Eager, avid and wide-awake readers – or maybe that should just be the sad – will be saying ‘Hang on, weren’t you going to be a-ranting and a-raving on the first Tuesday of the month and then blogging about island life on the second Tuesday?’ And you’d be right.
However, having used up the first instance of a Tuesday by setting out my new year blog plans, I missed the opportunity to R& R. So, in the true spirit of the January sale, I’m doing a two-for-the-price-of-one special. Right, I hope that’s that all cleared up.
There’s a bit of a ‘Handy’ theme to the R&R this time…
First rant of 2012 – bottle tops. I have just struggled for many minutes to get the top off a bottle of bleach. Now I know it has to be childproof but so do pill bottles and I can remove the tops from them no bother. Just push down and turn. But this ridiculous bottle requires you to squeeze in the sides of the top and turn it at the same time. My hands are small but perfectly formed and, yes, there’s a bit of arthritis in the old fingers, so this combined movement proved impossible and was very painful. The design of this top is very poor.
And what about cooking oil bottle tops? Not a problem if the bottle is glass because then you just unscrew but the plastic variety – argh! With their ridiculous little, thin plastic strips that cut into your fingers as you tear and pull an unfeasibly small tag to release top from bottle, they are bad-word inducing.
Cue the ranters battle cry. Why oh why? And breathe…
Fortunately Mr Write Enough has big, strong hands and he opened the bleach bottle for me. But what if he hadn’t been available? The outcome could have been unthinkable – an unbleached sink – or – even – asking a strong child to do it.
Rave – The Body Shop’s Shea Body Butter moisturiser. This was a Christmas present from my son and his lovely girlfriend. I’ve been using it on my hands which are in a bit of a bad way with eczema – very dry and cracked. My prescription ointment helps a bit but this Body Shop stuff is the biz. What a difference it’s making. The cracked, red, itchy skin is much better since I’ve been using this stuff. And it smells gorgeous. I give it a round of applause with my newly soft hands.
Island Life – Weather is a major feature of life here on the island. We have a maritime climate with, often contrasting, local variations in the minute-to-minute weather. Wind is the predominant feature and over the winter, when it’s incredibly noisy and intrusive, even when you’re indoors, it could drive a person to insanity. It will drown out the television, cut off mobile phone and radio signals, push the car onto the wrong side of the road, smash sturdy wooden garden furniture and mangle greenhouses and polytunnels. But you do learn to live with it. You learn to tie down caravans, compost bins, rabbit hutches and dog kennels. You put away all garden furniture and ornaments in September until May. It can even be exhilirating to be out in the Atlantic squall – as long as you have the appropriate clothing and, ideally, a hand to hold – a wind-blown walk will whip your troubles away.
Being so far north, light is very precious at this time of year. The island is beautiful and, in winter, the snow on the mountains, the ‘white-horses on the waves and stark, silhouetted views can be magnificent. If you can see them. But this winter everything has been veiled. It’s the greyness, I find hard to bear. The constant low level of light and the often accompanying drizzle, showers or monsoon are so depressing. The grey sky, grey rain, grey light – they take you beyond feeling blue. The mountains disappear, the sea disappears, the beauty of the island is drained away. A sort of claustrophobic island fever takes you over. The mainland with its big cities, its street lights, its cinemas, theatres and shops beckons beguilingly. You need a fix. You may well succumb and drive the two hundred miles to Inverness.
However all it takes is one day – one day of blue sky and full spectrum light – and you know – you know it’s not forever. Spring isn’t far away and even at its darkest worst, this island is home.