August 2014 is an important milestone marking the first birthday of this blog and the first anniversary of our arriving on Tiree. Over the past months we have settled into ‘Life On Tiree’. Although in many ways it is very different from life on the Mainland, in other ways it is very much ‘a microcosm of the macrocosm’. As the poet Robert Burns recognised, ‘A man’s a man for a’ that’.
Just as on the Mainland, there have been births, marriages and deaths. We have learnt that most mothers to be have to go off to the Mainland about two weeks before the baby is born. Flags flying can mean that there is a wedding celebration – or it may be just the love of flying a flag. With no mortuary or chapel of rest on Tiree the rites associated with death have maintained many of the old island traditions.
We have witnessed so many events over the year: Bonfire Night, the Over 60s Christmas Party, a Book Launch – ‘The Secret Island’, Tiree Music Festival, the Agricultural Show – to mention a few! In fact there have been many other events, so many that you could not be involved in them all.
It has been a joy to meet new people and to begin to put names to faces. We are so appreciative of the welcome we have received whether in the one remaining grocery shop, or when out and about, or at the Baptist Church. We came to Tiree in retirement and then in June moved out of it taking on a role in the Baptist Church.
It is difficult to visit the pier at Gott Bay, without appreciating the skill of ferry skippers and the skill and courage of those who work on the pier. There were days when the ferry did not sail at all, other days when it turned back and other days when it entered the bay but could not berth. And there was at least one day when the ferry berthed but had to withdraw when some of the ropes snapped such was the pressure on them.
It is hard to take in the changes in such a short space of time: The butchers shop and MacLeod’s Store have both closed their doors. The Old CalMac Office and Stores have been demolished. There are new lights on the pier. Some pot holes have been filled and the islands roads have been dressed. Kirkapol Church of Scotland has closed. Work has commenced on renovating the Baptist Church Building at Baugh. And we have a new community council.
Some things haven’t changed. The warmth of welcome. The famous Tiree wave. The sense of peace and security.
Some phrases that spring to mind include: Wild Waves, Winter Storms, Stunning Sunsets, Remarkable Musicians, Long Winter Nights, Long Summer Days, the Machair, the Cry of the Corncrake, a Friendly, Welcoming Community, a Medical Practice that genuinely cares for patients.
Any regrets? No! Especially not when you know yourself to be in the place God called you to live. That’s not to say we would not like to be nearer to our family, but there is the internet, phones, video-calls, ferries and trains, buses and planes.