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On and over the water

Expecting at this point to be able to show on this blog a series of exciting pictures taken from the deck of ‘Jochr’, a sailing yacht on board which I hoped to be winning Campbeltown Sailing Club races, I regret to have to disappoint. So few skippers have been turning up on race nights that the season has so far been something of a let down. Skipper Owen and his wife Joanna generally make a showing, whatever the weather, as does his regular crew Glen, who is another Carradalian, but we find ourselves standing about in front of the clubhouse watching the fishing boats come in from the sea instead of cranking winches on the sloping deck of a boat. I suppose it does take a certain degree of dedication, some might say determination, to race regularly and perhaps the enthusiasm of those who previously found the time to go sailing has been eroded by these recessionary times we are living in. Stavros S in CampbeltownWhatever the reason, it is disappointing for those like me who are suffering withdrawal by not having a boat to sail on. It will be many weeks before we are back on board Cirrus.

Campbeltown Loch did at least give us something more interesting to gaze at this week as we had a visit from the sail training ship, ‘Stavros S Niarchos’ which was on a week long tour of the Clyde starting in Greenock and finishing in Belfast. This is a modern Tall Ship, sixty metres long and forty five metres high, built in 2001 to take groups on training voyages around Britain and sometimes further afield. And not just youngsters either – the age limit seems to be seventy five… we’d better hurry and sign up!

This last week or so has seen some changes around the house as we rectify some of the more glaring eyesores and gradually put our stamp on the place. We have stripped and painted the ceilings in two rooms, installed a new stair carpet and plumbed in two new radiators, putting my plumbing skills to the test. Kate has transformed our bathroom by some simple but effective cleaning and me by installing the new light fitting we acquired in Oban last week, something we had not realised we needed until we switched it on and saw the tiled walls in their true colours for the first time. Our ‘guest’ bedroom however remains in a transitional state, the ceiling prepared and the walls now lined with paper but with the rain penetrating the dormer ceiling and dripping into a bucket on the floor it would be a waste of effort to decorate fully. Further progress must wait until the flat roof is repaired, hopefully within the next week or so.

The pile of rubble which was once neighbour Pat’s coal bunker is gradually resolving itself into the base for our new shed on a rectangle of ground adjoining our back boundary. Crow Wood treesThe sledgehammer is once again the basic tool for this work, a blunt instrument that strangely seems to get heavier with each blow, as if the head is absorbing mass from lumps it makes contact with. The trick here is not to beat the concrete lumps so far into the soft ground that they disappear from view but instead to try to break them into small pieces to form a platform covering the ground on which the shed will float. There is definitely a technique to this and I am sure I will have learnt it by the time the shed base is finished.

But rather than show a picture of the evolving shed base (which is far from being beautiful) I have chosen instead this shot of Crow Wood taken on one of our little strolls. Only five minutes from our back door, this is a delightful place where the light filters down through the tree tops and the trunks have a beautiful symmetry, bursting out of the bare ground like magnified strands of hair on a bald head. Crow Wood mill pondThe Village Hall, which sits on the other side of the road at the bottom of the wood, was a mill in some earlier incarnation and the stream which used to power it slices through the wood at the bottom of a deep gully, the noise of its passing echoing through the timber as it splashes its way down the hill. This wood is a magical place where out of the corner of the eye one might see fairies peeking out from behind the stumps or bathing in the old mill pond, or am I imagining things again?

Carradale Village Hall still straddles the old mill stream but today it provides space for an assortment of activities ranging from sewing to badminton. At last week’s management committee AGM Kate, rather to her surprise, was nominated for the post of secretary, a speedy way to get involved in village life if ever there was one. If the speed of this integration seems unseemly – we are still only into our second month here – then perhaps it is because the village needs something from us, just as we do from the village. It is a small community which needs people to contribute rather than just occupy its houses and well, we have nothing else on, so why not. In many ways we hoped that Carradale would suck us in, although we had no idea it would happen so quickly.

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