Thursday 28 September 2017

Harbour Stroll

Another trip into Stornoway, this time we managed to get a lift from a friend and neighbour.  We needed to collect the car and pick up some fruit, vegetables and essentials for the weekend.  Thankfully it was a dry and bright day so we were able to have a stroll along the harbour wall and take in the sights.  It is always a joy to catch a glimpse of the castle, standing so proud on the hill and overlooking the town.

It didn't feel like early Autumn as the majority of the only trees on the Island are still quite green.  Even the flowers in the hanging baskets are still looking fresh and not at all Autumnal.

As we strolled along we were blessed to be able to see seals bobbing along by the fishing boats, waiting for a free easy feed.

The seagulls too were in a frenzy squabbling over some remnants on a boat.  What a joy to stand a watch this spectacular show.

 A little further and we came across a fisherman sorting his catch and preparing the crabs for onward transportation.

Each time we visit, there are  so many differences in both the catch, the wildlife and the weather.  I don't think I will ever tire of this wonderful harbour that offers so many joyful treats for the senses.

We then went on to a have fish and chips for our lunch before collecting the car and then do a top up shop.  Gerard treated me to some flowers which are appreciated even more since our move, as we do not yet have an established garden.  It will take some time to get it going but a start was made, we picked up some bulbs which will be planted into the front garden to give it a lift and a splash of Spring colour.

As always your comments are truly appreciated and as  some of you are no reply bloggers I will answer some of your queries now.

The red cabbage is indeed pickled.  I shred it and leave it to stand overnight sprinkled in salt to remove any excess liquid and then pack into sterilised jars with pickling vinegar.  This year I cheated as I did not do substantial amounts and got some shop bought pickling vinegar.  In previous years I have made my own spiced vinegar using:
7 g cinnamon
7 g cloves
7 g white peppercorns
7 g dried root ginger
7 g mace
7 g whole all spice berries
Wrap all the spices in a muslin bag and place into the vinegar (2 pints) in a basin over a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and then allow to cool for 2 hours before bottling.

Raspberry Vinegar is something we use on salads and is so easy to make.

Soak 900 g raspberries into 1 pint of white wine vinegar.  Strain through a muslin bag and pour into hot sterilised bottles.

The mixed berry jam was made using:

1.8 kg mixed fruit
1.8 kg sugar
juice of 2 lemons (the rind and pips were tied into muslin as a natural pectin)

Hope that helps but feel free to get in touch if you want any more information.

See you soon.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

I have had a busy few days, but most enjoyable.  The car needed some work doing to it, so it had to be taken into the garage in Stornoway.  Sadly, there was no courtesy vehicle available and we hadn't arranged a car so our return trip was on the bus.  Despite my reservations I was so pleasantly surprised how enjoyable the journey would be.  It took 45 minutes, but we were able to enjoy some beautiful views out of the window and chat to others on the bus.  We did find out about the  National Entitlement Card for concessionary travel for those aged 60+.  I collected the necessary forms for Gerard from the Post Office this morning and will be applying for mine on my next birthday when I too will be eligible.   Amazing what you can find out on a bus... 

I have been busy in the kitchen making jams and chutneys all ready for the Winter months, so we can enjoy a taste of Summer.  If indeed it lasts that long.  The jam was a mixture of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Left overnight to soak up the sugar.  I can confirm that the end result was amazing, we had some today on bread just out of the oven.

Seven jars were made but half a jar has been eaten already, so I see more jam making in the future. 

I also have raspberries soaking in vinegar, already to be strained to make some raspberry induced vinegar ready for winter salads.  Another couple of days...

...the raspberries need to be soaked for about seven days before been strained through muslin and bottled.  I also want to do some chilli oil and basil oil when I have enough bottles.  I am waiting for a delivery from Amazon.  Chilli and basil are the only two plants that we have grown since our move so it is nice to make something with our very small harvest.

Plum chutney, Christmas chutney, red cabbage, beetroot and shallots have all been added to the pantry.

What a joy to use my Christmas mixing bowl for the Christmas chutney.  It was a gift from our youngest daughter Lucy and brings back so many wonderful memories of baking together.  Cherished memories of Christmas's past that will stay with me forever.   Isn't it wonderful how everyday things trigger memories.
I do so wish that you could smell the beautiful aroma in my kitchen.  It has the beautiful smell of Christmas with its aromatic mix of spices.  It is indeed a joy, albeit a little earlier than usual but travel plans have made this a necessity.  I have made two types of mincemeat, a spiced apple variety and a cranberry one both with Port.

Fabric scraps and natural twine added to enhance their beauty.  All that is left is to put it all away and give the kitchen a good scrub down.  

Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my last post, I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement.  I did take photos of the before fireplace but for some reason I cannot find them, I will get Gerard to help me and then hopefully show some on a later post.

Leaving you with some more furry friends from over the Croft.  Their markings enabling their identification.

See you soon.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Finish For The Weekend

I have had a busy few days with a lot of finishes in the kitchen.  I have finally made a start on making jams, chutneys and flavoured oils to add to gifts for Christmas, but I will share all this in another post.  Today I am once again joining Jill over at Emerald Cottage for the weekly get together highlighting your finish for the weekend.  This week Gerard and I have finished painting the back of our cottage and we have also finished the fireplace.  I have just waxed the wood fire surround so it is looking good.

Each little job accomplished making it feel more and more ours.  It is such a lovely feeling to see something finished.

Whilst I have been working on Christmas gifts and cards, early due to our planned travels I was surprised on our trip to Stornoway to see so much Christmas goodies out on display in the supermarkets.  Despite my love of all things Christmas, I do feel that is a little too early for me.  How do you feel about it?

My finish for the weekend this week is Christmas cards, twenty to be exact.  I did have so much fun playing around with fabrics and papers.

It was a joy matching the colours of some of the beautiful tweed samples that Christina of a colourful life blog generously posted to me.

I love the reflection of the cards in the tin.

We have had some wonderful visitors in the croft behind the outbuilding, giving us hours of pleasure watching their antics.  They are certainly a distraction and a joy.

What have you finished this week?

See you soon.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Another Day, Another Port

There has been a great improvement in the weather so thankfully we have been able to get some more painting done on the outside of the cottage.  This is a job that seems to be never ending but the end is nigh hopefully.  We are hoping that another good day will see us finished.  The washing has been hanging out today and has been doing hope de hoop around the line.  That is the beauty of this Island, the wind certainly dries your washing in double quick time.   Crafting has been taking up much of my time but I am now back into a routine of doing a project on the cottage as well.  We are working on the fireplace at the moment in readiness for the cooler evenings.  The stove has been serviced and swept so once the tiling is complete we will be good to go.  Just a little grouting left to do.  We did have a little bit of a saga with the tile cutter which broke almost immediately on using it but they were amazing at the shop we bought it from and exchanged it without question.  The only inconvenience was that we had to drive into Stornoway.  Another day, another Port/harbour.

There is such a variety of vessels, it is a joy to have a stroll around and dream.  Where would you go on a luxury yacht?  I am not sure I would want to go far but it would be nice to enjoy the experience and do a tour around these wonderful chain of Islands.  There is also a lot of fishing vessels, so it was a delight to see the fisherman overlooking the water.

The dry weather has brought out a lot of visitors, we have been inundated with rabbits...

...thankfully Mickey is not bothered about them and is happy chasing his toy.

He waits patiently for you to throw it for him, until he wears himself out and is ready for a nap.

We have bought a couple of pews from our local church in readiness for when the outbuilding is converted.  We are hoping that work will start on it soon.

They will make an amazing addition and preserve some of the local history of the village too, so we are thrilled.

On the crafting front, I have crocheted some squares to make a blanket.  They need to be put together, the ends sewn in and a border done.  So still a way to go.

The light is not very good so it is not showing the true colours.  What are you working on?

See you soon.