It’s that time of distant tents, music carried by the wind and very busy roads. Yes – Tiree Music Festival is here again! We can see the festival site from the beach below the cottage and hear the music as each band takes to the stage. We find that the window is a brilliant volume control – if we like the music we can open it fully, if we don’t, we can close the window and wait for another band to come along!
We’ve just returned from a short break on the island of Barra. Although it’s slightly smaller in size than Tiree it has double the population. Fishing seems to be a major activity on the island and tourism obviously makes a major contribution to the economy. Although Barra is very different in many respects to our island the beaches are just as spectacular. This is a view from a small beach at Cleat looking north to the coast of Eoligarry.
Another beautiful day. This time the sun is accompanied by a strong breeze which is whipping the surface of the sea and driving streams of sand across the beach. Not the ideal conditions for a picnic but a visual delight. The sea is a patchwork of amazing colours – deep, rich and iridescent.
After quite a few days of mixed weather – which brought smiles and frowns in equal measure – we’ve had a stunning day of bright sunshine. It’s been incredibly calm and the colours on the beach below the cottage have been spectacular. Lots of interesting finds lying along the strand line – shells, pottery, sea-washed glass and sheep’s teeth! A day to relish.
It’s been an exciting day at the cottage – we’ve had runners pounding by on the road – striding out to complete the Tiree 10k and Half Marathon. Full of purpose and determination they passed us twice – once on the way down to Hynish then on the way back. There were smiles and waves and everyone looked very relaxed. It was bright and breezy – perfect for a run and even better for those of us who chose the tough option of spectating!
In May we often get amazing days when the sun strikes across the beach with stunning effect. The sand, rocks, sea and sky display a vibrancy that pulls you back to childhood and to those long summer days when everything seemed to shimmer with light and colour. This little corner amongst the rocks, just below the cottage, is a favourite spot when family visit and we light beach fires and toast marshmallows in the evenings. As we sit and stare into the flames we share memories of summers past and make new ones to be remembered in the summers to come.
Yes – after an absence of six months – we’ve got Corncrake on the island again. Calling males are making their presence felt on the headland by the cottage and in the fields to the west. Because of their abrupt departure in autumn and their sudden arrival in the spring – and their preference for leaving and arriving in the dark – tradition on the island was that these elusive birds hibernated underground in the winter – only emerging in the warmer weather of spring. We now know that, amazingly, young from the first brood head south to their wintering grounds in West Africa as soon as they are fit enough to leave Tiree. Heading south alone on a journey they have never been on before, they cross oceans and deserts to reach lush grasslands in West Africa. Geo-locater studies have revealed that later in the winter, Scottish birds all then cross over the Congo rainforest to spend the mid-winter period in grasslands on the eastern side of the forest. They then seem to head back to West Africa once again before heading north to Scotland in spring. All of this seems quite remarkable for a bird that would rather run across a Tiree road than fly!
After a week of glorious weather, when each successive day has been calm and warm, today has been wild – with winds gusting over 40 mph. It’s been a bit nail-biting because today was to be our first change-over day, and our cottage guests were due to leave on the ferry this morning. Thankfully, all went well and our guests were able to leave on time. Our new guests have arrived and seem unshaken by the ‘lumpy’ crossing. Hopefully, the weather will settle and we’ll return to calmer waters.
The landscape of Tiree has been described as a ‘vivid frontier of land, sea and sky’ – and on a day like today you can begin to appreciate the perfect balance of these three visual elements. This beautiful island – twenty-two miles west of the nearest point on the Scottish mainland, and at the same latitude as southern Alaska and the same longitude as the border between Spain and Portugal, can be the perfect place to re-charge and re-create. We may only be the twentieth largest island in the UK but we punch well above our weight as a destination for relaxing reflection.
So, this is March. We’re in the waiting room – we’re on pause – everything seems to solidify in amber. Time seems to stop and life seems somewhat inadequate. “Never make life decisions in March, wait it out.” an old friend once told me. I understand that now. This time of year seems to create anticipation and impatience in equal measure – a burden caused by lack of progress. We keep getting glimpses of new life. I guess there’s nothing to do but wait it out!