Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas.

My oldest son, Gordon, his fiancee Mel, Josh and Oliver (pictured), and my daughter Laurie came over for Christmas dinner today. We had for starters Chinese crispy duck with pancakes, spring onions and cucumber salad, and hoi sin sauce, then a hearty lentil soup with home baked bread. Entree was a barbecued fillet steak with pepper sauce, mashed potatoe with roasted sweet potatoe and caramelised red onion and a medley of spring/winter vegetables. Dessert was a Baileys Irish Cream cheesecake. Before they arrived Sandra, Meggy and I went for a walk along the farm road. It was cold and misty, the trees bare, not the nicest day for a walk but Meggy loved it. I dont mind this time of year because we are half way through the winter.
Santa Claus was good to me this year. Two bottles of Malt, a Cragganmore and a 18 year old Glenlivet. Lots of chocolate. Thermal socks, some shirts, a new jacket and chino's, but best of all, a Canadian canoe. Have'nt got it yet but the cash is there. I'll see what deals are on the go in January. Deliverance trips this spring/summer. I'll report back.........

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Wood burning stove.

Its rather cold here in Scotland at the moment. Most mornings I am travelling to work on icy roads with temperatures of -5c. Whether I'm working or fishing its always nice to come home to a warm house. The stove has been on constantly for about 3 months now, and we have used three layers of logs from the woodstore. The cottage has a central heating system which runs on kerosene, but it's very expensive to run, so for the most part we only use the boiler for hot water. First pic is of the stove with Salem, our cat close by. She thinks she's a ferral cat I'm sure because she never comes in the house during summer. Between you and me she's a fair weather ferral cat. Salem was 13 last month and still very fit and healthy. She's well capable of taking small rabbits and birds, I think that her diet consists of the food we put down to her, animals and birds she hunts, and more than likely another couple of families who thing Salem, Blackie, Tiddles is actually their cat.
Second pic as a basket of dried beech logs. Hardwoods such as ash and beech are best for a wood burning stove as they give out lots of heat, but still burn for much longer than soft wood.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Nice car.

This nice old "49" Chevy was waiting in the queue for the ferry at Dunquerke. It was one of the nicest custom cars I have ever seen. A lowrider with all the hydraulics, and the roof chopped by about 6inches. The owner said he spent more time fixing her than driving her but thats the breaks..........

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Sandra and I went to the cinema a few weeks ago and watched "In Bruges" with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. The movie was a bit dreary but the city of Bruges looked great, so we decided to pay it a visit. Its a beautiful city with lots of museums, churches and canals. It also has a very difficult one way system and some very long street names. We were to be staying at the Ensor Hotel, named after the famous Belgian painter, James Ensor. The Ensor is on a street called Speelmansrei but Sandra navigated us to Speelmanstrasse, nowhere near the Ensor. We were so tired and stressed by the time we got to the hotel that all we wanted was a long, cold beer see above. A few of these and we were ready for some food. It was very late by this time so we found some street food in the form of shawarma kebabs. This is thick, crusty Belgian bread filled with barbecued chicken, salad and very spicy chilli mayo. Hot on the way in, hot on the way out next morning.

The first place of interest was the Chocolate Museum.

Dogs only cock their leg to pee, not to poo, but they had the right idea.

The sculptures are made of fine belgian chocolate. The Easter Egg is aprox 6 ft tall.

Sculptures in white chocolate that looked like fine percelain.

This is the steeple that poor old Brendan Gleeson had to chuck himself out of in the movie, and the bell mechanism. In truth, the bell tower is jump proof due to the stainless steel mesh.

This is the view from our hotel balcony. There were pike and carp present, should have taken a rod....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Sandra and I are off to Bruges this weekend, for some Christmas shopping. We are also going to stock up on wine, beer and probably some nice stinky cheese, pates etc. I've been very busy of late, and regretfully neglecting my blog. I'll take some nice pics when we are in Belgium, and post them up next week. Watch this space...........

Monday, 3 November 2008

First decent fish for a while.

Not a monster but a very welcome fish at about 11.5lbs. She was caught, quickly unhooked and carefully returned unharmed to a small, vary narrow loch not far from where I live. I'll be spending a wee bit of time there over the winter. This is the time of year when pike start feeding hard, preparing themselves for lean times over the worst part of winter, and precluding spawning/mating in the spring.
Hope this is the shape of things to come.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Loch Oich last weekend.

The Inverness Open Pike Competition.
Thirty Five brave souls stuck it out for eight hours of four seasons in one day. None of my group of seven caught a fish but we had a good day, and a nice outdoor lunch. In between the storms there were some spectacular rainbows.
Out of the 35 anglers only 5 fish were caught. Tournament was won by a catch of 2 fish for a weight of less than 10 pounds.
There's always next year........

Saturday, 11 October 2008

New Job.

I was working as a Facilities Maintenance Helper
with Halliburton Esk Facility at Montrose.
A vacancy came up for a Associate Materials
Handling Specialist and I applied for it.
After a brief interview I was told that I had been successful.
This is one of the forktrucks I have to drive.
It takes up to 16 tonnes and can carry containers
up to 60 feet long. Its made by Toyota and is very easy to drive.
I have to climb 4 steps to get into the cab.
Perhaps I'll get one of the lads to do a short video
of me moving something huge, once I am more confident.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Its been a while.

I,m not one for pike matches but the Inverness Pike Angling Clubs annual match on Loch Oich is an exception. Very well organised and run by people with a passion for Esox Lucius.
Josh and I entered last year on a day when it was very difficult to catch a pike. The sun was bright, the sky clear, and not so much as a puff of wind.
Maybe this year will be different.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Harvest time.

We have 7,000,000 tomatoes in the greehouse.
Yellow ones on the left and red on the right.
Its been a long wait as these are mainly continental
varieties that need lots of sunshine and warmth.
The weather here in Scotland this summer has been
cold, wet and windy with occasional sunny intervals.

Harvested all of the onions, garlic and shallots yesterday.

Have to leave them in the potting shed to dry for a few days then I'll

string them together and hang them up for use over the winter.

The garlic was an unexpected success because I did not expect

it to do well in our cool climate.

These are my runner or string beans.

They are almost eight feet high and producing lots of pods now.

I'll freeze a few pounds of them for use over the winter.

To the left are twelve Brussels Sprout plants. Most have a few small sprouts

so I'll harvest a few pounds of them also for the freezer.

Christmas dinner would'nt be the same without sprouts.

A good crop of leeks this year. I'll leave them in over winter

and just use them as required. The bushy stuff is Florence Fennel.

Tastes a bit like aniseed and I'm not convinced that I like it very much so might

not bother with it next year.

Another mutant courgette has invaded the greenhouse.

I gave the last one to the Sultan, a Turkish restaurant

in Forfar. It was aprox 18 inches long and was pressing

against the greenhouse glass, so I had to cut it.

The Brechin Horticultural Society are having a flower and veg show

in the next week or so, so I might exhibit some of my produce.

Friday, 15 August 2008


We keep this compost cage at the top of the garden. All our organic household waste goes in here, including grass cuttings and garden/greenhouse waste. We should be able to use it next spring. Within a couple of days of filling it to the top it rots down again. I thinkthe hard job will be laying it on a tarp and mixing it as its layered with grass, organic household waste, eggshells, cardboard, garden waste, coffee grounds, shredded paper etc.
The are two free coffee machines at the Halliburton facility where I work and the guy saves the coffee grounds for me.
Coffee grounds are helpful in more ways than just compost. Slugs and snails dont go near them.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A good weekend fishing.

The pics are all dated 05/01/2004 because I
could'nt be bothered changing the date after
fitting new batteries.
Had a 24hr session on my favourite place in Scotland, Loch Oich, with Sandra, Meggy and my mate Stuart. This is my boat, Chrissie11 taking a rest. Quite important to find a nice sandy bit to beach the boat. This saves unneccessary scratches on the hull.
Weather on the Friday evening was fine, and we sat out till 11pm and had a glass or two of wine and a barbecued burger, pulled in the baits and hit the sack.
Saturday morning as usual for this part of the world it rained for about 4 hours then heavy showers for the rest of the day, but I was still up and about at 6am, getting a wee fire going and casting out fresh baits. Altogether I had 7 pike ranging from about 5lb to 15lb, all carefully unhooked and returned to fight another day.

This is me about to return a wee pike of about 5lb, the first of many.

And another one goes back. You will have noticed that
Meg is never far away when I have a fish.
Apart from all of the electronics, floats and clickers
she is my best early warning system. She carefully
watches the reels and floats, and listens for beeps
alerting me to the first sign of a bite.

Best fish of the session was this one of about 15lb. She took bait no. 4 and after a good hard fight I was able to unhook her in the water allowing her to swim off. 5 minutes later she took bait no.1 but had to be netted this time as I could'nt see the hooks. Check those teeth! This old battleaxe has chomped through many a small fish in her day.
Nice to see this ocean going yacht going through the waterway under a big genoa. Most of them use engine power as the loch is so narrow its hardly worth the amount of tacking they would have to do, but the wind was just perfect on this occasion.

These 12 foot Fox Warrior rods are all fitted with Abu 6501 c3 multiplier reels, big orange floats or bobbers and set with the clicker on these "Fox mx blue" electronic bite alarms. When a fish picks up a bait I want as much warning as possible so I can strike before the pike has a chance to either swallow or drop the bait.
Nice to have the same reel on all four rods. so whichever rod I pick up, it will always have the same action.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Harvest time again, and a hot dog.

Its scorchingly hot here today, in between some very heavy showers of rain. Meg is sheltering under a bush from the sun, but still steaming. There is plenty of water for her to drink nearby.
She had a blockage the other day and had to go to the vet. Meg has a tendancy to swallow stones and they sometimes get lodged in the small intestine. The vet has told us to muzzle her but I'm not keen to o this. A muzzled dog is stigmatised as a biter, and also has no protection against attack from another dog. The operations cost about £450-£600 a time and this would have been her third and last time under the knife. Vets will not do bowel sugery on a dog more than three times, so next time may be her last.

These are my peppers. A mix of chili and capsicum. Should have plenty by September.

Courgettes (zuchini) and cucumbers.

Squillions of toms. Aparently, when the weather gets too cold for them you can wrap them in newspaper and put them in a cool dark place to ripen.

Broad beans are nice in just about any savoury dish, and also make a nice humous.

Brussels sprouts are just starting to form on the stalks of these plants. Should be ready about November. I'll leave them out over the winter as they slow right down in cold weather. And we are guaranteed cold weather here.

Some interesting veg here. The bushy stuff is Florence Fennel. These will be ready in the next couple of weeks so must try to find some recipe ideas. The curly brassica is Kale, a vegetable well suited to Scotlands climate. This is a old fashioned vegetable from the golden days before fridges and canned veg. 100 years ago most homes in the UK would have grown some kale as it would be the only green veg available after December. Use it in soups and broth.

Swedes here, soup would'nt be the same without Swede.

Heres another pic of kale in its early stage. I reckon you could plant this in gravel and it would flourish.