Out of respect for fellow islanders and in accordance with government guidelines our travels around Tiree have been limited. Most of the time we have hardy travelled very far from Scarinish and understandably that includes Scarinish Old Harbour and the Pier at Gott Bay. Naturally the ferry is a major feature of our ‘Life on Tiree’.
For several reasons and partly out of respect for those who work at the pier we have avoided going down the pier to watch the ferry arriving and departing. We have sought to observe the ferry’s movements at a distance.
With work recommending on the old pier there has been the need to build a small ‘village’ of portakabins, offices and accommodation, for those working on site. This has resulted in the loss of another favoured spot for ferry watching.
As a side note, before lockdown came into force work had begun on providing a water supply to the pier. This work has just recommenced. The whole area around and including the pier is a hive of activity.
In answer to the frequently asked question, “Do you still go down to the ferry most days?” The answer has to be “Yes” and “No”. I still enjoy observing the arrival and departure of the ferry but it has to be from a distance.
By this time in the year there would normally be 8 sailings a week. During lockdown there have only been 3 crossings a week, and on Sunday this rose to 4 sailings. From mid July the timetable will grow to 5 crossings. The MV Clansman can normally carry a maximums of 600 passengers but due to the present social distancing measures it is limited to just over 80 passengers.
Even if social distancing measures are relaxed down to 1 metre capacity on board the ferry will still be limited to around 160 people. CalMac have indicated that if they were permitted to reinstate a summer timetable that it could take up to 10 weeks to recruit and train additional crew members.
Respect for others is a characteristic of life on the islands off Scotland’s West Coast and this is particularly true of small island communities such as Tiree. Like the Mainland and especially in areas such as the Highlands, in island communities there is a tension between medical and business concerns. Such concerns are very understandable and the need for continued respect is so important.
Away from the business of the city and towns it is very easy to think that you can drop your guard against the virus. Holidays are about relaxation, but we remember the virus does not take a holiday break. Like many of Scotland’s islands Tiree has a high proportion of people who fall into the vulnerable category even if they are not in the shielding group. So it is important that we demonstrate respect by following the safety guidelines.
We are so grateful for those who have ensured that lifeline transport links have been maintained. Among that number are those who work on the ferry and the daily plane, and those who work at the pier and the airport. So many on the island have played an important role as key workers and carers. Here too is a possible area of tension with limited capacity affecting both island residents and holiday makers. How important that we respect those who work in these areas and one another.
Island shops are much smaller than their Mainland counterparts and social distancing is not so difficult in winter months when the island population shrinks considerably. It is a different matter in the busy summer months, even with reduced numbers of visitors. Please show respect by observing the guidance issued by the CO-OP.: PLEASE stay 2 metres apart – Use the hand sanitiser that is provided – avoid shopping between 12:0- and 2:30pm on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. – FACE COVERINGS are mandatory (as of the 10th of July – With the shop getting busier they ask that ONLY ONE MEMBER of a household come in at one time – Where possible leave children at home or in the car – Please do not touch an item you do not intend buying. Please respect this working in the shops and help keep them and yourself safe.
Very much in keeping with Life on Tiree, BBC ALBA began a 4 part series on Tuesday, called, Na Triristich / From Tiree With Love. It was filmed over a six month period in 2019 and follows the stories of some of those who live and work on Tiree. You will find it on the BBC iPlayer. Here is the LINK.
If you are on holiday and perhaps wondering where the Baptist Church is – we have not vanished. Due to the present government guidance regarding places of worship we have had to move our ‘Sunday Gathering’ on line. You are still welcome to come along live on a Sunday morning by Zoom (on computer, tablet, iPad, smart phone and even on an ordinary phone – although the latter is limited to audio reception only). Th church secretary can be contacted at 01879 220633 for login details – for safeguarding reasons they are not posted on social media. Sadly Coffee Pot and the annual Children’s Holiday Club are unable to be held this year.
Step inside by watching the video – You are most welcome!