Friday, July 17, 2015

Fingal's Cave

Well, it's been a while. I've had this photo set edited for several months already; I just never got around to adding any text. This spring was one of my busiest yet and I'm nearly halfway through my summer class, but I've finally found some inspiration and gusto!
Fingal's Cave is related to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. It is supposedly part of the bridge between Ireland and Scotland built by Finn MacCool as he threw rocks in retaliation to the taunting of a Scottish giant. The rock formations are nearly identical to the causeway but they form a huge cave located on the small island of Staffa off the west coast of Scotland. This island is only accessible through Staffa Tours (or if you have your own boat, I suppose). We booked a last minute tour a couple of days before while we were camping on the Isle of Skye. The tour included ferry tickets from Oban, Scotland to the Isle of Mull where we took a bus (also included in the price and about an hour long) to the other side of the island. From there, we boarded the Staffa Tours boat and headed out to Staffa.

The ride out was a little wet and little rough as one would expect on a small tour boat, but the tour guides provided us with some super awesome yellow rain slickers to keep us dry. They dropped us off to explore the island for about an hour or so.
The island was pretty spectacular with its huuuuge basalt columns.
The entrance to Fingal's Cave!
Forrest and I immediately headed to the cave while others on our boat decided to climb the slippery stairs to the grassy top of the island to try to spot some puffins. We had to follow the pathway made a little more navigable by handrails from the drop-off point to the cave. It was very wet; I was glad, as always, to be wearing rain boots.
I almost died several times. Those rocks are slick!
The water was so clear inside the cave. I wish I could have captured it a little better.
Up we headed to the top to explore! The island is actually a bird sanctuary and home to a large puffin colony (which no one in our tour was able to locate). The island is small enough to explore pretty quickly, but I wish we could have stayed a little longer for more chance to behold some of those puffins. Puffins would just about make my life, I think.
If we'd had more time, we could have wandered all the way over there (behind me). We spent too much time admiring the cave. Can one spend too much time admiring a cave, I wonder? The slickers were starting to get a little warm as the clouds burned off, but I was still wearing two coats.
I really want to know how in the world they made that tiny dock and stairs.
This tour was a really fun and fairly unique experience. We went on the Three Isles Early Bird tour. I think we had to get to the ferry from Oban around 7 am, if I recall correctly (which is pretty early for me-- especially if I am waking up on the ground and it is raining (and it always is)) But the early tour is cheaper which is always a plus (and I think they were probably sold out of the regular tours?).
From Staffa, we took the tour boat to the small Isle of Iona where they left us for the rest of the day. We had to take the (tiny) ferry from Iona to Mull (which was about a 10 minute ride) and then the bus from Mull back to the ferry terminal on the other side of the island where we took the last ferry back to Oban. All of this was included in the tour price and it was pretty stress free once we realized we wouldn't have to coordinate bus and ferry times all on our own.

Iona was just about the cutest island I have ever seen. It was easily walkable and had the huge Iona Abbey (where the Book of Kells was possibly made!) I have another post planned for the island. It was a lovely, relaxing way to end our tour.
Iona up above and Iona Abbey below as we got closer.
The people on the Isle of Iona were just the nicest and we really enjoyed exploring for a few sunny hours. More on that later! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Update

What a busy month I have had since I last posted (holy cow, over a month ago!). My sister got married and we spent a week between quarters at my parents' house hanging out with my grandparents and boating up to Victoria BC for a couple of days(pictures to come.. eventually!). School started again, and I have been working hard ever since. I actually had a Microbiology test today (I think I did pretty well) and decided I had a little bit of time afterward to write a little something.
I made a beeswax candle the other day. Just one for practice. I mostly liked the way it turned out (I mean, it's a candle), but it set kind of weird so I'm glad I didn't make several at once. I added coconut oil so that it wouldn't crack when it hardened, but it is burning a little more quickly than I expected, so maybe I'll try a different oil next time. Avocado or olive maybe? I don't even know if that has an effect on burning time. More research!
I've been buying a lot of flowers and new plants lately (because I can) and it has really lightened the place up. I love taking pictures of plants and they all looked so pretty the other day with the soft spring light shining in. I try to buy a new plant every few months or whenever Forrest isn't looking (just kidding). I'm starting to get quite a collection, but I have some pretty big houseplant aspirations.

Also, I'm about 3/4 of the way done with Forrest's sweater. I'm working on the second side panel (I'd barely started it in the picture above but I'm almost done with it now) and then I'll just have the sleeves to go. And then, of course, I have to seam it all together. I have never seamed anything in this fine of a weight of yarn and I'm a little intimidated. But then, that's what I love so much about knitting. There is always a new skill to learn and always room for improvement.
Beeswax is really hard to cut, did you know?
The moss above is new! I love it so. I'm also in the market for a really pretty air fern. I had the cutest little fern in England but I had to give it away before I left. I've only been able to find outdoor ferns and gigantic indoor ferns lately. I think that a trip to Sky Nursery in Shoreline just north of Seattle may be just the ticket.
I've been so tired lately. Just tired of being online. Contributing to the internet is a time-consuming and sometimes silly investment of time, but I find that with every post I publish, my satisfaction grows.  I've never been a huge social media person (it's difficult for me to even post as much as I do with my full class load) but I do enjoy keeping track of my life through pictures on this blog. It's so exhausting keeping up, but it's worth it to be able to scroll through here and look back on small moments that I had forgotten I'd even recorded. That is why I take pictures and that is why I put them here.

I truly hope that others out there are getting even a fraction of the joy out of this blog that I find from putting into it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oban, Scotland

After we explored the Fairy Pools, we left Skye by bridge and made our way to Oban, a small coastal town near the Isle of Mull. These first three photos were taken on Skye (which I still cannot get over).

We found a large field with a spectacular view a few minutes outside of Oban and set up camp. I tried to make friends with the horse in the field next to ours but he would have nothing to do with me. I blame my lack of carrots.
Seriously, that view.
//weird side note--I miss my CRV so much! We put over 40,000 miles on it in two years (impressive, I thought, considering that I only drove it 2-3 times a week!) and it never let us down. Well, there was that radiator incident (on a different trip to Scotland, now that I think of it).. but I blame that on cheap British car parts. :) I don't think any other car will ever be able to live up to this one.//
The downside to camping in Scotland.. millions and millions of midges. I had more bites than I could count despite the scary amounts of bug spray we used. I am coughing just looking at this picture. 

I also seem to remember that someone forgot to bring pajama pants with him because, "It's summer!" Luckily for him, I wear men's pajamas a size or two too large and brought two pairs with me.
Camping in Scotland is chilly business.
These highland coos are all over Scotland and I finally had a chance to stop and take a few photos. I want to hug one so badly!
Oban is the cutest town. It's a resort town and was quite busy. We weren't able to spend a lot of time there because we had a ferry to Mull and Iona to catch early in the morning. We stopped for a meal the day we left and walked through town a little bit. It was packed full of tourists and backpackers. I wish we'd had a chance to stay in the downtown because it was so beautiful. We couldn't have picked a more beautiful day to visit either. It started out a little cloudy and then the sun came out to play and make us remember it was summertime!
If we ever go back to Oban, I want to stay in this hotel right here.

I've got about two more solid posts of Scotland left. I have been enjoying looking back at these photos (and sighing with longing to go back) so much and I hope you (Mom) have too!

P.S. parts 1/2/3/4/5/6/7