We had some lovely guests over the last few days who visited the Red Kite feeding farm near Laurieston, just the other side of Gatehouse of Fleet. Here is a magnificent photograph by Ann Renfrew. We often see the Red Kites whilst out on the bikes, but they’re never this close and we never have decent cameras with us, so this is a great picture to be able to add to our posts. What a magnificent creature!!
A bit of high level painting plus indoor final touches.
During the lockdown of 2021 we have had the conservatory replaced. Removing the leaky roof, replacing it with a properly insulated roof, insulating the walls and floor to modern standard and replacing all the windows with modern units. We also took the opportunity to add an exit door to the side.
Having sorted the majority of the inside, and had our building work done by the terrific, local R.E.B. Joinery, it was time to start the outside – painting stone-chip on 25ft walls was never going to be a party !!
But, became much more interesting when we hired a cherry-picker ! 🙂 The view from above was very nice !
It is with great regret that we heard this week that the Newton Stewart waking festival is cancelled for 2021.
We were hoping that vaccinations would have allowed things to go ahead as it is in May, but I think the timing is just too soon to risk the upfront investment that needs to happen a long time before the event.
The “Raiders Gravel Galloway” event will be based in Gatehouse of Fleet and could attract hundreds of cyclists from across the globe, as well as many more spectators.
For further information see the Daily Record’s article – here
The event is the brain-child of Esther Tacke, from Galloway Cycling Holidays (who are terrific!!) and has Wheels of Fleet as the event’s designated charity.
Wheels of Fleet is the charity that Dane works as a part time bike mechanic. They salvage discarded bikes and components and do work on bikes for the local community free of charge, or just charging for parts.
This event will mean there will be lots of volunteering opportunities, there would be employment opportunities and it would bring people to the area.
It would encourage cycling in general, and local children can make use of the trails and routes which will be used for the event.
Hopefully The Stables will be full that week 🙂 Although, Dane is hopeful that Covid restrictions may enable hands-on bike maintenance workshops to be run by then.
More information will be posted as it becomes available
For Christmas, Fay bought me a wildlife camera. I’ve had a lot of fun with it since, and captured many many birds on our feeders. However, the night images are the most exciting. Look what we’ve got visiting the garden at night.
Yesterday we took advantage of beautiful blue skies to head up ‘The Merrick’. It’s been nearly a year since I was up there and 18 months since Fay was. Fay has never been up when there has been snow, and I’ve only been up with snow when there has been zero visibility, so it was with great anticipation that we set out.
During the lockdown easing and since the opening up of travel and other restrictions, we have visited all of the local gardens. Today, the last one, Glenwhan. Just a short distance along the A75 from The Stables, it’s very different. Small, but a bit of a chaotic layout meaning you can easily explore a smaller area but it seems much bigger. You can end up approaching the same point several times, all from difference angles, meaning you get surprised by where you are, and where you end up 🙂
Fay decided to get out into deep water when we had a guest who liked a bit of open water swimming. I, however, declined the offer 😂. I’ve not taken my titanium shoulder into the swimming baths yet, so given I have no idea whether I can or cannot swim, thought it best to watch, and take photos .
Lovely guests visiting us take a detour to see the Red Deer at the Red Deer Range and get a great picture of Arran the Stag looking magnificent just before the rut starts.
And yesterday. . . a day out at Culzean Castle Gardens, and beach. Quite busy it was too. This is just over a hour’s drive from The Stables, along the very pretty and very windy A714 Girvan Road.
The other day Fay and I did a cycle/walk/cycle activity, up to RSPB Wood of Cree. We often don’t see much up there, but you hear the birds having a real chatter. They are so invisible when there’s leaves on the trees.
Sometimes, people are more inspiring than they themselves realise. This last week, we were visited by David and his friend and helper James. David is in his early 60s. He was a headmaster in Yorkshire but is now retired. He used to be involved in all sorts of sports and even used to participate in competitive fell-running.
In recent years he has been diagnosed with a neuropathy that slowly wastes the muscles below the knee. He has a specially adapted car and rides, as he can only do now, an E-Bike.
Whilst here he successfully completed the Big Country Route, a 35 mile cross-country route which is almost all on forest tracks. This is an amazing achievement. Even for an able-bodied person it is hard work.
Although challenging, the Big Country Route is spectacular, with jaw-dropping scenery and a quiet isolation that is only possible in areas like this. There are plenty of ups and downs.
Very well done David & James.
Oh my, it’s so unfriendly having to wear masks and gloves when dealing with people. I really hate it, but we have to do it just now.
Pleeeaaaaase lets have a vaccine soon.
There is an off-road route, ostensibly based from Glentrool visitor’s centre, which passes not far from The Stables, so is easily picked up in Newton Stewart. You can then either choose to take the detour to the Glentrool visitor’s centre (making 36.1 miles) or leave that out (making 35 miles). This is the route map. (click for bigger version). This version does not include a trip to the visitor’s centre.
A PDF map and description from Forestry and Land Scotland is available for download at : GlentroolBigCountryRoute
A gpx file is also available for download : Bigcountryroute.gpx
Fay and I went up Cairsmore of Fleet yesterday. 4.7 miles drive from The Stables, and a lovely walk to get the heart and lungs working.
Unfortunately no visitors to see them 🙁
A 3.8 meter drop, matching pattern and slopping ceiling. Plus difficult ladder placement ? but generally successful operation. Fay in charge of technical methodology, Dane in charge of ‘working at height’ operations ?? I think the light fitting needs an upgrade now.
oh, and a new bannister too ?
After a small leak, and damage to the dining room ceiling, we decided to do a bit of extra decorating.
This is the new paintwork and wallpaper in the dining room:
It’s been a busy few days with decorating work, but Fay has also completed some ‘phone rounds’ of elderly and vulnerable people for the Food Train. Unfortunately, the list she was working from was for people in a different part of D&G so we’re not likely to bump into them when this is all over, but Fay enjoyed the chats. Made a change from talking to me
A wee solo jaunt up The Merrick today. Saw a couple of other people too. The photo doesn’t do the wind justice. Let’s just say I had to approach the summit cairn on all fours.
Snow in the hills, but none in Newton Stewart so far this winter.
Soooo much plastic after all the storms.
The snowdrops are out at Castle Kennedy Gardens. A bit blowy today, but a nice bit of blue sky too.
Arran the biggest stag at the Red Deer Range on the New Galloway road out of Newton Stewart. We use the Red Deer Range as a good turning-round point for cycle rides from The Stables.