Our recent trip to the Mainland took us to Falkirk, Glasgow, Thame (Oxfordshire), the Isle of Sheppey, Aylesbury and London. It involved a flight, several car and train journeys, a coach journey and a sailing from Oban to Tiree. Thankfully our travel arrangements went to plan and were safe and smooth.
One thing that struck us afresh was the truth of the 2014 statement, ‘People Make Glasgow’. Whether in shops, at ticket barriers or on the trains, the staff were friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. In the clinic at Gartnavel Hospital, the doctor and nursing staff were a credit to the NHS.
Again and again, we find ourselves thinking that there are more people in a particular shop or street than live on Tiree. On the island, we are surrounded by the machair, beautiful beaches and the sea. In the towns and cities, we felt surrounded by buildings. I can appreciate now why parks are such vital lungs in large town and cities.
One misconception we have encountered over the years is that if you live in Scotland, you must be used to snow. So it was interesting one morning in Oxfordshire to waken up to a snowy scene and to take a taxi journey on snow covered roads. Likewise for much of our journey north, from Oxfordshire to Argyll and Bute we looked out on a snow covered landscape.
As we sailed up the Sound of Mull we were accompanied by low level clouds which restricted the view, but by the time we turned to face the Atlantic Ocean, we could see the Hebrides in all their splendour, As we looked out on snow covered mountains, many of them Munros, it somehow registered just how low lying Coll and Tiree really are.
It was helpful to visit the hospital. It was great to see friends and family – including visiting a 95 year old former neighbour.
But it is good to be back in our own home surrounded by the sea.