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!

night sky




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.

Highland holiday cottage

The ground floor which is now mostly hidden

Stone walls

Faced with secondhand sandstone from a long abandoned Nairn quarry.

Scottish Country Dancers

Nairn Scottish Country Dance Club test out the “roof”, which will become the first floor when the upper walls are built!

BEWARE! Monsanto vs. Mother Earth

MonsantoMonsanto, 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.


Snowy beach

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!

Last of the sunset
11pm on a summer’s evening by Bratach.