The Mountains and Molehills of May

English: A Clear Skye Day Taken from Raasay wh...
English: A Clear Skye Day Taken from Raasay whilst waiting for the return ferry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May has been a month of contrasts in many aspects.

Not least with the weather. The beginning of the month was so cold that we still had the central heating on – and I had to fetch my winter coat back out of the spare room where I’d thought it would be safe to pack it away for a few months. But then last week it was warmer on our island than it was in Minorca and, although a bit cooler now, it is still very pleasant and no jacket is required when out and about.

And here at Write Enough Manor, life in general has been veering from low to high.

Health wise, the low white cell count that’s been making me feel a bit washed out, fell again this month. This was disappointing after it had begun to rally in April. But I must be a patient patient while the count is monitored over six months. My GP is fairly certain that nothing sinister is going on and I have to trust her on that. But I’m afraid since having cancer I’m a pathetic hypochondriac. I do know I’m not imagining the horrible little cystie thing that I have growing on the cornea of my left eye. It’s been developing for a while now and when it became uncomfortable I decided I’d better go bothering the doctor again. And now I await an ophthalmology appointment.

However, the good news is that I’m off the medication I was on for anxiety and I’m flying solo. So far I’m coping well – even at work which is very stressful at times. So the health score this month is – mentally strong, physically – a bit feeble. But I’m fighting back and getting more exercise and eating (even more) healthily. My exercise of choice is walking – daily. I’ve just treated myself to a pair of Shape-Ups, these special fitness trainers that feel a bit like having rockers on the soles of your shoes. I’ll report back on how effective they are. Prepare for a super-fit, lithe and toned grandma…

And in my grandma role – I’m most excited. Our daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and Oli, the cat, are moving to Skye. I’m just ever so slightly excited! How wonderful it will be to have them so close instead of hundreds of miles away. They’ll be lodging with us to begin with so I’ve been busy having a clear out and making space for them and their stuff. As for the granddaughter – she’s five-and-a-half months now and just gets cuter and cuter.

Our son and his lovely lass will also be here in June for a week’s holiday – so it’s going to be just fab to have the whole clan together.

In other nice sociable news – I’ve been to a housewarming party and to a lovely dinner at a friend’s house this month. And last night was the Bill Bailey show at the village hall. It was superb. What a talented chap. He’s a skilled musician as well as a very funny guy. One song with the phrase ‘when they took the porn away in Stornoway’ nearly brought the house down – you would have to understand the Skye/ Lewis rivalry and the religious/moral ambience of the Western Isles to really get why that was so funny. And it was just great that he had taken the trouble to have some very local references in amongst his gags and stories.

The lovely weather has helped us to focus on our ideas for the garden at our new house. It’s a blank canvas – just as it was when handed over by the builders – and we now have a firm plan for developing it. It will be great to have some trees and bird-friendly planting as well as a proper patio area on which to sit and enjoy it all. I miss having the birds visit so much. At our last place our garden was a real sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife. We even had a hen harrier visit one afternoon. Last weekend I succumbed to buying a couple of interim birdfeeders and already we’ve been adopted by an extended family of sparrows. The fat little fledglings are hilarious, sitting on the fence, beaks agape, while their hardworking parents flit from feeder to their offsprings’ ever open mouths.

And I was just hearing today that the sea eagles are back nesting near our old house and that a whale was spotted in ‘our’ loch at the weekend. There has also been a group of dolphins in the Sound of Raasay this week, close to where we live now.

Moving indoors, I’ve been enjoying two very different drama series on television. I felt bereft when ‘The Bridge’ on BBC4 finished a week ago. It was an incredibly good Swedish/Danish crime series – in the mould of Wallender and ‘Borgen’. Even the subtitles didn’t detract from the sheer quality of the storyline and the acting. And I’m quite taken by ‘Starlings’ on Sky1. This is a warm and gentle, family drama and is also beautifully written and well acted.

My most recent reading has included ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’ by Fiona Robyn, a touching, coming-of-age novel that I’ve reviewed on Amazon and will be critting on her in a couple of weeks. Currently I’m reading ‘Sightlines’ by the mistress of the essay, Kathleen Jamie – wonderful writing as always.

Any ounce of spare energy that I have goes on my writing, of course. The second novel is progressing – slow but steady. And I’ve also completed my regular ‘column’ for the bi-monthly writers’ magazine, ‘Words with Jam’.

A wee P.S. to last week’s post on my motorcycle pillion riding, I have now ordered my own pair of biker gloves and biker boots. This is a start to having my own complete kit. Once I’ve saved a bit more cash, I’ll be getting my own ‘bespoke’ helmet. It’s an expensive hobby, but what the heck.

Right, I think I’ve probably banged on for long enough. So I’ll leave you with best wishes to all for June and happy Jubilee weekend to UK readers of the blog. Have a good one!

 

 

In like a lion…

Sea Spray
Sea Spray (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The first Tuesday of the month and, as the saying goes, March has come in like a lion here in the Inner Hebrides. Since the weekend we have had snow, a bracing wind and yes, rain. However, we’ve also had some spells of bright sunshine accompanied by the freshest, coldest, most revitalising air and it’s been good to get out and soak up some ‘vitamin D-making’ energy.

Portree
Portree (Photo credit: bluestardrop - Andrea Mucelli)

Mr Writeanne and I walked out with our lovely granddaughter in her pram at the weekend during one of these bracing spells of bright respite. The Mr wondered if anyone would mistake us for a couple who’d had a late baby. But I had to break it to the poor delusional chap that I reckoned it would be quite obvious that here were a pair of proud new grandparents.

English: Portree Camanachd Ground and Clubhous...
Image via Wikipedia

The shinty season starts in March and last Saturday saw the first matches played. The game of shinty is as, if not more, popular than football in highland Scotland. So, all other sports will all but disappear off the back pages of the local newspaper for the next few months, as the pundits turn their attention to the Camanachd Cup. Above is a photo of the Portree pitches and clubhouse.

Shinty game in progress
Image via Wikipedia

The tourist season will also be starting up again at the end of the month and hotels, B&Bs and self catering places are all starting to prepare. The island has done well during the last two seasons with Brits deciding to holiday at home. And international travellers continue to arrive in very healthy numbers. The deep harbour means that cruise liners can anchor in the bay and disgorge hundreds of passengers into our wee village who can then explore all the beauties of our wild and spectacular landscape and discover the island’s fascinating and ancient history. Although it can be a pain trying to drive to work behind tourists who don’t understand the etiquette and codes of motoring on single track roads with passing places and who refuse to pull over, it is good to see our businesses thriving for the relatively short season.

Deutsch: Single track road auf Isle of Skye
Image via Wikipedia

Our new home is taking shape – some of the new curtains are up, as are some of the pictures – so it all helps the homely feel. Gradually we’re finding a place for everything and offloading what’s not required. And with order beginning to appear indoors we can now begin to think about what we want to do with the garden. It is just as it was handed over by the builders a couple of years ago so consists of a fenced off rectangle of grass. I’m beginning to make a list of bird-friendly cover planting and some hardy, wind and sea-spray resistant perennials that will bring the patch to life. I enjoy gardening and it’s a good balance for all the hours I spend at both my work and my writing desks.

However, with more snow and gales forecast for the next few days, it may be some time before the garden theories get put into practice. Here’s hoping that with the lambing season getting underway that March goes out like one of those wee woolly things…

English: New Lambs
Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile, I’m off to batten down the hatches.

Tioraidh/ Cheerio!

Llamas, bluetits and hairy cows

Shona, the Highland cow, and some other croft residents

The weather! They say us Brits are obsessed with it, but I was never so aware of it as I am on Skye. Unsettled, volatile and downright weird (not me, the weather) – it’s also an area of micro-climates so districts a few miles apart can experience completely different weather.

‘Eilean a Cheo’ is one of the island’s Gaelic names and it means ‘misty isle’. It’s a name the island often lives up to. Because of this, some short-stay visitors don’t get to see the mountains which dominate much of the landscape.

However, it could equally be called ‘rainy isle’, ‘windy isle’ or ‘sunny isle’ and all of these adjectives can apply within an hour – never mind a day. And whatever the weather, Skye is never less than stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful.

But on a sunny, blue sky day with enough of a breeze to keep the dreaded West Highland midge at home in bed, there can be few places on Earth to rival its ‘stop you in your tracks and make you gasp’ abilities.

Yesterday was such a day. The second in a row. The husband was away on a motor-biking trip, I was on holiday from work so I headed out of the house and into the garden.

The house I headed out of

Now, normally, spending time in the garden for me means  weeding, pruning, chopping – gardening of the ‘stopping the garden invading the house or becoming like Sleeping Beauty’s 100 year forest’ variety – with a little bit of creativity occasionally thrown in. But not yesterday – yesterday I just wanted to be outdoors – not labouring in the garden or going for a walk – but just being.

I didn’t want to sit passively in a chair and just gawp either. I wanted to be an active observer – to really see, hear, smell and feel (I drew the line at taste) life in the garden and on the croft and to do a bit of stopping and staring at the wider landscape that I normally take for granted.

Llamas, tits (blue and great, of the feathered variety) and big hairy cows are just some of the things I observed.

Great tit contemplates taking a bath

My next couple of posts will tell you more of what I found there…