Put it in Writing

Life written up


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The Craic from Packing Cases to a Housewarming Turbot…

English: The North Cuillin ridge from Portree.

Image via Wikipedia

So, where was I? Ah, yes, moving house. It’s done. Hurrah! We’re exhausted, but it’s done. It was quite a bourrach for a while there. But now the boxes are unpacked and it’s good to be reunited with all our stuff that’s been in storage for the last seven months. It’s also good to bring our nomadic existence to an end. Once more we have a home of our own. There’s still all the pictures to put up and some new curtains to be made – but mostly everything is in place.

We have surplus furniture in the garage, but I’ve already managed to sell some of it by advertising on the local free ads page on Facebook. Still got a couple of wardrobes to go and then there will be space for the ‘Big Beamer’ – otherwise known as the husband’s motorbike. Needless to say there will never be space for the car to go inside.

We have had a great incentive to get on and get the house organised as our daughter, her husband and our gorgeous eleven-week-old granddaughter are coming to stay on Thursday for a long weekend. It’s hard being three hundred miles away from them, so I’ll be making the most of the visit.

I still can’t quite get over the fact that I’m a granny but I absolutely love this new status. The love you feel for a grandchild is as, if not more, intense as you feel for your child – but it’s also different – in an (for me) inexplicable way. We’re also very glad that my very dear father-in-law got to meet his wee great-granddaughter before he passed away so suddenly in January. His passing has left a large gap in our family life, but his children carried out a most poignant and fitting funeral service for him where we felt his presence more than his absence.

My new study is very comfy. I’ve commandeered the fourth and smallest bedroom as my lair. It looks south over the garden to the Portree hills and the Cuillin ridge beyond. I think I’ll be very content to write in this room and I’m so grateful to have a room of my own. My writing has been so disrupted over the last few months – with one thing and another – that it will be good to finally get back some rhythm and momentum. My children’s novel is ‘finished’ (first draft) and is fermenting quietly in the background. My second novel for adults is almost finished the first draft stage and that is my priority. Then it will be back to the children’s book to start the rewriting process.

I still write for Words with Jam – the bi-monthly writers’ mag – haven’t missed an issue and am so proud to be associated with Jane Dixon-Smith’s most marvellous creation. Next edition is out in April (available both in e-format and paper copy) and the theme is storytelling. After my visitors leave, I must get  on and write my next piece.

The island continues to be almost permanently swathed in grey. It’s hard for us Hebrideans to believe that there’s a drought in parts of England. We have had almost unrelenting rain, wind and dreichness for many weeks now. The bairns at the school are hardy though. We make sure they’re well wrapped up and out they go in all but the most foul of weathers. But the children – and the rest of us – desperately need to see some sun. It would be nice to go for a walk without all the waterproof gear on.

The current main concerns for many islanders are – lambing in a few weeks time, the Co-op’s plans for expansion in Portree, the possible arrival of one of the ‘big boy’ supermarkets, the continued practice of some companies to charge outrageously for delivery to the island – we have had a fixed road connection to the mainland, i.e. a bridge, for many years now – and the change over from the Crofters’ Commission to the Crofting Commission – yeah, spot the difference?! We can only hope the new governing body for crofting is less bureaucratic and more efficient and crofter friendly than its predecessor.

Oh – just been interrupted by a knock at the door. Scuse me.

Windowpane flounder

Aw, our next door neighbour is a fisherman and he’s just handed in a humungous turbot. He told me there’ll be plenty more. The kitchen smells of the sea – incredibly fresh fare – Mr T was swimming in a loch this afternoon. Right must go – have to look up turbot recipes on interweb.

Oidhche Mhath/Night Night.

PS if you’ve spotted/been puzzled by the muckle amount o’ guid Scots words in this post – that’s because I watched a braw wee programme on BBC2 Scotland the nicht a’ aboot the Scots language. It was called Scots Scuil and followed six Scottish bairns who spent a week at a special residential Scots school and developed their abilities to talk, sing and write in the language. I was fair ta’en wi’ it, so I was.

 


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Island Life – February – Reasons to be Cheerful…

English: The North Cuillin ridge from Portree.

Image via Wikipedia

As planned, on the first Tuesday of every month, the blog post will be about life here on the island.

Weather

Weather (Photo credit: Jen SFO-BCN)

Weather is an obsession when you live in the Hebrides. We have a maritime climate and therefore our weather tends to be very changeable. The island also has its own micro-climates and so the weather at locations only a few miles apart can be very different. But for the last week or so (with only last Saturday as an exception), we’ve had a spell  of lovely relatively settled weather. It has been bitterly, eye-wateringly cold, but very bright and sunny. There have been deep, sharp frosts overnight and beautiful pink and purple dawns.

English: Looking along the main Cuillin Ridge ...

Image via Wikipedia

The Cuillin mountain range has been doing its Alps impression – snow-covered, sparkly and quite stunning. Walking to and from work with the ridge dominating the skyline is wonderful. Lifting your eyes to the summits does seem to raise the spirits.

English: House Sparrows at a bird feeder

Image via Wikipedia

And the birds are back along with their various songs and calls. All winter we’ve only had the robins, who never stop twittering in defence of their territories, and, of course, the ravens and crows. But now the finches, tits, blackbirds, thrushes and starlings have returned. I can’t wait to get moved into our new house (next week) and to set up the bird feeders in the garden and to watch the frenzy of nest-building that must be imminent.

A wider view of Jupiter and the Great Red Spot...

Image via Wikipedia

Night time too, on this dark island, is always interesting for sky-watching. At the moment we have Venus and Jupiter watching us from just below the moon – and the recent, clear, cloudless skies have meant a spectacular show of stars.

English: The Co-operative Store Newtown Cooper...

Image via Wikipedia

The talk of the town at the moment is the possible arrival of one of the big four supermarkets in the island’s main town. At present there is only the Co-op and a love-hate relationship seems to exist between it and the islanders. The possible opening of a Tesco store has been talked about off and on for about a decade and it seems to be back on the agenda once more. But this time the Co-op are taking the threat to their monopoly seriously and have put up big display boards at the front of the store with their outline plans to extend both store and range of stock, to add a filling station and to build units for other retailers. Some people are all for this – seeing it as marginally less threatening than a Tesco superstore for the shops in the heart of the town – in a ‘better the devil you know’ sort of way. While others think it’s the kick up the bahookey that the Co-op deserves. I’ve no strong feelings either way – interesting times…

English: Delivery Van at Digby Fen

Image via Wikipedia

One of the nicest things (and occasionally most difficult things) about living on the island and in a relatively small community  is that degrees of separation are small. A small example of a positive aspect of this fact happened to me recently. I ordered a couple of things online but when the courier arrived to deliver, I was at work. The driver was a local and knew where my husband works so went there to drop off the parcel. But my husband was out. However, someone at my husband’s workplace told him where I worked, so he set off again and brought it to me. Great service!

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), Austin's Fer...

Image via Wikipedia

And finally – as I mentioned above – we move into our new, permanent, house after a peripatetic seven months of temporary lets. It will be good to get settled again. I’ll not be posting here for a couple of weeks as I’ll be unpacking and setting up – it’s not just the garden birds who’ll be nesting. So bye for now…

 

 

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