|20/06/2011||Filled under family, Kintyre, weather|
A series of visitors during a period of less than perfect weather has left us feeling drained of our normal energy and joy at living here in Carradale. Many different strands of our lives seem to be shifting simultaneously so that there is much to think about and worry ourselves over. There is the leaking roof, for example, which is now finally being repaired by a local builder. Ever since we first moved in here, each time the rain really fell heavily we have had to place buckets on the floor of our guest bedroom to catch the water that seeped through the ceiling. At last our guests can be assured of a sound night’s sleep without the noise of constant dripping into a bucket beside them.
Then there were telephone calls from our eldest son, Tony, who is reeling from the news of his best friend Ed who died recently. Tony had been close to Ed since they were at school together. We send our condolences to his family and friends.
The sale of our London apartment takes place any day now, closing another chapter in our lives and providing us with some much needed capital. We may even soon be able to afford those roof repairs!
Meanwhile our next visitors, my mother and her nonagenarian companion, George, were splashing their way through the showers and the puddles on walks around our village, this despite my fervent praying for some sunshine and warmth for their visit. We did at last manage to take them over to the Isle of Gigha on the ferry so they could wander around the garden of the Achamore estate here. The Vikings, and later the Norse Kings, who made their home in the Western Isles, called this place ‘the good isle’ or maybe even ‘God’s isle’ depending upon how you translate it. The hundred-odd full time inhabitants would not argue with this as back in 2002 they all clubbed together as a community and bought the island from its then owner. Today you don’t have to chat for long with any local to become aware of how proud they feel of their home and of the strong sense of shared community that exists there. It is a lovely place which exhibits humanity at its very best.
I will admit that squelching around gardens on a damp day is not my favourite activity. I preferred the drive to the northern tip of the island from where you can sit and watch the whole of the Sound of Jura spread out before you like a map. This is all good sailing country standing ready for when we have our boat up here.
Our wild landscape produces some astonishing shapes and colours. On a plastic bucket cast up from the sea on the Atlantic-facing beach at Westport I found this collection of goose barnacles with their elephant-trunk appearance and brilliant yellow ‘lips’ around the shells. As soon as they sense water around them they send out feathery feelers which they wave about to catch their food. These ones may have picked the wrong floating object to latch on to as the incoming tide had pushed it just too far up the beach to be able to suck it back again when it receded. The weight of the bucket was too much for me to try to cast it back out and as a result these particular barnacles may well have been doomed.
Back to our visitors now and on one exceptionally rainy day it seemed sensible to take a tour of one of Campbeltown’s whisky distilleries. Gone are the days when there were more than thirty of such establishments in the town to chose from. Today only three remain and Springbank offered us the temptation of a wee dram to dispel the chill of the damp day, so naturally we chose this. The sight of so many barrels of spirit resting untouched and quietly watching the years pass by is more than many men could bear. No wonder they keep their bonded warehouses under lock and key.
In better weather a few days earlier we drove our little car along one of the most exciting stretches of single track road that Scotland can offer, stopping above the lighthouse that guards the North Channel and winks its light at Ireland across twelve miles of sea. This headland is the Mull of Kintyre and road traffic has to stop high up above the lighthouse from where a narrow track spirals downwards. Walking down this final mile is a bit like reverse mountaineering – going downhill before going up – but it has to be done. It is part of the magic of the place.