‘The Long Walk’, this guy was out on a newly mown field in the middle of the day. The evening photo was taken earlier in the spring with an iPhone. Three fat babies and mum. Front view!
In the past we have seen a hedgehog now and again, probably not even every year, and that has been in the far corners of the fields. This summer a hedgehog has been ambling along the track by the holiday homes in broad daylight almost on a daily basis. I say ‘a hedgehog’, but I can’t tell one from another, so I must mark it with a dab of nail varnish to discover how many there are. What colour shall I use?
The other day we shifted the cover over the dung heap (it’s there to stop the rain leaching the nutrients out of the dung), and we found Mrs Tiggywinkle’s home with three fat babies! They must have enjoyed the warmth from the composting dung when they were little, but now they must be baking in the July sunshine. What great weather we’ve been having this year!
A smaller baby hedgehog has been seen several times by the caravan to the delight of the children. There must be another nest nearby. They should be great for reducing the slugs and snails in the garden.
The long summer evenings in The Highlands come as a surprise to those who live in the southern half of the UK. Around midsummer the sun sets after 10:15pm and the sky says bright on cloudless nights. In Shetland they call this beautiful twilight ‘simmer dim’. These two photos were taken at 1:30am and 2:30am on different nights last week. I was out the first night because the silage wrapper (a machine that wraps plastic around grass bales to create anaerobic conditions where bacteria will produce lactic acid to preserve the grass – a bit like sauerkraut) had broken down and we had 135 bales starting to deteriorate. A local contractor kindly agreed to help out despite having his own clients booked in for the next day. He started at 11pm and finished at 3:30am! We are very grateful. The second night I was up at 2:30am to – well I will leave you to guess!
Sparrows maybe loosing habitats and numbers in the cities, but not here at Hiddenglen. Several nest in the ivy beneath the carport. These two wee fledglings were sheltering in the porch and had to be saved from the dogs. Young birds are everywhere, sadly a young greater spotted woodpecker died when it hit the window.
We bought Pisces caravan secondhand in 1992, and although it is still comfortable, we feel that it is coming to the end of its life as a holiday home at Hiddenglen. Demand has been strongest at the upper end of the market so we have started building a cottage with many genuine eco credentials to provide 5 star family accommodation to sleep 6 in 3 bedrooms, all ensuite.
To those who know us, the cottage is built into the south facing bank between Hazelwood, the turf roofed house, and our own home. At road level the cottage entrance is directly on to the first floor with all the living area and a master bedroom. Two more bedrooms and the utility room are below, built into the bank with only the southerly aspect exposed. More details will be posted soon, but for now here are a few photos.
The ground floor which is now mostly hidden
Faced with secondhand sandstone from a long abandoned Nairn quarry.
Nairn Scottish Country Dance Club test out the “roof”, which will become the first floor when the upper walls are built!
Monsanto, a profit-hungry multinational biotech company, has found a way to exclusively ‘own’ something that freely belongs to us all — our food! They’re trying to patent away our everyday vegetables and fruits like cucumber, broccoli and melons, forcing growers to pay them and risk being sued if they don’t. They already own 49% of cauliflower varieties registered in the EU along with many other vegetables.
But we can stop them from buying up Mother Earth. Companies like Monsanto have found loopholes in European law to get away with this, so we just need to close them shut before they set a dangerous global precedent. The Avaaz community has shifted governments before, and we can do it again.
Many farmers and politicians are already against this — we just need to bring in people power to pressure these countries to keep Monsanto’s hands off our food. Sign now and share with everyone to help build the biggest food defense call ever:
But luckily, the European Patent Office is controlled by 38 member states who, with one vote, can end dangerous patents on food that is bred using conventional methods. Even the European Parliament has issued a statement objecting to these kinds of destructive patents. Now, a massive wave of public outcry could push them to ban the patenting of our everyday food for good.
We are passionate about recycling. Having provided recycling containers for our self catering holiday cottages since we started in 1990 we have become experts on what is thrown away and by whom. There are no class or wealth correlations as to what people waste and whether they recycle, in fact wealthy professionals can be the worst recyclers. They are well educated and can understand the environmental impact and should do better!
We are next door to the Nairn Recycling Centre which is clean, tidy and well run. However the Highlands of Scotland are a long way from the factories able to process the useful stuff. My only complaints are:-
- The Highland Council does not allow local reuse of stuff.
- It is 3 miles from the centre of Nairn and quite a bit blows off trailers enroute! All these journeys must reduce the environmental benefits.
I leave you with one thought, “However big the pile of sugar, however small the teaspoon, the sugar always runs out one day!”
Nairn Bandstand courtesy of VisitNairn
What is this small Highland town coming to??? Well Nairn is growing to be one of the best holiday destinations in the Highlands of Scotland, expanding for several festivals and sporting events every year. This 5th annual event is the largest beer festival in the Highlands with a 100 real ales, dozens of malt whiskies, and seven live music gigs. Wow, see you there!
Courtesy of Castle Stuart
The Scottish Open returns to Castle Stuart for a third year. It is a great course for spectators and only 15 miles from Hiddenglen Holidays at Nairn. Castle Stuart is a very popular course with those taking a golf holiday in the Scottish Highlands. The Open is sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.
Walking in wilderness.
Thérèse loves walking, nature, poetry and helping people, and she is an excellent cook of all things Organic. She now combines all these skills by offering to guide guests on walks, be it just for an hour or two, a whole day or even to include camping out in the wild. It will be tailored to those taking part on the day, from an easy-peasy amble along a level riverside path to a marathon mountain adventure. A healthy organic picnic can be provided. Thérèse has walked all over, and even right across the Highlands, but because she has no safety certificates there will be no charge – guests will be welcome to make a donation towards costs at the end of the day. This is open to anyone, not only those staying at Hiddenglen.
This started casually when Thérèse guided a regular guest (24 weeks here in 6 years!) who loves waterfalls, but doesn’t have the confidence to go out on her own – her husband has a demanding job and is a bit of a couch potato when on holiday. Thérèse and this guest now go out for a day every time the couple holiday here.
Glen Affric is a gem amongst four Highland glens opening to the River Beauly, less than two hours drive from Nairn. We were lucky to spend the weekend staying at a B&B in Cannich and miss the rain and snow that fell elsewhere. With deep snow on the tops we walked up the track pictured above and Thérèse carried on right around the base of the hill behind Glen Affric Lodge.
In the evening, while having a meal beside the log fire in the village pub, we fell into conversation with Iain from Cougie Pony Trekking Centre. He had a wealth of stories about riding across the Highlands using the ancient drove roads. If you want to see wild remote places riding at Cougie must be one of the best ways to do it.
Last night we attended a ceilidh organised to entertain a group of Russian’s who are visiting the Highlands of Scotland. The Russian’s couldn’t stand the pace of Highland hospitality and didn’t show up, maybe whisky is stronger than vodka! However for those of us who went to the Royal British Legion in Nairn there was an excellent evening of entertainment and plenty of room to dance.
Nairn Gaelic Choir sang a lovely set of three songs. Except for the last one about Islay I can’t repeat the titles, I’m embarrassed to say, but they were beautiful to listen to. We were treated to an impromptu second set later in the evening. Nairn Gaelic Choir have won may prizes, last winning the Mod in 2011.
Dolphins by George Wheelhouse, a guest here.
The Moray Firth is located to the east of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. It is home to Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise. They are seen regularly from Chanonry Point (the best time being 1-2 hrs before high tide) and sometimes from Nairn beach. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society have visitor centres at North Kessock and Spey Bay. Boat trips to view the dolphins leave from Inverness, Cromarty and Nairn.
Hiddenglen Holidays is an excellent base for exploring around the Moray Firth. Dolphins are seen throughout the year. Between June and September we can almost guarantee that you will see the dolphins, but are not so confident about the Loch Ness monster!
FORRES Saturday 29th June 2013
What a wonderful display of colour there will be in Forres as the bands play their reels and marches. Over 100 pipe bands from all over Europe will compete in the natural amphitheatre of Grant Park, a beautiful setting several times winner of the Britain in Bloom award. Lets hope for the sunny weather typical of the Moray Firth, and that it will inspire our son to take up his chanter again. It has been gathering dust since he left the school band pictured above. See Piping Hot Forres
3rd-8th September 2013
The town of Nairn comes alive during the Book & Arts Festival with events in several venues. This year’s lineup is still to be announced, but there is always something for everyone. Last year Kate Adie gave a fascinating opening speech, admitting to having been shot three times in different war zones.
Red squirrels in snow.
When I was at school we were told that squirrels bury nuts in autumn and then sleep through the cold weather. Here at Holiday Cottage Nairn we have had dawn to dusk sunshine and freezing nights for over a week now, and this morning woke up to a small fall of snow. How silently it comes. The squirrels have been out every day amusing the guests with their antics on the bird nuts, and today here they are again in the snow. This photo was taken from our kitchen window. There is a short video of the wildlife and farm animals here at Hiddenglen.
- Nairn beach in winter by Bratach
Voted for by visitors, TripAdvisor lists Nairn beach as the best in Scotland, and 11th in the UK. Locals who know the clean golden sands will not be surprised. Even in winter it is popular for walking with a chance to watch the dolphins jumping quite close to the shore. In between the dog walkers (with their pooper scoopers) one sees kite surfers, sand yachts and recently a Dundee musician miming his song to camera as he makes his latest video. The other bonuses, apart from the safe swimming in shallow water, are the views across the Moray Firth to the Black Isle and the fantastic sunsets. Holiday cottage Nairn is ten minutes drive from this beautiful beach where Peter goes swimming every year on his birthday!
- 11pm on a summer’s evening by Bratach.
Red roses from Africa are not an option here at Holiday Cottage Nairn so i thought i would see which flowers are blooming in the Highlands of Scotland today. But wait, why are roses from Africa a bad idea? Apart from the air miles, the locals from around Lake Naivasha have lost the best ground for growing their own food to mostly foreign companies who employ them to apply nasty pesticides without proper protection so they must then buy food and water. Irrigation is lowering the level of the lake, pesticides are polluting it and most of the public access to the lake for washing clothes and watering cattle has been closed. The lake is dying. For the full story see Lake Naivasha Report
So what did i find on a morning that started with a beautiful sky?
- Laikenbuie whins and snowdrops
- Hepatica, Jasmine and Heather
- Holiday cottage Nairn posy
And yes my beautiful wife made two lovely posies, and neither of them was for me!
We were first alerted by the cronk cronk sound as the ravens flew over the croft. Yes, either a pair or a single bird has flown by on most days in the last three weeks. We see plenty of rooks and crows, but the ravens are so much bigger and their primaries are obvious as they soar above us. It is the first time we have seen ravens here having lived near Nairn for over 30 years. This takes the birds identified on the croft to over ninety species.