An oil rig, dolphins and a wild boar

cromarty harbour and rig sutors and dolphin

wild boar



This morning’s trip to Cromarty – to walk the dogs  – came with a number of surprises, one of which was, quite literally, breath-taking.

First of all we stopped the car to watch an oil rig (platform? I’m really not sure of the correct terminology) being towed by a couple of tugs past Cromarty Harbour.  It was moving at quite a speed and heading further into the Cromarty Firth – I presume for a refit.  The sight of a huge rig moving almost silently past the peaceful, quaint and centuries-old harbour was really quite strange.

Then we made our way, in the car, to the top of the South Sutor - one of our regular walking spots.  I always keep an eye out to the sea, far below the path, as it is a well-known spot for seeing our resident population of dolphins.  We have seen them often now, from Chanonry Point, just half a mile or so from our house.  And today Katie and I were very lucky indeed – we watched them for several minutes as they moved across from the south side of the mouth of the Firth, past the big red buoy over towards the shore under the North Sutor.  I’m sorry that you can’t see them in the photo, they were just too far away but they really were there just to the right of the buoy when I took the shot!

The final surprise was the one that will really stay with me.  Just as we were returning to the car, following the windy path through the woods, I spotted a large brindled brown/grey back……… first thought was ‘good god there’s a wolf’ but as it moved round a bend towards us, stopping at about 5 metres away, I realised we were being approached by a wild boar.  Better a boar than a wolf it has to be said, but not ideal to meet close-up especially with a 3 year old and 2 dogs.  It was very big, much bigger than Moray, the dog, who is well over 30kg. The dogs were what had me most worried, I know wild boar have a reputation for being unpredictable and dangerous but I didn’t think it would see me or Katie as much of a threat but the dogs were likely to be a different matter – and they were hiding behind my heels leaving us en route if the boar decided to take offence to the dogs! Before I could do more than pick Katie up he turned round, moved up the hill, off the path and away from us into the jumble of ruined military buildings that forms South Sutor Fort.  Katie must have picked up my tension as she started talking about being scared as we watched him move away.  Once he was well clear I took out my phone and took a quick picture (he’s in the centre-left of the last photo).  Later, as I thought about it more, I started to wonder if my imagination had been over-active and that perhaps he was just a rare-breed pig on the run but I’ve had a quick internet search and there are reports of wild boar at this spot.  I think this, combined with his size and shape, suggests he really was a wild boar.  I plan to be a bit noisier in future and to keep my eyes more on the path and less on the sea!

Have you ever seen a wild boar?  What’s the most surprising thing you have met round a bend in the path?! I’d love to hear.





Rosemarkie Beach

roemarkie winter morning wet feetsun rays up top

katie family climb

Following our sledging last Saturday we made the most of the boys’ rugby being cancelled the next day and enjoyed a walk at Rosemarkie Beach.  The snow had melted a little and the beach is so sheltered that we could feel some heat from the sun  as it peeked out through the clouds.  It was a lovely walk and felt all the more special since we don’t often get to have a morning together on winter Sundays.

I do find the balance between the childrens’ activities and family time really tricky.  I love that my children enjoy sports and music and so on, but I also think it is very important that they have time at home and that we spend time together as a family – I curtail the number of activities they take part in, they don’t do nearly as many as they’d like but often it feels much more than I like…..I’m sure there’s no perfect answer, but it is definitely something I feel quite torn over.  Any solutions?!

Sledging with a view

Home, our wee town


Looking down to our house

girls (2)

Happy girls



girls together susie On Saturday, with the boys off on the team bus for a cross country running* competition, the rest of us went sledging – sledging with a view.  I wasn’t feeling great but it was so good to get out on such a beautiful day – who could fail to enjoy the combination of that view (with our house nestled in it), sunshine, snow, happy-happy girls and daft dogs?  It was lovely and just what I needed.

Do you remember the hat that Katie is wearing?  Possibly not!  I made it a couple of years ago but it has been far too big until now.  Katie is happy with her Cosy Bear Hat and it is doing a grand job of keeping her warm.  I can’t believe how much both girls have changed since then…..Katie with no hair and Islay with a full set of teeth!

I think most of us in the UK seem to be blessed with a fairly settled period of crispy cold weather at the moment……..pretty much my favourite conditions.  I do hope you have had a chance to enjoy it but, if not, that you’re warm and cosy indoors.

*  I think it was a little more like a cross country sliding competition, even with an altered route to take account of the snow – the boys report that people were skiing and sledging nearby!  But they loved it nonetheless.