As those of you who live on Mull will know, it has scarcely stopped raining for the last two months.

The road that leads past the Coffee Shop and to our house is now an attractive drive-thru burn […and the brakes on my car have never been so well lubricated].

This new water feature continues along the Flat Rock track, takes forty winks in the Cattle Pond, before making its way merrily on down to the sea. The cattle have no use for their spa at present: they are quite cold and wet enough without it!

In their absence, this pool has been populated by Mallards and an occasional pair of Grey wagtails. These latter are really beautiful little birds, with chests of lemon yellow and an endearing way of bobbing their striped tails.

At the shore, Ardnamurchan’s rocky finger points through the emptiness of rolling sea mist. The gulls have once again formed their spiralling winter flocks, and they rotate slowly and constantly over the sodden fields. The female Otter with the scar across her face has been seen again with two small cubs – from the description, they seem younger than the ones I saw her with a few months ago. I hope this doesn’t mean that she lost them.

I actually started drafting this blog on the morning of the Glengorm Christmas Party [December 23rd]. Mysteriously, it was days before I felt able to continue with it. I’m not one to jump to conclusions… but I can’t help wondering if this was – in some way – connected to the half-empty bottle of Sambuca, touring the room with Mr Angus MacColl?

I should add that I’ve tried to find a snap from the party where we all look respectable enough for the blog, and regrettably, no such photograph exists.

The weekend prior to the party, Glengorm hosted the annual Cross at the Castle cycling competition. If you’re keen on bicycles, mud and Lycra-clad men – then this, dear reader, is the event for you. The weather was absolutely appalling, to the extent that quite a few competitors were physically blown off their bikes! Thankfully, there were no major injuries, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves – especially the kids! Talk about hardy…

I would like to thank everyone who took the trouble to leave their self catering accommodation so lovely and clean. I know this can’t have been easy given the quantity of mud involved, but myself and Val really appreciated it.

I would also like to thank everyone for their patience and good humour in the Coffee Shop – it was an extremely busy couple of days [not helped by Mariah Carey, George Michael and Slade; who were all on fast-rotate].

With other duties around Glengorm – and the less than clement conditions – my time out and about has been somewhat limited. The best morning allowed me to get a few pictures of this stag, as many of you on Facebook will have seen.

This particular individual and his friend live in the woodland at Bluebell Valley. The other stag only has one eye – which I assume is the result of a fighting injury. When they hear the quadbike engine, they appear on the brow of a knoll, ready to sneak down for some of the cattle feed.

Lovely though it is to see them, this behaviour is not likely to precipitate a long and happy life: stags like this eat huge quantities of the cattle mix, and encourage others to follow them down. Before you know it, there are more deer than cattle at the feeding station.

Flea the dog is in charge of chasing them off – so let’s hope they get the message sooner rather than later!

Elsewhere, major work is being undertaken in the castle. A good portion of the flooring has been lifted to install the plumbing for our new Biofuel heating system.

As you can imagine, the age of the building adds a certain amount of pressure (!) I doubt this floor has been fiddled with so extensively since Margaret Lithgow started her own improvements in 1911.

 

Tom is carrying this work out himself, with the assistance of Calgary’s Tom Reid. I have to say, so far, they’re doing a fantastic job and we’re right on schedule!

This is great news for the ongoing Biofuel and Sorne Woodland projects.

Meanwhile, Val and I have been busy spring cleaning the self catering properties and John has taken delivery of his vegetable seeds ready for the season ahead [yum].

I was recently shown some incredible pictures of the walled garden as it was in Margaret Lithgow’s era, so watch this space for a dedicated Glengorm Gardens blog over the next few days!

We’ve even got a photograph of her alleged Italian lover on a motorbike… with a snowman… and a very creepy lady feeding chickens.

Bet you can’t wait?

Wishing all our readers the very best for the New Year,

Stephanie Cope

Glengorm Wildlife Steward

This photograph shows a reflection in the water of the cattle pond as the animals came over to drinkReflected HIghland Cow