Friday, 14 March 2014

Who but new life is coming?

The Camas resident couple, the Oyster Catchers I always see them together. Do they see they are two individuals come together, or as one living in unity? Today on the Island at the water’s edge, their long yellow beaks pluck, I can only guess at small crustaceans. To find out I’d have to look them up. If I move closer they will fly away. Their out of sight now and I wonder where they will nest, perhaps they’ve already made one. Will it be the same spot as last year?
I wonder about the other birds that make Camas bay their nesting home. The Raven, Snipe, Song Thrush, Wren and so many other birds. And what about the Seals, Otters, Mink and Cetaceans, the snail of land and snail of sea, the lichen, the kelp, trees, mycelium and sheep. Where will they rear their young, what happens to plants as spring is on the cusp? Who but new life is coming? The sky lights up our day longer as Sun warms seedlings and life filled bones. Sky carries water which quenches and washes Earth. Feeding our oceans we love so much. Wind moves the clouds, brings coolness and warmth, blowing old cobwebs away. It propels the blades of our turbine feeding electricity into the veins of Camas power supply. Here we are human, oyster catcher, wind and Sky, land and life hidden in the undergrowth and crevices of pink granite rock. Who but new life is coming?

I wonder if I could trade a piece of granite for a camera? or this picture of a minki whale I found on line.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Story of a 2013 Expedition

Stepping out to Explore the Wilderness - we have put the story on a page on the right - have a look!

A Winters Garden

My first month in the Camas gardens have been a delight - like rummaging around a curiosity shop of treasures waiting to be found. I have been getting my bearings and acquainting myself with my new growing space and, apart from pondering the variety of certain over wintering plants, I am getting to grips with it all nicely, as well as making friends with the chickens. At the moment most of the nine lazy beds are tucked up under a healthy load of seaweed and mulch for the winter, and the compost is cooking up nicely. The polytunnels are keeping things relatively warm and we have a healthy abundance of rocket, lettuce and water cress growing nicely in there. New sowings of the first of the seasons brassicas, onions and beets and tomoatoes are in and experiments with hotbeds will begin as soon as we can get the manure down the track! Today also saw some love for the newly established herb garden. With a bucket load of Camas compost, stepping stones and a thick layer of mulch, its gearing up to be a wonder bed for a great collection of culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers...for us and the bees! I am sure that being part of Camas, part of the ongoing evolution of the gardens, the people and projects here will be inspiring, challenging and as this past month has shown, lots of fun. I am excited to see what the spring will hold, but for now I am enjoying the ever changing colours of the ocean, the sound of the chooks as they clean up after my digging and sitting by the fire with coffee and making music with friends.

I know these gardens will be a source of inspiration, education and fun for the people who come to visit us throughout the season, and to make that possible I will need your help! Garden week is a great opportunity to come and spend a week, or weekend, down at Camas and help us out get the garden in gear for the coming season. Jobs might include working on our newly establishing shelter belt of over three hundred trees, working in the woodlands and wild areas, potting up and transplanting in the polytunnel, getting the 9 lazy beds full of yummy produce, making compost tea, hot beds, I could continue! The main thing is that throughout this adventure we are kept well stocked on homemade cakes and tea, and by living and working together there is always plenty of time for a natter and to get to know each other. Also plenty of free time to head off into the hills or take the kayaks out to sea! Contact me if you want more info, or our facebook page and the flyer. I am looking forward to getting to know all the local growers so feel free to pop down the track for a cuppa and a wander around our treasure-trove garden. Abbi x

Friday, 21 February 2014

In the beginning.... there was MUD!!!

The winter tends to go at a slower pace over here on the Isle of Mull. Hibernation takes hold and Camas staff are mere shells of their summer selves. But the daffs are coming up and the preparation for the new season is beginning. Before we know it we will be welcoming new and familiar faces off the bus. Last week we welcomed are new resident’s Abbi, Fran and Sophie to join Avril and Jon down the track. It’s been a jammed packed week of induction, training and getting to know each other. This obviously involved lots of laughing, singing and general frivolity.  We also headed on over to the Holy Isle (Iona) to get to know new residents running the Abbey and MacLeod centres. We were welcomed with many a scone, cups of coffee and a small amount of delving into our personalities via the medium of the Enneagram. Turns out we should get on just fine (well done us). 

So the team;

Jon is still heading up the team as Coordinator.
Sophie who many would have met last year as a volunteer has taken the role of Creative Programme worker, her experience ranges from sculpture to dance psychotherapy.
The lovely Abbi is our new Resident Gardener bringing loads of knowledge acquired during 2 years of growing goodness in New Zealand.
Fran is our new Activity and Expedition worker, bringing a broad range of experience of leading groups throughout the UK from Wales to the North West Highlands, on sea and on foot.
The sparkly Avril continuing her second year coordinating activities.

Yesterday we had fun digging a drain. It quickly turned into a very gooey, rock n mud soup. But the work seems to be paying off as Abbi reports that the drains are flowing and the ‘soup’ has settled to reveal silt. 

The hens appeared briefly for a photo shoot. In truth they thought there was food being served, on their plastic platter (spare piece of guttering). 

At the mud fest, there was much laughter and reminiscing. As kids, mothers would hose some of us down after muddy biking adventures. The offer to re-enact this wasn’t taken up. The day ended washing equipment in our conveniently full flowing stream, just outside the garden.
  Avril & Sophie

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

2014 Get away Weeks for Individuals

Details are over there ... on the grey bit
under pages
click it!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bird Watching in the Garden for RSPB

Today was the day of the rspb bird watch all over the UK. I took part, alone. I wrapped up, found a recycled kneeling mat from the poly tunnel and perched under the shelter of the pavilion gable end. But before i did that I did feed the chickens! a strategic move, I scattered the delicious offerings across the lawn toward the pile of rocks by the silver birches and in front of the willow dome. Suddenly every bird in the Camas woodland garden shot out towards the food. This had a double intention ( not to kill two birds with one stone!) I wanted to tease the timid hens out of their coup while the weather was holding out and a bit of sun shone through. So they trooped out clucking and pecking at the seed.

I sat and counted and watched in amazement as common garden birds darted here and there to get a meal. The hens just clucked and pecked, whilst Robins collided. Black birds sort of flew low and horizontal if they flew at all, running in and out of my central focus. It began to feel like I was watching a dramatic dance show. Birds swiftly exchanged places and perches. 

Amongst the counting there was a hail storm. We had a great storm in the night, thunder and lightening, it has hailed on and off since. One of our phones blew, again this winter. Well the birds I wonder how it was and is for them? I think they are very grateful for the food. So what did I count over an hour? 3 male black birds, 3 female black birds, 2 male chaffinches, 4 female chaffinches, 4 robins and 4 Dunnocks, a bird I have only just become aware of. A little brown bird. 

It was funny sat watching quietly. The hens came near and a couple of them eyed me up quizzically. I looked beyond keeping a keen eye on the main stage. I saw Robins dive bomb each other and chirp warnings to stay away, but man was I amazed and chuffed to see 4 robins all at once! I believe it is rare to see two at the same time. A robin and a dunnock came with in one metre of me, eating the seed there for a while, the robin seemed to weigh me up to, angling his head, eyeing me.

I am very glad I took part in this rspb research. It encouraged me to spend more time in the garden, get to know the birds that live there and them me! and then have something I'm excited about to share on the Camas blog. I can imagine probably only the twitcher folk have read this far! 

Thanks for reading! Happy bird watching!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stormy days at Camas

As winter closes in around us, the days on the Isle of Mull become colder, wilder and windier. Today however seems to be the coldest, wildest and windiest we have seen all year. It also happens to be the day we are expecting 5 interviewees to arrive down the track.

This week we have been preparing for interviews to fill the 2 resident posts that have been advertised. Because of this we have all been keeping a close eye on the weather, wanting to make sure our 5 hopefuls will be able to make it over on the Cal Mac ferry from Oban. The report stated wind would be gusting up to 76mph with a steady 40/50mph throughout the day. Not to forget a little bit of hail and snow thrown into the mix. Not usually conducive with ferry’s running to schedule. However the wind was due to drop a little by 4pm so we have remained optimistic during the day. We are still waiting in anticipation for the arrival of 1 out of 5. The others, unfortunately due to wild weather all over Scotland have had postpone arrival until tomorrow.

Needless to say, trying to concentrate on tasks to do around Camas today while all the hoo haa of who’s going to make it and what’s going to fly away next has been going on has been very difficult. The storminess arrived during the night and kept the majority of the crew here awake. In bed I thought I could hear tiles flying of the roof above me. Turns out that wasn’t the case. What I may have been able to hear was:

1.      Wheel barrows flying towards the sea (no wheel barrows harmed)
2.      Tiles coming off the roof of the other building
3.      The peat stack vacating its usual residence
4.      The orange boat moving a few meters to the left (on top of Lizzy’z kayak!!)
5.      2 sheds moving off their platforms
6.      The door coming off the chicken pen
7.      Saddest of them all Jon’s canoe heading down the gully towards the salt marsh (it has not survived its escapade).

However there is a silver lining! Due to this stormy night aligning with a spring tide there were large amounts of sea weed left on the lawn this morning. Perfect for being scooped up and wheel barrowed to a beautifully cleared lazy bed in need of some sea weed. Thanks to Elaine (our helpful guest this week) bed number 7 has been weeded and but to sleep for the winter.

So, although concentration levels have not been high, with all the mending and moving of flying things it has been a relatively productive day.