This page has moved to a new address.

Damon & Renate's Holiday Cottages

Damon & Renate's Holiday Cottages: June 2010

Damon & Renate's Holiday Cottages

Beautiful stone cottages near Oban and on the Isle of Mull

My Photo
Location: Taynuilt, Argyll, United Kingdom

Monday, 21 June 2010

The coming of the bees

Midsummer night - it really doesn't get properly dark here for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after.

I've had a complex few traveling days to go to London for work, then pop over to Holland for a few days and travel up by train from London yesterday while picking up 2 new hives of bees.  Yes, that's right, not just the hives, but the bees in them, all 5,000 or so in each (at about 3p/bee!).  These are the boxes that they came in, and they had to be picked up from near Lincoln.  Combining it with other travel arrangements was the only worthwhile way of doing it.

I got off at Newark and had booked a taxi from there to Thorne's at Wragby to pick up the bees while the taxi waited and took me back.  The bees went in the guard's van, and he gave me access whenever I wanted it to spray the bees with water to ensure they'd keep cool (but they're not to be kept in a draught either).  I was very fortunate that the guard allowed me to sit in first class too, as the train was really full, and standard class was miles away from the guard's van.

I struggled to keep them out of sun in my car as I had no parcel shelf.  So I improvised with the tools I had, a child's car seat, an umbrella and a jumper.  They buzzed back the whole way home from Stirling where I'd left my car.

When I got home we unloaded the box, put them into position at the other end of the loch, then released their door and let them orientate.  Once the sun was out today I moved them into their permanent home, the bigger boxes, that hold 11 frames (the traveling boxes only hold 6 frames), and gave them a sugar syrup feed to settle them in.  That's it now for the next week, when I'll open them up again and have a wee look at how they are faring.

I had a look around the garden to see what flowers they were on, and passing the Hydrangea climbing up the huge larch tree, it was buzzing just like the bees had been in the box.  There were lots of bumblebees, but I also spotted quite a few honeybees.  As I haven't seen any honeybees in our garden for a long time, I'm assuming they're the new ones, so I took some pictures of both.
The Hydrangea is really at its best just now, but it's just not possible to capture the enormity of the tree and the Hydrangea.  I've just got half of it in my photo.

We're hoping the bees will do better now that we've learnt more, as our other bees didn't survive the winter of 2008/2009.

As we are enjoying our chickens so much, we have decided to order another 3, as their night time shelter is meant for up to 9 birds.  This time we've ordered different breeds, and they're due the middle of July.  The kids have sold quite a lot of our eggs this week, by just putting them with an honesty box in reception.  They're saving up for an automated door on the chicken hutch that opens when it gets light and closes once they're in and its dark.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Train derailment

Train derailment
Many of you will have heard of the train derailment just 7 miles down the road from us at Cruachan falls.  Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but the road (and rail) have been closed, causing huge diversions.  The cause of the derailment is thought to be due to rocks on the line.  The system for detecting rocks has worked for many years, it's what we call the piano wires.  It's a series of parallel wires to the side of the track and if a rock hits it then the signal goes red.  I'd never been sure this was still working, but when someone I know grabbed hold of one to swing down, it certainly brought the signal up! So whether these rocks found a gap or whether they'd been disturbed lower down is not clear.

The next challenge for the authorities was to remove the derailed carriage.  As it was close to the road, a crane was brought in to lift the carriage off from the road, however, the road here is not a real road.  The road around Loch Awe is a combination of bridge and causeway that was built by the spoils from the Cruachan power station build.  This turned out not to be strong enough for the crane, let alone the crane and carriage.  So the structure has had to be supported, and last Friday there was successful lift off.
  The BBC has a great picture of the carriage being lifted up
Also a video of it being lifted off

We are hoping the road will be reopened by Monday, a slight further delay due to diesel spillage on the road, and they have to dismantle the supports.

Latest wildlife updates:  the tawny owls have been regularly seen around the garden with their young.
Yesterday there were 7 basking sharks in Loch Scridean, watched from Torr na Locha.  The pictures are Irises at Torr na Locha and cows at Pennyghael in the sea, halfway on the drive across Mull to Torr na Locha.

Labels: , ,

Friday, 11 June 2010

Statues, horses and chimneys

Meet Jack who is the horse on Mull, got to keep Sally company. He is a bit smaller than her at the moment but is one quarter shire so should end up taller. He is very friendly but at only 10 months not to be totally trusted.

We finally managed to prepare and paint the gable over the Edwardian Wing. The cherry picker isn't quite big enough to reach and scaffolding was going to be far to expensive and also difficult to erect so we settled for ropes. They were tied to one chimney stack and then run along the roof ridge to the far end where we spent a couple of days dangling around sorting out the wall, which turned out to be in better condition than I thought.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


We have gained three lambs on Mull now, Patch, Bubbles and Squeak. They were hand reared on Iona after their mothers died and are now at Torr na Locha. This is Sally getting to know them, she doesn't like change so is not too sure what to make of them at the moment, but they think she is great and follow her everywhere! We are gaining another horse this week as well, Jack, so she is going to be really put out.
I went out for a run with Ceri yesterday evening and very nearly stood on this little fellow in the middle of the track by the pond. I think its a tawny owl and probably just made a bit of a mess of its first attempt to fly and hit the ground too hard (you can see the adult feathers showing on the bottom right). Usually the best plan is to just leave them alone as they can be rejected by the parents if there is a human smell on them. But we have lots of dogs staying at Bonawe at the moment so I pushed it into a cardboard box and put it on the roof of the stable block near by. We could hear the parents flying up and down the track and calling all evening. When I went along later on to see if it was still there it had gone so fingers crossed they found it and are reunited.