|02/05/2011||Filled under Kintyre, Scotland|
Throughout our married life Kate and I have lived in many different towns and in many houses in many different places. Although this is unusual, most people move house far less frequently than we have, it is perhaps why we are able to settle here in one of the more remote but stunningly beautiful parts of our land. By moving about, living for only a few years at a time in each different area of the country, we have never acquired much of an attachment to a place, such that we could live nowhere else, and in the long term this has given us a rich set of experiences to look back on. It has also given us a set of guidelines so we can judge the merits of a place, and the ability to settle anywhere that meets our requirements.
Carradale meets our requirements, that’s for sure, but it is slowly beginning to have a different feel to it, something new to us. We are putting our roots into this place.
So many houses. But until recently it had not occurred to us that there were so many common elements to what we have done in or to them, things we have changed or work we have carried out whilst living there. From memory we can recall installing, for example, at least three fitted kitchens and the same number of wood or coal-burning stoves, in one house having a complete chimney constructed as well. Before winter arrives this year we hope to have stove number four securely installed here and the coal-bunker outside full to the brim with enough black stuff to see us through till spring. We are, in case you missed it, lovers of a natural fire.
Then there are the garden sheds. We cannot bring to mind how many of these we have erected or which gardens they were in. What we do know, however, is how many we have moved about from one place to another; the present one is number two. Both of these shed relocations have occurred within the last twelve months. Now most people would probably not, in all honesty, wake up in the morning and ask, ‘Right, shall we read the Sunday papers or shall we move the shed today?’ Even fewer would opt for the second choice and still less would know where to start even if they wanted to. Sheds are not, after all, light things. Once installed they do not want to be moved. Shed manufacturers would most likely fit wheels underneath them if they envisaged that people would regularly want to move them about. So take our advice, if you want to move a shed, consult the experts, us, and we’ll turn up with our two spades and a few lumps of wood and have the job done for you in no time at all.
I hasten to add that we would not be moving sheds were our particular specimen in the best of health. But it is not. We know for a fact that has been there for nearly eighteen years because whoever put it up wrote ‘Erected 23 October 1993’ on one of the roof timbers. We also know that the shed’s owner had a boat named ‘Wanderer’ which was once moored in Carradale Water but which sadly met its end some years ago. The boat’s name plate is still attached to one of the walls inside our shed. The rest of the boat’s story came from Johnny Durnan, the power behind the Carradale Goat website, who we met on the beach on one of our walks. Johnny is a coastguard, a fireman and a man who seems to know most things that go on around Carradale.
Like the boat, our shed too will soon pass into history. It is so far past redemption, with rotten floor boards, a roof that leaks and walls that allow daylight to streak through between the planks, that it can only loosely be described as standing. It barely survived the move, but then it doesn’t need to for long. On the site where it used to stand we will erect a brand new one, something known as a Beaver shed after the company in Oban that makes them. These are the Kings and Queens in the world of Sheds, strongly built to last for years.
We soon found that moving sheds is exhausting work. Worse still we found our shed was hiding a large concrete block that needs to be broken up and removed before the new one can be built. Time to dig out the sledge hammer and yet more muscle power.
By close of play we were well overdue for a bit of rest and relaxation so the next day we don our walking boots and march off into the hills. The Scottish bluebells are out in force as we stroll along forest tracks leading away from the back of our house. The sun shines, there is just enough breeze to cool us and the air is crystal clear. It does not get much better than this here.
Our route, a circular one using only forest roads and tracks leading off them, leads us up the Carradale glen then eastwards along the Kintyre Way towards the sea and past the abandoned village of Grianain which now lies almost hidden from view by the conifer plantation that surrounds it. It is always sad to see what were once substantial properties lying in ruins but in this case we found it almost impossible to imagine what life could possibly have been like for the folk living here. This is because once the land became managed for forestry every part was used that could be, trees being planted right up to the front door. Whatever view the inhabitants once had from their windows has so completely disappeared that now we have no idea what it might have been. The land slopes away towards Kilbrannan Sound but whether or not the people of Grianain had a view of the sea is impossible to say as today the trees form an impenetrable barrier.
Following the faint path between these cottages we descend to the sea where a narrow strip of raised rocky shoreline keeps the forest at bay. Here the tiny islet of Eilean Grianain floats just offshore in a small bay and the blue sea reflects the sky. The rocks are made of thin twisted layers which lie at all angles, on end, flat or anything in between, sometimes like sheets of corrugated iron crushed together. Slowly and carefully we negotiate the shoreline, in and out of the line of birch trees which survive despite the occasional dowsing of salt and around the many brackish pools which are teeming with life, tadpoles by the thousand living almost on the sea. This is a rare place, a primeval landscape, wild and unmanaged. Undamaged. Untouched.
Yet it is so close to home. Carradale point finally hove into view just as our legs are failing us. Along the way we have collected limpet shells which have eroded away into white rings which we thread on a piece of salvaged rope. By the time we arrive back home there is a long string of these so I splice the rope into a loop to hang up in the house as a decoration, to celebrate the day.