Back tae ‘Auld Clathes and Purridge’


Back tae ‘auld clathes and purridge’ is a good old Scottish saying. Some of the words are recognisable, but what does it mean? It certainly doesn’t imply that here on Tiree we have been reduced to wearing rags and enjoying an exclusive diet of porridge. Rather, we are back into the normal routine: In this instance, like Christmas and New Year, our visitors from the mainland have come and gone and life has returned to a more normal pattern.

Part of our daily routine is to try and get out for a walk whenever possible. Talking about walking, we could not help smile at something we read in one of the books that we received as a Christmas present. In ‘An Eye on the Hebrides’ Mairi Hedderwick writes, “There are are all sorts of derogatory tales differentiating islanders. The Tiree man who walks permanently at an angle of 45 degrees on account of that wind, the Mull man who steps high on account of the bracken; and the Coll man who gets headaches when he visits Mull on account of the mountains. Coll and Tiree are very flat . . .” Some days when out walking in a strong south westerly we feel that we are beginning to develop that 45 degree angle.

In common with the Scottish Highlands and western isles, daylight hours on the Isle of Tiree are limited in the winter months. For much of December sunrise is about 9.00am and sunset is before 4.00pm. On days when both the sky and sea are leaden, the daylight hours can appear even shorter a fact our family visitors from the South commented upon. The compensation is the long daylight hours in the summer months.

Although we have experienced high tides and a new lochen has appeared spanning two fields in Scarinish, we have been spared the flooding currently wrecking havoc in much of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the South West of Scotland. On Tiree the gardens and outside of many properties, including our own abode, are decorated with floats/buoys salvaged from the seashore. I say ‘decorated’, at least I don’t think they are part of an early warning system or have a life saving purpose!

On Sunday morning in church, it was encouraging to be reminded from God’s sure and certain Word, the Bible, that no matter what difficulties we might face in 2014, when your faith is in Jesus, you know you can trust him fully and that he will shield you by his power. After all he has chosen us and brought us into his family. Jesus is our living hope.