KISSING GATE NEAR CALLANISH, LEWIS.
The main Callanish stones are justly famous, but within a mile or two, there are three other stone circles which get much less attention and publicity. That's a pity, because they are all in sensational surroundings and just as mystical. There is a path linking all of the stone circle groups, but the tourist coaches bringing visitors from cruise ships just take their passengers to the Callanish visitor centre for a walk round and a cup of coffee, before whisking them off to the next place on the 'see it all in 4 hours' itinerary.
The kissing gate in the photo guards the entrance to one of those other stone circles, known as Callanish three. At first glance, it looks quite a conventional gate, but if you look closer, it becomes much more interesting. The maker has built in representations of the sun, moon, mountains and people into the structure and it's a wonderful piece of work. Wish I'd got one.
Work on the house is moving forward steadily now. The contractor has completely finished the access road, which is now flat, straight and well drained. It makes an amazing difference to be able to drive along it without ripping out the undersides of the car. The postlady and delivery drivers are happier too.
The bathroom tiling has been completed and I've finished painting the downstairs bedroom, leaving only one room in the house left to decorate from top to bottom. In the meantime, I'm still wandering about on bare concrete floors, but the end is in sight.
There is a sawmill in the grounds of Lews Castle College, which makes fencing, gates and other stuff, as well as being a good source of logs for burning. For some time, I've been thinking that the new solid fuel stove needs a fire surround and mantelpiece, but couldn't find anything that I really like from commercial suppliers. Talking to the joiner at the sawmill a few days ago, he agreed to make me two uprights and a cross piece and I'm now the proud possessor of a fire surround made out of 6x4 solid planks. It's been cut from a fallen elm tree, which was growing in the Castle grounds, but came down in a storm a couple of years ago. The only problem is that the wood is unseasoned and is likely to split if it is subject to heat from the fire before it dries out. Any suggestions on how to speed up the drying process without damaging the wood?
During the next year, I'm going to put in land drains on the croft at the front of the house, to improve the grazing. I've also got plans to put up a polytunnel next Spring, but still having difficulty deciding exactly where to place it.
Some of the croft fencing was taken down while the road was being renovated and the sheep were taken away to graze elsewhere over the summer. The owner brought them back yesterday and I am pleased to have them here again. They're not very bright, but they do have character. They are currently grazing at the back of the house and making hostile noises towards a flock of grey lag geese which arrived about half an hour ago to steal the grass. A Buzzard and ravens have been hunting on the croft this morning and I seem to have acquired a flock of about a dozen pigeons, which have taken a liking to my bird table.
Sadly, a young Osprey was found dead at the side of a road here a few days ago. It was born in June on the Scottish mainland and had been satellite tagged to track its movements. The people who were monitoring it noticed that the satellite signal was stationary, gave the coordinates to the RSPB here and the dead bird was located. When found, it was severely underweight and is thought to have been hit by a car.