WARNING this is a long post !!
Well we are back and it seems like years since we were living under a 'roof' !! The one thing I do miss about travelling is a bath and I did so enjoy a long soak in the tub last night when we got home but as for unloading the van and boy did we have some stuff, apart from all the goodies we bought .Also all the washing & the ironing to do now, I could sure do without.
I think I can say, we have had one of the best holidays ever.We couldn't believe that the weather was so bad in the rest of the country as we had such great weather with only an odd shower here or there for a day or two. We tend not to listen to the radio or TV much when we are away and indeed didn't have reception in many places we were at, so we were shocked to hear on the news about all the flooding and the poor folks who have lost so much and some have even lost their lives, my heart goes out to them. What is happening to our world climate ?
The one minor disaster we had was that our camera developed a fault and we seem to have lost most of our photos of our trip which is a real shame as there were some great shots;I will take it to our local camera shop and see if they can recover them.
We spent more time this trip on Skye which we both love and found more places which we hadn't been to before and although we did do some 'wild camping ' we found some great sites at Sligachen at the foot of the Cullins with stunning scenery around us and then another one on the other side at Glen Brittle right on the seashore where the volcanic sand was black. These sites were mainly for the seasoned walkers and climbers and we met up with some very interesting people. It's one of the joys of travel for me, to chat to folks from all corners of the world and there were a lot of Dutch and German tourists about on Skye . I know this may sound as if I am being nosy ;) but I do love 'people watching ' and looking around these two sites it was like a mixture of 'base camp ' for the climbers and 'Cost del Skye' for others sitting with their BBQ and picnic tables,as the weather was so warm and sunny .I must admit I too looked out of place sitting outside in the evenings with my spinning wheel, whilst the serious walkers were coming down from the mountains with all their climbing gear on; I did get some funny looks . We did do some walking on the Cullins but not as much as I would have liked to, and at snail pace for me but I am determined that however painful it is I am going to try to do more walking as I miss it so ,and hopefully it will get easier with time.
We also found some yarns shops, one which I think ,so far, has to be my greatest find in so many ways . The first one was in Broadford and was called The Handspinners Having Fun
I had heard of this place before but it had always been closed but this time it was open and again I had a great photo of all their recently dyed wool hanging out on the fences to dry :(
It had some fantastic wool there with all the luxury yarns that you could desire and others as well. We had a chat with the owners Teo & Toni ;they themselves don't spin but they get their yarns spun by folks in Yorkshire , Wales and China !! I asked if any local spinners and knitters worked for them and the answer was, no !! Their yarns came from Argentina ,Spain,India, China etc and they then dyed it and although it was all beautiful I was rather disappointed as I had, maybe a misplaced illusion that it would have supplied a work source for local people and also that I could maybe get some local yarns/fibres and see handspinners having fun !!. Still as I said their yarns were gorgeous although very little handspun,and it's worth a visit if you go there.
But by far the best for me by a long way was Shilasdair The Skye Yarn Company which was run by Eva . We found this by sheer accident on a part of Skye called Waternish which we had missed before but I will most definitely go back and there were a few great arts and crafts galleries and shops around that area also. The setting of her home and shop were so breathtaking, right on the sea shore overlooking a bay dotted with islands; no wonder Eva creates such unique yarns. They are all from natural dyes and she showed us her dye room which was great . She had these large stainless steel pots especially made for her along one side of the wall,each marked with which dyes she used in them and gas burners were under each one to heat them up. She spends all winter dyeing her yarns which are various blends . She used to use all her own fleece from her own flock but now uses other blends with it such as shetland, gotland,cashmere and angora.This she sends off to be processed , again in Scotland.She has local spinners to spin for her as well as knit.She designs some great knitwear as do some other locals and these she sells as part of a kit or you can get them already knitted up but of course they are way more expensive. The only downside was that she didn't sell the patterns seperately as I would have liked to buy a few of them. We spent a lovely morning there with her chatting over a cup of coffee about dyeing etc and she knew folks like Colinette etc. Such a fascinating well travelled lady and such fun too. Of course I had to get some yarn but it was trying to make my mind which one as there were so many lovely ones to chose from but I chose a fairly plain cardigan in the end as I thought it would be a quick knit after all the lace knitting I have been doing lately and I even matched it up with the yarn I was spinning to make 'Morning Glory ' with so that should be nice cosy combo for the end of summer. It is done in one size and I tried the one on display and liked it.Its a lovely purpley blue colour and dyed with logwood.
Its 20% cashmere, 40% angora and 40% lambswool and for that I paid £50 which I think is very reasonable and included the yarn ,pattern buttons and label. There were other cheaper yarns but I just loved the feel of this one.
We also found a shop called Skyeskyns and it's the only tannery left on Skye and they had so many lovely sheepskins for sale and a brilliant free tour . Of course we had to have a Hebridean one which is now called 'Harry' and is draped over the rocking chair at home and very cosy he is too to snuggle into.
Then it was a quick trip to Tony's fav distillery Taliskar for a wee dram and a special bottle for himself.
I could so easily live on Skye as it has everything I could possibly need :)
After Skye we went back to Fort William to meet up with my brother who lives up the road from us and he and his friends had just completed the Three Peaks Challenge For those of you who don't know about this ,its a challenge to climb the three highest peaks in the UK, Snowdon,Scarfell Pike and Ben Nevis and you have to complete them in 24 hrs. They did it it 22hrs 55 mins and they were raising funds for our local air ambulance , a much needed service here. It was a great meeting and strange as although he lives 5 mins from our house I hadn't seen him for a few weeks even though we do talk on the phone and I see him in Scotland !!
So it was congratulations and a few beers all round for them and they went on to their bunkhouse for as few hours sleep before hitting the pubs that night and we went on our way to Mull.
We had decided to cross over not from Oban which is the usual route but from Lochaline which is only a 15min crossing and it meant we could visit Strontian, an old haunt of Tony's caving days and we stayed at the same camp site so a trip down memory lane for him and it was a lovely drive to there as well.
We had never been to Mull before and its funny how even a small ferry crossing is exciting.
The first port of call was Tobermory and some shopping for Emily as this is where the childrens TV programme Balamory was based on.This is where the camera seems to have deleted all our other pictures but yet it hasn't cleared the memory card !! Its very pretty and colourful and guess what, another distillery for Tony so another pressie for him.
We couldn't find a campsite free that night and even Islay was turned away from this Hotel.
So we parked up here at Calgary Bay for the first night.
We were told later that in the height of the season you can't move on the island and the traffic is horrendous as the roads are all single track with passing places.
The next day we travelled on the sceanic route and boy was it narrow .
We met a few of these lovely Highland cattle along the way and I had to get out to move them off the track; they were quite frisky wee beasties too.
I am glad that Tony does the driving as I would hate to try and navigate around here and with cars coming towards you ,it made for an interesting journey.
This is were we camped on our second night and the island on the right is Ulva.
We then went on to Iona and on the way we went to see a Weaving Centre at Ardalanish Farm and they are organic and are using the natural Hebridean fleece and other Scottish breeds to weave beautiful cloth and they again gave a great tour.You could buy the cloth and they also made stunning garments.
Mull was busy in places as there was a MacLean Clan gathering with folks coming from all over the world to Duarts Castle and we saw so many folks in kilts etc,very colourful.
We had a few more days on Mull and had one great evening watching sea otters feeding about 30 yds away from us . I have taken a photo but it needs cropping so will show that when I have time to play with it; I was amazed at how big they are, almost the same size as our dogs but with shorter legs and longer tails ,LOL. This family of otters are well known and are pretty used to people watching them if you are patient and sit quietly . Also on the same camp site you can watch dolphins and the previous morning someone had seen a stag wander through the site.
After leaving Mull we meandered down eventually to Penrith where we picked Kath up to come with us to Woolfest. She hadn't planned on coming and had indeed cancelled but we had been trying hard to persuade her to join us which we managed to do the night before . So she arrived at the train station so excited, and that is how she remained for the rest of the trip. Bless her it was lovely to see her enjoying herself and of course I did as well. We met many folks we knew at Woolfest and fellow bloggers as well and the highlight for us was to meet up with
Carrie Anne,Kath Bev and Becky
You know when you meet up with folks and you just click straight away , well that was the way it was with these warm hearted lasses. I can't wait to meet up again , and we will , we never stopped nattering & laughing.
So on to the goodies and I won't go into great detail as you must have either given up reading by now or are just looking at the photies :)
From the right I have some merino silk roving ,enough to make a sweater so that I can dye to what colour I want . I needed more dyes so am trying the Ashford ones to see what they are like. I have some baby alpaca fibre, a skein of alpaca and nylon sock yarn to dye from Andy at Bluefaced.com. A big bag of merino, silk from Winghams in all sorts of shades which should be fun to spin. Another lovely alpaca roving from Fyberspates as I so enjoyed the last one I bought from her. Some fine mohair boucle and sock fibre from Freyalynn. A 500gm cone of 4ply to use for a pattern that Kath bought(can't remember where we bought that ); we both bought the same colour as we liked it (something we do a lot !!)a little bag of bunny fluff to try and see how that spins. Last but not least ,and I haven't photod them ,are two fleece.Both shearling and both from the same lady who weirdly enough we met up at our campsite as she was staying there. One is a Shetland x Bowmont and is white and so soft and the other is a colored Shetland , again a great fleece.
Am I skint? I should say so , but oh what a fun time we had and again like Wonderwool it was like a family gathering with like minded folks . There was another funny coincidence, as camped right next to us were two ladies who turned out to be from Pen y Groes and after much nattering we discovered that one of then was Frankie's step Mum !! Its a small world isn't it ?
I will leave photos of things I made whilst away for another post as the socks are in the wash , all three pairs and the spun yarn needs setting. Also I do think this has to be the longest post ever , so enough for today. That's what happens when you go away for over three weeks, so many great things can happen :)
Now I need to see what you fellow bloggers have been up to whilst I have been away ;)