Loneliness

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If my most asked question is, “why did you move to Skye?” then the second most asked is definitely, “but aren’t you lonely?”

My answer is always an unwavering “no”.
Actually, it’s usually a bemused “no”… I’m always a little surprised when someone asks me that. If I had been looking for a buzzing social hub I wouldn’t have moved from the outskirts of London to somewhere almost an hour away from the nearest pub.

Some solitude at Coral Beach

Some solitude at Coral Beach

Not that I had intended to come up here and live the life of a hermit… when I arrived I knew that my 2 days a week at the gallery were an important lifeline to help me meet people and get involved with the community a bit.

However, I had expected to enjoy a significant amount of peace and solitude on Skye.
Life was getting busy in the South and I was spending too much time, money and energy doing stuff just to keep other people happy. I’m an incredibly social person (I love a party) but I grew up as an only child which means I also like my own space. I actually think that time alone is a great luxury, as I said in a previous post, it’s quite indulgent.

Some time to think

A place to think

So, a move to Skye was going to be a way of streamlining my life; less time trying to maintain work/social commitments and more time for myself.

Only, it hasn’t really happened.

Not at all.

I’ve tried to be solitary up here, to take time out, but I’ve actually been just as busy as I was in Surrey, albeit in a slightly different way.
I’ve been to music nights, lectures and ceilidhs. I’ve been on sporting weekends, day trips and dates. I’ve even seen the Scottish National Opera and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, all right here in Portree.

Aside from that, I’ve found it impossible to be lonely here because… everyone’s just too nice!

As with most rural places in the UK, the sense of community here is strong; though I’ve never come across this intensity of general kindness before.
In my next blog post I’m going to write about Skye as being a place ‘where everybody knows your name’, and I think it’s that involvement and knowledge of what’s going on in the community that ties in with the people here being so caring.

Liza and Barry at the Skye Baking Co.

Liza and Barry at the Skye Baking Co.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the people I’ve met here are some of the nicest folk I’ve met in my life.

Firstly there was my old pal Pat, who put me up in the big yellow hostel at the last minute when I arrived on the island in the pouring rain with a car full of stuff and nowhere to stay.

Then there were my colleagues at the gallery.

Liza and Barry who own the Skye Baking Co and Skyeworks gallery have created a business where being one of the team really feels like being part of a family. They’ve offered me places to stay when the weather’s been dodgy, they check my car over to make sure it’s running smoothly and they’ve all just generally kept an eye on me to make sure I get through my first winter (the lovely Christine is like an oracle for all things island-related!)

Home -Kilmaluag Bay

Home -Kilmaluag Bay

Later, two weeks after my arrival, I moved into the cottage at Aird and met my landlords, the Macdonald family. I cannot over stress how lovely this family is.

I still can’t quite believe how lucky I’ve been to find this place. They might be my landlords but they’ve always got an eye out for my wellbeing too, whether it’s making sure I’ve got enough fire fuel or just reassuring me that this amount of wind and rain isn’t the norm (I don’t mind it, I expected the weather to be much worse).

Then there’s all the other characters that have come into my Skye life… Peter and Ria my very cool Dutch neighbours with their gorgeous house on the shore, there’s Jane at Neist Point, Linda from Aros, Gordon from the hostel, Morten the photographer, Clare and Ian at the pub, Sarah the writer, my neighbour Mo, Mina and Chris the saltmakers….

I know it’s boring for me to list everyone here but the fact that I bump into at least one of these people every time I go out means that it’s hard to feel forgotten here.

I may have sounded somewhat antisocial at the beginning of this post. Sometimes I am, but I honestly think that meeting new friends can be one of the greatest pleasures in life. A lot of the characters I’ve met here come from completely different backgrounds to me so I’ve learnt a lot from them in the relatively short time I’ve been here.
I also believe you meet people for a reason…

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Perhaps one of the best examples of the kindness of the people of Skye is that of a man called Vernon.

We met when I was trying to pre-organise the beach clean at Talisker bay and needed help accessing the track to the beach. I was trying desperately to find out who to talk to locally and I waved him down as I was about to give up and slump back to my car. Not only did he help me with that but he also offered me the use of his van since my little car couldn’t carry a lot of rubbish.

The fact that he’d offer the use of his vehicle to a total stranger was totally humbling and, after completing the beach clean, I realised I couldn’t have done it without his help.

Two of our hardiest beach clean volunteers sheltering from the wind in Vernon's van

Two of our hardiest beach clean volunteers sheltering from the wind in Vernon’s van

The other reason I haven’t had a chance to feel lonely is the number of friends and family that have come up to visit me. My parents, my grandparents, my ex’s parents (the Outlaws!), my Godmother and her family, my friend Vicki, my friend Matt, Mum again…
I’ve had friends ask to visit who I’ve had to turn away because I didn’t have time to squeeze them in!

My grandparents at Portree harbour

My grandparents at Portree harbour

It’s been wonderful showing them my favourite places on Skye.

It was especially important for my close family as I felt that I needed to show them why I love this area and thus in turn explain why I made the decision to move so far away from them.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of having them here (and appreciate the fact that it’s a hell of a journey for them to make) but I can’t deny that it can be exhausting hosting people, even the most chilled-out guests are still guests who you want to feed and look after.

Mum at the Fairy Pools

Mum at the Fairy Pools

And all this is still without even mentioning all the friends from home who I haven’t hosted at the cottage… The London gang who were up for New Year, the Glancarron estate party, the Soval estate party, my old schoolfriend Charlotte…
All these guys came up and stayed at places nearby whilst I enjoyed the feeling of having friends ‘just down the road’ again.

A good internet connection also means that I’m only ever a click away from talking to friends on Facebook too (it might be an annoying addiction but it’s priceless for keeping in contact with everyone back home)

So, after all that, I think it’s safe to say that, nope, I don’t feel lonely up here!

Illustration by Maurice Sendak for Open House For Butterflies by Ruth Krauss

Illustration by Maurice Sendak for Open House For Butterflies by Ruth Krauss

Spring Springing Sprung – Valentine’s Day Part 1

Hello sunshine!

Hello sunshine! 

As I looked out of my bedroom window the other day I noticed something new in the garden.
Down amidst the long grass at near the fence there were three little white snowdrops bobbing in the breeze.
It made me smile; having moved in in October I hadn’t realised that there were flowers in the garden.

The next day when I looked there were a few more.

The day after that they started to appear on the lawn itself.

Now there are little flurries of snowdrops all over the garden and there’s even a wee golden crocus which glows like a cheery beacon squeaking, “summer’s coming!”

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Unexpected visitors on the lawn

As the flowers gradually began to appear this week, so did the sunshine. Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was particularly bright and beautiful.

As a single girl living alone I knew I had to brace myself for February the 14th.
It’s funny, you can be the most happy/content/commitment-phobic singleton in the world every other day of the year but when everyone else is getting spoilt (and showing it off on Facebook) it does feel a bit rubbish to not be doing anything.

With this in mind I had decided to treat myself by buying a special Saturday breakfast in the morning and an indulgent wine and pizza supper for the evening (obviously buying wine runs the risk of drunk texting but last night I managed self restraint, yay!)

I’d woken up to messages from my girlfriends detailing what gifts they’d been treated with for Valentine’s Day so I must admit I started off a little grumbly. Though with the sun out and one card on my doormat I couldn’t stay that way for long.
(Still no idea who the card is from, it’s a bit cheeky but nice to be thought of!)

Yeah, whatevs, Co-op

Yeah, whatevs, Co-op

The weather was so charming, I thought I’d grab a few magazines and enjoy my breakfast in the sun (with a big hoodie and hat of course, it is still February after all)

With seagulls squawking above it wasn’t peaceful but I haven’t lived by the sea for long enough to find that noise annoying. To me that sound still means fun; seaside holidays in Brighton or Weymouth with stripy deckchairs, runny ice creams and salty air.

I sipped my tea and pulled open the plastic of a new magazine.
I don’t usually buy magazines and I certainly never buy women’s magazines. I hate the way they shout about celebrating body image on one page then five pages later they’re telling you how to diet. They’re all regurgitated features about image, pleasing men and celebrity. Yes, being interested in those things is fine but there is SO MUCH MORE to being a woman than that.
That’s why I’ve subscribed to a relatively new magazine called Oh Comely!
I first came across it when I took part in their November Care Package Project, where you create a package of lovely things to send to a stranger through the post (for more info about that click here). It’s an intelligent publication based on crafts, words, homeliness and happiness; it’s feminine but not dumbed down. A breath of fresh air.

I flicked through the magazine…
An article about a lady rearing rare breed sheep.
A piece about crafts using driftwood.
…All curiously appropriate features for a girl who lives on Skye.

Finally it settled on the first page…

Home

Home

Stop Trying So Hard To Be Found (a letter from the editor):

The next time you’re lost, stop
trying to find your way. Try
something different.

Hold two fingers to your wrist
to find the beat of your heart.

You’re home

It’s funny how just a few little words can speak to you so strongly.

I almost felt as if they were written just for me. They reminded me that I shouldn’t listen to anyone who says I need roses; I’ve got my snowdrops and my ocean and I’m home.

Sitting with my flowers, a mug of tea in one hand and a pile of toasted Scotch pancakes in the other, I don’t think I could have imagined a better Valentine’s morning.

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A doodle of me and ma hoose! (And a wee bit of Gaelic)

I bought a new set of 50 Crayola colouring pencils a couple of weeks ago to work on some illustrations and I haven’t been able to put them down since. New art materials are a bit like sweeties to me and if fancy art pencils are high-end chocolates then Crayola pencils are Pick n’ Mix.

So here’s a little doodle I drew this week of my new home on Skye (and all it’s current inhabitants!)

My wee cottage and me

My wee cottage and me

Since I’m mentioning sweets…

I’ve been trying to learn a bit of the native language whilst I’m up here.
I’m desperately bad at it, there’s something about Gaelic that seems more tricky to pick up than other European languages. Somehow the words wont stick to my brain cells. The ultimate in linguistic Teflon.
It’s quite a gutteral language, very different from French or Spanish, and apparently German visitors find it easier to pick up than the rest of us. It’s a funny one to hear spoken (I find myself stretching to try and hear familiar words) but it’s hauntingly beautiful when sung.

The signage around Skye is a helpful way to learn a few basic pronunciations as the Gaelic place names are usually written in green above the English ones. I love seeing how some of our everyday Anglo words have been integrated into the Gaelic language with terms such as ospadal (hospital) and oifis a’ phuist (post office).

But there’s one Anglo-Gaelic word that I know particularly well because I think it’s quite charming. First spotted in the Co-op in Portree, the sign for the confectionery aisle…
Suiteas.
Perhaps I’m easily pleased but I love that.

Hello Wall Weasel!

Hello Wall Weasel!

Notes From A Small Island #2


Happy Ewe Year:
Chinese new year is coming up in mid February and I’ve just noticed on my calendar which one it is…
…the year of the sheep!

Quite appropriate for my first year on Skye, I think. Though I think every year is a sheep-y one up here!

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‘Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me…’:
Driving to the gallery this morning I had to stop to let some sheep cross the road. There’s blue sky and sunshine dazzling on white hills and I have the windows fully down to feel the breeze.
Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ comes on the radio and I crank it up and sing along to the top of my voice. AS it nears it’s finale I make a dramatic gestural flourish out of the open window to the sheep coming onto the road on the right…
And make eye contact with three old crofters perfectly camouflaged as they lean against a five bar gate only a couple of metres away from my door.
They give me an amused wave and as I sheepishly return their greeting I hear one of them say to the others, “that’s that English girl…”
Oops.

Rush hour in Kilmaluag

Rush hour in Kilmaluag

My Precious:
It occurred to me yesterday that someone watching me look for fossils might think I’m some kind of real-life Gollum.
The large boulders on the beach aren’t easy to navigate swiftly so I’ve taken to spider-crawing over them on my hands and feet as I peer and peek between the gaps. Every now and then I’ll squat down and pluck an interesting stone out of a stream or rockpool, inspecting it up close and rolling it between my fingers. Some are shoved greedily into a pocket but most are flung back to where they came from.
I haven’t started saying “my Precious!” yet but then I still haven’t found anything particularly exciting… it might only be a matter of time!

A belemnite fragment I found in Bearreraig Bay

A belemnite fragment I found in Bearreraig Bay at the start of January

Blackout

When I woke up the morning after the storm there was still no power.

The windows were streaked with bits of grass and soil as I looked out to assess the damage. It was grey and the sea was choppy but everything seemed fine.
As I got in my car to pop to the shops I bumped into my landlady, Patsy, unfortunately they hadn’t been as lucky. Their chimney pot and shed had both been smashed to bits and one of their little boats had been lost over in Staffin. All the animals were fine but it was such a shame that there was so much damage for them to sort out.

All the fences looked like they'd been decked with little streamers from the grass that had got caught.

All the fences looked like they’d been decked with little streamers from the grass that had got caught.

I later made my way into Portree and as I drove it became evident that it wasn’t just Patsy and Donnie who’d lost stuff…
Bus stops, field gates and sheds were in pieces and there was rubbish all over the place. And wheelie bins everywhere, of course.
If I ever get reincarnated as a wheelie bin I sure as hell hope it wont be on Skye. Whenever it’s windy they’re the first thing to be hurled across roads, flung into fields or pushed down ditches. All over the island people have built little houses or brackets for them but they still seem to be the first casualties of bad weather. The great wheelie bin massacre.

Despite feeling sorry for them, I was amused to see that the sheep were a particularly bright shade of white this morning and the cows seemed slightly fluffier.

Stormy seas. It's hard to see because there's not much here for scale but these waves were huge.

Stormy seas from the road above Dutulm. It’s hard to see because there’s not much here for scale but these waves were huge.

Once I’d collected my provisions I returned to set up my nest for the night.
One of the problems with my cottage (and most houses on Skye) is that everything is electric, including the oven and heaters, so I’d need to stay by the fire to keep warm.
P&D very kindly lent me their BBQ which has a gas ring so I was able to have a nice hot cup of tea with the biscuits I’d just treated myself to. Nae bad really.

The thing with situations like this is, you can either complain or you can make the most of it.

I enjoy camping out. Not the pack-your-spork-and-book-into-a-site camping, more the let’s-grab-a-bottle-of-wine-and-shove-on-every-jumper-you-can-find spontaneous camping, the trampy kind where you feel like you’re one of the Famous Five (but less fresh-faced and maybe slightly tipsy)
It would be like camping, only indoors.

After the Tunn Family Blackout Christmas Of 2013 I’ve had plenty of practice in coping without power. That particular festive gathering also involved flooding, explosions and a BBQ’d turkey supper for 17 people. This would be a breeze.
Actually, it was quite literally a breeze since the wind did a good job of joining me inside the house but a little bit of DIY door-sealing and cushion barricading soon sorted it out.

BBQ-ing the turkey, Christmas 2013

BBQ-ing the turkey, Christmas 2013

I went upstairs and selected a few books to keep me company. Then I dotted tealights around the hearth, piled up blankets and poured myself a nice glass of Glayva (which was gross so I poured a Jura instead).

I strapped a small torch to a headband for a hands-free reading light and tucked myself in. Before the night was over I’d devoured my entire novel in one go. It’s such a luxury to have the time to do that. Plus, the torchlight-reading made me nostalgic about those sneaky childhood reading sessions I used to have when I should have been sound asleep.
There are ways to hate a blackout and there are ways, it seems, to have a lovely time.

Cosiness

Cosiness

(The book, by the way, was The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Nice enough but not one of the best books I’ve ever read, though I like the African setting and references. The next day I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; short but interesting)

The following morning there’s still no power or phone. I try to make myself look vaguely human and drive down to Portree again in search of hot food and wifi.
Of course, I’m keeping my distance from anyone with a nose as I haven’t seen hot water in quite a while now. Luckily everyone else seems to be in a similar, stinky boat.

Rumours fly around the village… This person says it’s back on at 8pm. This person says tomorrow morning. This person says Monday at the earliest.
Huge van-sized generators have appeared dotted around in an attempt to keep the main hubs running.
I nip into Cafe Central where the owner very kindly lets me use his power sockets to charge my computer for work stuff. In there I meet a group of somewhat harassed-looking engineers, one of them tells me he’s driven for 12 ½ hours to fix the problems. I’m glad I don’t have that job.

I hear that many areas also lost their water supply as the sumps stopped working. I think to myself how strange it is to be on an island surrounded by water, where water pours from every hill and mountain, but there’s nothing in their homes.
Further water shortages are expected in more places but it’s not a problem, I’ve got plenty of fresh burns and springs nearby where I can take some buckets if needs be. When I moved here I expected blackouts, snow and ice but I didn’t think I’d be going to collect water from the streams!

Can’t complain though, after all, I did move to Skye for an adventure!

Not so bad after all

Not so bad after all

January Storm

I wrote this post a few days ago. Unfortunately the storms soon took out our power and phone lines which means it’s been a bit delayed in getting to you.
Here it is nonetheless… (at least you now know that I wasn’t actually blown away!)

I never used to be that interested in the weather. Yes, I loved the sunshine and the snow, rumbling storms and autumn breezes. Like any other British person, it’s my go-to topic of conversation with strangers. It’s not forced small talk, I actually quite enjoy it.
But then I moved to Skye and the weather has become one of the main characters in my daily life.

It’s not just any character either, it’s unpredictable and changeable and sometimes more than a little bit absurd.
I looked out of my bedroom window earlier and there was sunshine and blue sky. It was also hailing violently with rainbows beaming up from the sea. As I remarked to my friends, it’s sometimes like Skye’s weather is on drugs.

A day full of rainbows. An everyday sight on Skye.

A day full of rainbows. An everyday sight on Skye.

Over the last couple of days there’s been a torrent of weather reports about hurricane-force gales making their way towards the Hebrides.

Warnings of impending meteorological doom have been coming thick and fast from friends and family down South whilst I’ve been prancing around in the Scottish sunshine wondering what all the fuss is about. “Will it or wont it?” was the hot topic in Staffin stores this afternoon.

Crisp blue skies looking out towards Staffin Island

Crisp blue skies looking out over Staffin Slipway towards Staffin Island

Well, it will. Quite a lot actually.

I’m currently sitting in bed surrounded by candles whilst gales roar round the cottage. I can’t quite describe the noise, I suppose I’d put it somewhere between an aeroplane take-off and Armageddon. Just before the power went out I read a post on my neighbour’s ‘Skye Weather’ Facebook page saying that his instruments had just measured a windspeed of 109mph, the fastest he’s ever recorded here.

I’ve always loved storms but as I’ve got older I’ve begun to worry about their effects (growing up sucks reason #325).
Whilst I’m cosy inside there’s likely to be a lot of wildlife (and people) having a hard time exposed to the elements. These aren’t unfounded concerns; the Scottish Marine Mammmal Strandings Scheme put out a warning today saying that we should expect a large number of animals washed up on the shores tomorrow and dips in certain bird populations often reflect severe weather patterns.
Tonight would be much more enjoyable if I wasn’t sitting here worrying about Charlie the bull and his sheep and cow pals.

A weather-sensitive sheep

A weather-sensitive sheep

When I first moved here a few of my neighbours jokingly said that it was a waste of time buying garden furniture as it just blows away. They weren’t kidding. I popped out to the car this evening and could barely stand up. As I jumped in to move it closer to the house I found myself completely unable to pull the door closed until a lull allowed me to wrench it back.

The weirdest part of the wind outside, though, was that you could hear the strongest gusts coming before they hit you. I heard this really intense whistling sound as they worked their way over the hill towards me. The only thing I can think of that it’s similar to is the whistling of a dropping bomb from old WWII footage, just with a slightly deeper, rounder sound. Maybe like a tornado. This weird howling WHOOOSH coming closer and closer and then you’re smacked sideways. It’s one of the most peculiar natural things I’ve come across and, to be honest, there was something quite creepy about it.

That was more than enough fresh air for this evening so I ran inside and slammed the door behind me. Even inside I had to put my full weight against each door to close them, then I barricaded them with cushions and furniture. Sitting back down on the sofa I noticed little lumps of soot sprinkling their way down the chimney and into the room. The papers on the coffee table rustled in a breeze and loose strands of hair blew across my eyes. It was actually windy inside the house!

I nipped to the loo and found the bathroom soaking. Not flooded but splashed, all over the walls and even up the mirrors. I looked for leaks but couldn’t find one. Then I glanced into the loo and saw the water sploshing back and forth like a miniature ocean tempest. I flipped the lid down as the power went off and everything went pitch black.

One of the last Facebook posts from Skye Weather before we lost power. Shulista is about 3 mins down the road.

One of the last Facebook posts from Skye Weather before we lost power. Shulista is about 3 mins down the road.

That was about 20 minutes ago. I’m now hiding upstairs in the comfort of my lovely bed enjoying the residual warmth from my now-cooling electric heater. The building is actually shaking -not something I’d expected from a sturdy stone crofters cottage. A bit unnerving. The glass of water on my bedside table is doing that ripple-y thing like that scene from Jurassic Park. Other glasses are dotted around the house catching various new leaks that have sprung with gusto this evening. I don’t blame the drops, I wouldn’t want to be outside either!

So, it’s getting louder and louder and I half expect to wake up tomorrow to find my lovely house has been blown away in the night, Wizard of Oz-style. I suppose the only thing I can do is get some sleep and wait for it to pass.

See you in the morning (hopefully…)

NYE at Neist Point Lighthouse & Some Resolutions

The foghorn at Neist Point Lighthouse

The foghorn at Neist Point Lighthouse on New Years Day

So it was straight back up to Skye to see in Hogmanay.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, Hogmanay is the name for the Scottish New Year celebrations. It’s something I’ve wanted to take part in ever since I first saw the fireworks at the Edinburgh castle party on the news when I was at school. The New Year is taken more seriously up here than in England and the festivities are accompanied by traditional customs (usually involving fire or booze) as well as a long bank holiday.

Good friends, good wines...

Good friends, good wines…

Strangely enough, the party I went to wasn’t held by my new Skye friends. Nor was I hosting it myself.
It’s a funny coincidence… My friend Jack, from London (who I’ve known for almost 10 years) has an August Bank Holiday party every year at his father’s house just 10 minutes from my village. This year, over the BBQ, I mentioned my move to Skye and he turned round and told me that’s where his Mum lives. Not only that, she also owns the famous Neist Point Lighthouse and he’s been meaning to hold a New Years Party there for some time.
Bingo.
I wouldn’t have to come down for the party, this year it was coming to me!

The most Westerly tip of Skye

The most Westerly tip of Skye

Jack gave me his Mum Jane’s details when I first arrived on Skye but I’ve been so busy since I got here that I never got round to calling her. I hadn’t visited the lighthouse yet either, as I’d wanted to save it for after/when I met her.
I should’ve definitely called earlier; she is super lovely and Neist Point is breathtaking. I can definitely see why Tripadvisor lists it as the #1 thing to see on Skye!

The path to and from the lighthouse (with Livvy and Jack)

The path to and from the lighthouse (with Livvy and Jack)

Neist Point is about an hours drive from my cottage. Whereas I’m on the most Northerly point of Skye, it’s on the most Westerly.
It’s around a 20 minute walk to get from the car park down towards the actual buildings. Our arrival was fairly dramatic as we struggled to stay upright against the wind whilst carrying bags of food and clothes down the cliff steps in the dark.
It was worth it.

The buildings aren’t currently lived in and have become a little dilapidated from exposure to the harshest of the Hebridean elements. All the same, they had all we needed to be warm and comfortable and who cares if the paintwork isn’t perfect… we’re spending New Years at a LIGHTHOUSE!

Neist Point Lighthouse (Photo by Hugo Donnithorne-Tait)

Neist Point Lighthouse (Photo by Hugo D-T and his amazing photography skills)

Over the course of four days we drank, ate, danced, laughed, argued over board games, went for walks, explored and generally had a thoroughly good time.

On NYE itself we cracked open the champagne and watched as the boys valiantly tried to set off an £100 firework in coastal winds that almost knocked us off our feet. After a brief display we all ran back into the warm and the party descended into tipsy silliness (as all good parties should).

What a rabble! (Photo by Hugo Donnithorne-Tait)

What a rabble!

There were 8 of us, most of whom I know from around the time we left sixth form. Although I don’t see these guys often anymore they’re the best kind of friends where you can pick up from where you left off as if you’d only seen each other yesterday. Of course, we’re not quite as fresh-faced and perky as we used to be but it was reassuring to find that we can party just as hard!

Jack was a fantastic host too, he always is, and he was incredibly patient with me when I got all overenthusiastic and know-it-all about the local area (the excitement of having old friends visiting my new home was too much!)

Braving the elements with Jack, Ed and Livvy

Braving the elements with Jack, Ed and Livvy

One of my favourite bits was our New Years Eve swim up at the Fairy Pools; It’s one of my favourite places on Skye and whenever I’ve been there the water has always looked so beautifully blue and inviting. Well, it usually does…

It was chilly and drizzling when we got there and the burns that you have to cross on the path up to the pools had become deep and fast-flowing. It took some serious teamwork to get across them; if we’d been contestants in the Crystal Maze we would have won all the crystals for our brave efforts. When we reached the pools themselves they didn’t exactly have their usual mirror-like calm; instead they were white and fierce and it actually took us a while to find a safe spot where we wouldn’t get caught in a current and flushed over a 10ft waterfall.

They say that the Fairy Pools are icy in the middle of summer so you can imagine how cold they were in late December. I went in with three of the boys and we all went pink as lobsters as our skin panicked from the temperature shock. We all hopped out quickly as our limbs burned from the cold but a second dip wasn’t nearly as bad.

Of course, it was as toasty as anything when we got out and we slopped back to our cars and soggily made our way to the Old Inn to dry out.

A wee dip (and yes, it was definitely as cold as it looks!)

A wee dip …and yes, it was definitely every bit as cold as it looks! (Photo by Hugo D-T)

On our last day there were only four of us left. We had a lazy duvet day and whilst the others snuggled up watching movies in bed I made a start on my New Years Resolutions.

I’m not sure when it happened but making resolutions is a big thing for me now. I think it must have started a couple of years ago when I resolved not to accept any plastic carrier bags when shopping. I kept that one easily (and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone because it’s a small change with an amazing impact) so I think it’s kept me going.
I still have last year’s ones and I went through them to see how well I’ve done…

New Years Resolutions for 2014

New Years Resolutions for 2014

Less than 50%. Could do better but not bad really, there’s a lot on there.
Here’s this year’s list:

New Years Resolutions for 2015

New Years Resolutions for 2015

I’m aiming for hitting at least 50%.
The whisky one might be a little harder now that I can’t have just one dram with Scotland’s new driving laws.
Getting hillwalking fit shouldn’t be too hard with so many lovely treks to do around the island.
I suppose the one about keeping up with the blog isn’t going too badly if I’m here typing this now…

But there’s one I’m already doing very well with. I had 1000 of them delivered the other day so this one should be in the bag…

Just rolling around in sweets on the floor. What sugar high?!

Just rolling around in sweets on the floor. What sugar high?!

NB: A HUUUUGE thanks to Jane for letting us stay at her incredible lighthouse and to Jack for his fantastic hosting skills. Hope to see you both very soon xx