Published by “Where The Corncrake Cries”
Back in November, when I was returning to Tiree from the mainland, on the CalMac ferry I picked up a book written by various Scottish writers. They were describing their homes, whether past or present, and one author in particular described her kitchen sinks.
This is our sixth kitchen sink and the view from it is very different from the others. Our first home was at Prestwick, Ayrshire, and the kitchen sink was the only one that was not at the window. I don’t remember too much about this sink, but I do remember one day attempting to make macaroons and putting the mixture in a bowl and placing it in the garden to set. I quickly became worried about a cat being in the garden and so hastily brought the macaroons back into the house.
The next sink was in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. This one was at the window and it looked out on to our garden which was small but longish in shape. We grew various things there, but the one that stands out is growing Italian red plum tomatoes. The estate on which we lived was a London overspill and people kept themselves to themselves. It was a wonderful the day when one of our neighbours came and asked if he could lower the fence, so as as he put it, “The women could talk to one another”.
Our next kitchen sink was in the house where we lived for twenty four years. Our home was on the Oxfordshire/ Buckinghamshire border. If memory serves me correctly, we had to replace the sink more than once. We are not the most enthusiastic of gardeners but one plant that survived the time we were in Chinnor was the peony rose. It appeared after the Spring bulbs and before the Summer bedding plants and its deep red colour never ceased to amaze me – year after year.
Our next kitchen sink had a very different view. The previous owners of the house had put a shed in the garden outside the kitchen window. It made the room dark of course. I could just about see round one side to the back grass and on the other side to a path at the side of the grass. However in this small town in rural Somerset we were surrounded by beautiful countryside Our next kitchen sink, still in the same town, looked towards a block of flats. Or you could say, we were overlooked by a block of flats. The residents often told me that they saw me at the sink washing up and so on. We used to joke that they knew when we lay down and rose up.
Our present kitchen sink view is so completely different from the rest. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I would be looking out on to what is the Inner Waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Of course, there are a few things in between our small back garden and the sea. There is the road down to the pier, the rocks, the machair and the sheep and geese who are there in varying numbers. Throughout the year the machair changes colour and the number of different birds varies. Soon, hopefully, we will hear the cry of the corncrake. However the sea is always there. Some days it looks as calm as a mill pond. Other days you are more aware of the waves and white horses. Yet other days when it is at its wildest, we can watch the height of the waves and be aware of the strength of the wind and the swell of the sea.
From my island window, I am much more aware of the long dark winter nights and the corresponding long summer days. I have to be honest, I much prefer the long hours of daylight. Each home and each sink have had their own special significance. Yet, on Tiree, living about 150 yards from the ever changing sea, and conscious of the beauty of our surroundings, I thank God for the privilege of living here.
One small after thought. Being quite short I have often had to stand on a stool to open and close the kitchen window. As my children grew taller I would ask them to perform this task. With tongue in cheek, one of them asked “Does the window never get open when I am not here?”