I’ve been away and struggling to catch up. The weather, although very cold at times is stunning. Blue skies, bone dry and relatively calm. So a week ago I left Rona, en route to the Nuffield Hospital with a few stops here and there.
Cannot start with a blue sky day as it was greyish on leaving Rona last Wednesday with Ian on MV Spindrift, Kevin and Pam were at the top of the Alps!! The fish farm boats (well boats) are a common sight, this one was leaning right over but by the time I got the camera it had settled down, I guess they were vacuuming fish out of the cages. I think there are three of these multi million pound boats around the West Coast.
I made Perth the first night and headed into Edinburgh to catch IKea and ex Yacht Owners Jennie and Laurie for coffee, after that stop it was onto Cumbernauld to source new batteries and a stand in cell for the dud we found last week. I met Dennis at Capitol Batteries in Cumbernauld, great guys and very helpful. Time was getting on so of to the Nuffield and just in time for my appointment. This was a private health care deal I have with the job. Although it goes against my socialist leanings I was pretty fed up of going back and fore to appointments in Raigmore, so I bit the bullet and requested an appointment in Glasgow. The Nuffield is a 60’s building which was not inspiring but on going through the doors I entered a very efficient hospital with attentive staff especially the consultant Mr Simpson. It was interesting to find out that they have many NHS patients as the local hospitals are so busy and put many patients there, that is good for them I’m sure. However 2 hours after i went in the magician Mr Simpson cured my deafness, balance issues and constant earache, fantastic. In fact I can hear things I have never heard before. 3 ENT appointments in Inverness and many visits to Portree (where the Doctors were very good) later I got it fixed. What a relief. So with further ado it was round the corner to Dave and Alison Clarks, friends who visit in the summer in their motor boat, ‘Barron Kelvin’.
The highlight of the visit was seeing the Puffer in the garden. It actually puts out smoke and peeps, which the neighbours must love!! A friend of Dave’s made it as he has many interesting pieces dotted around the garden and house. Always a good place to stop and the hospitality was in excess as usual.
Next day (Friday) off to see Iain and Pauline in Perth, ex Yacht Trillion, where a lovely lunch was on the table in between the Virgin Media man fitting a new telly, very interesting. A couple of hours there discussing the housing crisis and issues in Scotland then off to Edradour to pick up this years bottling of Rona whisky, 60 bottles in the car with the snow coming in and gales forecast I was a little anxious heading North. As it turned out there was at least a 5 mile queue to Killiecrankie from Bruar or even the snow gates, but it was too cold and late to stop there so headed back to Perth and had a tea with Mike and lorraine Raith, who were very hospitable.
Saturday after an early start I headed up to Inverness on black roads but the drifts at Dalwhinnie were there to prove the previous evenings traffic chaos. More family visits then in the evening dinner at the excellent Coul House Contin with German friends who were staying for a week took up the remainder of the day. Sunday, why change a habit, lunch with Kenny, linda and Gemma at their house in Shieldaig, excellent too, and i’m getting fatter for sure. The real reason for my visit was to see the new Shieldaig Pontoon. A fine piece of equipment and it will make for a busy season and easier times for the MV seaflower.
It was not finished but next day ‘Varis Engineering’ were back and it is now complete. It is all go there with a new house sprouting out of the ground next door to Kenny and Linda. Busy times. The sun was out and after four I headed up to Portree to catch up on the debrief with friends at Struan Lea, the usual Sunday evening entertainment was concluded with an early night.
Monday morning first thing, I hooked up with Kevin on the pier, just back from two weeks skiing, very relaxed and suntanned but absolutely full of a stinking cold. So off we set with me at one end of the cabin him at the other, not wanting to share the plague!!
It was a lovely crossing and good to see the lights still on in the hall at Rona Lodge on entering the harbour. It was good to get back and pretty relaxed I was until I came upon a wee lamb lying dead in the field, cleaned by the Ravens and crows no doubt but I was not surprised to hear it had perished on Saturday Night. It was a very cold and windy time with storms all around but disappointing never the less especially when found out which sheep it was.Somebody actually said to me once they loved Ravens, I’m not over fond of them myself!!!
A bit early for lambs but the Tup was threatening to jump the fence in November so we just let him in so at least we were prepared for the lambs. This time last year the temperature was in the high teens.
This one came a wee bit too early so it may have been a poor thing anyway. The visitors were over feeding the sheep but there was not much they could do. Since then we have two more lambs and an hour ago at last light I saw twins, I tried to take them in but the Mother was having none of it so they are out there taking their chance. I will go down later with a bottle to see if I can get something inside them for the night.
Monday rolled into Tuesday which was a little bit overcast but with odd blue skies. The wind howled from the North East and up top or where ever it was exposed it was blooming cold. Late afternoon Tuesday I got a surprise when two kayakers came into the harbour but I think once they paddled past our ‘No Fire’ sign they decided a quieter spot would be more to their liking, no doubt they had a wee bonfire and I can’t blame them. Fingers crossed we do not have fires here it would be a disaster. All around I could see Skye and the mainland ablaze. I saw 6 separate fires from Rona.
Over to Dry Harbour late to shut the painted door I could see the moor ablaze at Staffin, quite near to Tote forest.
Yesterday (Wednesday) went past in a blur, I finished off the boat steering, fitted the new battery, sorted out the cottage stores for Saturday guests and kept an eye on the sheep. Mid afternoon we had another lamb which was very cold but on closer inspection before dark it was dry and feeding well from its Mother. To-day another ‘scorcher’, in the shelter it was so warm, I don’t think the MCA girls who called about the boat survey were believing me, but this was the way it was.
Kenny phoned to tell me he was coming with fuel Saturday so I got the IBCs ready and the blue fuel hose, that made it more of a necessity to get MV Rona into the water. So tonight at full tide she floated and is now alongside. I’m pleased to say the engines started and she steered quite nicely.
It is always good to see the boat in the water but there are a few things still to attend to.
Just as I was packing up I saw out of the corner of my eye ‘ A SAIL’ Horrors, the yachties are back, too early, leave me alone. Only kidding, but it spurred me on to put up the usual signs that we have to put up every year.
Only yesterday I had to move a party of day visitors along out of our garden where they had set up their picnic after shifting all my seed trays!!! We now have a ‘Picnic Area’ sign.
The first thing I did here when I came 11 years ago was to take down the ‘Private’ sign, however since then I’ve been putting up more and more signs. No doubt this year in this blog you will see or read me getting grumpier and grumpier as the season unfolds. I could fill many blogs with the exploits of our visitors, more , much more later.
At least I’ll be able to hear them this year. So, not much more for it but to fill a bottle and head down the park in the dark with the torch, the joys, we only have a few sheep and we don’t have the horrendous problems the farmers are having in Arran and Argyll.