Warm and cold – winter on Mull

It may be very cold outside but it is lovely and warm inside. In the middle of the storm force gale yesterday the builder and electrician were hard at work. Whilst it may have been bitterly cold outside, with gusts of wind which nearly blew me off my feet, inside it was warm and cosy. The wood burner was lit, and even with only a sheet of plywood as a door on the new sunroom, the space felt lovely and inviting.

Shian-building-site-Mull

The builders have been working on apace. This week they have replaced all the windows in Shian, finished the 2 sun space kits, and glazed the Shian one. This is now insulated and beginning to feel like a room. Fantastic!

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Farmer-cold-Mull

It was pretty cold for Farmer as he headed off to feed the hoggs (last summers ewe lambs being kept for breeding) this morning down below the Treshnish cottages.

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Quite often we are asked if we get much snow in a typical winter on Mull. Last night was the first fall of snow for us, so I guess at the beginning of February we can say no, usually not. This is the un-gritted road between Aros Bridge and Dervaig.

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This is Thimphu who is one of our 3 farm cats. She will come and sit on the window sill and look in longingly. (Note to Treshnish guests, please do not let her in. She has a perfect dry sheltered bed in the steading to go to!)

Aerial views of Treshnish

The main plus for me of aerial bracken control is that it gives us a chance to get some aerial views of Treshnish! For 10 years we were organic here, which meant we could only control the bracken that we could reach by machine or cut by hand as chemical treatment was forbidden. Farmer was very effective in reducing the spread of bracken in the areas he could easily routinely mow, but so much of the hill and coastline is inexcessible by tractor or quad, so aerial control is the only way to curb its enthusiasm for marching across the hills – unless we could draft in an army of volunteers with scythes, three times a year..?? Towards the end of our 10 organic years, we could see that the biodiversity in certain areas was beginning to be dominated by encroaching bracken, and so a decision was made to stop being organic.

I came across these photographs today in amongst the thousands of un-catalogued images in my photograph library and thought I would blog them before I lost them again! When the pilot lands the helicopter it is a question of grabbing the nearest camera and rushing for the door. Farmer hadn’t used this camera before, so he can be excused for the occasional wobble or fuzzy shot, especially as he was having to guide the pilot to the areas of bracken we wanted to control, at height (he suffers from vertigo) and at speed. On the ground the cattle shed was full of sheep waiting to be shorn. A busy day in the summer of 2012, taken mid July.

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This photograph, at a jaunty angle, shows you the track between Treshnish and Haunn with the sea beyond.

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You can see the cattle shed hidden away from the traditional farm square with a tight concentration of sheep in the fields nearby. (It was shearing day).

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The Treshnish headland coastline, beyond Haunn, showing the raised beaches.

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This is my favourite one as it shows the Treshnish Cottages. Shieling, with its white porch, sitting in its own garden by the farm yard gate. Our own house in the trees. The Studio a little further back with its sunroom. Duill overlooking the little lochan and Shian with its big windows looking straight out to sea. Obviously when the sun spaces for Shian and Duill are finished these photographs will be out of date, but the views will be the same!

A Mull winter day

A Mull winters day at its very best. It is no hardship to drive to the ferry when the weather is so bright and beautiful. I had errands to do in Oban and so took advantage of the later ferry back (at 6pm).

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On board the ferry, the car deck was being repainted as was the open deck.

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It’s corny I know, but the Lismore light sits so gracefully at the end of Lismore, and with the sun hitting her white washed tower..

Lismore Light

There were hardly any cars on the crossings I took, at lunchtime and back at 6pm. It is certainly a good quiet time of year to visit the island, and our guests in Middle this week have struck very lucky with the weather!

Winter-sun-oban-ferry

Any sign of the Aurora Borealis tonight?

Aurora Borealis was visible from Skye last night, and apparently it should have been visible from here. But I didn’t realise. So I didn’t look. I was gutted to realise that I could have been out enjoying the northern lights again. I will look tonight for certain. We are so lucky that we can just step outside and look for them without having to get in a car. The dark skies over most of Mull are so clear when the weather is right.

To make up for the disappointments of last night’s failed northern lights viewing, here is another photograph from that magical night last October when I stood, watching the northern lights, listening to stags roaring (it was during the rut) on the hill above me, and to the waves lapping on the shore below.

Calgary-Bay-Mull-Aurora-Borealis.

We had moments of brilliant sunlight today. As well as some ferocious rain and hail showers and squalls coming in off the sea.

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In spite of the storm

Apologies for another building work photograph but I cannot hide how exciting it is to see the sunroom develop. The builders have been working away despite the wind and the rain, they have sheeted the roof and the walls today, and started on the kit for Duill’s sunroom. Shian’s will have French doors opening to the south, where Duill’s will have an extra window instead of the doors.

Okay it is horribly wet and muddy outside, and so it looks a mess, but look at that open sea view through the huge window (on the left of the photograph), and through the other you can see in towards Calgary Beach.

Shian-Calgary-seaview

It will be wonderful in the summer to sit there, out of the wind, admiring the view.

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In the summer I will be apologising about the number of wild flower photographs I post.

Upwards and outwards

Despite a ferocious biting wind today there is great progress being made in Shian. I think I will have to rewrite the website description as it doesn’t feel small! And the sea views up into Calgary Bay will be wonderful.

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A van with a view

Yesterday was fairly wet and windy, but the sun came out today. I had to go to the post office and found this lovely view nearby.

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The builders were busy and the base for the sunrooms was poured, and the thick slabs of insulation fitted round Shian’s outside walls. It will be one very cosy cottage once finished!

Today’s view, Mull in winter

Winter can be such a special time of year to be on Mull. The sun was shining. The hebe in the garden is flowering.

hebe-farmhouse-garden

Walter was looking for Farmer at the office door.

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The hens were on the wrong side of the gate.

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Today I had to drive to Tobermory in the late afternoon to collect M from an after school club. I think I met 2 cars in 15 miles. Calgary beach was deserted.

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Mishnish-lochs

The sun was beginning to go down over the Mishnish Lochs.

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Tobermory seemed so still and quiet but for a fishing boat gently steaming out in to the Sound of Mull.

Today’s walk #Mull

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Lichen-Treshnish

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Wigwam-fence-Treshnish

Feeding-Brownie

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The first picnic of the year.

The moon was dropping into the clouds over the Isle of Coll, as I got back from the school run.

Moonset-Treshnish-seaview

We needed to go to the Ross of Mull today. It was not fantastically sunny or anything, the sky was not blue – but it was incredibly beautiful none the less.

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The sea was mirror calm. The air was still. The roads were empty.

Mull-seaview

You could see for miles along Loch Na Keal, as far as Iona with the Treshnish Isles laid along the horizon towards Treshnish like crumpled ribbons.

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The beach (at Uisken) was deserted until a fisherman appeared in his bright yellow wellies. We had our first picnic of the year, and walked on the beach there for the first time in years.

Uisken-Mull

It was a wonderful day.