The Pig Yard

August 09 - This month has been very busy with loads of good things going on. We started the month by flying from Birmingham to Inverness to stay with Tony & Jude who then drove us down to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. After a week of superb shows we reluctantly had to come home.

Jane's sister, Ruth, from Australia flew in to Heathrow on the same day Lucie flew out to join Dave in Kenya so we had the good fortune to be able to take Lucie and collect Ruth within an hour of each other.

The last few weeks were consumed with gardening, shopping, cycling, swimming and generally having fun.

At the beginning of the month we flew from Birmingham up to Inverness to stay a few days with Tony & Jude.

Inverness airport is possibly the smallest airport we've ever flown into and the Dash 8 aircraft made a good landing on the short runway (if you search the web there have been a couple of incidents involving the collapse of the undercarriage but thankfully we knew nothing of this until we got home).

We had the opportunity to go and watch Tony perform at Lossiemouth as bassist for a local band. We had a great evening and the band played a mixture of songs written by the lead singer and covers by Pink Floyd & Hendrix to name just two.

We stopped off at Findhorn where we were tempted by some ethnic clothes hand made in Nepal and we couldn't help but purchase some items. We sat outside looking across on the bay drinking coffees before we strolled along a beautiful beach under clear blue skies. As we headed in land Steve, Jude and Tony took a breather whilst Jane persuaded them to pose for a photo.

The wind turbines behind them are a sign of the times and the location.

On the outskirts of Findhorn is the Findhorn Foundation which is an eco village that gives spiritual recovery and education. Of course Steve would declare this as happy clappy, hippy dippy stuff but it made an interesting walk through the grounds, particularly the houses made from whiskey vats.

We also looked at the communal houses which we were told should work in a similar way to the Anglo-Saxon longhouse but of course society has moved on from feudal times and although we would all wish for an egalitarian society with everyone working equally hard for the same reward however this is an ideal and may not be realistic.

We returned to Lossiemouth to walk the beaches however we forgot that it was the school holidays and the coastline was crowded with youngsters enjoying the beaches and the sea.

It's difficult to assess how this place might look in the middle of winter but we guessed it could be very bleak and grey.

Tony & Jude's house is superb. Not only does it sit in it's location so naturally it also looks beautiful. Of course whilst we were there the skies were blue and we saw it at its best. The materials are very natural with wood cladding, slate roof and a natural garden. It is well insulated against all weathers.

If we were to design a house for ourselves it wouldn't be far removed from this.

The interiors are spacious with no wasted space. We particularly loved the kitchen/diner that was obviously the heart of the home even to having a sofa in the corner.

The upstairs was devoted to the master bedroom with ensuite and the living room. Downstairs had two guest bedrooms, study, enormous bathroom with walk in shower, and the kitchen/diner, pictured, and utility room.

Sunset from the living room upstairs was magical. We got the feeling it would look good in all weathers.

It wouldn't be Scotland without a photo of highland cattle. This brute was magnificent.

We were lucky enough to get a lift from Dallas to Edinburgh and even though the journey took most of Saturday we were in good company with Tony and Jude who made light of it.

They dropped us off at our flat and then drove to stay with friends on the outskirts of the city. We met up with them a couple of times, once for breakfast and then we had dinner one evening at Cafe Marlene which was extremely good.

Our flat was just off Grassmarket and for more on the Fringe events we saw and our time in Edinburgh, click here.

It was not quite at the centre of the city but all the major venues were just a twenty minute walk away. Around the corner we had views up towards the castle and at night the sound of the fireworks from the Edinburgh Tattoo shook us like a bomb exploding on our doorstep - not that we've ever experienced a bomb exploding on our doorstep.

Of course the walks to the Royal Mile were all up and as we did this several times a day we knew we were both culturally fit and physically fit.

We returned home to find the garden had produced some excellent vegetables and Jane's handy work in the greenhouse was paying off with cucumbers, peppers, aubergine and tomatoes.

The runner beans in the vegetable plot were in full production and it was necessary to give some away because we couldn't eat any more.