That road trip again

So there I was in Gairloch, but not for long, my destination was further up the coast, more single track roads, tight bends and potholes to rival Edinburgh’s! I was out in the twigs again, Melvaig, a scattering of crofts and houses, no shops, the closest are back in Gairloch (again, there is fair warning in the Airbnb notes). Oo, another great find, this Airbnb lark is fun; Seacroft is a fine semi-detached cottage (the owners live next door) with views over to the Western Isles and Skye.

Annoyingly the weather took a turn for the worse from warm and sunny to cold with baltic winds, some rain and the odd bits of sleet and hail! No amazing sunsets for me with all those clouds, but I did get an interesting shot of the setting sun’s reflection on a window one evening….

I had a lovely relaxing few days, afternoon walks, a couple of meals out, the comfiest, largest bed I’ve ever slept in (it can be converted into twin beds), free movies on the telly. Oh yeah, I got to see Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre a cracking movie with Hugh Grant doing his best Michael Caine impersonation and Jason Statham doing his usual.

The night sky is amazing there (when the clouds clear away), I even saw a shooting star, yay. I was hoping for a glimpse of the aurora borealis, well, more than a glimpse, but a wee glimmer was all I got. Maybe if I’d figured out how to put my phone’s camera on to night mode, I could have seen more but I definitely saw something.

On a walk from Melvaig

The view from Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen, where I enjoyed an excellent lunch
The view from the cottage lounge. I should mention the goldfinches, such beautiful birds!
Me chilling in the lounge
Me chilling in the sunshine
One of the locals, an alpaca called Bruce!

Yes, I took one or two photos, you’ll find more on my Instagram and Facebook. Oh, there’s a reel I filmed out on the roadside looking round at the countryside with just the sounds of birdsong and lambs bleating; like so many other times on this trip I was reminded of New Zealand, I really want to go back there!

I had hoped to have a long leisurely drive back to Edinburgh with plenty of stops but as the weather was wet, wet and more wet, nah. At least I had some excellent driving music to keep me going. First on was Rodriguez (both his albums), not something I play overly much but they are both so fine! Next up, Dave Gleeson, once of the Screaming Jets (an aussie band), a CD my bud left for me, never actually played until now – huh, it’s really good! Great production on it, great tunes and his voice and attitude, just what I needed, yeah, it got played a lot .

No rest for the wicked, I got back down to Edinburgh and set off for Yorkshireland the following morning. Same music plus some Hedwig and his angry inch, different journeys require different soundtracks. Tomorrow I head back to my moose cave and normality (well, my normal).

I’ll leave you with a few more pics of Gairloch….

just round to the left of the last pic, look at that blue!
on top hilltop above Gairloch harbour
these two really don’t see eye to eye
From Melvaig, the sunset over the Western Isles

Twas the night before Christmas …

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner now, the last two weeks zipped by so quickly. I did get some festive baking done, cinnamon cookies and Christmas crinkle cookies to make up for no cake. They are rather good if I do say so myself, others have said so too! Guzzled a few while out seeing Matilda the Musical, which was rather fine, worth going to see. I did think some of the singing vocals were a tad muffly against the music, were they trying for how stage musicals often sound?!

A new Christmas movie that’s lots of fun is Violent Night, oh boy, is it violent! David Harbour makes a great Santa Claus, world-weary, droll and a dab hand with a big hammer (think Thor but less of the god thing). Violent Night has a vibe of an 80s movie for me (oh, and it was directed by the guy who did Dead Snow, a great film), and it has fun referencing Die Hard and Home Alone and probably others that I missed. Yeah, I could easily watch it again; an addition to the roster of films that must be watched at Christmas.

Usually I go to the cinema the night before I head back to the old country for Christmas, this year I went to La Belle Angele for Blue Christmas, an evening of festive blues, R’n’B and rock’n’roll organised by Jed Potts. That mild-mannered janitor does have a lot of friends he can count on for such an event (all the proceeds go to charity, this year to the Simon Community). Of course, the delectable Nicole Smit was there, in a devine sparkly blue dress (there is a clip of the lady singing Santa Baby on my Instagram along with other snippets from the evening).

I really should dig out my old Elvis’ Christmas Album, I was reminded of it when Charlie Wild did Blue Christmas, erm, not quite as sultry as Elvis’ version. Hearing Rockin’ Robin had me puzzled but I suppose robins are quite a feature at Christmas time. It was a cracking evening, another worthy addition to my things-to-do-at-christmas list. Any blues fans planning a pre-Xmas trip to Edinburgh in future years should definitely check if it coincides with Blue Christmas, just saying.

Up until I set off on the long trek southwards, my December travels soundtrack was Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics, but by the 21st I was South Park-ed out; as mighty fine as it is I needed a change. If you’ve never come across it, I should warn that it is very South Park – not for the easily offended or delicately dispositioned. I’d never heard O Holy Night before, and now I can never hear it without thinking, that’s not a patch on Cartman’s rendition; and his Swiss Colony Beef Log song is awesome. The production values on the album are amazing, and the big musical-type numbers are all wonderfully earwormy.

So after all that offensiveness, I headed homeward to the strains of Michael Bublé and the MonaLisa Twins, gotta say the twins’ version of Santa Baby knocks the socks off Bublé’s! There is something I don’t like about the man, but wow, his Christmas album is awesome, as is the MonaLisa Twins. Those and a flask of strong hot coffee kept me going! It was dark before I got over the moors, which is great at Christmas, seeing distant twinkling lights festooning remote farmhouses (and odd when you thought that bit was sky) with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas pouring out of the stereo.

I reckon I’ve been good this year, wonder if Santa concurs? Have a merry time wherever you are, and may your gods go with you.

I’ll leave you with a few recent pics….

Some charity shops are not like others!
Edinburgh Castle from Bruntsfield Links
Cockburn Street

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

And all through the hoose, not a creature was stirring, not even a moose, everything was ready for the morn and all presents wrapped….

Yes, I’m down in deepest, dankest Yorkshire for the festivities. I’m on veg duties tomorrow – a thousand sprouts to be prepared and cooked! Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, we wouldn’t have room for the carrots and tatties for mashing (roasted parsnips and tatties has been assigned elsewhere). There’s a cake courtesy of a cousin, it looks okay but it won’t be a patch on mine waiting for me back in Edinburgh (for one thing, mine doesn’t have any nuts in it – I’m not allergic just not keen).

I had been starting to wonder if things would go bonkers in the run-up to Christmas again, thankfully not so much as last year. I made it down on possibly the greyest day of the year, at least I had a great soundtrack for it: Logan’s Close for exiting the Lothians, on to 70s Black Sabbath (Fluff is just an amazing piece), followed by Christmas tunes from the last seventy years, and as I still wasn’t quite back in happy valley, a dash of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I may have sung along on the odd occasion.

Have a very Merry Christmas wherever you are in this big wide world. Now I must go to sleep or Santa won’t come! I’ll leave you with a couple of pics of Old Hummus bedecked with tinsel!