Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Roe Deer

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for sending these pictures of two roe deer doing what roe deer do....

.... as he puts it, "eating seaweed and watching ducks".

Scotland's Oldest Fuel Pumps?

It was good to go down to the shop yesterday afternoon for a paper to find Dave Fraser of D&S Forecourt Services, Inverness, working on the three fuel pumps. Our association with Dave and his company goes back.... the time we first bought the shop, and to the shattering news when the old petrol station was condemned by Highland Council's Protective Services because the unleaded tank was leaking.

The dips on the unleaded tank used to go up and down in an erratic way: we later discovered that the holes were in the bottom of it, so the fuel moved up and down with the water table. The diesel tank, being above ground, was fine, as was the leaded.

We were saved by a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise which enabled us to rebuild....

....the whole fuel station, all the fuel-related work being done by D&S's predecessor company, Fuel Tank and Pump Services. They were excellent, as was the company which did the building work, MacRae Brothers of Laide.

With the grant, we were offered brand new electronic pumps but refused. We reckoned that the existing pumps, the diesel being a Wayne and the petrol pumps Gilbarco Trimlines, all with Veeder-Root heads, were easier to maintain and mend, and would last longer in the exposed, salty, windswept environment. They've lasted another twenty years, far longer, Dave told us, than the electronic ones they were installing in other stations at the time.

Our eldest daughter Elizabeth painted the local wildlife on the front of the pumps, and they became quite a feature with visitors.

To Dave's knowledge, no other public petrol station is still using these pumps so they're probably the oldest working public fuel pumps in Scotland.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An Erratic Walk

We're pretty determined to walk whatever the weather as long as it isn't too miserable and we don't put ourselves at unnecessary risk so, despite drizzle, a brisk wind, and a forecast for rain and high winds later, we walked to the northwest of Ormsaigbeg today, following....

....this, sadly un-named, burn upstream before working our way up the hillside towards the ridge line.

The advantage of a walk like this is that, had the weather suddenly deteriorated and the cloud come down, we had only to walk downhill until we hit the burn, which we could then follow downstream to the road.

The land shows no sign of emerging from winter, the only colour being provided by some of the mosses, including the brownish-reds of the sphagnum, but we weren't short of company. As well as the sheep which spend their whole year out on the Ormsaigbeg common grazings, we put up several birds, including snipe and woodcock, but....

....the highlight was coming across a pair of red grouse - the female is just visible to the left.

Sadly, they weren't willing to hang around long enough for us to get close but it was good to see them: they aren't common here.

After a bit of hunting around we found our objective for the day, a rounded boulder of a rock which is not local. It looks like a granite, and was brought here, and dumped on top of the ridge, by the glaciers which covered this area some ten thousand years ago. From it there's a great view down the Sound of Mull and across to Mull itself - on a fine day.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Honey Bees Abroad

Last Thursday it was the first bumblebee of the season which attracted our attention, today it was the first honey bee in our garden. It came from the hives which Trevor Potts keeps on the Ardnamurchan Campsite, where three had bees coming and going. At the time, the temperature was a balmy 11.7C.

The garden also boasted its first pansy of 2017 whose petals bore evidence either of the activities of other insects or of the recent blustery weather.

Where Bound?

There was a time when one of the few ways of finding out where a ship was going was to contact it with an Aldis lamp with the words "What ship?" and then, if you were lucky enough to receive a reply, "Where bound?" This was often the job of the ship's cadets dragged from their bunks in the early hours of a morning when a bored officer of the watch spotted a distant light and was looking for entertainment.

These days, all one has to do is go to the Marine Traffic website - here - where the ship's intended track is recorded.

So the Yeoman Bridge, above, when she passed Kilchoan this afternoon, was on her way from Glensanda quarry to Brunsbuttel, Germany. More, she was travelling at 11.3 knots, had a draught of 13.2m, and is due Brunsbuttel at 6am on Thursday.

There are no mysteries in life any more.