Storm Henry

This is almost becoming a daily blog – but today Storm Henry has given me another opportunity to share my photographs with you of how wild and beautiful it can be here in the winter!

Storm Henry Dun Haunn Mull

The builders were all busy at Haunn – it was East and Middle’s turn for a similar makeover to the one West had before Christmas! Both have now got wonderfully insulated bedroom floors, with reclaimed beech Junckers flooring, and East is going to have a swanky new shower! LED lights are going in to improve the lighting in the bedrooms and bathrooms of both cottages (and save energy) so not only were J & AP there building today, but AMcK was painting in Middle and IMcA was putting in the lighting. Not to forget NMacV who was taping and filling at one point too… Busy, busy!

Storm Henry Haunn Mull

I had a food trail meeting in Craignure this morning, and it was amazing to see the difference in sea state here when I left, and over on the east coast of the island. Storm Henry in different guises. I was in the cottages van and it blew about a bit, so it was windy over there but the sea was calm compared to the rolling boil over this side! The van was full of things for MESS (Castaways) – clearing out bedlinen and all sorts from the cottages that we have been holding on to ‘just in case’ and not using.. The drive home was quite wild, a hail storm so ferocious hit me coming through the glen, that I stopped the van as I couldn’t see!

Storm Henry Treshnish Mull

Then sunshine. At Penmore a tree was down across the road. Within minutes several chainsaws arrived, including the Treshnish farmer’s, and the road was clear. The sea was even wilder as I drove into the storm from Calgary home to Treshnish.

Mull Calgary Bay Storm Henry

After a quick bowl of soup, I went down to Haunn. Farmer was busy moving wood and cookers, so I set off to walk beyond Haunn on my own. It was so wild I turned back. I could hardly walk, and was a little nervous of quite how strong the wind was. Bright sunshine but the air was salty – almost misty with spray off the sea I suppose – and huge blobs of spindrift flying across the field like mad miniature sea gulls.

Treshnish Mull Storm Henry

Farmer said he would come with me to look at the waves, and he persuaded A & J to come with us.. it was wild, breath stealingly wild, the strongest force of wind I have ever walked in. Totally exhilarating but really like pushing hard against a heavy locked door. Wild! Beautiful and wild. Coming back was almost weightless. At one point Farmer had to catch hold of me as I was being blown off my feet.

Treshnish Storm Henry Mull

5 hours later and the winds of Storm Henry are still roaring. It is dark and we have candles at the ready, just in case we have a power cut.

Gertrude day II

Thankfully when there is a storm about such as Storm Gertrude, the challenge of taking a daily photograph in the winter is a lot less of a challenge. Gertrude has provided some wonderful light moments over the last 2 days, some grabbed across the garden wall, and others taken on walks down to beyond the Haunn Cottages.

Mull winter photography

Daylight broke with the hum of the storm running through the trees round the house, and darkness has just fallen and still the hum of the storm is in the trees. The fields were peppered with snow this morning – higher up on Ensay had more of a covering than down here.

photography winter Mull

The colours of the sea have changed softly and strongly throughout the day, with another squall, or clearing in the clouds, silvers and golds and aquamarines, just beautiful, with wide reaching slowly undulating waves, that keep on coming.

Mull winter Treshnish photography

Moments of sunshine brighten up the sea whilst the sky harbours another shower.  Hail bounces off the ground and leaves white drifts in sheltered spots.

Winter photography Mull Gertrude

Another walk at Haunn and the cliffs of the Point are white with spindrift. It flutters above us as we stand on the cliffs, carried by gusts of wind which threaten to push us over.

Winter photography Mull Haunn

The sun plays hide and seek through a bank of cloud…

Haunn winter photography Mull

…and comes out just as we start to walk back up the hill to the cottages. It is cold and the air is salty but it is wild and beautiful. Every minute is exhilarating.

Treshnish Isles winter photography

And apparently on Monday we have Storm Henry to look forward to…

Storm Gertrude

Haunn Storm Gertrude Mull

Storm Gertrude arrived overnight. I managed to sleep through most of it. This morning the sea below the house was huge, massive rolling waves, and dramatic breakers up against the rocks at the Ensay burn mouth and up into Calgary Bay.

Haunn Storm Gertrude stacks

Once Farmer had finished feeding the sheep, we headed off to Haunn and walked down the slippery path, battling into the gale, to the cliffs beside Dun Haunn. The waves breaking over the stacks were dramatic as was the white white surface of the sea like a wonderful wide ribbon curling round the coastline.

Mull Treshnish Storm Gertrude

The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks was deafening and it was difficult to stay standing much of the time.

Storm Gertrude Haunn Mull

Walking into the wind was good exercise too!

Storm Gertrude Mull Haunn stacks

Having watched it for a time, we headed back up the path, much quicker, with the wind behind us – and returned ourselves to the working day.

Storm Gertrude Treshnish Mull

Thankfully we don’t seem to have had too much damage.  We could have done without a sheet of insulation taking to the skies and breaking up into bits all over the Haunn field though.  I suppose it will give us something to do when the storm subsides.   We had guests booked to arrive today, but the ferries were all cancelled.   We can offer them a full week starting tomorrow to make up for their lost day, as there is no one coming into the cottage the day they leave.

Treshnish Storm Gertrude Mull

Rural Innovator’s Award

The Mull and Iona Food Trail have been shortlisted for a Rural Innovator’s Award and we need your help! The voting is taking place over on the Scottish Rural Parliament website – it only takes a minute, and would help us so much. Every vote counts!

Regular visitors to Treshnish will know that I helped set up the Food Trail last year, producing a Map/leaflet and a website. All the feedback we have received so far has been very positive and this year our Map and leaflet will feature an additional 7 producers, suppliers and eating places, taking us up to a total of 36 – not bad for an island of less than 3,000.

We will have the 2016 Food Trail Map in the cottages again this year. Our guests said they found it really useful.  We are very lucky to have several places locally on the Food Trail map – Ballygown, Calgary Tearoom, Am Birlinn, the Bellachroy Hotel, and the Ulva Boathouse.

Please have a look at the Food Trail website for more information.  And please.. don’t forget to vote for us in the Rural Innovators Award!  Thank you.

Mull Rural Innnovator's Award

This is an old photograph from last year, but we have been seeing a pair of Mountain hares in the garden recently which is lovely.

Rural Innovator's Award Mull

And looking back a summer or two, to our neighbour’s cows in the late spring sunshine.

Rural Innovators

It won’t be long before the celandine begin to flower.  The snow drops have finally started to come through – they are very late this year!

A winter’s night

We have had a few days of colder weather with temperatures dropping to freezing at night every now and then – just as a winters night temperature should!  One morning last week it was too icy for us to get Daughter to the school bus at Calgary, as the road is not usually gritted between our turning and Calgary.  It was quite nice to have a stay at home Snow Day – it has been a while since the last one!

aurora mull night

For all the drier colder weather we have still had quite cloudy skies, but yesterday we had glorious sunshine, and Farmer had some errands to run, so I went too.  He dropped the livestock trailer off at Torloisk Farm, and then we went to Ballygown on another errand which involved a cup of tea and catch up with Jeanette, and booking ourselves in for her Burns supper on Saturday night.

aurora mull night bright moon

The weather forecast was for cloud so I didn’t hold out much hope of seeing the Aurora which was forecast, but actually I was really lucky.  It might have been bitterly cold but as the wind got up a bit the skies cleared.. to reveal a great sky, even though the moon was very bright.  The top left hand corner of the photograph above shows a green blob, I have never seen a detached ‘blob’ like that in an aurora before!

Aurora moonlight night Mull

I even got as far as Croig, my very favourite aurora photographing place!  I stood listening to the jurassic sound of the Herons, and the wonderful call of the Oystercatchers and to the sound of the wind in the trees.

Croig night aurora Mull

Eventually I got too cold and headed for home again.  The Merrie Dancers were still dancing, but I couldn’t stay up any longer, so I set the time-lapse and went to bed enjoying the visual memory of a winter’s night to remember.

aurora winters night camera mull

Winter light

Undoubtably this winter has had its wild and wet days, but when we settle in to a spell of calmer colder weather, the winter light can be quite magical – like it is today. We had a dusting of snow last night, and early this morning the road was sheet ice between Ensay and Calgary so our daughter is not at school!   We haven’t had a snow day for a while.  (Luckily by 10am the builders had managed to get here though so the work can continue to East and Middle.)

Mull light January winter

I am trying not to write too many posts about the Northern Lights so today I have chosen some photographs taken in the last week which hopefully illustrate the un-stormy winter light we experience in calmer spells of weather, whilst I have been out and about.

Mull winter light

The Sound of Mull is beautiful on a calm still winter’s day when the light is almost creamy.

Winter light Mull

Sometimes Rum gets a smattering of snow on its mountain tops and generally we know that Mull’s mountains to the south of us will have been dusted with snow too.  Someone mentioned on Facebook the other day that they have been looking back at their rain gauge figures and this sparked other places to offer their readings.   It was interesting to see how it varied from one part of the island to the other, and a relief to have it suggested that Treshnish/Calgary area was drier than Dervaig (at 70 inches a year), not quite as dry as Bunessan (50 inches) but happily a lot drier than Loch Buie at 130 inches, and than Salen area at 100 inches!

Winter light on Rum

2016 bookings are steadily coming in, with some guests making reservations via email for 2017 too.   We have held the winter rates of 2014 over to 2016 right up until the week before Easter.

Winter sun light Mull

Airglow

Last night I caught a glimpse of an Airglow.  They are more rare than the Aurora Borealis!  An Airglow is ‘a faint emission of light from a planetary atmosphere’. It softly lights up the sky. I have only knowingly seen it a couple of times. Last night was apparently a very strong one, but unfortunately it was cloudy here when the airglow was at its peak. I discovered today that if I had looked in to the eastern and southern skies I could have seen it, but I only looked north.  As the cloud cleared, I was able to capture the Aurora on camera so I cannot complain!

Mull Treshnish Airglow

The first unusual sight I had was of the light underneath the thick cloud, showing that the sky behind was being lit up. The streak of green between Coll and the cloud was unusual too.  As I stood willing the clouds to clear, I listened to owls calling from the wood, and the waves on the shore.

Airglow Treshnish Muull

The cloud began to clear, and the drifts of Airglow were faintly visible.

Treshnish Mull airglow

There was some colour briefly and then it faded. I left the time-lapse running overnight, and captured a bit of airglow between the dark night clouds.

timelapse airglow treshnish mull

We were fully booked for New Year and all but one of our guests have gone, and I assume, like us, are back at work. We stole a few nights away after Hogmanay – one night with relatives in Galashiels and 2 nights with friends in Edinburgh. We rented an Airbnb listed flat in the New Town which was spacious and well located, within easy walking distance of a lovely ethical cafe called Urban Angel, sourcing local and fairtrade produce not to mention delicious smoothies and amazing coffees. We went to see a film (The Danish Girl). The screen was so much bigger than the Screen Machine, which is visiting Mull again next week.

We visited 2 galleries, one was the Fruitmarket – I particularly liked Robert Irwin’s Disc and a beautiful 16mm film by Tacit Dean, of sea and lighthouse. (I am not sure what it is called).  The second gallery we went to was the Scottish Portrait Gallery – to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition – which we all really enjoyed. A bonus was seeing the Document Scotland exhibition. A group of photographs documenting aspects of Scotland – I would have loved to have done one of their projects!

It is good to be home though..

 

A Hogmanay Aurora!

We had friends staying with us for Hogmanay and had a great evening catching up and celebrating the end of the old year and the start of the new year. I couldn’t believe my eyes, at about 10pm, when I looked outside and saw a lovely familiar glow on the horizon looking north. The Aurora! What a special way to see in the new year!

Aurora Hogmanay Treshnish Mull

I set a time-lapse to record the activity whilst we sat by the fire, and after the bells – HAPPY NEW YEAR – and a bit of Jools Holland, everyone went to bed, and I stood at the window listening to the wind in the trees, and watching the clouds scudding by. My idea of heaven!

Hogmanay aurora

The cottages are full for New Year, and thankfully Storm Frank enabled everyone to get here – with a few detours due to cancelled ferries and landslides. Guests in Toechtamhor sat at the bench outside the cottage watching the Aurora, very happy!

Hogmanay Mull Aurora

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2016.

My review of 2015

A time to review the year, as Hogmanay approaches – letting go of 2015 and welcoming in the new year 2016. I feel as if I have only just got used to writing the year 2015 rather than 2014, and yet here we are at the end of another year! I had hoped to have done a well thought pictorial review of the year, but there just hasn’t been time!

We have had a busy year – which is great – thank you to all of those who have supported us this year. We have enjoyed meeting many new faces who are as welcome as the familiar ones who return time and time again like the swallows and the cuckoos. Some of our regulars have been coming to stay here for 35+ years or more, longer than the 21 years we have been here – and when we make any changes in the cottages we almost feel we should ask them first!

We managed to squeeze in a few changes to the cottages last winter, and just before Christmas this winter, we did some improvements in West Cottage, including a very smart new shower, and masses of additional insulation, so it should be even better at saving energy now. Our Green Tourism ethos is always encouraging us to save energy, and this year has been the year of the LED lighting! We fitted LED tube lights in the office which should make a huge saving – from 35W – 5W on each tube.. They seem so much brighter too!

review local beach Treshnish

The weather this year has been interesting at times! Some wonderful spells of clear and dry weather, and some seemingly endless spells of wet and windy weather. Last night we had Storm Frank, which gave us a power cut for a few hours, and a lot of rain. The fields seem like a giant puddle. We have been extremely lucky compared to the terrible flooding in some parts of Scotland and the UK.

Review lambing Treshnish

Lambing seems like a long time ago now, but it is always a positive time of year, when the days are getting longer and warmer. Farmer is always relieved when the middle of May comes and most of the ewes have lambed. The wild flowers this year also seem a long way behind us now. But with the cold spring, we had a mixed year with some flowers coming very late and others bang on time. Orchids tended to be late, but the Heath spotted and Common spotted seemed to LOVE the weather, and flowered abundantly, as did the Common Twayblade, which we found flowering in places we have never found them before. What a delight!

Review Grass of Parnassus

Grass of Parnassus also enjoyed the summer and flowered well and late into the autumn. It was wonderful to come across glades of them in damper parts of the fields.

Review Mull cows Coronation meadow

Sadly, in my Review of the year, I have to mention the cows. They were sold in October. The place does seem empty without them, but we had Jamie’s heifers here until a few weeks ago, and next summer we are hoping to have other cattle grazing so that the management we do to encourage biodiversity will be maintained. That is really important to us.

Review Aurora Treshnish March

I suppose I couldn’t review the year without mentioning the Aurora Borealis! It has been a good year! I think the night of 17th March was probably the most memorable (ever), and I wish I had tried out time-lapse that night, as it would have been spectacular to have recorded the hours of aurora that night..

All in all, it has been a good year. We are so lucky to live on this beautiful island, and to be share Treshnish with all of you. We look forward to welcoming many of you here again in 2016.

WE WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY NEW YEAR AHEAD!

Christmas full moon

The Christmas full moon made several magical appearances through the clouds over Christmas. I had a lovely walk in moonlight in the early hours of Christmas Day, whilst everyone else in the house was fast asleep, and I was still awake having finished the wrapping a little late! It was very windy but wonderful to see the white of the waves crashing along the shoreline below the house and over on Calgary headland. I couldn’t get the tripod to stop vibrating in the wind.

Treshnish Mull Christmas moon

Last Christmas, over several days, we were lucky enough to have an aurora. This year, we were blessed with the Christmas Full moon instead! The last time the full moon and Christmas coincided was 38 years ago. I would have been at home in Angus for Christmas 38 years ago, but I don’t remember! The next time it occurs will be in 2034!

Treshnish Mull cottages winter moon

Christmas Day dawned cloudy and I wasn’t confident that we would even see the moon again. However just before midnight on Christmas night, we were lucky – the full moon appeared through the clouds. It was very clear. We stood and gazed in wonder on the doorstep. Not long after, in the first minutes of Boxing Day, the Christmas full moon produced a wonderful lunar halo. Even more magical!

Christmas moon Treshnish Mull cottages

On Boxing Day evening the moon was strong again, and the light on the field and over to Calgary headland was bright. I am afraid I was more ready for bed, than for wandering around outside, so I set the time-lapse and let it run! The result was rather beautiful, as the weather can be seen coming in and going away again, as it does during the day but we rarely see it at night! I have posted it here on Youtube, in order to save the loading speed of our website. Please do have a look!

Mull Treshnish Christmas cottages sunset