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

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.

Happy Christmas

We would like to wish all our visitors and friends of Treshnish a very Happy Christmas.

DSC_6243 (2)

We are grateful to you all for your continued support this year, and look forward to seeing many of you next year.

Geminid Meteors

I didn’t expect to be able to see any Geminid Meteors as we had a lot of heavy cloud when it was getting dark. The forecast for the Northern lights was very strong and I could see a line of green between the sea and the bottom of the cloud. So it was a wonderful surprise as the evening wore on to discover that the cloud had been largely blown away by the increasing wind. Something to be said for the winter storms after all!

Treshnish geminid meteors

I wasn’t trying to photograph the Geminid meteors, I was trying to capture the aurora borealis – as it seemed like a long time since the last strong one. I took some photographs around 10pm, from the garden, and then headed to Croig.

Geminid meteors Treshnish

By the time I got there it was fading and although I saw plenty of Geminid meteors, it was so windy I got terrible camera shake. Croig is one of my favourite places to photograph, and at night it can be especially wonderful. Standing looking up at the stars, watching the mystical spears of the shooting stars as they dive and disappear almost before you have seen them, sometimes in quick succession, followed by nothing. Usually you can hear nocturnal bird activity, but it seemed like everything was sensibly tucked in out of the wind, as I didn’t hear anything.

Geminid Meteors house aurora

When I got home, there was a nice green glow from the Electric car Chargepoint on the house, with the faded aurora behind!

Geminid meteors Treshnish Aurora

The sky was definitely losing its colour but the stars were so bright. Perhaps I will set a time-lapse up before I go to bed, just in case…

Mull Geminid Meteors Treshnish

Lucky that I did, as the aurora had started up again! I won’t post the time lapse here as it slows down the website but you can see it on Youtube. The colours were amazing! I stood outside again under the stars, watching occasional shooting stars drop so fast, catching one or two in long exposures, loving the experience of being outside on my own, under a perfect dark sky. (I am lucky we have a sash window I can open and leave a time lapse running, knowing that the camera is safe from the weather overnight).

Aurora Geminid Meteor

What I could see was very different to what the camera can capture. I could see the brightness in the sky, in mono. The colours were not visible with the naked eye last night. But I could certainly pick up the Milky Way and the many Geminid Meteors! A magical night, though I went to bed absolutely frozen!

Mull winter days

People often ask what a Mull winter is like! I usually suggest they come and see for themselves. It is always interesting to experience a place at different times of year and a Mull winter visit will be very different from a summer one. The island is so much quieter in winter. You can walk for hours and hours out in the hills and not see anyone, you can drive for miles and miles and not pass another car.

Mull winter Dervaig

Mull winter weather can be really unpredictable. I had no idea when I left home this morning that I would be coming home through a dramatic hail storm with lightning! The road through Glen Bellart was a total white out and the noise of the hail on the roof of the car was deafening!

Mull winter beaches

A walk along Calgary beach, grabbing the moment as the light was so beautiful. We (the dog and I) had the beach to ourselves. Golden light reflecting on the wet sands, a bitter breeze coming in off the sea. Oystercatchers and Curlew hunting for food in the field across the road, slightly sheltered and out of the wind.

Mull winter days

Another question we are asked is what we do in the winter?! This question always makes me smile, as it seems even busier than the summer in many ways! What do we do in the winter? It is Thursday night and I am just in from a lovely evening out at Am Birlinn, we sat at a table of 24 neighbours from the Calgary area, enjoying a pre Christmas get together!  But yes, Mull winter days are short, particularly approaching the winter solstice, and so the nature of our activities change. It is a busy time of year getting work done in the cottages – like in West Cottage for example, where we have put new floors in the alcove and bedroom, all insulted and cosy, as well as creating a beautifully insulated bathroom, both inside and out!  For a farmer it means much work feeding our animals, and making sure they are all in good shape.  It is the time of year where fencing might get repaired, and where the To Do list is tackled.

Mull winter seascape

Tupping time

Today marks the start of ‘tupping time’ when the farming year starts all over again!  Farmer has spent the day moving the ewes around in their different groups to certain fields, and once the tups (the rams) were given their hi-vis colours he took them out to the different fields in the trailer to join them.

Mull tups Haunn

colourful tupping time

The tups will be out with the ewes for 6 weeks, until just after New Year.  We bring the hill ewes down from the hill (they gathered yesterday) and keep them in the in-by fields so that they are closer together, and there is more chance of being served by the tups.  Traditionally farms like Treshnish would have had a tupping shepherd.  His job would have been to walk out on the hill each day and move the tups around through the scattered flock. Nowadays no one can afford one, so this is the best way to ensure each ewe gets served by a tup!

tupping Mull time

The main flock are on the Point.  This field has a build up of grass, which we deliberately create by leaving it un grazed (deferred grazing) for a lot of the summer – Jon Newton, the organic sheep specialist, who used to advise us when we were organic referred to it as our hay barn.  There is certainly lots of grass and the tups initially seemed more interested in that when we let them out of the trailer than the 400 ewes in the field with them!

Mull tups winter

I thought the colour scheme Farmer used this year was particularly good. It certainly brightens up a dull November day – and they can easily seen from afar. Each day Farmer will go out to check that everyone is okay, and will be looking for the 15 or so tups to make sure they are all active, and spread out through the flock. Sometimes they forget they have a job to do and end up hanging out in a gang, which is not necessarily going to help lamb numbers in 4 or 5 months time!

Mull tupping Haunn

We would ask that guests and walkers don’t walk with dogs on the Point at tupping time. There are steep cliffs on the far side, and it would be too easy to lose livestock over the edge.