On the 22nd of August, we reach another milestone – resident on Tiree for two years. On our fact finding expedition two months before our arrival we were asked if we had experienced a winter yet. A good question. This summer it has felt as if we have been on the island two years and experienced three winters! Summer has passed most of Scotland by this year and its not just anecdotal – those who monitor the weather are saying that for much of Scotland it is the worst summer in thirty years. The sea fog, grey skies, rain and cold northerly winds are badly affecting the island’s crofting community.
We continue to appreciate island life and the real sense of community (Tiree has a population of about 650 people). When the campers had to be evacuated from the Tiree Music Festival site on the first evening of the event because of the destructive winds, the island rallied round providing transport and accommodation – some of it in island homes. Thankfully the festival was able to continue the following day and by the Sunday there were blue skies overhead.
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During our first twelve months on Tiree two of the island’s shops closed, a grocer and the butcher, leaving just the one store. However, during our time here, the island has gained an optometrist, an architect, a lawyer and an enterprise called ‘Fresh Off The Croft’. Very soon another store is about to open.
During the summer months ferry capacity for vehicles continues to be a major issue. Residents and visitors alike have problems getting on and off the island. This has a direct impact on business and the transport of goods. The good news is that we have a much improved air service. There are now two flights a day, Monday to Saturday and a Sunday flight all year round. As well as providing additional capacity, it means there is also the possibility of getting to and from Glasgow in a day.
Life at the pier continues to be a major draw. For about an hour or more it is the centre of island life. There are the comings and goings, the arrivals and departures and the skill of the pier staff, the skipper and the crew of the ferry.
We have a real sense of pride in showing our visitors around the island, which normally includes visiting the pier. As well as the beaches and marine life that surround us, the places of historic interest, the island’s distinctive houses, cafes and restaurant, there are friends to introduce.
Many visitors come to the island to surf, but others also come to take part in the 10k race and its ultra-marathon organised by Tiree Fitness. Both events are ‘full’ and it was a real privilege to be part of the 10k and half-marathon and are looking forward to the ultra-marathon (35 miles around the island). Just in case you get the wrong idea. Although we enjoy walking, we are only assisting in these events.
Two of the church fellowships on the island have major building projects. The Baptist church renovation of their premises at Baugh is nearing completion. Although, at present, not large enough to accommodate the Sunday morning service, due to the number of children who attend, it will nevertheless provide the church with a great facility.
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