the Isle of Harris.  From the dunes above Seilebost beach.  April 2016.

I didn’t quite have the energy to climb down onto the beach itself, but enjoyed the view:

Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris, looking across to Luskentyre (point of land on the right of the photo) and the hills of North Harris beyond.  Taransay is the land on the left of the photo.

The sun was sinking ever lower:

Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

I left and drove back towards Scalpay.  As I climbed the steep brae past the Laxdale fishery, the colours in the sky were becoming quite dramatic:

Looking west from the road to Kyle Scalpay, April 2016.

Looking west from the road to Kyles Scalpay, April 2016.

A moment later I was rewarded with this:

The sun sinks below the clouds.

The sun sinks below the clouds.

I was grateful that there happened to be a safe place to pull over along there.  So often on Harris the most marvellous sights greet one, but stopping safely to take a photo isn’t possible.

As I crossed the Scalpay bridge, I saw what might well have been an eagle swooping around over the narrow kyle (strait).

Sunset behind Tarbert, from the Scalpay end of the Scalpay bridge.

Sunset behind Tarbert, from the Scalpay end of the Scalpay bridge.  There was a large bird of prey – an eagle? – swooping about.  You can just make out its form above the water.

The colours of the sky and the crepuscular rays just seemed to get more and more intense as I went along:

The sunset, continued, from the Isle of Scalpay. April 2016.

The sunset, continued, from the Isle of Scalpay. April 2016.  About 7:15 pm.

And then, the last colours fast receded from the cloud cover:

The North Harbour, a few minutes later. Isle of Scalpay, April 2016.

The North Harbour, a few minutes later. Isle of Scalpay, April 2016.  Looking west towards Tarbert, where the land dips to meet the sea.

That evening, I went to Catriona’s house for a wee visit.  As usual she served me several kinds of baked goods and cakes, as well as tea.  She had a lovely peat fire going, and we sat knitting and talking.  I felt so very privileged.

Catriona's peat fire, complete with wally dogs (and two other smaller porcelain dogs).

Catriona’s peat fire, complete with wally dogs (and two other smaller porcelain dogs).

If you are wondering what a “wally dog” is, they are iconic porcelain dogs that many traditional Scottish houses have near the fireplace.  “Wally” is a Scots word for porcelain.  There was an interesting discussion of the word in the comments of my post on The Tenement House!

And so my three days in Harris were nearly at an end.  I had been pretty busy, really, apart from my morning of reading and knitting on the first day.  But they say “a change is as good as a rest” and besides, meeting up with dear friends was just as important to me as communing with the beautiful colours and landscapes of the Isle of Harris.

In my next post, I’ll take you back to Glasgow – but I don’t blame you if you don’t want to go!

 

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 21, 2016

From Harris to North Uist, for the afternoon

The third and last day of my time on Harris dawned very promisingly indeed:

View of the North Harbour, Isle of Scalpay, April 2016.

View of the North Harbour, Isle of Scalpay, April 2016.

My plan for the day was to drive to the south end of Harris, and take the ferry across the Sound of Harris to meet up with some dear friends.

So I set off to the beautiful West Side.  Each time I’ve visited recently, this road has been further improved:

Driving across to the West Side of Harris. April 2016.

Driving across to the West Side of Harris. April 2016.

The tide in the estuary was out, and the sheep were grazing on the marshy islands.  I don’t know what plants grow there, as it is covered with the sea twice a day.  I know sea thrift blossoms in places like this in early summer:

Sheep grazing on the salt-water wetlands near Seilebost, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

Sheep grazing on the salt-water wetlands near Seilebost, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

I have stopped at the below viewpoint many times in the past twenty years, but this time I understood it just a bit differently.  Do you see the sharp point of Sròn Scourt on the horizon?  I had never known that peak before my hike the previous day to the eagle observatory. As one reader commented, that peak features in many of Willie Fulton‘s paintings – including, I now realise, one that hangs in our dining room.

I really like knowing the names of hills I see on the horizon.  In fact, just before this trip I had invested in an Ordinance Survey map of Glasgow, to help me identify and understand what I am seeing off in the distance.  Curiously, the taxi driver who took me to the station as I began my journey told me the name of one such hill; later that day a lady I was sitting next to on the bus volunteered the name of one of the hills we passed.  Hmm!

That view again! Looking across to Luskentyre from Seilebost. April 2016.

That view again! Looking across to Luskentyre from Seilebost. April 2016.

As I say the tide was low.  The water was beautifully calm and I loved watching the colours change and shift before my eyes.  This is one of the great pleasures of the landscape of Harris.

Beautiful colours in the water. Isle of Harris, April 2016.

Beautiful colours in the water. Isle of Harris, April 2016.

I didn’t have time to go down onto Traigh Iar, one of my and our favourite beaches, but I enjoyed it from the lay-by above:

Traigh Iar, Nisabost, with Luskentyre in the distance. April 2016.

Traigh Iar, Nisabost, with Luskentyre in the distance. April 2016.

Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

Soon I was in Leverburgh, waiting for the ferry.  I was lucky insofar as the ferry times were due to be disrupted the next day, because of tidal shifts.  The day I went across, the ferry was bang on time both ways.  It was a beautiful day!

MV Loch Portan coming towards Leverburgh. April 2016.

MV Loch Portain coming towards Leverburgh. April 2016.

I watched an oystercatcher busily pecking away on the stones near the slipway.  She didn’t seem to be the least bit bothered when the ferry approached and the ramp came right down next to where she was.   Waiting for the ferry with me was a man who was going home after an early trip across to Harris to do some work.  When he asked what my journey involved, and I mentioned my friends, naturally enough he knew them.

On board the Loch Portain, heading for Berneray, North Uist. April 2016.

On board the Loch Portain, heading for Berneray, North Uist. April 2016.

The crossing takes an hour.  I knitted and read very happily.

Nearing Berneray, North Uist. April 2016.

Nearing Berneray, North Uist. April 2016.

It was incredibly calm, except when the birds on the water took flight at the approach of the ferry:

Seabirds put to flight by the approaching ferry.

Seabirds put to flight by the approaching ferry.

Is there any better sight than friends coming to meet you?

My friends walking to meet me off the boat.

My friends walking down to the pier to meet me off the boat.

The funniest thing was that, as I and the man walked up the ramp, both of us greeting my friends, there was a film crew filming!  We joked, There was no need to make such a fuss over our arrival!

My friends, who have appeared on several of my Isle of Harris blog posts over the years, whisked me off on a tour of the West side of North Uist.  We had a delicious lunch at the Claddach Kirkibost community centre.  This is in a former school, and contains a café, a shop, a library, and a nursery (among other things).  It was a lovely place:

Pretty stained-glass window in the Claddach Kirkibost cafe. April 2016.

Pretty stained-glass window in the Claddach Kirkibost cafe. April 2016.

As you see, there were fresh flowers at the tables, picked no doubt from the garden just outside.  The water was sparkling on that beautiful day:

A delicious lunch with a beautiful view. Claddach Kirkibost centre, North Uist, April 2015.

A delicious lunch with a beautiful view. Claddach Kirkibost centre, North Uist, April 2015.

It was wonderful to see my friends again, and have a catch-up.  They first hosted me in 1994, when I was learning Gaelic, and they taught me so much – not only a new language, but their compassionate and relaxed attitude towards life.  We have looked to them for guidance and example as we’ve raised our children.  In fact, they still give us huge support as we traverse these years of the Dafter’s illness.

On our drive from the ferry, I had seen many fields of black sheep.  My friends told me that they were Hebridean sheep, and that a man they knew had worked hard to keep the breed going.  Obviously his efforts were not in vain, because there were so many of them!  I was intrigued to see wool from the Hebridean sheep for sale in the shop at Claddach Kirkibost.  I didn’t actually buy any while we were there, because I needed to think out what I wanted and how I would use it.  However, once back in Glasgow, I was able to find a suitable project and order four skeins of wool from the woman who rears the sheep and spins the wool on Berneray:

Wool spun from sheep on Berneray, North Uist. "Storm Grey" aran, from the Birlinn Yarn Company.

Wool spun from sheep on Berneray, North Uist. “Storm Grey” aran, from the Birlinn Yarn Company.

I will certainly let you know what I eventually make with the wool.  It looks like Harris Tweed wool but is far softer.  I have knit with Harris Tweed wool (see Michael’s jumper here – he wears it a lot!) so I am very keen to see how this knits up.  I love the fact that this wool comes from such a special breed of sheep, whom I saw in the fields on my visit.

After lunch, my friends drove me to Taigh Chearsabhagh in Lochmaddy.  There was a very poignant travelling exhibit of five chairs from Passchendaele and a huge book listing all the names of people in the British Isles who lost their lives in World War One – many of them in battles fought a hundred years ago this year.  The names are all printed on the left-hand page, and on the right-hand page people in the various communities the book visits are invited to write their memories and stories of the people listed.  There were photocopied photographs pasted in, and personal testimonies about those who lost their lives so long ago.

We walked out to where a large concrete fish was covered with glass and shells:

Mosaic fish at Taigh Chearsabhagh, Lochmaddy, North Uist. April 2016.

Mosaic fish at Taigh Chearsabhagh, Lochmaddy, North Uist. April 2016.

And all too soon it was time to head back to the ferry.  I felt very sorry to say goodbye.  All during our visit we had talked about people whom I had known who had gone on, and the younger generation whom I knew when they were in P1 all those years ago and who now have their own families.  I had a huge sense of nostalgia – how precious each moment and season is – and at the same time, of continuity.  Underneath it all, love, community and family continues, albeit with problems, losses and occasional fractures.  While we waited for the ferry, a young man came up to embrace them – someone their son had gone to school with.  His own children were waiting in the car:  a living illustration of what we had been thinking and talking about!

On my way back the weather was very changeable.  Here you can see the rain, but also sun still shining in the distance:

Heading back to Harris.

Heading back to Harris.

After a picnic tea in my little hire car, I drove back up the West Side.  I couldn’t resist taking photos of this young calf and its mother:

A calf and its mother having a nuzzle. Isle of Harris, April 2016.

A calf and its mother having a nuzzle. Isle of Harris, April 2016.

More signs of continuity and change at the same time!

In my next post I will share my last evening on Harris – for this visit anyway.  Thank you for all your comments, for reading, and for coming along with me!

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 18, 2016

To the North Harris Eagle Observatory (with knitting)

On the Sunday afternoon, I left Huisinis and headed back along the road I’d travelled.  I always find it interesting how very different any route looks when going back in the other direction.

View heading to Glen Meavaig from Huisinis, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

View heading to Glen Meavaig from Huisinis, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The rain, which had been a steady drizzle, strengthened a bit:

The road is probably more travelled by sheep than by cars!

The road is probably more travelled by sheep than by cars!

But I decided to press on to my objective:  the eagle observatory in Glen Meavaig (pron MEE-a-vayk).  There is a good car park on the road, and a very clear track leading up the Glen.  In fact the track continues north through the glen, east through the mountains, and ends near Bogha Glas, close to the Lewis/Harris border.  I was very glad only to be hiking the mile and a half in!

Beginning the walk up the Glen. April 2016.

Beginning the walk up the Glen. April 2016.

My map told me the name of the prominent peak to the right:  Sròn Scourt.  “Sròn” means nose, which sounds about right.  I doubted I would see any eagles, as the rain was thickening, and you couldn’t really see the heights where they live.

Mist rolling over the hills of North Harris.

Mist rolling over the hills of North Harris.

The peaks on the other side are called “Cathadail Grànnda”.  Grànnda means “ugly” – a bit harsh, don’t you think?  The track follows first on one side of the river (Abhainn Meavaig, the River Meavaig), and then crosses to the other side:

Crossing the river as I go further into the glen.

Crossing the river as I go further into the glen.

What really struck me on this walk was that on all sides there was water.  There were waterfalls tumbling off the hillsides, water gurgling in the bog, water trickling through streams.  The air was full of the various sounds of moving water.  I was very grateful for the well-constructed track, because if I had stepped off in any direction I would have been in serious trouble, up to my knees or more in water:

Water everywhere! Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

Water everywhere! Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

The sky darkened:

Getting closer, as the rain lowers.

Getting closer, as the rain lowers.

The holiday selfie:

Me!

Me!

And there, around a curve in track, it was!  I was very grateful for the wooden ramp (covered with chicken wire) that led you from the track into the little building.

The North Harris Eagle Observatory, Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The North Harris Eagle Observatory, Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

I was even more glad I wasn’t trying to hike through to the other side, having read this sign.  I couldn’t imagine trying to ford a river, in such wet conditions, in the middle of nowhere!  Then again, there must be experienced outdoors people for whom it would be possible.

Notices inside the eagle observatory.

Notices inside the eagle observatory.

It is indeed a wonderful feeling, peering into the glen looking for eagles.  Golden eagles and sea eagles nest here, though I wouldn’t know the difference, or indeed if I was seeing a buzzard.  I think all birds of prey were happily tucked away somewhere equally dry while I was there.

Quite a view!

Quite a view!

I was very glad of a chance to take my wet coat and gear off for a while.  The hide isn’t heated, but I spread my things out anyway.

Drying out my knitwear.

Drying out my knitwear.

And I just sat there and knitted!

And making some more!

Making some more knitted accessories: the Orangery Shawl.

I was also very glad to find I had tucked a peanut and chocolate bar into my bag, because I was getting hungry!

I enjoyed a peaceful time just sitting, watching, listening, and knitting.  And after a while I was ready to go back.  The hike back down to the car took me less than 25 minutes, because it was downhill and also because I was going at a clip (though carefully, as to not sprain my ankle).  The rain was pretty heavy and I was very eager to get back to Tarbert for my dinner.

By 7:00 I was going up the steps of the Harris Hotel, which is so familiar that it feels like home.  I stayed there on my first solo jaunt two years ago.  I posted about the hotel here.  I love the garden:

The garden of the Harris Hotel, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The garden of the Harris Hotel, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

It seems like such a feat to me, to make a garden out of the rocky landscape.  And I love seeing trees when I’m on the islands.  I love trees at any time, but they are precious commodities in that windswept coastal environment.

I had a delicious tea, including a lovely apple crumble.  If I hadn’t been driving, I would have treated myself to a wee dram, I think!  I’m not much of a drinker, but I had that pleasantly tired out feeling that you get after an afternoon of fresh air and some exertion.  I got more knitting done, and the waiter was very friendly and kind.

As darkness was really descending, I drove back to Scalpay and to a lovely warm bed.  My only regret was that I had eaten so much that the delicious home-made Victoria sponge that had appeared by my tea tray was just a cake too far.  It’s not often I say that!

In my next two posts, I’ll share my third and final day on Harris.  The weather was fab!

Thank you all for reading and I wish you an excellent start to the week.

 

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 16, 2016

Church, and a drive out to Huisinis

The second of my three days on Harris was rainy.  Not as rainy as it might have been – you can get soaked in a few minutes in a real downpour – but gently rainy most of the day.  However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself.  I decided to go to the Episcopal church, which is about 5 miles out of Tarbert.  From the road, you see the sign but wonder where it could be:

The road to the Episcopal church, on the way from Tarbert to the West Side of Harris.

The road to the Episcopal church, on the way from Tarbert to the West Side of Harris.

At the top of the drive, there is the most unusual sight of a grove of trees, surrounding a small wooden building:

The entrance of the Episcopal church on the Isle of Harris.

The entrance of the Episcopal church on the Isle of Harris.

Inside, the church is small but very appealing.  The wooden building and the trees surrounding the church (and the rain!) reminded me so much of Oregon.  They were delighted to have a visitor, and welcomed me warmly.  I enjoyed the service very much, especially as we all came to stand in a circle to receive Communion.  After the service, trays with tea, coffee and biscuits were brought in, and the folks I sat next to were very kind to me.  People clock my American accent pretty quickly, but then are often surprised, if they ask, to find out that I’ve been going to Harris nearly every year for 20 years now.

Inside the Episcopal Church, Isle of Harris.  April 2016.

Inside the Episcopal Church, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

After church I drove back into Tarbert, and went to the Hotel Hebrides for a welcome coffee.  (Hotels are the only commercial establishments that are usually open on Sundays on Harris.  You can read my thoughts about keeping the Sabbath on Harris here, if you’re interested.)

There I changed from my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes into my Sunday-go-climb-up-a-hill clothes.  I’d decided to drive out to a very remote village, Huisinis.  (Pronounced:  HOO-shin-nish.)

I hadn’t been there since we went with Our Son the summer of 1996, just after he came to us.  I remembered the road as being rather terrifying, but it didn’t seem too bad at all this time.  I concluded that in the intervening two decades, I must have become much more used to driving on Harris.  From the main road to Stornoway, it’s a mere 14 miles to Huisinis.  But it takes an hour.  Perhaps you can see why:

Driving to Huisinis:  West Loch Tarbert.  April 2016.

Driving to Huisinis: West Loch Tarbert. April 2016.

From the road to Huisini: I believe that is Taransay.  April 2016.

From the road to Huisinis. April 2016.

I am the interloper!

I am the interloper!

From the road to Huisinis, April 2016.

From the road to Huisinis, April 2016.

The cleft in the hills ahead is Glen Miavaig, where the eagle observatory is - which I will post about next time.  On the road to Huisinis, April 2016.

The cleft in the hills ahead is Glen Meavaig, where the eagle observatory is – which I will post about next time. On the road to Huisinis, April 2016.

Then you come to a surprising thing:

The road to Huisinis takes you through a gate.

The road to Huisinis takes you through a gate.

To your left is a very impressive waterfall, and once through the gate, to your right is another surprising sight:

Private gardens, Amhuinnsuidhe, Isle of Harris.

Private gardens, Amhuinnsuidhe, Isle of Harris.

I can only imagine the labour that must have been involved to create the gardens from the rocky moonscape of this part of Harris!  You follow the road around a bend, and see:

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Isle of Harris.  April 2016.

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The road takes you right bang in front of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.  (Pronounced:  AH-vin-SOO-yah.  ‘Amhuinn’ means river and ‘suidhe’ means sitting / site / situation.)  This is the headquarters of the Amhuinnsuidhe Estate, which I believe owns most of the land that the road passes through.  Fishing and shooting parties stay at the hotel, but apparently you don’t have to be a fisher or a hunter to do so (check out their website here).

Past the castle, you go through another large gate, and pass terraced houses where the estate workers live.

Amhuinnsuidhe estate cottages - and shop!

Amhuinnsuidhe estate cottages – and shop!

Driving carefully along, I was very intrigued to find a sign saying “Shop Open” – a glaring exception to Sunday closing.  The shop is called The Stables, for obvious reasons:

Amhuinnsuidhe Estate shop, April 2016.

Amhuinnsuidhe Estate shop, April 2016.

The place seemed very quiet, and then I saw this sign:

Sign at the Amhuinnsuidhe Estate shop, April 2016.

Sign at the Amhuinnsuidhe Estate shop, April 2016.

There was another sign stating:  “In the case of an emergency, or if you wish to purchase our own label whisky…”  I wondered how often those two events coincided!  The cooling cabinet was full of salmon and venison from the Estate.

This is the view of the castle from near the shop:

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, April 2016.

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, April 2016.

I drove along some more:

The road to Huisinis, continued...

The road to Huisinis, continued…

Until I turned a corner and was looking down into the village of Huisinis:

Huisinis village, Isle of Harris.  April 2016.

Huisinis village, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

As you see, it is a very small hamlet!  Behind the narrow point of land that you see above with a beach on one side, there is the Isle of Scarp.  I decided to walk across to the pier where the boat to Scarp used to leave.

The road through the machair, Huisinis, Isle of Harris.

The road through the machair, Huisinis, Isle of Harris.

If you have ever wondered what “machair” is, this is a good cross-section to show you:  very sandy soil, which supports grass and in the summertime a profusion of wildflowers.  And, all year round, a good number of rabbits!  The machair (pron. MA-char – ‘ch’ as in ‘loch’)  is a very precious environment, and there are signs up asking people not to drive on it or damage it.

Sheep, machair, sea, hills.

Sheep, machair, sea, hills.

The pier behind Huisinis, with the Isle of Scarp beyond.

The pier behind Huisinis, with the Isle of Scarp beyond.

After a short walk, you reach the pier where in former times the boat would sail to the Isle of Scarp.  Scarp was inhabited until the 1970s.  Apparently in the 1940s there was a population of 100, but within a few decades there were too few people to sustain a community there.  Scarp is famous for attempts to deliver mail there via rocket – there’s a film called “The Rocket Post” about it.

"Steer me"

“Steer me”

Houses on Scarp, empty now.

Houses on Scarp, empty now.

After admiring the crystal clear water at the pier, I walked back across to the beach in front of the village.  I remembered Our Son kicking his football – despite our warnings – into the sea, and how it was quickly carried away.  He was enraged!

Huisinish beach, April 2016.

Huisinish beach, April 2016.

On this day, the drizzle was steady and there was only me, and later on a man and his collie.  The collie dropped a tennis ball in front of me and stared fixedly at it – the man nodded that I could throw it for him.

Huisinis beach, April 2016.

Huisinis beach, April 2016.

I found some shells:

Shells, Huisinis beach, Isle of Harris.  April 2016.

Shells, Huisinis beach, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

By then it was about 3:30 or so and I said goodbye to Huisinis until another time, and set off for another adventure.  But I will tell you about that in my next post!

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 13, 2016

A beautiful evening on the Isle of Scalpay, Harris

The first of my three days on Harris dawned bright and beautiful:

The North Harbour, Isle of Scalpay. April 2016.

The North Harbour, Isle of Scalpay. View from my room at the Two Harbours Guest House.  April 2016.  The houses in the distance are the village of Kyles Scalpay, on the Harris mainland.

(If you would like to see my hand-made map of Scalpay and vicinity, you will find it here.)

After breakfast, I just knitted and read.  It was such a strange and delicious sensation to know that I wouldn’t have to jump up at any moment.  I felt as if I had never actually knitted or read before!

I took my friend Catriona out to lunch.  I did take a photo of her but on condition that it would NOT appear on the internet.  Catriona is soon going to be 81, and doesn’t have a computer, but she is well aware, through her children and grandchildren, of Facebook and the like.  After lunch, she invited me in for a cup of tea and the usual spread of cakes, which I didn’t need much arm-twisting to help eat!  Then I drove us into Tarbert where I shopped for presents to take home.  It was such a lovely day!  We walked along by the harbour, and were greeted by beautiful daffodils:

Daffodils in Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

Daffodils in Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

You can see how the trees lean at a bit of an angle, from the prevailing wind.

I was introduced to almost everyone we encountered, and heard quite a bit of Gaelic, which is always nice.  People tend to switch quickly into English in the presence of a stranger, and perhaps they didn’t realise that I could understand them very well.

I brought Catriona back home, and after a snacky tea (my lunch plus cakes-and-tea more than sufficed for two meals), I went for an evening walk.  I took the road to Aird na Cille.  Aren’t these trees so brave?  See how they cling stubbornly to whatever earth they have found to grow in, amongst the boulders:

Trees clinging to the rock, on the road to Aird na Cille, Isle of Scalpay.

Trees clinging to the rocky hillside.  On the road to Aird na Cille, Isle of Scalpay.

And can you see the very handsome conifers that someone has grown in their garden:

Looking back at the South Harbour and the Village, Isle of Scalpay. April 2016.

Looking back at the South Harbour and the Village, Isle of Scalpay. April 2016.

Trees do not have an easy time of it out on the islands, and many of the conifers are rust-coloured in places, due to the salt spray they endure during the winter storms.

It was a beautiful evening, and I could see the shadowy cliffs of Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, off in the distance:

The Isle of Skye, beyond the Minch.

The Isle of Skye, beyond the Minch.

It was unusually calm, and the water was like a mirror:

Stillness: reflections in the water.

Stillness: reflections in the water.

I watched the evening ferry from Uig, Isle of Skye, coming into Tarbert.  So many times I have been on that ferry, watching Scalpay go by.  But this evening it was the other way around.

The evening ferry coming past Scalpay, headed for Tarbert.

The evening ferry coming past Scalpay, headed for Tarbert.

It was about 8 pm, and the colours in the sky were becoming very beautiful indeed.  You can easily see where Tarbert lies, looking as I was from the east:  it’s the place where the land dips down almost to the sea.  Tarbert is on an ithsmus, a very narrow neck of land.  (The name ‘Tarbert’ means ithsmus, and there are a few places with this name in Scotland.)

Sunset behind Tarbert, Isle of Harris.

Sunset behind Tarbert, Isle of Harris.

As I came back to the guest house, everything seemed to be settling down for the night, including this thoughtful-looking sheep:

Ruminating sheep.

Ruminating sheep.

It had been such a beautiful, relaxing day with time to rest and please myself, and time to visit with a dear friend.  And I still had two more days to go!

To be continued…

Posted by: christinelaennec | April 10, 2016

Over land and sea to the Isle of Scalpay, Harris

Hello everyone!  I’m back from a wonderful five-day break.  For the third year in a row, I went to the Isle of Harris by myself.  I was really needing respite from my caring role, and although life has been rather hectic since my return, it did me such a lot of good.  I have a lot of photos to show you!

I took the train from Glasgow to Inverness, which was about four hours, with having to take a roundabout route due to the current closure of the Queen Street Tunnel.  I didn’t mind at all, and was happy to  read and knit.  Almost all the following photos are taken through windows, for which I apologise.  But perhaps this will give you a flavour of my journey:

On the train between Perth and Inverness.  April 2016.

On the train between Perth and Inverness. April 2016.  I believe this is the River Tummel.

Pitlochry, I think, from the train.

Pitlochry, from the train.

Coming through the mountains.

Coming through the mountains.

I was very taken by the colours of the countryside in early spring.  Below you can see the red hue of the birch trees, and the yellowish hue of the trees closer in.  I don’t know what kind of tree they are.  You can also see how flooded the fields were.  I saw evidence of flooding everywhere I went, including on the Hebrides.  My friends told me there was water standing in places where there had never been standing water before.

The Scottish countryside, April 2016.

The Scottish countryside, April 2016.

From Inverness I took the bus to Ullapool.  There is a brand-new ferry terminal there now, which has a beautiful view out across Loch Broom and towards the hills.  You can just see the snow on top of them.  The name of the red boat is “Willing Lad”:

View from the new ferry terminal at Ullapool, April 2016.

View from the new ferry terminal at Ullapool, April 2016.

Looking back to Ullapool from the ferry terminal.

Looking back to Ullapool from the ferry terminal.

The weather had been very stormy, and I was anticipating a rough crossing.  But I was very lucky – the crew told me that it was the smoothest crossing they’d had all day.  You can see here that the chains underneath the chairs hadn’t been clipped in – a good sign!

Smooth crossing!

Smooth crossing!

The ferry takes two and a half hours to cross the Minch.  We were docking in Stornoway by 8 pm, and the kind man who runs the hire car place was waiting for me.  After a change of shoes, and a few bites of chocolate, I drove down through Lewis, across the Clisham mountain pass, and down into Harris.  I was grateful that, although it was raining, the clouds weren’t as low as they sometimes are in the mountains.  There were quite a few sheep on the road, which I was prepared for.  To my surprise, I also had to come to a screeching halt for a mallard, who looked at me quizzically as he waddled to the other side of the main road.  I arrived at the B&B in Scalpay before 10 pm.

My room at the B&B in Scalpay.

My room at the Two Harbours Guest House in Scalpay.

Having travelled more than twelve hours, I was very happy to be given cake and a cup of tea, and I slept very well that night.  The next morning dawned bright and sunny, as you see above.

But I will tell you about that next time!

I hope you’ve all had a good weekend.

Posted by: christinelaennec | March 30, 2016

Spring is here

Thank you to everyone who’s left encouraging comments on my last two posts.  I’m glad the grey-haired brigade is gathering in number!  Just after I posted about the Dafter’s health improvements she entered a “two-steps back” phase, and the last couple of weeks have been an uphill battle.  However, she seems to have gotten back to about where she was when I wrote on the 17th.  Recovery is an up-and-down process.

Springtime comes to the back garden. Glasgow, end of March 2016.

Springtime comes to the back garden. Glasgow, end of March 2016.

Spring is definitely here, and it is gladdening all our hearts.  As you can see we have had some sunshine!  Also hailstones, and everything in between.  Our clocks Sprang Forwards this past Sunday, so now it is light until after 7 pm, which is very uplifting.

A volunteer candlestick primrose in the front garden. March, 2016.

A volunteer candlestick primrose in the front garden. March, 2016.

Easter has come and gone, very early this year.  I was privileged to take part in two services during Holy Week, including singing in an ecumenical Maundy Thursday service.  I also had the chance to walk a prayer labyrinth, which was a very special and moving experience.

Stained glass angel.

Stained glass angel.

The innocence of the Dafter’s two rats continues to delight all of us.  As the Dafter has recently been too poorly to play with them as much as she would like, Michael and I have had a bit more grandparental time with them:

Caspian, one of the two young rats. March 2016.

Caspian, one of the two young rats, having a treat during playtime. March 2016.

Caspian likes to climb inside the Dafter’s sleeve, which she enjoys.  His brother Artemis isn’t so keen on tunnels as his brother, but has discovered that there is often a tissue tucked up inside my left sleeve, and he will come to me to look for it.  We can have fun by repeating his discovery a few times using the same tissue!

The wild animal kingdom has also been very busy lately, with lots of bees in the garden.  I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if this is a queen bumblebee or not, but it was absolutely covered with pollen:

A bee in the crocuses. My back garden, end of March, 2016.

A bee in the crocuses. My back garden, end of March, 2016.

Most of my time and energy has been spent helping the Dafter contend with feeling worse than normal, with school and schoolwork – 6th year of high school is uncharted territory for us – and generally supporting her physically and emotionally through life’s challenges.  It is a very stressful time, with her friends leaving school and going off in different directions.  And of course she wants to do as well as she can in her two Highers.  There seems to be a great deal of mystery about deadlines and even school schedules.  Part of this is that both the Highers the Dafter is doing are recently revised, so the teachers themselves aren’t quite sure what the demands of the new curriculum are.  And we don’t even know when her last day of classes is, and when her study leave begins.  The school apparently keeps it a secret so that the kids can’t plan pranks.  “What, like putting a sheep in the 6th year common room like at my daughter’s school?” a friend said.  Yeah, things like that!

I do regularly rest, and sometimes even nap.  Recently Tilly did something very uncharacteristic:  she curled up next to me and had a bit of a snooze herself.

A special cuddle from Tilly. March 2016.

A special cuddle from Tilly. March 2016.

I had a special day two weekends ago:  I was able to go to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival where I met up with Roobeedoo.  That was a great treat and it was really good to see her doing so well.  She blogged about it here.  I came home on one of the very last trains to go through the Queen Street Tunnel before they closed it for repairs until August.

I had finished the shawl I made from the beautiful gradient yarn that she gave me for Christmas, and I was pleased to be able to show her:

Raspberry and Apple shawl, finished. March 2016.

Raspberry and Apple shawl, finished. March 2016.

The yarn is the Wool Kitchen’s Urban Hints silk/wool blend; the pattern is Charlotte Walford’s Wild Poppies shawl.  Full details are here on Ravelry.

And my Oregon cardigan is coming along.  I took a photo of it this morning.  The darker wool is a beautiful greeny/brown mix called “Selkie” and the gold wool is called “Golden Plover”.  All the names of the colours have a connection to the Outer Hebrides, where the wool is made.

The Oregon cardigan, 30 March 2016.

The Oregon cardigan, by Alice Starmore, kit from Virtual Yarns. 30 March 2016.

And speaking of which, I am soon going to be heading to the Isle of Harris on my third solo trip for some respite. (You can read about last year’s trip beginning here.) As of this coming weekend, the Dafter’s school is on Spring Break, however, she will need to keep working on her portfolios and indeed will be attending sessions of the Easter School they provide.  But I hope she will also have a chance to relax and have some fun with her friends.  I’m sure she and her Dad will do some special father-daughter things together in my absence, as well.

Happy springtime, everyone!

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