Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back at work.

Despite a fresh sprinkling of snow this morning which caused another car to crash on the straight road from Tolsta, I'm back at work. That's why I'm here because I have not been called out and obviously I've been revising my techniques ready for when I am :-)
Spent an hour or so meditating in the dentists chair this morning as she remodelled a post ready for crowing soon. Be glad when that's all over too.
Have not been doing much photographising of late but I have been in the darkroom a little and snap above was one I prepared earlier from the Isle of Bernera.
Nice thing at this time of year is to hear from folks you have not heard from a while - so many thanks to all have been in touch. We do think of you all up here on our island.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in North Tolsta

Christmas Morning on the beach
Happy Christmas from me - Andrea

Well, for us Church of England and other Christians of that ilk, today was for celebrating the birth of Christ. For many in the village who are members of the free or pentecostal churches this is not the case - as I understand it. In fact, someone was using the lovely weather to get their washing out into the fresh warm and sunny air that blessed us this morning.

Eve & I and a couple of friends - Kate & Steve - strolled down to a local beach to consort with the world and exchange pleasantries in our own way. It was just wonderful. I have never really enjoyed a morning like it - except for the ice on the way down the steep path. The dogs had a wonderful time too.

On the way home, we called into see The Crofter and family to bid them the very best of the season then made our way to some more friends - The Smits - for a shared dinner and admiring of Ms Smits new dolls house - one we had assembled it. Brilliant food, wonderful company and we waved goodbye rather later than we intended. So then it was off to see The Crofters again for a chat then home to drink good health with the neighbours before we slumped into a chair at home.
What a lovely day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not normal. Not anything really

2008 snow

Look, I'll have you know we have no snow here. Well, just a smidgen hanging on in the cold weather. However, in true winter stylee, we can see loads out there on the mainland where the big mountains shine white - or at least pinkish - in the morning sun.

I say this as its all I can see out of the window as this flipping flu is hanging on for dear life. My stuffed rabbit - Lord Wiesmier - has been giving my funny looks of late in bed as I sweat uncontrollably and then freeze as I cool down and stoke the fire. its not easy you know.

It seems my work chum's wife has gone down with the lurgee too so goodness knows what is going to happen if William goes down with it.

And The Crofter is down with it. I hear that he is not blaming me. Which is surprising since I did go and visit him in the early stages when I thought it was just a cough. Mum & Dad crofter are now in Crofter Towers looking after the animals and generally patting The Crofter's sweated brow. I have been invited to come and photograph on Christmas Morning and, if I feel a bit better I might just do that. I had planned that.
So, here's a very hearty thanks to all you who read this blog and very best wishes for a fine 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Normal - or as normal as I can be.

Had a tortuous night in the Summer Parlour so that Eve could get a nights sleep. It's a nice room that houses the pooter, the settee and a small solid fuel stove. There are some photos on the wall including a couple of nice cyanotypes and a gap where my Lewis peat stack snap used to be - and now hangs in the Coelyns abode - and that please me a lot.

Since I'm still confined to quarters with the dreaded, and I find myself experiencing hot sweats at the moment, I am using the time usefully to keep you up to date Not sure if its the stove going into furnace mode or me that's making me feel hot. That's the thing about stoves like this, it all depends on the wind direction and air pressure which makes cooking with the Raeburn a dark-art.
After some mindfulness meditation this morning I finally worked out why I had a cold leg yesterday. I found it wasn't a cold leg after all. It was a hot leg which made the other one feel cold and this could have been brought about by me sitting across the front of the stove warming one leg to gas mark 7.
Anyway, just in case someone from work is reading this, I'm still indisposed and my colleagues will have to go out and wrestle the miscreants to the grounds for me.

I'm had a root around my snaps file and I have found this one for your delictation;
Sir Christopher Hoy - triple Olympic cycling champion back when he was mortal training at the Manchester Velodrome. Some when around the turn of the century :-)

Oh, and many thanks for the get-well-soon messages; much appreciated

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bird, swine, normal, whatever

It seems I have flu. Been laid low for a couple of days with hacking cough that feels like its ripping the inside of my throat out - which as a result is sore. I'm hot. Then cold, and sweaty.

Does that sound like flu?

It feels like flu. Me heads swimming and my right leg is cold. Why is that? Don't look on tinternet or you'll think I've had a stroke - which I haven't thank goodness.
What I need is TLC and luckily I'm getting plenty from my dear Eve - pictured above.

As a result I've missed working tonight and have not ventured outside into the cold and snow. Which is such a pity since I was looking forward to snapping up the white stuff.
Ah well. Will get better soon I'm sure

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Davina, Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Michele and Tiny

"Good morning Carolyn" I offer on entering the wonderful little pharmacy in Bac[k].

"Hoo's ya fettle?" Carolyn retorts since she hails from sunny Newcastle - that's NewcAstle with the emphasis on the A. So I'm told.

Well, as it happens my fettle is just fine and since I'm aware that The Pharmacist is just checking to see if I am going to reel off a list of ailments, I tell her my fettle is fine. Carolyn visibly relaxes with relief.

Then I list my ailments. She expects that you see and I wouldn't want to dissapoint.
I don't actually. I couldn't do that to her. Not everyday anyway. So I say "Champion". That's Newcastle for "I'm just fine and thank you for asking".

Paul, her sporty husband bounds in with Glen the hound trailing behind, the dog looking for all the world like he going to rip my leg off and have it for breakfast. But this dog is nice.
However, he still guards the entrance of the pharmacy as if its his own. And I suppose it varnigh is really.
Still, the boy Paul is a canny lad, refrains from asking about ones 'slapper' and bounds out to climb Clisham before luncheon or something.

Not sure how we would all cope without Carolyn and her Elvetts in the pharmacy so here's a hearty thanks for everything in 2009 and best wishes for 2010.

BTW; Did I ever tell you about Carolyn reading bedtime stories to her pet sheeps -Davina, Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Michele and Tiny? No? Well, remind me sometime and I will.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And today.....

I was busy.
Quick trot down to see if the turkey numbers running around The Croft were down [they were not. Yet]. Trot out toward Garry Beach and back with Ghriet the dog. Then off to The Battys for a spot of engagement photography.
Mr Batty used to be El Supremo of the now-defunct island Photog Club here on the island so I know his demands are high and in consequence I took along a bunch of odd looking cameras held together with gaffer tape or elastic bands and set to work.
At this point I may refer you back to somewhere earlier in the blog where Mr Batty became engaged to the lovely Anna. Only I can't find it. Must be there. Needless to say Mr Batty is now a happy chappie and has had his life transformed for the better. So much so he actually said he liked the snap I took around to show him. Eh! That's a first!
I finished off the sesh with a couple of snaps with the 5x7 FKD Soviet view camera - all gaffer tape and elastic bands with only a hat for a shuuter. Now I have two nice negs for a vandyke print to come sometime in the near future and, another that should print up nicely on Silver Halide. I say should because I shot some 200asa sheet film at 800asa as you do, developing in homoeopathic dilutions of Rodinal for around 5 hours. It could have done with overnight but still, its usable.
So, the snap above is the happy couple - David and Anna of North Tolsta. I just need to find some time to print this snap in the darkroom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Visit of the Rabster

What a lovely surprise this evening when Mr Rab McMurdo ex-Motor Vehicle technician turned up at my little home for a chin-wag. I've not seen much of The Rabster since he stopped sucking through his teeth at the sight of my motor coughing its way into his old yard in Riggs Road. The Rabster seems to have gone decidedly upmarket these days taking the high ground in Coll and generally making himself known around the place.
The Rabster seems to have taken to this retirement thing - digging his digger here and there and planning to move into the oil business so he can be bought out like all the others. Once he has come back from Barbados and his other gaff that is. Or so he tells me. But then he has told me lots of things over the few years I've known him.

3 years

Its now 3 years of wonderfulness that Eve and I have been civilly marriaged. And we have been together for coming up for 10 years I think. It's still lovely and I count my self so very lucky to have found someone to be so very in love and content with.
So, this week we went for a little celebration meal in the Limelight restaurant in Stornoway which, by all accounts was just brilliant. I had nut roast and Eve roast Salmon.
We met though cycling - Eve was beginning to ride on the Velodrome in Manchester where I was coaching at the time. That little journey ended with Eve as World Masters Pursuit Champion and me worn out!
Here's to the next 10 years or so!

PS. This is not Eve in the snap - or her bike!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"Where's Ben"I asked. Ben being Clocks' little terrier who is usually somewhere around. " Do you want him?" Clocks replied - as he often does. "Yes" I said knowing full well that no-one can own Ben since he is his own man. He belongs to North Tolsta although Clocks feeds him. Ben can often be seem miles away from Clocks Towers at the other end of the village purposefully making his way somewhere that inspires him. Maybe a bitch on heat. Certainly he has been seen lurking outside Curls' hopefully thinking Mandy will make her way through the fence.
Ben maybe small. And white-ish. But he ready to tackle any size of dog and stand his ground.
Mind you its amazing that Ben is around at all as he has been flattened a number of times which slows him down for a few weeks. This makes me thinks he is probably crossed with cat!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"A-toot a-toot, a-toot diddle-ee-ada-too"

"I will tell you only once...."
Balloons. Real ones.
"I hope that's not an air-raid"?
Fun on the dance-floor
Glenn McMiller and the Anndras Sisters
We arrived at the Stornoway British Legion Playhouse. It was 1944. I was convinced. The venue was right-cosy but spartan- and lit by a few dim-bulbs. We had been magically transported back 20 years or so from the present day to when boys were men and women looked fantastic in their frocks and overly severe hairdos. Red lipstick abounded and a spiv - no doubt with a row of fake Rolex's inside his jacket - sat quielty watching the action while his gal sat obediently by his side. An air-raid warden prowled while raffle tickets were sold for ration-book prizes. A few Army, Airforce and Naval service personnel were in evidence - no doubt glad to be back on Lewis soil for a while. Meanwhile, Glenn McMiller and his Bandettes were getting the swing into the evening . Trombones were blaring and trombonists' hands were flapping. Trumpets soared, basses twanged and sax did what sax do. In the main.

Twas wonderful. Eyes glistened with memories of times past, times of austerity, of working together and loved ones lost.Then up came the Anndras Sisters tweetering like veritable songbirds. The dance -floor filled, ballons flew everywhere and then the flippin air-raid siren went. I think. I'm not that old honestly but when your ears start throbbing at some wailing sound, the place goes dark and one can see death and destruction wrought by bombs through the 'window' - albeit interspersed with a quick sight of a south-sea island [I must admit at this point I did think I had over-dosed on sarsaparilla ], you know something is up. And it did look a tad worse than the usual Friday night in Stornoway I must say.

Still, we had the wonderful Laxdale Women's choir to caress our ears, and then more of the McMillar fantastic big band. What a fun evening was had seemed to be the consensus most of us as we stumbled out into the Stornoway evening back to the hoardes of erbs thronging the streets and lurking outside the bars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Been out of commission after a short visit to the Quack place. I should be able to sit down soon.

In the meantime, here's a snap of Gress..

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What a morning!

On the way down.
Wish I'd brought a picnic breakfast

I took the day off from snapping up the Crofters and wrestled myself out of bed before the sun was up over the mainland mountains - which wasn't quite as easy as it might have been due in the main to late night working and driving round the island. Since my lovely KOWA six is back from having some tlc at Newton Ellis in Liverpool I took it out loaded with some Panf down the road on the track to the nearest beach.
The brisk walk in the cool breeze along with the camera and tripod soon brought me to my senses and I gazed out over the Minch with Stac Polly on the horizon. Using my usual guestimation I shot a couple of frames here before moving down to the picnic table to watch the sun finally show its face. The skies were wonderful and I rather wished I'd made a pot of coffee to take with me. Still, I'm so looking forward to a darkroom moment with these negs! Do I like this self-portrait? Yes I do. A bit.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blowin a Hooly

The weather changes somewhat quickly up here. This morning Eve and I were out having a lovely stroll in warm sunshine over the hills that bound Garry beach near our village of North Tolsta. Granted the wind was a tad brisk - granted I found it difficult to hold the camera steady but, the sun was shining and the walk lovely. We don't get up over those hills too often but when we do its always worth it. The mosses and the lichen there are superb and the views outstanding.
Now We are back home hoping the gale [force 10 on the Met office scale; force 24 on the I can't face going out scale] subsides soon. The rain is thrashing on the windows and threatening to flood my darkroom too.

Anyway, here's a snap from that morning walk.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Yep, its sorted. Nearly

For a while I have been struggling with an ailing scanner - the scans having horrible lines through them. But, seeing as the snaps were not all that good anyway, it didn't really seem to matter. Having said, it eventually got the better of me and I recently acquired a replacement which seems to be working ok - although it's going to take a few days to get the set-up right.

I had a difficult to get bulb in one of the enlargers bust this week too. Must be the weather - which today has been glorious. I ventured forth to the beach below the house with Mr Crofter and we strolled along without a care in the world. I stopped and snapped this up with the Voigtlander Perkeo folding camera and some Panf. As you can see, recent storms have scoured the sand away for the moment. Its about a 1.5m lower than normal!


Please take 20 mins from your life today and look at this vid from Michael Kenna. Its like a meditation. Almost.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Where was it?

I'm referring to yesterdays little teaser on the blog. Well, since you ask it was snapped up coing uo from Bosta beach on the Isle of Bernera. Got you on that one !

I've been spending some time sorting out snaps for the Island Crofters blog of late. Its rather more time comsuming than I thought it might be, so if you are bored with this go over and have a look there. The snap above is one I took from the croft the other morning - the morning of the sun and fantastic light.

If you have already been there, go over to Andrew Sandersons site or blog and have a look there. He has some really lovely work to view - and he'll even teach you how to do it.