Thursday, 28 July 2011


For the month of July, the beautiful Dunninald is open to the public.  This magnificant house is tucked out of view of the main road, but it's situated just a few miles south of Montrose.  Take a peek at the website for details of the opening hours.

We were fortunate enough to visit last Sunday when the sun was shining and the birds were singing, making it an especially excellent day out.

We arrived just as a re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath was taking place.  Eilidh and I were very jealous of the ladies' dresses!  (I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century as far as fashion is concerned.)

The house is a lived-in family home, so you are taken around on an informative guided tour.  After that we explored the stunning gardens.  I'm so impressed by beautiful gardens, largely becuse I haven't got a clue about how to grow anything.  I just kill plants so I've virtually given up.

 The girls found a fabulous tree to explore.

After a walk around the grounds we visited the tea room where we were served the most delicious cakes.  The rose petal cupcakes won approval from everyone!

If you're in the area this weekend then I'd highly recommend a visit as you won't get another chance until July 2012.  I believe they also open the grounds in early spring for visitors to see the snopdrops.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Needle felting kits

On our recent trip to the Royal Highland Show, Kirsty and I bought a kit to make a pair of needle felted faces.  We've not tried 3D needle felting before, so we took the kit on holiday to play with in the evenings (whilst watching the first 7 Harry Potter dvds!).

Whilst killing a bit of time in the shops of Oban, waiting for the ferry to Mull, we found a gorgeous wool shop which sold needle felting mermaid kits. 

So firstly we tried the faces..

and then moved on to the mermaids.  Just look at the concentration on Kirsty's face!!

This first one is mine - the kit actually had them with blank faces, but having just learned how to sculpt facial features, we decided to give them proper faces and a bit more personality.

Here is Kirsty's.  She also made a wee sister mermaid from the left over wool.

So now I know what to do (although I'm sure there's still plenty to learn) I'm thinking of making some to sell in the shop.  I made this wee Heilan' Coo with left over mermaid bits - needs a bit of tweaking, but it's a start!

Sunday, 17 July 2011


I don't want to bore you with all of my 375 holiday photos, but I HAVE to share these!

We spent a week on the beautiful Isle of Mull and were incredibly lucky with the weather.  Although we thoroughly enjoyed the whole week, the definite highlight was a trip to Staffa - about an hour by boat from Ulva Ferry. 

Fingal's Cave (made famous by Mendelssohn) is the one on the right.

Inside Fingal's Cave - you can clearly see the basalt columns of which the island is made.

A short walk away I fulfilled a long-held ambition of seeing puffins.  

Amazingly, we were able to sit and watch these amazing little birds from a distance of 3-4 feet.  I don't have a fantastic camera, but we were so close there was no need for big, fancy lenses. 

It was an amazing experience, watching the puffins come and go and listening to them making a very unusual, creaking kind of sound!

I can't recommend a trip to Staffa highly enough!

On another day we went across to Iona, and the weather was so fantastic that the sea looked positively Mediterranean!!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Royal Highland Show

It has been almost 2 weeks since we went to this amazing annual event near Edinburgh, and I've just remembered that I was going to post some photos!

Unfortunately Ewan had to work and Eilidh thought it would be "boring" (she's 13) so Kirsty and I went by ourselves.

We had a great time and Kirsty got to...

make a beeswax candle...

 have a go at bodging...

traverse a bouldering wall...

 grind wheat...

pose beside enormous machinery...

play games... 

try competitions...

and enjoy the best chocolate fountain we've ever experienced! 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Painting stones

Yesterday Kirsty and I went down to the beach to look for interesting stones to paint and add to the collection that sits outside our house.

Sometimes a stone just asks to be turned into something - the shape immediately tells you what it should become. 

Kirsty spotted this piece of slate and immediately knew that it just had to become a penguin!

She was originally going to make this one into the sea with a bit of harbour wall, but opted for a field and cottage instead.

I found this ghost shaped stone so we then had to scour the beach for a Pacman! 

I have a bit of a thing for painting sheep!

 This is one that Kirsty painted last year.  It has a lump on the back, just like the B button on a Wii remote, which is what inspired her to paint it!

Some of the painted stones outside our house have been there for 3+ years and are lasting really well. 

Recently a French customer came into my shop carrying one of the stones and was really disappointed when I told her they weren't for sale!