Look To The Skies

It is hard to believe it, but Tuesday is the 1st of December. Where has the month of November gone? Believe it or not, there have been the same number of days as normal – 30 days.  Looking back over the month it appears that for much of the time, whole areas of the island have been under water. It has been day after day of grey skies and at times it seemed like incessant rain.

The Passage of Tiree from Scarinish

Yet, every so often the grey skies have parted and we have had sunshine. It is winter and the comparatively few hours of daylight have had a wintry feel to them as a consequence of the sun being so low in the sky.  

Breakthrough

‘Dreich’, which is much more expressive than drab, is a word that we have heard often throughout the month. Therefore, we have appreciated the few bright days all the more. Saturday the 28th was just one such example of the sun making an appearance at just the right time.

Scarinish Old Harbour

Throughout the month our eyes have been drawn to the skies. Sometimes to try and work out if the cloud cover is too low for the plane to land. If the plane is unable to land there will be no mail to or from the Mainland. On such days it has been so dark that you have required lights on in the house throughout the day.

A rainbow ove Pier View

On occasions the sun has shafted through breaks in the clouds. It has been like nature’s own spotlights. This morning the first few hours of daylight were characterised by low cloud cover over the Passage of Tiree. The horizon was marked by a letterbox that was filled with a red glow. How we appreciated seeing the distant Paps of Jura standing out against the narrow red backdrop. Soon the clouds were to be rolled up to reveal a welcome blue sky. 

A rainbow arcing over Scarinish Post Office

Another feature of the past month has been the frequency of rainbows. Many of them have found there way onto social media. Sometimes they have been like an early warning system to head for home before getting a soaking.

A wintry sunset

In the coming days  children will be looking to the skies to the see if they can catch a glimpse of a sleigh with a man in a red suit on board.  I have heard that in the not too distant future he will be making a special visit. to the Isle of Tiree.

The Big Guy made a trial run over Scarinish on the 28th of November

It made me think of a song by the musician and song writer Graham Kendrick. It is reminder that for the followers of Jesus, Christmas is the celebration of his coming to planet earth, when he became one of us – a real flesh and blood baby. It is also a reminder of his promise to return for those who have put their confident trust in him.

Looking out over Gott Bay from the Scarinish headland

Jesus said, “You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am.” (The Bible – John 14)

Almost the Full Moon rising over the Isle of Mull

And the first verse and refrain of the song by Graham Kendrick
Look to the skies, there’s a celebration
Lift up your heads, join the angel song
For our Creator becomes our Saviour
As a baby born!
Angels, amazed, bow in adoration
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven!’
Send the good news out to every nation
For our hope has come
Worship the King – come, see His brightness
Worship the King, His wonders tell
Jesus our King is born today
We welcome You, Emmanuel

Graham Kendrick – Copyright © 1983 Thankyou Music

Looking over to Ben More on the Isle of Mull

At this point in the calendar we normally look back over the year. In many ways it has been like no other. From March to July we never entered a shop and in fact since then only Mrs Life on Tiree has been shopping. For much of the year we have hardly ventured out of Scarinish. We did manage a week on the North East of Scotland when we stayed in a cottage right on the harbour at Findochty. Our annual review of the year will look very different.

A fiery wintry sunset

This coming week we will be visiting Oban to keep an appointment. It will be the first time the we have been on the ferry since the very beginning of March.  We are so grateful to those who have maintained the transport links to the Mainland during the pandemic.

Over the roof tops

Jesus is revealed as Emmanuel. The name means ‘God With Us’. There is a take on a poplar saying, ‘Jesus is for life and not just for Christmas’.  How true – for he has been with us throughout the year – the year like no other. And no matter what 2021 may bring our confidence is in him.

Looking beyond Scinish to Ben Hynish

This is ‘Life On Tiree’.

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He Hit The Mark

Yes! Seán Batty hit the mark. On Friday evening following the late evening Scottish news Seán forecast that Tiree would be the warmest place in Scotland. What a stark contrast with the storms of last weekend. Today, the sun shone from dawn to dusk and the sea was calm.

The sun rising over the Scarinish headland

We have recently fitted new curtains. They are very effective thermal blackout curtains. The only problem is they shut out the light. There is no advance warning of sunrise. So it was a dash out into the garden to admire the sunrise.

The Memorial adjacent to Pier Road.

It is Saturday the 7th of November and in normal circumstances at 3:00pm there would have been an Act of Remembrance at the Memorial situated just off Pier Road. But this is not a normal year and yet another community landmark has been missed.

The sun rising on the approach to the memorial

In many ways I want the photographs to testify themselves to the amazing November day that we have enjoyed on the Isle of Tiree. The sun was just coming up and yet I had no coat or jacket on when I went to the memorial just after sunrise. Well done Seán Batty!

The Dutchman’s Cap, Ben More and the mountain peaks of Mull
Looking across the Passage of Tiree
The moon was with us most of the morning

Later in the morning, probably just before 9:00am, we had a walk around Scarinish taking in the pier and the old Harbour. The winter sun is low in the sky and our shadows were long and the reflections were so bright.

Reflections at Scarinsh Old Harbour
Few craft remain in the harbour
Reflections mean two for the price of one

With such a beautiful day I went down to the pier at 11:00am to watch the ‘MV Clansman’ berth. Having watched the traffic roll off I then made my way back up to a vantage point above the old harbour.

The MV Clansman from above the harbour
Harbour View
The MV Clansman above the roof tops
Lighthouse View

This year we have hardly ventured beyond Scarinish, but this afternoon we decided to head out west. Our first stop was at West Hynish where we looked out to Skerryvore Lighthouse, about 12 miles off shore.

Skerryvore

The next stop was at Balephuil to watch the Atlantic roll in relentlessly. It appeared to be sending up a mist.

Balephuil Bay
Loch a’ Phuill and Ben Hough

The next stop was to admire the view across Balemartine and the Passage of Tiree towards Ben More on the Isle of Mull.

Across to Ben More on Mull

This past week flocks of birds numbering in the thosands have been seen in the sky above Tiree.

Island House

At Island House we drove across the Moor Road towards Cornaig and onto Balephetrish. By this time the sun was begining to drop in the sky as sunset approached.

Clouds mask the golden globe
The Isle of Rum from Balephetrish
The Isle of Rum brought closer

We then crossed back over the island to Crossapol and on to Baugh. The view in the rear view mirror was inspirational. Then it was home for a welome cup of coffee.

Looking across Hynish Bay towards Ben Hynish

The weather forecast for tomorrow, Sunday, is not for a repeat performace. The clouds that were building up to the west were an indication that we could believe the weather forecasters – at least on this occasion.

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

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Creakin’ and Rattlin’

Creaklin’ and a Rattlin’ – that about sums it up for this weekend. The rafters creakin’ and moanin’ as the slates on the roof go a rattlin’.  Yes! It was Storm Aiden followed by the remains of ex-Hurricane Zeta on Sunday. Didn’t we know it.

A Ray of Sunshine – Scarinish

Friday had been a ‘Ray of Sunshine in what otherwise had been a mainly grey week. On Friday evening the wind began to steadily rise. In the small hours of the night the wind was gusting to at least 66mph and the gusts officially topped  out at 74mph at 3:00 in the afternoon. It was not just the gusts, the underlying speed was consistently strong. 

The car rattlin’ and rollin’

Looking out of the window the car was rockin’ and rollin’ as it was buffeted by the wind. Any wheelie bins that were not secured took off, while some strained on their tethers. Would the cranes still be standing on the pier?

Visibility almost nil in the squall

At one point in the morning there was a sudden squall. It was not just the intensity of the wind, it was the sheer volume of rain. Anyone driving in the squall would most likely have had to stop. Visibility was almost nil. The last time I remember such rain, was when we were living in Oxfordshire and the conditions led to accidents on the M4 and M40.

The viw from our living room window

After lunch the wind started to ratchet up another notch or two. Just after one electric power went down, on Tiree, Coll and Mull. On the Isle of Mull a line had come down and someone had to climb a pole when the wind was at its worst. There may well have been secondary faults as on Tiree power returned at different times. Our supply returned about 6:30pm but for others it was two hours later.

The wind is over 70mph

A visit to the pier revealed a Gott Bay that was like a boiling, seething caldron. There was no sign of any waves breaking high in the air over the pier as is often the case. But don’t be under misapprehension, it was a wild scene with frequent intense showers that soaked you in seconds. 

Gott Bay like a boiling, seething cauldron

A later visit, about an hour before high tide, revealed a similar picture. The main difference that wind, which had swung round to a westerly direction, was leading to the waves almost over topping the pier. The waves were certainly breaking over it.

Spindrift tops the angry sea

We were grateful that there was time in the evening to prepare for the ‘Sunday Gathering’ hosted by Tiree Baptist Church on the Zoom platform. We were even more thankful that we had power when the ‘Gathering’ went out live on Saturday morning. For those unable to Zoom in at that time, a recording is to be found on YouTube with a link from the church’s Facebook page.

It was another noisy night with Creakin’ and Rattlin’. The idea was to sleep, but any time we woke you were conscious just how rough it was outside.  Happening to look out the window in the morning, we observed that we had suffered some storm damage. Although at present the house seems to have come though unscathed, our shed had lost several boards.

Baugh Beach from Crossapol

On Sunday afternoon we thought that we might have a change of scenery. We were thinking about walking but decided against it as the wind was gusting up to 59mph. Instead we went for a short drive in the car. We headed to Crossapol to watch the waves driving in relentlessly and powerfully onto Baugh beach.

The waves come powering in at Crossapol

From Crossapol we drove to Kenovay and Balephetrish. From the point just before the road drops down to the bay, we could see the spray and spindrift from waves reaching higher than the nearby houses. 

The seaweed piled high

There is often seaweed on the beach at the Kenovay end of the bay, but today it was piled high. Evidence, if it was needed, of the stormy conditions in recent days. Shipping may not like the skerries that lie off Tiree, but they afford some protection to the island.

The Blue Moon

Going back to Saturday evening. Between a gap in the scurrying clouds we could see the full moon. It was called a blue moon and not for the reason you might think. It is the fact that this was the second full moon in the month and not because the moon turned a shade of blue. 

The Moon plays hide and seek with the scurrying clouds

Sean Batty, the weather forecaster, stated, ‘The last time we had a full moon on Halloween was back in 2001 – which was also a blue moon – and we won’t see another one until 2039.’  From what he says, to witness a Full Moon on All Hallows evening is a rare occasion.

Spindrift at Balephetrish

We don’t know if it was the fact that the Scottish Government told children to stay at home this Halloween or it was the fact that it was a wild evening, but we had no children call at the door. In guidance issued a week ahead of 31 October, people were told guising (going door-to-door in fancy dress) and parties were not encouraged. Instead, people were asked to have safe Halloween celebrations at home

Friday’s arrival storm bound for 2 days

Tomorrow the weather forecast is for calmer conditions. Although there is an alert out for possible disruption or cancellation to Monday’s sailing, the drivers of the remaining floats from Friday’s livestock sale will be hoping that the ferry safely berths. No doubt there will be others in a similar position.

The MV Clansman

The Creakin’ and Rattlin’ has quietened down a little. Nevertheless, there is something dramatic about such conditions, especially when you have the visibility, no matter how poor, to look out on a seething cauldron.

Not to be repeated on Monday!

This is Life on Tiree

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