Mother’s day Aurora

A Mother’s Day card from my Daughter wished that I would get a good sighting of a Mother’s Day Aurora…well, that wish certainly came true! It had been cloudy most of the day, and I had been watching the forecast thinking that it would be unlikely that the skies would clear enough for the G1 Aurora forecast to be visible.

aurora Mull Treshnish holiday cottages

Suffice it to say, I was very happy. I quickly ran over to Shieling and Shian and let the guests know that something was going on outside. I was aware of that difficulty between expectation and reality, as the colours in the photographs whilst not enhanced are what the camera can pick up, which the eye does not see as vividly. Initially I could see the lightness in the sky but not the colours, but eventually I could make out the pinkish colours above Shian, though nothing like as bright as the photographs. For me the excitement is in being outside and capturing whatever I can on camera.

Mull cottages aurora Shian

There have only been one or two occasions when I have been able to photograph the Aurora looking south, and tonight was one of them – there were erratic spots of green and pink appearing and disappearing. In the midst of all this, I could hear Mr Turkey cronking, hidden deep in the Rosa Rugosa on the edge of our garden. (they still won’t go back into their shelter, preferring to roost outside).

Mull cottages Treshnish Farm aurora

Aurora activity has not been that frequent recently, so it was great to have a really strong show, even if the clouds did get in the way quite a lot! Last year I photographed them into April so there is still time for a few more sightings, if we are lucky.

Treshnish holiday cottages Mull Aurora

This coming week is the final week for winter maintenance! We have achieved quite a lot this winter, and the rest of March is looking busier than usual. Our winter prices run until Good Friday, and I think that has made a difference. This week we have guests coming to stay who won a Prize at the Lifeboat Day last August, of a short break at Haunn.

Mull Treshnish cottages holiday aurora

Supermoon

Supermoon

The forecast for the night of the largest Supermoon for 70 years was pretty dire.  Cloud and rain.  All day it had been heavy misty cloud.  In the evening I headed off down to Craignure to a meeting with no expectation of the clouds clearing.  But they did!  They parted enough for us to see the edges of the clouds ringed with dazzling white moonlight – however, no moon. I got home before midnight and there was no sign of the clouds clearing though you could sense the moon behind them.   Eventually I could stay up no longer and headed off to bed noticing that the clouds were very bright.  Just before I dropped off to sleep Farmer nudged me and told me to look at the moon!  Eureka!

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Bigger and brighter

According to the experts this Supermoon would be percieved by us to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter.  I certainly noticed the brightness.  I really was walking around as if it was almost daylight.   This moon, the Supermoon, was closest to Earth than it had been in 70 years and the next time it would be seen this close would be in 2054. Those of us who had clear skies were the lucky ones tonight!   When the moon is this bright the stars are not nearly as visible.

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The last time I stood in the moonlight for any length of time in the kitchen garden, I was accompanied by a Barn owl, who hovered over me. It might have been a little windy tonight.

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Shian and Duill

Bathed in moonlight, almost like sunlight.   It was quite windy and so you can see the branches and roses blurring from the 20 second exposure.

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Christmas on Mull

Christmas on Mull

Sometimes living here has unusual advantages, and Christmas on Mull is one of them – we can enjoy Christmas without being bombarded by the busy-ness and commercialism experienced on the mainland.  Shopping locally for presents is a joy. There are so many Christmas crafts and produce markets, the annual switching on of the Christmas lights in Tobermory, friendly late night shopping!  We can get all we need food-wise from local shops, with a little bit of forward planning. Actually there is no need to go further afield!  And for those things on the child’s wish list that we cannot source locally, there is the joy of the online, from the quiet and comfort of ones own home, shopping experience!

Winter mornings on Mull

Christmas and New Year Discount

We still have a few spaces left for Christmas and New Year.  Can you get away for both Christmas and New Year? Please get in touch as we are offering a 25% discount if you book both festive weeks.

As the end of the school term approaches, excitement in the household increases. Suddenly we have time to enjoy the real Christmas on Mull. With family, friends and 2 days without the ferry – this is what I love.  It is as if the drawbridge is up and the real world is cast adrift.

Find out what’s on where

Mull winter weather cottages

Round & About, the monthly island paper, has details of church services held around Christmas. Our local shop in Dervaig is only closed for 2 days, like an old fashioned weekend!

Christmas on Mull trees

Farmers still have to work of course. The hoggs inside the cattle building have to be fed. The sheep in the fields have to be checked.  However come the evenings the drawbridge is up and there is definitely time off.

What’s the weather like?

Christmas on Mull with rainbows

We can never predict what the weather will be like at Christmas.  Will it be stormy and wild, with amazing and beautiful skies, scudding falling clouds, deep vivid rainbows and threatening clouds or cold and crisp, or even snowy? Whatever it is going to be we know we can retreat after a walk to the warmth of the wood burning stove – bliss.

Its nearly Christmas

Time will tell if we will have snow for Christmas. Come and find out!

Festive discount!

Festive Discount!

Christmas is coming and we are offering a festive discount of 20% on Christmas and New Year bookings.  Please look at the Pricing Booking page for details of which cottages are available from which dates.

These are the 2016 prices – before the 20% discount is applied.

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Mid winter is a magical time to be on the island.  You can fully take part in an island Christmas or you can completely switch off from it – it is up to you!  Lovely long evenings by the wood burning stove, cosy and warm.  After a day’s exploring the beaches and hills near by, or perhaps taking yourselves off to Tobermory to do a bit of last minute shopping.  There is great island produce to help make your Christmas or New Year a delicious #islandproduce one!   Check out the Mull and Iona Food Trail for where to source the best local produce!

At New Year there is a great and friendly Fireworks Display in Tobermory.  There is a welcoming New Year’s Dance in Dervaig on the 1st.  Both are lovely local events.. or again that fireside can draw you in and keep you celebrating here…

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Please get in touch if you would like any further information or would like us to make the booking (and apply the discount) for you.  We look forward to welcoming you this Festive Season!

Fank

Fank

Fank is an ongoing art project in a beautiful stone ‘fank’ along the north side of Loch Frisa.  A ‘fank’ is a Scottish word to describe sheep handing pens.  Without a fank you cannot handle sheep so there are working fanks on every farm and croft.   Aluminium or wood fanks are used now.  Our neighbours use the only stone fank still in use on the island.

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Forest walk

It is a beautiful 2.3 mile walk from the road end where you park the car to the site – fairly level and as you can see it is a fairly good forest track – easily bicycled – so about 5 miles round trip.

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Art project

An artist called Emma Herman-Smith worked with An Tobar/Comar – the island arts organisation on initiating the Fank project. Tragically Emma died before it was finished.  Artist Andrea Geile made this sculpture, The Cholorphylls, in 2015.   I loved the first sighting I had of the sculpture as we walked up from the track.   It must have looked even more amazing before the larches lost their needles.

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Well worth the walk

Sun casting shadows across cut relief panels creating non existent lines and spaces through which to look.   I don’t know if it is because we are farmers that we are always moved by old stone fanks – perhaps not – perhaps we all are.  But I was very moved today.  Such a strong sense of history.  All was calm and still.  In sharp contrast to the busy noisy energy of a fank when it is in use.   The bright light and clear air made the silence and non activity of the place stand out.  The rust felt so seasonally appropriate.

It was lovely to go there today, rediscovering a track I hadn’t been down for about 25 years, with its wonderful views across the River Aros, up Glen Aros and along Loch Frisa, and finding this special place along the way.

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Slow travel

Slow travel

Is Slow Travel your favourite way of travelling?  Do you prefer exploring one place rather than ticking off a list as you race from one place to another?  If you like the slower approach to travel then Treshnish & Haunn Cottages may be the place for you!

Slow journeying

Make the journey part of the trip.  Coming from London or the south of England?  You can catch the sleeper from Euston to Glasgow or Fort William.   If you pre-arrange it, you can shop at the great village shop in Salen and then catch the Ulva Ferry Community Bus to Treshnish. They usually deliver our guests right to the door.

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Slow exploring

Slow travel is all about exploring and getting to know a place locally, doing what the locals do.  You can do that here starting with the farm itself.  Treshnish & Haunn Cottages are all located on our family farm near Calgary.  The farm sits on Treshnish Headland and has 4 miles of coastline.   There is plenty to explore without using the car.  So many walks to take, so many places to stop and look – coves and caves to explore, the coastal path around the Headland to follow, and a tapestry of different habitats to observe and watch, looking out for tiny Wrens and warblers to barn door sized White tailed (sea) eagles.

There are plenty of places to explore within a few miles of here too – with or without a car, and we are happy to tell you about the secret beaches and special places.  We have bicycles you can borrow or you can hire electric bikes from Mary at Mull Electric Bikes in Dervaig.

Slow staying

If you choose one of the Haunn Cottages you will be stepping back into the history of the place, the history of the fishing families who dragged their boats up on the shore at Port Haunn – follow their footsteps down to the port and look at their view. The cottages are a lot more comfortable now though so its contemporary, comfortable slow travel.

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Slow eating

There is an active local food network on Mull and Iona. Within a few miles of Treshnish there are some great places to experience wonderful local harvests from land and sea.

Slow walking

A perfect form of Slow Travel. And our hills are a lovely starting point. The views to at least 18 other Hebridean islands are wonderful and there is plenty of wildlife to keep the most seasoned birder happy! Watch out for the resident herd of deer too.

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Getting to Mull

Getting to Mull

Getting to Mull does not have to be difficult! In fact, it can be fun, and part of the holiday.  I was thinking about this last weekend, when we did a road trip down to Somerset.  We encountered some of the issues our guests experience on their journeys getting to Mull, and I thought about the joy of arriving on Mull and at Treshnish leaving the mainland and its traffic congestion issues behind you!

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When I was in my twenties, living in London and coming to Mull for holidays, I would drive at night and sleep in the car if I got tired. When we moved here I was in my thirties and we still did the occasional overnights sleeping in a landrover (which was not comfortable in any way!).  In to my forties and to be honest the car journeys south of the border became few and far between.   Travelling with a child is a different challenge any way as the journey can seem soooo long – so, for us, taking detours and stopping off on the way has made the journeys much easier.

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Making a detour

Last weekend we had to make a detour to Wigtown (some detour!) on our way south.  A carefully timed journey, we left Mull on the 7am ferry, and got to Wigtown in time for lunch at Beltie Books where my photographs are still on show.   We walked the dog to the Martyr’s Stake and watched geese coming in to land on the salt marsh.  We looked round Wigtown’s lovely bookshops.  Before we left we had tea with a friend and then headed to Dumfries to deliver photographs I had sold.

I had booked the hotel at Tebay and we knew we could eat delicious local food at the service station if we were late, before heading to stay at the Westmoreland Hotel.   Coco was with us so we needed somewhere dog-friendly to stay.  They even provided her with dog bowls on a mat, and a bag of treats!  We had a family room, simply furnished, clean and comfortable. Lovely toiletries made locally.  Tebay has built its reputation on using locally sourced and grown food, and the service is always friendly and helpful.

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Another detour

After a comfortable night’s sleep and breakfast we headed south.  However we didn’t take a straight route to Shepton Mallet!  We had an easy drive from Tebay to Gloucester Services on the M5.  It was now time for lunch and a dog walk. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Turf rooved buildings, gentle landscaping with lots of trees and wild flower covered slopes.  It was almost beautiful – that is saying something for a service station!  Difficult to believe we were beside a motorway.  So much so, we didn’t want to be inside – even though inside was very nice too.  We had a picnic outside in the sun.  I have never felt the urge to do that at a motorway service station before!  Again locally sourced, farmed ingredients – made on the premises.   What a difference to the usual motorway stops.   After our enjoyable break from the road, we headed to Bridgewater.  Farmer had somewhere to visit there.  Then on to Glastonbury and through to Shepton.

Arrival

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All in all we had driven a long way, but we had had a lovely two days in between all the driving, with good stopping places and distractions along the way.    And after a lovely long weekend, we headed straight back up the M5, stopped at the same service stations and the same hotel and arrived home none the worse for wear having had a great time off island!   Concluding, I think, that you can reduce the travel hassle hugely by having a positive attitude, planning and timing it well, and making the journey part of the holiday.   There was possibly a little bit of luck in there too…

PS I like the way they have concealed the bins.. might copy that idea for the cottages!

Mull Geology

Mull Geology

Mull geology is well worth learning about and today we took part in a walk here on the farm to do just that.  A very knowledgeable local Geologist led a Mull Geology walk this afternoon to Port Haunn.  The weather as you can see from the photographs was totally wonderful!  Sunshine and blue sky.  The brightness of the sun made all the different colours in the rocks stand out.

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The walk to Port Haunn

The easiest route to Port Haunn is along the raised beach, but today, in order to look at these wonderful rocks and stacks we walked along the rocky shore.  Walking over the rocks is a bit of a scramble, but perfectly do-able with care.   The views to the Treshnish Islands were amazing, the sea was dazzling and the sky so very blue.  To the north, Tiree looked so close today.. a long lumpy line along the horizon!
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Pahoehoe lava

It is fascinating to learn about the different aspects of the geology especially right on our doorstep!  I knew we had Pahoehoe lava here, however I had not realised it was all over the island.  What makes it special here is that the layers of Pahoehoe lava are much thicker than elsewhere.

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Future walks

We are hoping that Mull Geology will lead other walks here in the future as we are sure our guests will be interested by them too.

Beltie Books

Beltie Books

I am having an exhibition of my photographs at Beltie Books & Cafe in Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway.  It is a long way from Treshnish, but if you have a chance, please do go along and have a look at them – you can enjoy some delicious coffee and cake, or a light lunch at the same time.

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The exhibition

Nick made a great job of hanging the photographs, I was very pleased with the way they look.  There are about 24 of them on the walls, plus 20 or so unframed (mounted) ones, plus cards and books for sale!  The subject matter is one that regular guests at Treshnish will recognise from  the cottages!   These photographs are part of a record I am making of Scottish corrugated iron (tin) sheds and buildings.

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Wigtown Book Festival

The exhibition opened on the 22nd September, the night before the Wigtown Book Festival began. The Festival, in its 17th year, runs for 10 days, over 2 weekends until the 2nd of October.  I was staying with a book festival volunteer.  She was one of a team of 70 folk who cater, accommodate, drive and generally support and facilitate the practical aspects of the Festival.  My wonderful hostess was acting as ‘authors taxi’. She collected various writers from train stations and airports. Consequently during my stay I met Michel Faber, Kevin McNeil and Cal Flynn!  After the Festival party (I gatecrashed!) I met children’s book illustrator Benji Davies, whose wonderful illustrations were on show in one of the galleries.

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The Bookshop

‘The Bookshop’, above, is the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland, a wonderful Aladdin’s cave of the written word!  Every nook and cranny (and there were many) is filled with books of all topics, and there was even a bed to climb up in to and read.  Upstairs was the ‘Green Room’ which, during the Festival, becomes a Writers Retreat.  Us mere mortals downstairs could hear the chatter of voices as if eavesdropping on a good party!

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I first came to Wigtown to meet Andrew and Nick the owners of Beltie Books and Cafe in April.  On that visit I spotted this tin structure in a field.  I didn’t explore, but on this visit as the field was being used as an overflow carpark and as its gates were open I went to have a closer look.  It was clearly the old Wigtown Football Ground, complete with disintegrating ‘football stands’.  Perfect for a tin shed obsessive like myself!

Autumnal Mull

Autumnal Mull

I think autumnal Mull is one of my favourite times of year. This year summer has slowly given in to  autumn as the heather on the hills fade, the montbretia is glowing orange against garden walls, and the bracken has turned.  The last week has given us some stormy days which cancelled ferries, and then rewarded us with glorious sunshine!   On Tuesday the weather was unexpectedly wonderful, so much so that we decided to steal away from the office, with a picnic and head for the hills!

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It was so lovely to be away from the phone.   We walked up through the dying heather still buzzing with bumble bees in the warm sunshine, up to Cruachan Treshnish.  This hill is a mere 700 feet above sea level but it has wonderful views in all directions.   It was sunny and slightly hazy, but even in the haze we could see the faint outlines of mountains to the right of the Red Cuillins on Skye. We think they may be Torridon?  We have a chart in the cottages which shows you what you are seeing from Cruachan Treshnish, which is really useful.

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The views!

To the north and looking west, we could see as far as, we think, Torridon.  Then the Ardnamurchan lighthouse across the Sound of Mull, Rum, Eigg, Muck, Skye, Canna, Coll, Gunna and Tiree.  To the south west of us we could see the Treshnish Isles snaking out away from us, and then to the south, Staffa and Iona with the Ross of Mull, shimmering in the brightness of the sunlight on the calm calm sea.  We could see Gometra and Ulva. Ben More was in cloud but Ben Talla was clear.

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Tea and cake

We had our picnic and even had a doze in the sun, before walking back down.  We came back via the gate in the Haunn garden and were invited to have tea with our guests in West Cottage.  It was lovely sitting in the sun outside their cottage, the air so warm and still – and the chocolate brownies were delicious. Thank you West!  We are ready to go back to work now!

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