Sun Glitter

The beach is bathed in a clear, white light this morning. It’s running over the rocks – causing deep shadows and colourful highlights. It’s gently brushing the beach with a bright warmth. On the water it’s glistening and sparkling to the south and east and creating sun glitter all the way to the horizon. The glitter is caused by the appearance of multitudes of small images of the sun formed as the wavelets move and orientate themselves correctly to reflect the sun’s light to our eyes. It’s beautiful this morning.

 

Restorative Days

For a long time summer seemed like a very distant prospect. The past winter on the island was muscular and harsh – and seemed to go on, and on, and on. For weeks we battled through atrocious weather. Spring was slow to develop and came in with bone numbing temperatures. Lambs were born into a brumal world and had to survive prolonged spells of cold, wet weather.

Now, however, that is all behind us – and almost forgotten – and we’re luxuriating in a world of warmth and vivid colours. Sunrise is anticipated, mornings are times of excitement and expectation and days are long and restorative. Spirits are high. Summer is here.

Visitors Arriving

Monday is a momentous day here on the island. Visitors can arrive on Monday because COVID restrictions are being eased and travel is possible over the England/Scotland border and across Scotland and to the islands. It seems the steady trickle of visitors we’ve had in the last few weeks will become a stronger flow as we move towards the summer. The change in easing must have also been picked up at ‘Migration Central’ because the first Corncrake have arrived on the island this week. This may be a crucial year for Corncrake on Tiree because numbers have been falling quite dramatically elsewhere despite initiatives to build the population. In 2014 there was a record count of 1283 calling males. By 2019 this number had dropped to just 872 – of which 298 were recorded on Tiree.

 

On The Move

You probably will have noticed from our home page that we’re on the move. Like many others, this past year has caused us to re-evaluate our lives here on the island. Our plan is to sell our house – Sunbeam – and make Blue Beyond Cottage our permanent home. After this summer, we will no longer be letting out the cottage for holiday visitors.

We would like to thank everyone who has stayed at Blue Beyond Cottage since 2016, particularly those who have kept in touch over the past few years. We have very much appreciated your friendship and kindness. We hope you will call on us when you are next on Tiree.

View details of Sunbeam here if you’re interesting in finding out more about our house which is now for sale.

Mighty Storms and Bone Numbing Temperatures

After two weeks of mighty storms and bone numbing temperatures, we have a mild, calm day on the island with amazing atmospheric light. We’ve had high winds, roaring seas and storm surges for days – and there has been some serious erosion to the coastline all around the island. This is evident even on the small beach below the cottage – the dunes have been cut back and there has been a huge amount of sand lost and swept out to sea.

The storms which bring the greatest damage are usually the ones that are prolonged – lasting days – and the erosion becomes incrementally more severe. If we have a spring of gentle and benign tides the sand will be returned over a number of weeks and the marram grass will have time to reestablish itself.

We’ll also feel less battered and bruised!

Sea Ice

We don’t often get very cold weather on the island. The moderating effect of the Gulf Stream ensures that temperatures here in winter are almost always above freezing. Having said that – the last two months have been unusually cold on Tiree – probably the most sustained period of cold weather I can remember since moving here in 2001.

Since the middle of December we’ve had four spells of temperatures below freezing with each one lasting a few days. This week we’ve had temperatures of -4˚ – which probably explains the phenomenon of ice being formed along the edge of the sea. This amazing photograph, taken on Wednesday morning by Adrian Pope, shows sea ice on Gott Bay.

Rock Basins

We often find these rock-cut basins along the beach. They are formed by the action of sea water currents causing small boulders to move in a circular motion or vortex. The friction created by this circular motion erodes the rock to create concavities that increase in depth and circumference over the years.

Of course – there are several beliefs associated with these natural basins. Some people believe them to be prehistoric, related to the cup marks found in different locations across the island  whilst others think that they are bait holes, used for grinding shellfish such as limpets in order to attract fish. Another theory is that they were used for offerings in order to help the safe return of people out at sea.

Whether you think of them as natural or mythical in this low winter light they create beautiful shadows and textures.

 

Very, Very Quiet

Christmas and Boxing Day have come and gone – and we’ve gone from very quiet to very, very quiet in the space of a couple of days. In short order we’ve weathered the announcement of the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a monastically quiet Christmas, the descent into Tier 4 and Storm Bella. Amazingly, we’re still standing! Walks along the beach have helped. We’re surrounded by amazing beauty and privileged to know, and appreciate, the peace and quiet of island life during the winter. Not sure what new challenges we’ll all be facing in the coming months. Looking forward to welcoming visitors to the island during the summer. This is an amazing place to heal wounds, restore the soul and reflect on the beauty of nature.

Hope To Be Lived

The grey has gone – for now. The air is crystal clear and the clouds are plump and soft edged. The vivid colours have returned and unashamedly catch the eye. The beach has been pounded and scoured clean by the recent storms. For now there is peace to be enjoyed and hope to be lived.

The Monochrome Veil

We’re going through a protracted spell of very unsettled weather. Lots of storms have passed through – none have had names but they’ve all had lots of personality! It’s a very early start to the winter. This weather is something we don’t normally experience until after the start of the new year. Very occasionally the monochrome veil is brushed aside, and for a few moments we see the familiar colours of summer!