Coasts and Waters

Happy New Year! 2020 has been designated as the year of Coasts and Waters in Scotland.

From Blue Beyond Cottage a grass track leads down to a small, secluded beach – the perfect place to taste the salt in the wind, hear the seabirds call to each other over the crashing sounds of the waves and see the pure sands stretching before your bare feet. There is nowhere quite as wonderful as the beach. There is something supremely refreshing about the sea breeze on Tiree. Whatever the season, the sea here is clear, blue and inviting. Those of you who will be staying this summer will certainly be able to celebrate the coast and water just a stone’s throw from the cottage door.

Turning to Christmas

We’ve had some dramatic weather here on the island – lots of stormy days with high winds, big seas and hailstones! We’ve had some cancelled ferries and tricky plane landings!  Today is much better – it’s calm and the sun is shining – so we’re all breathing a sigh of relief. Thoughts are turning to Christmas here on the island. Mine are turning to the words of Dylan Thomas:

‘One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea.’

Lengthening Shadows

Now that our clocks, watches and devices show Greenwich Mean Time – and we slip into the shorter days of winter – it is always good to be reminded that we still occasionally get beautiful, bright sunny days to lift the spirits. We’ve had a few recently – and it looks like we may be in for a few more this week. The low winter light creates wonderful shadows, textures and patterns along the beach – over the rocks and sand – and across the water. It’s a real pleasure to walk along the beach as the sun lowers in the sky and the shadows lengthen.

A Lot of Weather Recently

After a very stormy week with high winds and lashing rain – a harbinger of the winter to come – we’ve had a glorious weekend of clear skies and no wind. Severe and ever changing weather is something which is very common on the island – something everyone expects and gets used to. Ironically, during this spell of calm weather and flat seas the island is awash with ‘sailors’ who will be taking part in the Tiree Wave Classic.

Night Skies

We have the most amazing night skies here on the island. Although Balevullin has been dedicated as a Dark Sky Discovery Site because of its is easy accessibility, the skies above the cottage are magnificent. Depending on when you visit you will see clear views of The Milky Way, various constellations, star clusters such as Orion, meteor showers or, if you’re lucky, the Aurora Borealis. Because the island has no street lights, is sparsely populated, has few cars and no other man made light sources – we probably have some of the best skies in the country for star gazing.

Lively Lumpiness

Another spectacular morning on the beach just below the cottage – a southwesterly wind is driving the sea onto the beach. There are white horses and the sea has a beautiful, ‘lively lumpiness’ all the way to the horizon. At this time of the year – when the sun is much lower in the sky – the play of light  heightens the topography and texture across the landscape. It’s hard to improve on perfection – but nature just keeps on doing it!

Year of Coasts and Waters

2020 has been designated as a year in which Scotland’s Coast and Waters will be showcased and celebrated. Throughout the year visitors will be encouraged to enjoy and celebrate the unrivalled coastlines of Scotland.

There’s no better place than the cottage to find the beauty, peace and inspiration found on the coast. The beach below the cottage is accessed by a grassed footpath adjacent to the cottage. Its easterly facing position gives spectacular views towards the Isles of Mull and Iona and it is a great place from which to admire Hebridean sunrises, coastal birds and marine wildlife.

An August Beach

We’ve had an amazing week of sunny, hot days. Long and lazy. Perfect for the beach – for exploring and discovering the treasures that can be found along the shore.

The light shimmers in a staccato rhythm on the sea
Sand lies low awaiting the massage of the next tide
Rocks bake in the sun and glisten like jewels
Water laps and brings a gentle and refreshing repetition
An August beach, a summer medley.

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

We’ve had a remarkable spell of settled weather this week. Each day has been warm and sunny well into the evening – with hardly any breeze – unusual for Tiree. The beach below the cottage has been well used by a good variety of folk – young and old – spending time enjoying the delights of beach-combing, rock-pooling, swimming, kayaking building sandcastles and evening barbecues. The tides have been at their highest and lowest this week and we’ve seen sow thistles along the edge of the dunes for the first time in a long while.



The Sound of Music

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!