Winter 2017/18

Christmas with The Birches was followed by a Boxing Day flight to Joburg and a reasonable enough drive northwards towards the Transvaal for 5 days of orienteering. In the New Year, we took the hire car back to Joburg and then picked up a flight to Cape Town which we both liked a lot.

We left Cape Town for Melbourne where our principal responsibility was to do a spot of baby sitting for Johnny but we also managed a very pleasant trip to Halls Gap in the Grampian Mountains. It was great to meet up with relations who also entertained us royally.

As it turned out, we also had just enough time after Johnny went back to school to squeeze in a trip to New Zealand. In hindsight, viewing both North and South Islands was a bit ambitious and we both felt that we drove through wonderful areas that deserved a bit more attention. Next time…..

After New Zealand, we returned to Melbourne to take part in Johnny’s 7th birthday party which took place in Pirate Park around the corner from his house. Jo had organised an obstacle course for the kids and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Summer 2017

The main event for us in early June was a trip to the Eden Festival in the south west of Scotland with Emily, Richard, Caitlin and Roslyn. Not a mainstream festival and definitely not blessed with the best of weather. Nonetheless, well worth the visit. The camping site was very pleasant but the campervans were packed like sardines. We had to leave before Boney M played on the Sunday night but we did get to see Mr Motivator on Saturday afternoon. I guess some people are born lucky.


July saw Jo, John and Johnny jetting in from Oz for a surprise 40th birthday visit. (Can our wee girl really be 40?) The party at the Livingston Inn was good fun and provided an opportunity for the “Coon Cousins” to meet up and have another photograph taken.


Suse went on to a taiji week at Penicuik working on her Wudan form with James Connachan. This meant missing Tai Chi Caledonia for the first time in many years but it felt like the right thing to do.

We popped down to Glasgow for the Merchant City Festival and to meet Suse’s cousin Marion with hubby Michael at the airport. They had a week at Larick House visiting Kilmartin and Taynish with local trips to Campbeltown and Tarbert. I think Kintyre made a good impression.


We escorted Marion and Michael to Perth en route to Dundee and there we teamed up with Emily and Roslyn who were joining us at the Scottish 6 Days at Ballater. For the first half of the week Emily’s friend Carol and her daughter Bethan stayed in the ‘big tent’. The orienteering was pretty good but the Ballater campsite was even better and when Richard and Caitlin joined us midweek things got even better. Caitlin made a new Finch friend, Esme, to go round the string and white courses with. The Day 4 String Course that we organised worked out well despite a nasty shower at the end and I think most of us were pleased with the week in general.


In September, we decided to attend the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival principally because Cabin Fever were playing for free. The weather intervened and the free gigs were cancelled but it gave us the opportunity to visit the cave painting on Davaar Island which was something we had been trying to do for several years.


The evening concert in the Heritage Centre was well done and Suse got to see a folk group called “She” which she likes. Another old friend and colleague Gordon Mooney’s daughter plays the fiddle with this band, a very talented group of ladies.

Another highlight has been the arrival of 3 barn owls in the owl box on the big oak tree. We had heard them at  night but were amazed to see them lined up on a branch one morning and couldn’t believe it when they started entering the box. The box needs a ledge for them to land on and we’ll probably build something new for them in due course.

Following instructions from Johnny and Aiden, the tree house now has a back door from the Rainbow Café; John has been enjoying himself building a roof and various cranes, wind vanes and doing some painting. Work in progress.

The garden has been an on-off success. This has been the wettest summer for many years and that has resulted in some poor soil conditions, slow growth outdoors and slug damage. On the other hand, the regime of the long beds in the vegetable garden and raised fruit beds seems to be manageable (that doesn’t mean 100% weedfree all the time!) and the mulch elsewhere is working at weed control. There have been some mysterious non developers, e.g. peas and tomatoes, and carrots which have taken months to germinate.

The decision to hack back the willow hedge and replace it with a fence which can accommodate the climbers will allow better planting in the flower borders. The willow maze now has sufficient growth to create arches so work there is really taking shape now.

Spring 2017

Most of April was spent orienteering. Initially in the Trossachs; then the Spanish O Champs north of Madrid and finally, Drumlanrig in the south west of Scotland on the way home. The Spanish excursion was a lot of driving but the events were worth it and it’s always good to see what’s happening in France and Spain.


Suse ran a couple of Qigong workshops but her old home at An Tairbeart has now been sold and reopened as a café, making it too noisy, so, after the summer her workshops will be held in the local (Whitehouse) Village Hall.

On our return I started to  paint the ‘Celtic Beasties’ boards for the Day 4 string course at the Scottish 6 Days in August.

May saw us helping at the Kintyre Way Ultra again. A new ultra cycle race had been added and this time the sun shone, giving everyone the best possible impressions of the route and the area. The pictures of the event on the BBC’s Adventure Show were stunning.

We decided to fit another radiator in the livingroom so that we don’t have to light the woodburner when the pellet system is working in order to warm up the livingroom. Everything went well but the radiator didn’t heat up when the pellet boiler was running. Tried bleeding the system but no joy. Having given up on AlvaNorthern, the original installers, we found the mobile number for the lead engineer who had designed /installed the system but who no longer worked for them. He was more than happy to come out, service the boiler, bleed the system properly and suggest ways of replacing the programmer to get a remote link working again. What a result! We bought a Hive box on a special deal at Tool Station and again we can control the pellet boiler remotely but this time via SMS which is much is more accessible than having to use the internet. Thanks Lubo!

At the end of the month, we popped through to Edinburgh to support Emily who was running the Edinburgh Half Marathon. She did very well but my lasting memory is of armed police on the roof of the school being used for the finish. Given what had been happening in London and Manchester, I guess it was to be expected.

Most of the borders in the garden have been mulched using the vast amount of chippings that we obtained locally. This will keep the weeds under control and generally makes the borders look much neater.

We finally got around to re-decorating upstairs and completed the high ceilings in the hall without too much fuss using rollers on the end of long poles. We ran out of time to do the bedroom before the summer visitors started to arrive but there will be plenty of rainy days in the autumn I’m sure. We also finally worked out a design for the new glass “lampshades” for the wall lights and whilst they still leave the upstairs a bit dark, they certainly add interest to the space and complement the other glass “map” very nicely.

Meanwhile, the hot tub has had a few outings. We are still looking forward to being able to cool it down per the brochure i.e. by using  snow!

Winter 2017

Still smelling of dog but basically OK.

In January, we finally took the plunge and bought a wee flat in Glasgow. On the edge of the Merchant City, it’s a big change to Larick House but we’ve had good fun exploring Glasgow and tapping into the city’s fine range of things to do. We had to spend some time cleaning and decorating but it didn’t need that much doing to it and we both look forward to our occasional trips to Glasgae.


We had a good time in spite of the football.

January also saw us visit Sunderland for Jennifer’s surprise 70th birthday party. Dave and I squeezed in a quick trip to the SOL for a Cup match against Burnley. It was dire and Sunderland’s relegation at the end of the season wasn’t surprising. I suspect it may be some time before we see all three north eastern clubs in the Premier League again. Pity.


Suse in action at the Livingston Park Run.

Park Running on Saturday mornings is now a fairly frequent event and we both enjoy battling the hills in Tollcross Park and working out which bus to catch to get back into the city centre. My “running” training regime is a bit more structured than it has been and my 5k times are improving – now in the mid 20 minute range depending upon the course. Fingers crossed I can keep it going.

Early February saw our broadband upgraded and we can now do catch up tv. The BBC haven’t made things easy for us by first of all abandoning their iPlayer service to our freesat box and then later doing the same to one of our TV’s. The solution was a £14.99 nowtv box with no packages but it took some figuring out!

Chilly but good fun.

Having seen the Silencers at their Christmas gig at the ABC and done some classical stuff at the City Halls, we saw another golden oldie (Rab Noakes) at the Fruit Market in Candleriggs the night before we flew out for our warm weather trip to Tenerife with Kathleen, Emily, Richard, Caitlin and Roslyn. Again we enjoyed the fresh air vitamins, blue skies and views, and the company in a very nice house with our own swimming pool.


Later in February, we went to a “wake” for an old Livingston friend Chis Fooks who had died at the end of 2016. It was held in the Cameo Bar in Tollcross, Edinburgh and it was great to celebrate his life. Some of the people, we hadn’t seen for about 40 years but it didn’t seem to make any difference. We all valued the time we had spent with this original, creative man. Have a look at this video and some of Daniel Fooks’s images to see what we mean


Summer of Sixteen

The Coon Clan 2016

Every year we say the garden can’t cope with us going away for long periods, but every year ‘something’ comes up. This July began with Jo and family coming over for a family wedding in Edinburgh so we managed a few get togethers for the grandparents, parents, cousins/nephews/nieces and it was lovely for Jo to see her new niece so soon.

Continue reading “Summer of Sixteen”

Here We Go Again!

It's good to see the daffs re-appearing. Swallows next?
It’s good to see the daffs re-appearing. Swallows next?

It’s that time of year again. I think it’s the daffodils that does it. Although winter is gradually letting go its grip and things are starting to warm up, here in Kintyre,  we still have a bit to go. Still, the clocks have changed and the evenings are much lighter. We’ve even had a few sunny days!


Continue reading “Here We Go Again!”

A Big Gale Or Two

I think this was just before Desmond rattled through.

I guess there really only is one topic to kick off the January post – Storms! Unlike some previous years although it’s been ridiculously wet, we haven’t had the savage gusts that topple trees. Luckily, we haven’t had to go anywhere so it didn’t really matter to us when they were faffing about with the 100 ton boulder at the R & B. Detoured. Who’d be a Roads’ Engineer  in Argyll?


Continue reading “A Big Gale Or Two”

Winter 2015

After the Taynish run with Rob Reid and Daniel Byron

I’m not sure what the motivation was but I’ve started running training again. With the help of the Strava app I’ve built up from 3k a day to 5k with some 10 k runs as well. There’s even been a few intervals sessions which brought back a few memories. So far, I haven’t fallen apart and have enjoyed runs at Taynish 5k  and Westport Beach 10k. There is even a once a month 5k type Parkrun at Barnluasgan (Beaver Land) courtesy of Jog Scotland.

Continue reading “Winter 2015”