Absence Makes . . .

You may have noticed that ‘Life-on-Tiree’ has been strangely silent.
It is not that we have abandoned the island or the blog.
It is simply that we have been absent.

Looking over Gott Bay to Ruaig with the Rum Cuillin as a backdrop – from the deck of the MV Clansman

Absence means in most instances no posts.
The prolonged silence was down to several factors.
We were busy the week before leaving for the Mainland.
And we have been occupied since returning to our island home.
In between our leaving and returning was an action packed fortnight.

Looking back on the Isle of Tiree from the deck of the MV Clansman as we head for Oban and the Mainland

Thanks to our family’s kindness we had a week’s holiday in Pula, Croatia.
We had a relaxing time exploring this historic city.
It has a magnificent Roman Amphitheatre.
And – It is on the Adriatic Sea!

The MV Clansman in Oban Bay as we say goodbye to her for we are off to Glasgow

The family organised the Mainland trip and holiday perfectly.
This coincided with a routine hospital appointment in Glasgow.
After the holiday the family came together for a birthday celebration.

The coach stops and there is the Puffer ‘Vital Spark’ at Inveraray

Our family live south of the border in England.
So it is not just a matter of the ferry out and return.
It includes the coach from Oban to Glasgow and return.
The train from Glasgow to London and the return journey.
The train from London Marylebone to Oxfordshire and return.
The flight from London Southend Airport to Pula and return.
And add to that four different beds.

The same sun but a different setting – Pula, harbour in Croatia

Our outward journey began on a sunny May Monday morning.
As expected the ferry was the MV Clansman to Oban.
Passage time was just under four hours.

Dolphin spotting in the Adriatic – a great reminder of Tiree Sea Tours

How we appreciated the coach journey to Glasgow.
It normally permits a brief stop at historic Inveraray.
It is a scenic journey that takes in several lochs and glens.
What we particularly appreciated were the rhododendrons.
And for most of the way we were treated to the Scottish bluebells.

The MV Clansman alongside Berth 1 at Oban Ferry Terminal as she undergoes repairs

In our absence disaster struck.
The ‘Mighty’ Clansman suffered a grievous blow.
She was outward bound for Coll and Tiree at the time.
It was said that she experienced a fire in her starboard engine.
As a consequence she was out of service for over a week for repairs.

The MV Isle of Mull inbound to Oban from Craignure on Mull

The blow to the MV Clansman had serious repercussions .
The MV Isle of Mull took on the Oban, Coll and Tiree sailing.
She operated to a revised timetable that extended the crossing time.
While accommodating more foot passengers she can carry fewer vehicles.
Additionally the MV Isle of Mull was not designed for the waters around Tiree.
And compared to the MV Clansman she is less able to handle swell conditions.
(It is not acceptable that CalMac Office and Pier Staff are abused !)

MV Coruisk inbound to Oban from Craignure on the Isle of Mull

With the withdrawal of the MV Clansman much of the CalMac Network suffered.
This included Coll, Tiree, Skye, Barra, South Uist, Mull, Colonsay and Islay
CalMac did their best, however there is no resiliance in the fleet.
Businesses on each of the islands suffered financial loss.
Travel arrangements were severely disrupted.
And holiday makers are put off visiting.

A break in the showers affords a colourful Oban Bay

Our return to Tiree was on a Tuesday.
The weather that morning was sunshine and showers.
Normally the Tuesday crossing leaves Oban Ferry Terminal at 3:00pm.
However with the MV Clansman out of action the sailing was at 10:15am.
This meant an early start from Glasgow – a 6:15am departure from the bus station.

Opposite Oban is the island of Kerrera

Under grey, cloudy skies the MV Isle of Mull approached the Ferry Terminal.
She had just completed a sailing out and back to Craignure on Mull.
She was to be the ferry sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Approaching Craignure Pier

Normally the sailing is direct to Coll and Tiree.
It is not normal for the ferry to call at Craignure on Mull.
But with the disruption to service the vessel made a stop at Craignure.
This meant that the crossing to Tiree would take five hours instead of four.

Craignure Pier with coaches in attendance

This was a foot passenger only sailing to Craignure.
There were certainly many people taking advantage of this sailing.
No wonder there were several coaches, including, double deckers, waiting at the pier.
The onward sailing from Criagnure to Coll and Tiree was however much less crowded!

The MV Isle of Lewis lying off in the Sound of Mull while waiting to berth at Craigure

Lying off in the Sound of Mull was the ‘Isle of Lewis”.
She was waiting to approach the busy pier at Craignure.
She had sailed from Barra and would take foot passengers to Oban.

The MV Isle of Lewis approaches Craignure Pier on the Isle of Mull

With the passengers disembarked the vessel was secured.
We headed back out to sea and into the Sound of Mull.
The ‘MV Isle of Lewis’ then approached the pier.

The MV Lord of the Isles powers down the Sound of Mull

As we sailed north up the Sound the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ passed us.
She was sailing to Oban from Lochboisdale on South Uist.
Much later in the day she would make the return journey.
She would call at Tiree to provide an additional sailing.
There had been no sailing to Tiree the previous day.
This was down to the swell conditions.

The MV Lochinvar crossing from Fishnish to Lochaline

We had a long but enjoyable crossing.
It provided time to spend to chat with others.
Additionally we had a clear view of several other ferries.
We passed the MV Coruisk returning to Oban from Craignure.
And later on we saw the MV Lochinvar sailing from Fishnish to Lochaline.

Ardnamurchan Point and Lighthouse

The sun was shining when we berthed at Tiree.
It is good to go away but it is also good to return home..
We appreciated the time spent with family and time on holiday.
However it is a true saying that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

On our return Tiree lies under bright skies – the view from close to Coll

We left when the Machair was about to burst into bloom.
We have returned to an island that has a magnificent flower carpet.
With blue skies today and water that is azure blue the island is seen at its best.

The MV Isle of Mull alongside Tiree’s Pier in Gott Bay

This afternoon the air is so still and the water so calm.
For Tiree it even feels pleasantly warm.
But it is not always like this.
We have had grey skies.

Thursday witnesses the return of the ‘Mighty One’.

We have seen the air ambulance overhead.
Island families have experienced loss.
The island community feels it deeply.
This too is ‘Life on Tiree’.

A sight for sore eyes

For the disciples of Jesus Christ there is hope.
For the disciple loss is tempered by knowing Jesus.
Jesus knows what it is to experience the loss of friends.
The Bible says, Christ in you the confident assurance of glory.
Jesus is the Living One who has conquered death and the grave.

Kirkapol and Tiree’s Colourful Carpet

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.
Where absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It is good to back among friends and in our island home.

Our return to the Island of Stunning Sunsets