Coll

Coll is this small island in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s amazing! Nine hours of travel totally worth it!

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Those tiny silver spots near the middle rock are seals, they were so close!

A big Thank you to the weather for giving us beautiful days to explore the islands and the sea around it, and, of course, to dear friends for taking us in the first place!

The West Highland Way

WHW

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WHW

About four weeks ago I was talking with a friend about her experience on long distance walking. A few days after that conversation, I realized that was exactly what I needed to do! And this being Scotland what better walk than the West Highland Way?

After doing some research, I decided to do it in seven days and sleep in Hostels or bunk houses. I would recommend booking accommodation a few weeks before you go, unlike me, as you might not get to stay exactly where you want. One day I had to take the bus from Kingshouse to Glen Coe Village because there was no accommodation at Kingshouse stage, and another day had to book a four person cabin because the others were all taken. I bought this book, but to be honest you can get all the information you need online.  The book however, has little extras, like plants and detailed maps that were useful, and I enjoyed reading about each stage without giving to much away. I also had this map on hand because I didn’t really liked the maps on the book and I tucked it on the waist straps, so I didn’t need to stop to look at it.

Something that I really appreciate about this walk, besides the scenery, is that its very well  signposted, making it very easy for someone like me, a novice or stranger to navigation, possible to complete it. Additionally I think that it has enough challenges to really feel like an achievement, but never felt impossible to complete it, even without any training before hand. I wouldn’t recommend that thou, because my knee suffered a little, after the long stretch from Rowardennan to Crianlarich, but it’s possible, even for someone who is not that fit…

I did it alone, but never felt alone or scared for tackling something like this on my own. Of course I did it this way because I was looking for the solitude , but at the same time was grateful for it to be a busy walk, both with day walkers or people walking the 154 km. On the whole I found myself alone for long periods of time, but felt safe enough that if something had happen to me, someone would pass at some point.

Another of the most asked questions is about midges… to which I don’t have much to say. If you do it at this time of the year, you either have rain or midges, there is no way around it. I had a homemade spray (and oil, but I gave that away to someone who had nothing and was camping) to keep those annoying critters away, which helped a little… You just have to keep moving, get the food out of the bag as soon as possible and keep walking, or sit in a windy spot, that helps too.

I loved it! It was an amazing experience and miss it every single day…

a few things

Whittling, or the beginnings of

Dirty clothes from berries

And a belly full of them

Last year I let two chard plants go to seed to see what would come out of it, and I’m glad to report that there are a quite a lot of new ones that seeded, though the slugs are getting most of it…

jam

jam

For the first time I made red gooseberry jam. It’s delicious, it might be my favorite one!

In strawberry land / Na terra dos morangos

elderflower

from our garden

Em Português mais abaixo.

English

Yesterday we went to pick strawberries at a pick your own farm, not far from Glasgow.

Today we made plain strawberry jam, strawberry and elder-flower jam, strawberry and lavender jam and strawberry and Greek yogurt ice cream… That’s a lot of strawberries right? In the afternoon I went to the allotments, and guess what? Yep, I brought home more strawberries…

And that last photo? That must be the biggest strawberry I’ve seen, which came from our very own garden!

Português:

Ontem fomos apanhar morangos numa quinta em que somos nós próprios que apanhamos a fruta.

Hoje fizemos doce de morango, doce de morango e flores de sabugueiro, doce de morango e alfazema e gelado de iogurte grego e morangos… é muitos morangos, não é? À tarde fui sozinha à horta, e? Pois é, trouxe para casa ainda mais morangos…

E aquela ultima fotografia? Deve ser o maior morango que eu já vi, e que veio da nossa própria horta!

today in the garden

Today I finally went to the garden, I hadn’t been there for at least two weeks because of so much happening with the shop…

Somehow I missed a bag of maincrop potatoes when I planted the other ones, so today in they went. I also took some of the seedlings that were growing at home to put them in the cold frame, to start hardening them of and noticed that the ones already there have grown a lot. I can almost ear them screaming to go on the ground, but it wasn’t today… I also weeded and took care of my “Mediterranean” bed, which feels like a big achievement!

Hoje finalmente consegui ir à horta, penso que há duas semanas que não ia lá, estive tão ocupada com a loja…

Não sei como mas deixei um saco de batatas por plantar, quando puz as outras na terra, hoje, remedei isso. também levei as plantinhas que semei aqui em casa para começar o processo de adpatação ao exterior e à temperatura lá fora, e reparei que as que já lá estão cresceram imenso. Quase que consigo ouvi-las a gritar para as pôr na terra, mas ainda não foi hoje… Hoje também tirei muitas ervas daninhas e cuidei do meu cânteiro “mediterrâneo”, com o qual estou muito contente!

May garden

There are a lot of weeds, but plenty of other nice things too. It was nice to see many blossoms in the apple tree.

Há muitas ervas daninhas, mas outras coisas boas também. Foi muito bom ver tantas flores na macieira.

May garden

The artichoke plants are doing well, I think (I planted them last year, so this is the first time I’ve seen it at this time of the year).

As plantas de alcachofras estão a dar-se muito bem, penso eu (plantei-as o ano passado, por isso é a primeira vez que as vejo nesta altura do ano).

May garden

I had to take some woad plants, they were casting shade on some plants and I reckon I wouldn’t need that many seeds. Next time I must remember that they grow up to 1,5 meters in the second year.

Tive que tirar algumas plantas pastel (isatis tinctoria) porque estavam a deitar sombra noutras plantas, para além disso não me parece que precise de tantas sementes. para a próxima tenho que me lembrar que a pastel cresce cerca de metro e meio no segundo ano.

May garden

May garden

I’m really happy with the  willow structure that I made earlier in the year, as it seems that all the poles are growing.

Fiquei muito contente de ver que todos os troncos de salgueiro, da estructura que fiz no inicio do ano, pegaram.

May garden

And a few more pictures of a May garden in Scotland:

E mais umas fotografias da horta em maio na Escócia:

May garden

May garden

May garden

May garden

May garden

Lochwinnoch

Lochwinnoch is an RSPB nature reserve of wetland, with a bird-watching visitor center, and nature trails. They also have the best children’s play park I’ve seen and you can request equipment for pond dipping.  It’s only 20 minutes from Glasgow Central station, but it feels worlds away.

We go often and in any season, but the best time to visit, is probably in Spring and Summer because there are so many birds and plants to see! Having said that, I remember being there in Winter, with the children and we still enjoyed. We spent less time walking and more time inside the visitor center, but the view is beautiful and we saw some amazing birds we migrated from Iceland, with the binoculars, which is very exciting for them!

Last Wednesday, we were there once more. It was a very nice Spring day, mu older children stayed mainly in the play park with friends, while I went for a walk. We saw a swan on a nest and I loved seeing the primroses in flowers, so many plants  growing and a lot of bird activity! On the way to the train they got very excited about the flowering strawberries…

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Lochwinnoch

lochwinnoch

Linn Park and wild garlic

Linn Park

hawthorn

coroa

bug

Now we can say that Spring has arrived: we’ve had the first taste of Hawthorn leaves, the first potato and nettle soup, the first pick of wild garlic, we’ve seen many, many buds in the trees, the brown soil is slowly being covered by green, plants sprouting everywhere… and, and,and… It’s a busy, lovely time of the year in Scotland.

Linn Park

wild garlic

wild garlic pesto

lunch

It’s fairly easy to find wild garlic in Glasgow, Pollok Park and the river Kelvin come to mind, but in Linn Park the abundance is incredible! So the other day, when we were there with friends, we picked some. Today I made two batches of wild garlic pesto (I call it pesto, but I don’t use cheese; only nuts, wild garlic and olive oil) The one on the left is made with cashew nuts, which I had never used before but it might be my favorite, and the other with hazelnuts, because that’s what I had.

We use this in pasta, of course, but if you add more olive oil you can use as salad dressing or drizzled over roasted vegetables, potatoes, or pretty much anything…

This year I also want to try to make wild garlic pakora  and ravioli, which I intend to make every year, but I have never done it. Have you tried it?