Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Join me on one of my morning walks

This walk is from Lunderston Bay along the shore towards Inverkip.

Lunderston Bay is popular with dog owners who enjoy playing on the beach.   During the warm summer days (yes we get them occassionally) the Bay is used by everyone just enjoying the opportunity to paddle, explore under rocks or chill.

This is the path a bit wet underfoot so was wearing my wellies.   It had rained heavily the day before.   At this point the path is between fields and the shore.   A little further on the path is between trees and the shore.

The path meanders as do I.

Another Hut - (I've posted about these before).   This one looks like it is built behind a wall fortress making me thing of 'home and castle'.   No-one was at home though.

A little further on there are fields of wild rhubarb - (note to self to check this out next year to catch the new shoots).

Then I'm distracted by the seaplane.   This flies during the summer from Loch Lomond Shores.   I believe it is possible to charter them for a flight - maybe for something special?????

This is my favourite section with the trees on one side of the path and the water on the other.   I like walking in trees because it feels like being given a hug by nature.   This with the sound of water lapping - heaven.

I stroll on towards Inverkip and then return by the same route saying hello to other ramblers; dog walkers and passers by.

A good start to the day.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Rescue update

Sadly last night I saw a BBC news report that one of the rescued divers from Wemyss Bay had died as a result of the 'bends'.  


Having watched the rescue services yesterday their speed, efficiency and effectiveness was outstanding.

To the divers family and friends - I am so sorry.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Air and Sea Rescue

This was a normal Sunday when all of a sudden I heard and saw a Royal Navy Rescue helicopter literally outside my living room window.

A small boat and its passengers appeared to be in trouble.   The helicopter was joined by an RNLI boat and the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay Ferry moved from its usual sailing lane to take up a position just south of the small boat.

Before the helicopter came it was clear that a diver that was in trouble and it was proving difficult to get the diver back on the boat. 

I was taking pictures I found myself holding my breath not knowing what was going to happen next as I watched the RN send a person down to the boat then airlift someone off.

 I do hope that all is well with the diver.  


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gourock - Cloch Road Huts

I decided to take a morning walk along Cloch Road towards Gourock yesterday morning.   This is a road I've driven many times and never realised that there were huts hidden by trees facing the shore.  

Curiosity got the better of me and I returned with camera to take photos.


This one has a lucky horseshoe above the door and has been given a name - Colonsay.   It is easy to get a sense of how close to the shore they are from this picture. 

They seem to be made out of different material: corrugated iron; wood; sheet metal and brick.


There are quite a few along this stretch of shore:

All of them seem to have a form of heating given the pipes coming out of the roofs.     They've been made into a sort of home from home.   Some have fencing round the front and you can see the upturned boat in the far ground.

At a guess - the huts are probably used for fishing or they could they be a seaside version of the garden shed?

No one was at home during my visit and I'm going to keep a lookout because I have more questions of curiosity:
  • when were they built
  • are they owned / bought
  • have they been kept in families
  • are they just an escape from the daily grind
So - if there is anyone reading this who knows - let me know or better still if you have one of these huts - invite me for tea/coffee.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Between checking on my family tree and writing about memories of ‘growing up’ my taste buds started watering for Irish Soda Bread.   Well it’s some time since I made this under the watchful eye of my Mum but like in life - if you don’t have a go – you’ll never know.
When I watched my Mum she never used weighing scales and I remember her just using her hands to bring the flour; baking soda; salt; sugar and buttermilk together.   Sometimes she would add fruit or treacle to the mix just to make a change.   I’m sure the purists wouldn’t have approved.   The beauty of Irish Soda Bread though is that it can be made within an hour.
In one of my earlier posts I gave you a tour of my Mum’s house on Cruit Island and talked about cooking in large pots over the fire.   My Aunt Lizzie was the only one of my Mum’s sisters who stayed on the island with my grandfather and from her I remember churning milk / cream to make butter.   This was done in the butter churn which was a wooden tub that had a wooden lid with a hole in the middle.   Before putting the lid into the top of the butter churn the plunger was fitted through the hole in the middle. 
 In order to make butter from the milk the plunger was pushed up and down to turn the milk into cream.   I do remember my arms getting sore and tired from pushing and pulling the plunger up and down and I probably didn’t do it very long.   At some point I can remember my Aunt Lizzie drawing off liquid – buttermilk to use in baking.   Once the butter was ready it was patted into squares using wooden paddles with ridges on them and wrapped in greased paper.
Well enough reminiscing – let’s get to it and make soda bread.
I decided that I wouldn’t just rely on memory and so searched for a recipe which was like my Mum’s and I found one by Rachel Allen:
450g (1lb) plain flour
1 level tsp caster sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
350-425ml (12-15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (425°F), Gas mark 8.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in most of the buttermilk (leaving about 60ml/2fl oz in the measuring jug). Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more buttermilk if necessary. Do not knead the mixture or it will become heavy. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet and sticky.
3. When it comes together, turn onto a floured work surface and bring together a little more. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm (1½in) deep and cut a deep cross in it.
4. Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6 and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour. I often turn it upside down for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

I’m pleased to report that the result was a success which I enjoyed with butter and apricot preserve.

Lovely crunchy crust and ready to eat - one slice is never enough!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Thar she blows!!!

Well I was at home yesterday - good choice let me tell you as 'the tail end' of hurricane Katia struck.
I've lived here in Wemyss Bay for 2 years now and this was the stongest I've heard the wind and seen the sea rolling in.

If you've read my earlier post you will have read how I wax lyrical about the charms of Wemyss Bay and charming it is.   Yesterday however while the wind roars past my flat creating all sorts of internal whooshes; whistles; cracks and noise I was cautiously checking door and window frames for security against the storm.   There is something weird when double glazing appears to shimmer in a high wind.   All this while I'm distracted by the rolling waves from the river estuary below.

The Rothesay ferry which I can usually see from my windows was not running and neither were some of the trains further along the coast since the waves are now crashing over the lines and bringing down leaves and trees.

Power was on and off which suggests that there is no major line down but ........................here are some pictures:

Crashing waves

Spot the tree in the right side of the picture bending with the wind.

Rolling waves

....and today the wind and rain continue.    No-one can say the weather is boring!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The 'Sally Rod'

My Aunt Catherine had one of these ‘switches’ hanging over the fireplace.   Let’s be clear I’m not talking about an electricity switch – oh no.   This was a willow switch which was the threat in ever present sight against mis-behaviour.  
I was always disappearing and if not exploring then I’d be visiting the other houses round about.   No-one’s door was shut and indeed if you passed a door without going in to say hello and have a chat great offence was caused.    The visits were usually helped with a biscuit or slice of newly baked soda bread.   This usually meant that when Catherine sent me on an errand I would take absolutely ages as everybody’s door I passed had to be crossed.
One night my sister was also staying at Catherine’s so there was ‘double trouble’.
Catherine was one of 9 children and as was customary it was expected that one of the girls, usually the youngest, would stay at home to look after parents as they got older.   I know that Catherine had not always stayed at home I can remember my Mum saying that Catherine had left to go off to Aberdeen to work ‘on the fishing’ which meant working on gutting and preparing the fish for sale.   Six of the nine from my Dad’s family went off to work in Scotland / England (and one went off to Australia) as that was where the work was and money was needed to keep the home and farm together.
A story from my Mum which I think is sad and I like to think true, was that while Catherine was working in Aberdeen she met a young man.    One year when Catherine was back home visiting she was making arrangements for him to come over to meet the family so everyone was expecting an announcement.    Catherine was not the youngest daughter – the youngest was Sally.   The story goes that that same year Sally up sticks and left leaving no word as to where she was going.  
Catherine’s future changed that year and she became the daughter who stayed at home.
This digression from the ‘sally rod’ explains her lack of ‘knowing’ about lively children.
Anyway for some misdemeanour, lost in the mist of time, the rod came down off the shelf above the fireplace and my sister and I took flight as we thought she was really going to use it on us.   We ran out into what can only be described as the most ‘wuthering heights’ of wildest nights ever of thunder, lightening, rain and pitch darkness and I mean pitch the only sparkles of light were coming out of tiny windows in far off cottages.  
I was leading the way desperately trying to remember the pattern of fields between Catherine’s house and my Aunt Lizzie’s because that was where we were heading my sister was behind me holding on to my jumper at the back and both of us were trying to keep tears at bay while battling the wind.   I knew that one pattern involved taking a sharp right turn before heading straight again and that once we were on this straight bit we would come directly to Lizzie’s.   Outside Lizzie’s we could hear Rusty starting to bark which scared us even more as we didn’t think he would recognise us in the dark and we began shouting and crying.
Lizzie and my Mum came out to the sight of my sister and I absolutely soaking, terrified and telling the tale of Catherine with the ‘sally rod’ in between great gulping sobs.
Did I stay at Catherine’s again – yes all was forgotten.   Was the rod ever used – no I’m pleased to say and that wasn’t because I wasn’t trying!
This is a picture of my Aunt Catherine: