Later this month we mark the anniversary of our arrival on Tiree. In 2011 we came for a day on a visit; in 2012 we came for a week’s holiday and then in 2013 we came to live on the island. It is strange, but for the first time in the seven years that we have resided here many of the annual community and cultural landmarks have been absent. As they say on TV, “The photographs of these cultural events were taken before lockdown conditions came into force”.
There has been no Tiree Music Festival, no Tiree Agricultural Show and no Fèis Thiriodh. The fortnightly Coffee Pot, a social highlight for many, was not able to continue. In fact the Baptist Church premises where Coffee Pot, was hosted, has been turned into a temporary hospital ward. Life on Tiree has been very different.
As we look back over the past months of lockdown on Tiree there is so much to be thankful for. So many people have served as key workers and volunteers. In expressing thanks you are afraid you might miss someone out. For the most part social distancing has been easier to put in practice. For example, on a beach four miles long you might not meet anyone else.
Now as lockdown is gradually eased the island is becoming busier. The temporary ferry service has limited capacity due to social distancing and fewer sailings. Although the shops and the island’s single track roads are busier, somehow the traffic that rolls off the ferry soon seems to disperse. as a consequence the island feels quietly busy.
As far as blog posts from ‘Life-on-Tiree’ are concerned there has been an unnatural silence. It is not deliberate, it’s simply that lockdown has brought a different kind of busyness. Since lockdown began we have used the car so little that it is only now that we have had to fill up with petrol. Most of the walking we have done over the months has been within walking distance of our home.
Part of that busyness has involved learning a new skill – how to use the online video conferencing tool called ‘Zoom’. Such tools have enabled island organisations to hold committee meetings, interviews and family and friends get togethers. Social interaction is vital and it is an important part of belonging to the church family. Along with many Mainland churches Tiree Baptist has had to hold its ‘Sunday Gathering’ and its midweek activities online. Lockdown has been a reminder that the church is the people of God and not the building.
Weather wise July was often dull and grey with only a few days of bright warm sunshine. There have been a few colourful sunsets but they have been the exception rather than the rule.
On Sunday morning I managed to fit in a brief walk before sitting down at the computer for the ‘Sunday Gathering’. As I turned onto Pier Road, I could just about make out a vessel anchored in Gott Bay. What could it be? My interest was stirred!
There were two small yachts lying at anchor in the calm waters of the bay. But this was something different – indeed in another league altogether. It was a luxury yacht, designated as MY V6 (KY. It was built in New Zealand in 2007. Just in case you might consider chartering her – apparently the yacht is not available for private charter.
MY V6 (KY had arrived the previous evening from Tobermory, having sailed past the Treshnish Islands, and Staffa with Fingal’s cave. The yacht’s destination the following day was ‘Greener Pastures’. This turned out to be the island of Rum.
Later that evening, just as the sun was setting, a glance out of our south facing window revealed the full moon. As it rose It had a definite red/pink tint. Apparently it is commonly known as the Sturgeon Moon or the Green Corn Moon.
On Monday Mrs Life on Tiree had an appointment in Glasgow and was grateful for those working at the airport as well as the Loganair plane pilot and officer. It seemed strange to look up from our garden as the plane flew overhead. How small the twin otter appeared. And from the plane Mrs Life on Tiree was able to identify our home.
Today, Tuesday, the wind has risen and the rain has kept coming down. Due to the conditions the ferry was on an alert. At Arinagour, on the Isle of Coll, the MV Clansman finally berthed, in no small measure down to the skill of the Skipper and his crew. Our son who was on board said he had never known the vessel berth as it did at Coll. On a morning in which we wondered if the MV Clansman would even leave the sheltered water of Oban Bay the ‘Might One’ thankfully safely berthed at Tiree.