Driving Home For Christmas & A Case Of Tinsel-litis

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A cheeky wee bit of Scotland on our English tree! (One of my favourite purchases from Tippecanoe in Portree)

I’m not exactly sure what happened towards the end of 2014 but suddenly my quiet new life on Skye got all busy and I found myself a bit short on time (which hopefully explains the absence of new blog posts).

The run up to Christmas is always busy but it’s especially so for an artist when there’s a number of gift commissions with a very definite Dec 25th deadline. On top of this I had visitors to stay, a weekend on the mainland and various evening work events.
Whilst it was all lovely stuff, and I enjoyed each activity immensely, I came up to Skye to slow down a little and this was begining to feel a bit more like London life.
So, 2015 shall be a year when I’m consciously giving myself time and it’ll start with me getting back to this blog…

Should I be worried about that mileage number..?!

Plus a couple of hours for deer-peppered dark roads. Should I be worried about that mileage number..?!

Home! (Chiddingfold Village Green)

Home – Chiddingfold Village Green on the Surrey/West Sussex border

I had a lovely Christmas, despite the fact it didn’t exactly go to plan…

I ended up doing the journey back to Surrey all in one go… 14 and a half hours. It’s the first time I’ve done it in a one-er but the excitement of seeing family meant I didn’t want to stop for the night (well, that and an extortionate amount of caffeine). It was worth it to arrive at 5am and surprise Mum before she left for the office in the morning. The worst thing about the journey was that for the entire time I sat in the car they didn’t play Driving Home For Christmas on the radio. Not once. I’ve been looking forward to singing that on the route home since November.
(Yes, I did download it on my phone especially for this occasion but my phone was involved in a little incident the week before, I’ll explain another time…)

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It was lovely to see our dogs again, though they didn’t seem that fussed to see me!

My first couple of days at home were lovely.
On my first night back I drove down to Winchester to catch up with my newly-married friends, Alex and Rick, and our friend Alex M-H. These guys are the ultimate proof that getting hitched isn’t the end of the party. We spent the evening foolishly mixing German beer, espresso martinis, pina coladas and even a couple of WKD Blues (don’t judge). It was oodles of fun and when we all woke up in one great, hungover heap in the spare room in the morning we deserved every ounce of hangover we’d earned. Brilliant.

Cramming into a nightclub photobooth at around 2am

Cramming into a nightclub photobooth at around 2am. We definitely looked a lot less enthusiastic the following morning.

The next night Mum and I went up to London to watch the ballet at Sadler’s Wells. Going to see one of Matthew Bourne’s fantastically vibrant productions has become a little tradition for us now. Swan Lake with the iconic all-male troupe of swans was wonderful last year and this year’s version of Edward Scissorhands was equally captivating.
If you ever get a chance to see one of his shows you must take it, I think he even appeals to people who don’t usually like ballet as his choreography and staging is so colourful. I see him as the Baz Luhrmann or Danny Boyle of the ballet world.

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Having fun during the interval

All far so good. But then I begin to feel a bit groggy and my throat seems raw. I open my mouth and look in the mirror to find white spots all over my tonsils. I don’t remember putting tonsillitis on my Christmas list.

So I’m stuck in bed for a few days. A course of antibiotics kicks the tonsillitis fairly swiftly yet I’m still feeling rough. It sounds like I’m underwater and my limbs feel leaden. In place of a sore throat there arrives a runny nose, headache and all-round yucky cold symptoms.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve just got back from a trip to the ice rink at Hampton Court with my father (a valiant defiance of being sick, I think) … but now I’m curled up on the sofa feeling sorry for myself whilst the rest of the family are wrapping themselves up to go to Midnight Mass.  It looks like I’m totally out of action for Christmas.

A medicinal whisky!

A medicinal whisky!

Despite being poorly I enjoyed Christmas day.

We do what we always do… Open presents round the fire in the morning with my grandparents, go out to a local place for Christmas lunch, come back and relax whilst we wait for the rest of the family to join us (uncles, aunts, cousins etc), play games in the evening, and so on.

On Boxing Day I’ll cook a turkey roast and we’ll push all the tables together to have a big family lunch. We’ll sabrage the tops off champagne and prosecco bottles with glee and, once we’ve filled ourselves with their bubbles, I’ll run upstairs and dig out some of my fancy dress boxes as the kitchen transforms into one big, silly, Tunn Family disco.

Nan rocking out in the kitchen with Abbie and Sophie

Nan rocking out in the kitchen with my cousins, Abbie and Sophie

This year wasn’t much different apart from my Aunty Sharon very kindly taking over my cooking duties (for which I am forever grateful!).

Whilst I did spend most of it watching from my armchair-come-sick-bed, a few restorative whiskies did give me the strength to join in for the most fun bits, even if I did collapse in snotty sniffles an hour or so later.
So worth it.

A little bit of dressing up with my half-sisters. What an elegant trio...!

A little bit of dressing up with my half-sisters, Jess and Emma. What an elegant trio…!

There were so many friends I’d planned to see and so much I’d wanted to do whilst at home but all plans were scuppered. I spent a few more days in bed after Boxing Day and then, when I finally felt a little brighter, it was time to hop in the car and head North for Hogmanay.

Travelling back up was strange; even though I had something fun to go to I wasn’t excited to be making the journey North again. I’d gone home, got ill, got well, then had to leave. It was so short. Did I really want to come back to a place so far away from all the people I love?

Once I’d got back up to Skye and seen the crashing waves of Neist Point and the craggy hills of Trotternish I lost all doubt that I’d made the right choice to come back. I’m slightly unnerved that I’d had that doubt at all but I think it’d be quite weird if I hadn’t felt the wrench of leaving everyone.

Maybe I should just try to persuade them to stay up here too..?!

My wonderful, silly family. I love every single one of them to bits.

My wonderful, silly family… and I love every single one of them to bits.

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On Romance…

There are two questions that I always seem to get asked when talking about my move to Skye.
First I’m asked why, then some people, especially close family and friends, ask the question “Wont you be lonely?”

Sometimes it’s asked in regards to romance/finding a partner and at other times it’s asked in reference to simply being on my own in a remote place.
This will be the first of a couple of blog posts where I’ll respond to these questions. They’re not hard to answer but they’re tricky to put into words concisely so please excuse me if I ramble on…

Whilst being lonely is not something that’s crossed my mind, the idea of romance up here is hard to ignore (especially for someone like me who always has her head in the clouds…)

Situations that we consider to be super-romantic elsewhere are everyday here.
For example, curling up in front of a log fire with a glass of red on a cold, stormy night is just another normal evening in on Skye. Whilst I’m happy to share this with just an old book, I know that it could also be a cosy evening with company.
Then there’s the stargazing, the long rambles across the moors and the stunning beach sunsets.
If you were that way inclined you could easily imagine that you were in some soppy novel here. There are plenty of visiting honeymooners that do!

Curling up in front of the fire on a stormy night

Curling up in front of the fire on a stormy night

But I can’t deny that it’s unusual to be alone in a place, a situation even, that is deeply romantic.
Although I think there’s something strangely romantic about being on ones own too, especially in a place as beautiful as this.

A clifftop sunset

A clifftop sunset

But I don’t miss having someone to share this with.
I think that being single is quite indulgent; I can do what I want when I want with no need to consider anyone else. I can spend my money on whatever I like and spend my time in any way I wish.
Why, I could even run away to live on a hill on a remote island if I wanted to… 😉
I suppose it’s an intrinsically selfish way of being but it’s one that I truly appreciate at the moment and that I’d find hard to part with.

In my previous long-term relationship I let my personality fade into the background as I tried to become the archetypal perfect girlfriend. It’s something I didn’t notice until I came out the other side and realised that much of what made me ‘me’ had been worn away.
After steadily rebuilding my confidence and rediscovering my sense of fun I’ve now become fiercely protective of my lifestyle and that’s probably why I’m extra wary of falling into another potentially wrong relationship.
Whilst having a partner is a wonderful thing, I’d rather wait until I’m 70 to find my perfect sidekick than to settle earlier for someone who doesn’t quite see the world in the same way.

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A quote I live by. I think you can also interpret it as love or passion for a vocation, lifestyle or hobby too…

 

When I made the decision to move to Skye I was quite content to temporarily remove myself from the dating scene.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been trialling a Pick n’ Mix of potential suitors, some sweet and some that were, quite frankly, awful.
Perhaps if I wasn’t up here writing about Skye I could be in London writing a comedic blog about dating. There was…

  • The 21 year old country boy with whom I had nothing in common but a remarkable chemistry (it didn’t end well, unsurprisingy)
  • The conspiracy-theorist musician who believes he’s the Freemason’s chosen one and who insisted on taking me to a very expensive restaurant before admitting he only had £15 when the bill came.
  • The crappy pop singer and shark-lover who seemed perfect until he ditched me for a Spice Girl (he still haunts me, even up here, with his naff songs via pub jukebox machines)
  • The cockney actor that started a fight on our first date and ended up arrested.
  • The Clapham guy who’s a dead ringer for the serial killer in The Fall. Not just in looks either… after a couple of cocktails he genuinely listed his interests as red wine and ‘strangling’. Er…
  • The ageing polo playboy who suggested our first date should be a trip to the Isle Of Wight to help look after his four children.

…Then there were the numerous Mr Nice-But-Dulls and sweet-but-generally-unnatainable pretty boys (I’m a sucker for a nice face).
Plus a generous sprinkling of eco egos, polo creeps, Machiavellian city boy sociopaths and generic all-round hopeless cases.

It’s all been unbelievably fun but it’s also exhausting and sometimes frustrating. Some time off from it all could only be a healthy thing.

Amazingly appropriate stock image

Amazingly appropriate stock image

Of course, when you decide something like this, someone comes along and makes things slightly complicated.

I met someone awesome just a few weeks before I left who could’ve probably ticked all the boxes (and I’m picky so there’s a lot of boxes).
We decided to keep in contact with the promise that “if it was meant to be it will be…”
Timing is always a troublesome thing…

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Whilst I’ve been fine with the idea of having someone special back in London or Surrey, I’ve been reluctant to meet anyone here.
This place for me is somewhere to concentrate on myself without the complications or dramas that come with dating and relationships. I’m here for the beauty and nature, for freedom; no distractions.

But as the messages from London began to peter out I’ve allowed myself to say yes* to meeting people up here and last week I found myself on my first Skye date…
(*I’ve been trying to learn to always say yes and never turn down an opportunity because you never know where it may lead…)

The Boy From The Mainland works on one of the big private estates and lives one small boat ride, one ferry crossing and an almost two hour drive away from me. We ‘met’ via the Tinder app about a month ago but have been so separated by geography and busy schedules that we’ve resorted to postcards and letters to keep in contact (a tick for romance and much more interesting than Whatsapp)

During the day he tends to the animals, goes out on the boat and does physical work on the estate. In the evenings he reads or carves knife handles in front of the fire with his dogs. When he first told me this I laughed and said that he sounds like a real life Mellors from Lady Chatterley. He answered that he hadn’t read it yet and I advised him that it was probably for the best if he didn’t look it up.

So far so typically storybook romantic.

This kind of thing but less beardy...

Er, this kind of thing but less beardy…

Our first date went well and there’s a second planned.
We’ll see… you never know what will happen in the future.

Although there is one thing for certain, that whatever happens/doesn’t happen with Mr Mainland I’ve already been romanced here and I’ve already fallen head-over-heels in love.
Though, it’s not with a person just yet… it’s with Skye itself.