Archive for the 'Isle of Bute' Category

Requiescap In Pace

dead bird

“Oh dear”, said the spouse as he made coffee at the Buteshack on Saturday, “there’s a dead bird over there beside the planter on the seafront.”

I rushed to the window to see if it was Pegleg. My favourite gull has been missing, presumed dead, for several months now, but it turned out that this wasn’t him.

“Looks like an oystercatcher”, I observed mournfully from behind the net curtain. The forlorn mound of inky black plumage on the verge next to the road had a distinctive flash of white, and I could just about make out a hint of vermilion leg against the green of the grass.

“Poor thing”, I said, “it’s a bit undignified lying there next to the bus stop… I’ll put it down at the low water mark once the tide’s gone out. It’ll be like a Viking funeral but without the flames. Or the longboat.”

“You’re on your own with that,” said the spouse, shuddering.

Later, once the tide had ebbed to reveal the familiar rocks dotted about the exposed sea bed, I approached the deceased bird with great solemnity and more than a little trepidation, since I had no idea how long it had been there. On getting close, however, all solemnity was lost when I realised that I had been planning a burial at sea for a discarded black baseball cap with a white emblem on the front.

Time to make that overdue optician’s appointment…

Signs of Autumn

The sea pinks have put away their pink for the year, the last of the swallows are poised to take off from the telephone wires, and you can almost hear the brambles ripening to plumptiousness in the Bute hedgerows.

Me, I’ve got another few grey hairs…


Cookiebiter surveying a geological cookiebite at Dunstrone fort, Bute, last week. Dunstrone is a very ancient and magical site of special scientific interest.

I wanted the gap in the rock to mysteriously make everything go silent as I walked through it, but it didn’t. Maybe next time…

Edit 10.09.12 Eagle eyed Butephiles reading this post will immediately notice that the picture shows Dunagoil fort, not Dunstrone, which is a mile or so up the coast. It seems my map reading is as bad as my hearing.

Apologies to anyone who travelled all the way to Bute and scoured Dunstrone fort for the magical cookiebite in vain. Those Dunstrone cows can be very scary.

Mr Kipling Saves The Day


Spotting that the neighbours at the Buteshack had strung Union Jack bunting across the front of the tenement in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the spouse was determined not to be outdone.

“We could hang something in the windows”, he said excitedly, looking around for inspiration.

“But we’re not even into the monarchy”, I said in protest, “and what are you going to make bunting out of? We don’t have any stuff with us.”

“Quit your moaning and have another Mr Kipling’s Special Edition Diamond Jubilee French Fancy”, insisted the spouse, offering the remaining gaudily coloured red white and blue cakes in their special Union Jack box.

“Don’t mind if I do”, I said greedily, as I watched the discarded red white and blue striped cupcake liners being expertly cut into quarters and folded over a length of thread. When the last cake was safely on its way to my steadily enlarging hips, and the last bit of paper cutting had been done, we stood back to admire the spouse’s handiwork.

“Well done, hun”, I said, noting the overall effect. “I approve. It’s very French.”


Big Night Out On Bute

You know you’re doing something daft when you’re working out a short cut home, and having to consult tide timetables and a lunar calendar to ensure you’ll actually get there in one piece. This was the scenario when we realised that the last bus home from Saturday night’s King Creosote gig at Mountstuart House on Bute, was timed to depart right in the middle of the performance.

We had three options: 1. Depart with the last bus right in the middle of the performance, 2. Embark on a bunion-punishing two hour walk home in the dark along a country road after the performance had finished, or 3. Embark on a slightly shorter walk home through the estate grounds, along a potholed B road, down through a steep field on to a rocky bit of beach and across the wet sands at low tide in the dark. Adventurous Option 3 had the most appeal when I cooked it up over my cornflakes and fresh orange juice at breakfast time, but by mid afternoon I had gone off it a bit when I spotted a distant herd of cows appearing back in their field after milking. I reckoned they might not take kindly to being stepped on in the dark by two clumsy humans, and although savagings by dairy cows are rare on Bute, there’s a first time for everything. This realisation led to the hatching of Option 4: a 2 mile pre-King Creosote cycle to the bus stop at the foot of the ascent from Kingarth to Mountstuart, dump the bikes in a hedge, get the bus to the gig, walk for an hour and a half afterwards to pick up the bikes and wobble the last bit home.

“Why didn’t we think of that before, it’s so obvious”, I announced smugly to the spouse as I confidently asked for two singles to Mountstuart on the bus, to ensure there would be no going back. The spouse was a little less convinced and asked the bus driver when the last bus was, just in case.

A couple of hours later, we were happily ensconced in the unusual venue of the crypt below the chapel at Mountstuart, and enjoying Jon Hopkins showing off his perfect pitch party trick between songs while King Creosote re-tuned his guitar. Audience members were invited to sing a random note, and Jon instantly named the note and played it on the piano. For a second I was tempted to join in by cupping my hands over my ears to produce the highest note in the house, but the piano keyboard wouldn’t have had enough keys to cover it, and I didn’t want to wake the inhabitants of the crypt.

As the brightly coloured stained glass panel behind the stage gradually dimmed in the fading twighlight, I found my thoughts drifting from the wonderful musings of King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, to the less edifying prospect of being mown down by a passing car as we walked home on a country road at midnight. The spouse was reading my mind.

“Wanna get the bus?” he whispered. Several times.

911 on the M8

Curtains twitched yesterday evening as the residents of Queen’s Park strained to see what type of emergency vehicle with flashing lights had arrived outside Cookie Bite HQ this time. Unfortunately, our neighbours’ hopes that it would be The Glasgow City Council Piano Confiscation Unit were about to be dashed.

Out in the street, a man was holding the handbag of a dishevelled woman as she emerged, backside first, from her unorthodox mode of transport.

“It’s nice to be back home, isn’t it Hun”, I said to the spouse, as I tried and failed to find a dignified way of climbing down the ladder from the cab of the 911 Emergency Recovery Vehicle which was now blocking the street. It had picked us up, frozen and bickering, from a thorn covered verge at the side of the M8 motorway, after the car had ground to a halt unexpectedly in an inconveniently unidentifiable location somewhere on the way back from Bute.

The AA mechanic called to the scene may have wondered why the driver of the car he was recovering kept saying irately “I TOLD you it was making a funny noise” to the the woman with the hearing aids, but he said nothing and quietly went about his business, no doubt having seen it all many times before.

Bute Newt

With the days finally lengthening and warming up, it was a wildlife extravaganza on Bute this weekend. The daffodils were out, a green carpet of wild garlic leaves had sprouted in the woods at the back of the house, and white-tailed deer bounced gaily out of the undergrowth on the side of the Suidhe hill, as we climbed our way laboriously to the top.

“Quick, I’ve found a tiny snake!”, I shouted excitedly to the spouse, after a fleeting movement in the grass underfoot caught my eye. A closer inspection of the stripy brown reptile hiding in the greenery revealed that the snake had four legs and was actually a common newt.

“Dunno what made me think it was a snake”, I said, suddenly noticing the hiss in my ears again.

The Wanderer Returns

“Wow, look at that rainbow!” shouted the spouse as he rushed to get his camera at the Buteshack this morning. I put down my tedious attempt at writing a project for the students and leapt to the window.

“Never mind the rainbow, Hun”, I shrieked, “Look! Pegleg’s back! HE’S ALIVE!”

My eyes tracked a familiar dangly-legged gull as he swooped across the fleetingly sunlit scene. I’d been looking out for him for months with not a single sighting, and feared that he’d finally gone to the big lamppost in the sky. Only that morning, I’d come across a perfectly preserved single gull wing attached to a bare ribcage on the beach, and had speculated with sadness that it could easily have been Pegleg. “You’ll never know which one’s him unless you find the legs”, said the spouse a tad unsympathetically.

I was now glad to know that the unfortunate wing on the beach belonged to some other gull and that I could look forward, once again, to plenty of Pegleg spotting opportunities when out and about in Kilchattan Bay.

It’s Raining, it’s Pouring

The Isle of Arran’s Sleeping Warrior with a light dusting of snow on Saturday, seen from near Dunagoil on Bute during a brief respite in the rain. We’d hoped for an icy winter wonderland this weekend, but were glad of the higher than predicted temperatures when we discovered that the Buteshack and its contents had been soaked through by the recent storms. Since the electric fire was knackered, we were forced to take refuge beside the log burning stove in the local pub…it’s a hard life.

Wish You Were Here

A wellie’s eye view of the Firth of Clyde from Kilchattan Bay, at the weekend. I know it’s unbelievable after the recent atrocious weather, but that really is a blue sky…


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