“The Long Haul”. This is not a reference to the length of rope attached to the boats moored at Millport on the Isle of Tiree, nor to the length of our walk from our home in Scarinish to the Surgery at Baugh and back again. Rather, it is reference to the much touted phrase employed at the beginning of lockdown due to the current pandemic. “We are in it for the long haul.” It may be tough, but we need continued patience.
It is so long since the last posting of ‘Life on Tiree’ that we received an enquiry asking if we were OK as there had been no updates in a long time. In fact it is over three weeks since the keys on the keypad were tickled to compose a post. It might seem strange to say that the silence was mainly down to one thing. Life has been busy in lockdown as we have sought to get to grips with the Zoom Conferencing App. The church throughout the UK has been unable to gather together in a building so other means of gathering have had to be employed. Some have made livestreams on platforms such as Youtube or Facebook which have their strengths and limitations. It is much more like watching a movie and less engaging. However, for large congregations it is probably the best solution. Our experience is that Zoom allows a greater sense of involvement in the gathering and for those unable to zoom in the services can be recorded and posted to Youtube and/or Facebook and Twitter afterwards. it is a helpful reminder that the church is not the building, not even the gathered people, but the people of God in heaven and on earth.
Two weeks have elapsed since we last made the walk from Scarinish to the Surgery at Baugh and on that occasion it was a bright sunny day. Today, was equally sunny and pleasantly warm,, although nothing like the temperatures in the south of England. It was a joy to stride out without having to brace ourselves into the wind. As we made our way past Tigh a Rudha, the eventide home, we were so thankful that thus far the home has been been sheltered from the virus. Many have sacrificed to help keep the home virus free.
Since lockdown we have hardly been in our car, other than for three essential journeys. In terms of walking we have barely left Scarinish. The furthest we have ventured on foot is Gott Bay, other than our previous visit to the surgery. For normal we would have criss crossed the island photographing the Machair, but not this year. You can understand then something of our delight at seeing a little of the vibrant colours as we made our way to and from Baugh. Wherever there was a hint of dampness we came across the Iris Pseudacorus, otherwise known as the yellow flag, the yellow iris, or the water flag.
We had decided to travel light and this meant leaving the camera behind. It was a major regret! The colours were so vibrant and although we had our phones, they are a poor substitute, especially for distant views. One of my favourite spots, not that I have favourites, is Millport close to Baugh. I particularly appreciate when the wee boats are in the water.
As we made our way along the road we came to the Baptist Church’ premises. It seems a long time since we were last in the building as at present it is serving as an emergency hospital ward. Thankfully it has not had to be used for any patients and we are praying that the present status remains.
Arriving at the the surgery we had to step over the cattle grid, which proved to be a place of beauty. What a colourful welcome! Once over the grid we stopped to telephone reception to let them know we had arrived in order for them to place the prescription in a safe place for us to collect it, thus avoiding face to face contact. We owe so much to so many on the island, and we are particularly grateful for the whole medical team. The pandemic has been a reminder of just how interdependent we all are on the island. There are so many key workers!
Before setting out on our return journey we stopped to admire and photograph the expanse of Hynish Bay and to photograph the view. This was one place we regretted not carrying the camera with us today. The view was a tonic.
Looking in completely in the other direction the Machair was breathtaking. Across the Machair from the Surgery is Tyrii Pottery, which is based in a former war time building. Their website states: Tyrii Pottery began in 1997 on the small Island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, located off the West coast of Scotland. The spelling Tyrii comes from Alan Stevenson’s maps used during the building of Skerryvore Lighthouse in 1836. The family business is run by mother and daughter, Jean and Helen, who produce earthenware pottery in vibrant colours. Influenced by the land and seascape of Tiree, the pottery is slipped and decorated to achieve the vibrant colours. Each piece is hand-made and decorated with a large variety of designs inspired by their environment. Hares, lobsters, oystercatchers, basking sharks, wagtails, mackerel and seals are a few of the many Tiree creatures that find their way onto their pots.
Whatever way we looked the views were so appealing. We looked back on what is now the dentist’s surgery. Striding out we looked towards the stump of Dr Buchanan’s Monument. The return journey was proving to be equally enriching.
It is late afternoon and clouds are beginning to blot out the sun, in fact a spot or two of rain have just necessitated the washing been hastily retrieved and brought indoors. However, this morning sky and sea were so blue.
As the crest of the road in Baugh we stopped to admire the view across the Baptist Church premises towards Heanish. We do not anticipate being able to return to the church premises any time soon.
We probably took longer on the return journey as we stopped more often to admire the views before us and to attempt to capture something of the moment. Homes around Millport whether at Baugh or Heanish have such panoramic views.
There was hardly a breath of wind and this meant it felt warmer than the recorded temperatures of between 12 and 14 degrees. It was an ideal morning for a walk.
As we made our way home we were reminded of the real sense of community there is on the island and the Tiree wave (from drivers) was much in evidence. On such a glorious morning the threat of the coronavirus seemed something remote and far removed, yet the danger is ever present.
Last weekend Saturday’s ferry was cancelled due to the sea conditions. The wind gusts were over 60mph. The seaweed strewn across the beaches is testimony to the fact that the weekend weather made it feel more like November than May. One resident with a knowledge of the sea said that he had not known such stormy conditions in May.
It was a delight to see the sun dancing on the waves.
Back in Scarinish the continuing work on restoring the former telephone box was clear to see. A great touch was the highlighted Gaelic and English names.
At the old harbour a lamb posed for a photograph in front of a fishing boat. It was a helpful reminder of the important place that both crofting and fishing play in the island’s economy.
Hopefully it will not be as long a wait for the next post on ‘Life on Tiree’.