Tentative Steps

There is good news, the island is slowly opening up with the return of summer temporary residents, regular holiday visitors and holidaymakers visiting Tiree for the first time.  At present the number of visitors is limited by the reduced passenger capacity of the ferry due to social distancing measures. 

Sheep grazing on the Machair at Caolas

In Scotland there are 5 COVID-19 protection levels (0-4) and Tiree along with most of Scotland’s islands, except the Isle of Skye which is connected to the Mainland by a bridge, is in Level One. Although this allows some more freedom to meet, great care still needs to be observed in order to prevent the introduction of the virus to the island.  Visitors are welcome but it is Scottish Government advice to do 2 Lateral Flow Tests before travelling to the island.

Caolas at the East End of Tiree

Tiree Medical Practice have issued an important message for all visiting the island. The message is available online. Other Covid related information for visitors is available and should be read and acted upon.

Ruaig for great beef

CalMac (Clyde and Hebridean Ferries) in the past month and more have had a whole series of vessels failing. The most notable is the MV Loch Seaforth, which suffered damage to one of her engine bearings and further issues to the engine crankshaft. This led to the MV Isle of Lewis being withdrawn from the Oban Barra sailing and transferred to the Ullapool Stornaway service. All this had a ripple effect across the whole network. The encouraging news is the MV Loch Seaforth has left dry dock (28/05/2021) and providing sea trials are successful she will return to her home waters.

The late arrival of Sunday’s delayed sailing

Thankfully the MV Clansman has continued to serve Coll and Tiree, although the network problems led to some changes to the normal timetable. On a Wednesday the ferry normally includes a sailing to Barra resulting in a later return sailing to Coll and Oban. Latterly this was replicated on a Thursday. Additionally the Sunday sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree and return was delayed until 3:15 (instead of 07:00) to enable the ferry to return from Barra., having sailed there the previous evening.

The MV Clansman in Gott Bay on Sunday

Last Sunday the sailing was further delayed due to operational reasons and then shortly after the MV Clansman had departed Oban Ferry Terminal she had engine problems and there was some question of a possible return to Oban. To the relief of the crew and passengers the issue was resolved and the ferry was able to continue with her sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Magnificent Gott Bay

The sun came out to welcome the arrival of the ferry. It had been a wild and wet morning and early afternoon but the sky was blue and the sea was calm in Gott Bay as the ‘Mighty One’ berthed.\

Spring has finally sprung

On Wednesday evening those looking skyward were treated to a full moon known as a Blood Moon. Although the same could not be said for much of the UK, the full moon was clearly visible in the night sky above Tiree. The red colour was obvious, however the camera ought to have been mounted on its tripod. The full moon has resulted in quite dramatic tide conditions. We are now at that time of the year when on Tiree the hours of darkness are increasingly limited.

This week’s Blood Red Full Moon

Throughout the pandemic the island’s Baptist Church has hosted its ‘Sunday Gathering’ on Zoom and later in the day releasing a recording of the event on YouTube and Facebook. On the first Sounday in June the church will be able to meet once again in An Talla, the island’s community hall. The encouraging news is that although numbers will be restricted due to social distancing measures, congregational singing is permitted as at present the island is in ‘Level One’. Those intending to attend on the Sunday will be required to register their intention to come in order to avoid being disappointed as numbers are restricted.  The intention is to continue to continue to broadcast on Zoom and whenever possible to release a recording later.

Leaping for Joy

For the Baptist Church, these are the first tentative steps. Masks will still be required, hands will be required to be sanitised, and we will have to sit socially distanced – but it will be great to meet together in the same space.

Tiree Baptist Church Welcomes You

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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Amended Timetable

It’s Thursday 27th May 2021 and due to the technical fault affecting MV Loch Seaforth, an amended timetable is in operation. Instead of the normal timetable of a Oban – Coll – Tiree – Coll – Oban sailing an additional leg has been factored in. From Tiree the MV Clansman continued on to Barra.

MV Clansman in the Little Minch

With an appointment for coffee to be kept in the morning it was impossible to observe the progress of the MV Clansman through the Gunna Sound on her way via the Little Minch to Barra. So this afternoon around 4:30 there was the opportunity to watch the return of the ‘Mighty One’. Parking at one of the higher spots on the road between Ruaig and Caolas the ferry could be seen out in the Little Minch.

The MV Clansman about to enter the Gunna Sound

The weather was favourable with only a slight breeze, blue skies and a a calm sea. It is always a pleasure to observe the stately approach of the ‘Mighty One’ through the Gunna Sound. The ‘Sound separates Tiree and Coll and takes its name from an island there.

The MV Clansman with the Isle of Rum as a backdrop.

As the ferry enters the Sound, the Isle of Rum is a great backdrop and on this occasion the outline of Rum was clearly visible.

The MV Clansman enters the Sound

Right on schedule the ferry entered the Sound. There was no fanfare to herald her arrival. There was only the steady thob of her engines.

The MV Clansman approaches the navigation buoy.
The MV Clansman ploughs her way through the waters off the Sound

Before the ferry leaves the Sound, Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular can be seen in the distance.

The MV Clansman leaves the Gunna Sound

As the vessel leaves the Sound and enters the Passage of Tiree, the mountain peaks on Mull including the munro ‘Ben More’ provide the backdrop.

The backdrop is the west coast of the Isle of Mull

Instead of returning directly the pier at Scarinish, the next point of observation was from the sandy shore of Gott Bay.

The MV Clansman enters Gott Bay

The shoreline of Gott Bay gave a completely different view of the ferry, in particular her berthing alongside the pier. For normal the view would be across the pier.

The ‘Mighty One in Gott Bay
The MV Clansman swings to come alongside the pier stern first.
The approach to the pier
Preparing to berth
A yacht with an amazing view of the MV Clansman
A surfer’s kite provides even more colour
Almost there!
A view from the Roadway

Under the favourable conditions the ferry berthed on time alongside Tiree’s pier, Gott Bay, Scarinish. For the past two weeks the MV Clansman has sailed out to Barra on a Wednesday and Thursday. Thankfully, other than have three ferries with a late arrival in Oban, Tiree has been unaffected by the woes of the MV Loch Seaforth.

The MV Clansman

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

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No’ awa’ tae bide awa’

Life on Tiree has literally been that for the past five months. Our last visit to the Mainland was In early December 2020 when we had to visit Oban for hospital and dental appointments Fully vaccinated and after allowing more than the required three weeks for immunity to be built up, we set out last […]

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Hare! Hare!

Before moving to Tiree I was always understood to be a rabbit and in my relatively long life I have moved around the country. I cannot remember where I came into existence, but I came to live when my present owners when they lived in Oxfordshire. I was given to them as a present, so I guess you can say they adopted me. After Oxfordshire, I spent 10 years with them in the small market town of Wiveliscombe in Somerset. It is almost 8 years since I came to live with them on Tiree.

I came to Tiree thinking I was a rabbit

You may have noticed a cat sitting by my side, I guess it is a church cat. I have a book tucked under my arm, it is a Bible. I have heard some people call it the ‘Good Book’. It is more than just a good read. Far from a rule book, when you get to know the author it transforms your life for the better. I prefer not to wear what they call a ‘dog collar’ but for me this clerical collar is a fixture.

Do you like my whiskers?

As I have said, I have always thought of myself as a rabbit, but now I am not so sure. Rabbits, which build their homes in burrows, could wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape. Perhaps after all I am a hare.

A new outlook on life

Shortly before I moved with my human family to Tiree, I can remember them watching a four part television series called ‘Islands on the Edge’. On one episode there was a female hare that led the males on a merry dance. I have a feeling this particular scene was filmed around Balephuil. Perhaps that’s why my adopted family thought they had to go to Balephuil in an attempt to photograph hares.

I blend in to my Tiree surroundings

Hares are certainly not unknown around Scarinish, but in the past two weeks my adopted family have been excited on more than one occasion to look out the window and watch a hare feeding. Their excitement knew no limits when they spotted two hares. Mr and Mrs? They could not be sure. It was a good thing it was a digital camera they were using – the number of photographs they took. Somehow it has made them take more notice of me, but they seemed to think I needed to go under cover – perhaps they still think of me as a rabbit.

Hare we go again!
Watch me go!
Now there are two of us
Catch me if you can

Today they decided to cut the grass. (They have never ever mowed the lawn.) Perhaps they ought to go on a driving refresher course. They almost ran over a young frog. Just in time it hopped out of the way of the mower. I certainly felt safer tucked under the shrub.

Hares are not the only visitors to my patch. I particular like when feathered friends call, There was a time when the birds were more numerous but since my adopted family have stopped feeding them numbers have dropped off. I have heard them say they don’t want to encourage vermin – furry friends!

A splash of colour

In the past week or so they have renewed their interest in my surroundings. Lettuce and potatoes have been planted in containers as well as flowers. I think they might have been challenged by a colourful display they regularly pass on their daily walk around the township.

A new outlook on life

Rabbit or hare, I certainly enjoy ‘Life on Tiree’.

This is the view from my patch

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