How Time Flies!

It’s 9:30am and I am walking across the Machair when the phone pings to announce a message from ‘Son Number One’. “Eight years ago today Mum, Dad and I were in Oban. Tomorrow they will have been living for eight years on Tiree. Time flies!” Almost immediately the phone pings again. This time it is Son Number Two, “Gosh. Eight years!!” Yes! That’s correct. It is eight years since we came to live on Tiree.

The removal van waiting to board the ‘MV Clansman’

On a Thursday back in 2013 the ferry sailed to Coll and Tiree and then on to Barra before returning six hours later to Tiree for the return crossing to Coll and Oban. This meant that it was possible for the removal van to make a day visit to the island without incurring an overnight stay on the island.

The view from the ferry terminal.

It was a beautiful morning for the crossing. The sky was like a picture postcard with a narrow belt of low cloud in the Firth of Lorne. Gradually Oban Bay began to take on an almost surreal appearance when mist crept in as the MV Clansman came alongside Berth Two of the Ferry Terminal. Our adventure was well and truly underway.

The ‘MV Clansman’ returning to Gott Bay from Barra on August 22nd, 2013

We had only spent a day on Tiree in August 2011 and a week in August 2012 before coming to the decision that it was part of God’s plan for our lives to move to the island. Prior to the actual move several unexpected events confirmed this sense of calling. Since our arrival so many waves have washed the island’s shore.

The view from a sea arch at Happy Valley

From our arrival we have enjoyed walking daily. Well almost daily! Although our island home is only about 11 miles long and five miles wide at its widest point and less than a mile wide at its narrowest there are so many beaches to explore. Before our son Andrew, who had come along to help with the removal, left for his home in Buckinghmanshire, we managed to take in a walk to ‘Happy Valley’ at the west end of the island.

Andrew about to board the Twin Otter at Tiree Airport

It is true! The past eight years have flown by. How we appreciate living on the most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides. It is not just the land and seascape. We value living as part of a small community. In the winter the population shrinks to about 720, although when we first arrived the populations was only 650. Our family live almost 500 miles away, but we appreciate belonging to the church family known as Tiree Baptist Church, as well as to the wider Christian Community.

Looking from Ben Hynish across Balephuil Bay.

Apart from the past two years, the years and months have been marked out by annual events that give a sense of rhythm. In addition to those annual markers all manner of things have taken place. Life, even in the winter months, is never dull. Tiree has a reputation of being one of the sunniest places in the UK, but it can also be one of the windiest. There are occasions when visibility is too poor for the plane to land or sea conditions too wild for the ferry to berth.

The MV ‘Lord of the Isles’ in a trouble Gott Bay

Over the eight years we have amassed hundreds if not thousands of photographs capturing what for us is ‘Life on Tiree’. For summer visitors Tiree is a holiday destination but for residents it is their home and workplace. Tiree is one of the best examples today of a crofting community. Some islanders are dependent on fishing, while others find employment in the school, eventide home, shops and other escential services. What follows are just a few photographs captured over the years.

2014

From the plane – The Pier in Gott Bay and the houses of Pier View
The Machair at Balevullin
Tiree’s Highest Point – Ben Hynish with the NATS Radar Station
Thirty One Crofting Townships

2015

A wintry sky and landscape (Scarinish)
Scarinish Harbour

As featured on BBC’s Weather Programme our photograph of when hail impersonated snow.

Sunset over a winter lochan in Scarinish

2016

Scarinish looking towards Ben Hynish

Snow is a rare occurrence on the island and when it does snow it does not lie for long.

The phone box in Scarinish
The Tiree 10K and Half-Marathon

The much anticipated Tiree 10K and Half-Marathon normally held in May (on this occasion just a few days after the snow!) In September the Ulra-Marathon is held and covers about 35 miles of the island.

How to commence a race!!

Traditional music is very much part of the community and below two pipers send off visitors who came from around the world to the “Home Coming’

Send Off
The Paddle Steamer ‘Waverley in Gott Bay
The MV Loch ALAINN over-nighting at Tiree
A member of the Balemartine Fold
Rainbows can be dramatic

2017

The Wolf Full Moon
Vaul Beach
Gott Bay at Sunset

We never tire of watching the sunsets

The Moorings installed in Gott Bay
The Pier Gott Bay
The Twin Otter coming in to land as the sun sets
The Annual Feis
Tiree Music Festival
The Waverley approaching the pier
On the way to Oban we called in at Tobermory.

In the past the ferry called in at Tobermory when sailing to Coll and Tiree. This is no longer possible other than on the Waverley.

A visit to the Waverley’s Engine Room
The MV Isle of Lewis, MV Clansman and the PS Waverley in Oban Bay

The above picture has a historical significance. The MV Isle of Lewis had been delayed due to a funeral on Barra for a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing. It is just after sunset when the three vessels were together in the bay – with the PS Waverley alongside the North Pier.

The MV Clansman has a Full Face Wash

2018

The MV Clansman is The Mighty One
When mist creeps across the island
The MV Hebridean Isles with a swell running
When disaster strikes

Since this dramatic event which involved damage to the starboard aft section of the vessel the MV Hebridean Isles has not returned to Tiree.

Brian and Susan visitors from Canada.

One of our pleasure is welcoming friends and family to our home. Another joy was meeting visitors from Canada whose ancestral roots are in Tiree.

Skerryvore Lighthouse

Courtesy of Tiree Sea Tours it was a dream come true to visit the Skerryvore Lighthouse which lies about thirteen miles from Tiree. It is an amazing experience even on the calmest of days.

The refurbished Tiree Baptist Church premises at Baugh

Tiree Baptist Church has its Sunday Gathering in An Talla, the island’s community centre, as its premises are on the small side.

2019

Big skies are a feature of living on Tiree
A sailing under the hours of darkness
Puffin Togetherness on the neighbouring island of Lunga
I have a family to feed
The ‘Flying Farmers’ land at Tiree Airport
Celtic Worship at Tiree Music Festival
TMF – The Big Top
Baptism at Baugh

A highlight of 2019 was the baptismal service in the sea at Baugh.

Arinagour on the neighbouring island of Coll

2020

Who knew what storms lay ahead for the world at the start of 2020. Winter storms played out, but worse was to come when the world faced a global pandemic. Wind and waves are dangerous but something invisible was about to strike. The Tiree Baptist Church premises was set up as a hospital ward but thankfully it was not needed. Later in 2021 it played a part in the vaccination programme on the island.

Just before Tiree along with the whole of the UK went into lockdown the 20 year old linkspan at the pier was renewed. It arrived from the Clyde on-board an enormous floating crane. The old linkspan was removed and the new one swung into place.During the work the MV Clansman carried only foot passengers and goods were brought by a small coastal vessel and lifted onto the pier by a mobile crane.

Mammoth a large floating crane arrived in Gott Bay

For several months we hardly ever ventured out of the crofting township of Scarinish. On one special occasion when there was a ‘Tractor Run’ in aid of the Surgery Fund we made an exception.

The Tractor Run passing through Scarinish

In August our son Andrew was able to visit and we managed to get out and about and enjoyed seeing other areas of the island.

A beautiful sheepdog

On one of walks we met this beautiful sheepdog in the company of its master.

On the tidal island of Soa
Through the rainbow – the Mighty One
And the sun rose and set as usual

2021

Along with many churches Tiree Baptist held its Sunday Gathering online on the Zoom platform and this had to continue through to the end of May.

A wintry sunrise over Ben More on the Isle of Mull
In January the sunrise is after 9:00am
Lit up by the sunrise the island of Rum provides the backdrop

When we first came to Tiree, the summer timetable for the ferry was fulfilled by the MV Clansman and the Lord of the Isles with a smaller vessel acting as relief vessel in the winter. Later the MV Clansman became the primary vessel with relief provided mainly by the MV Lord of the Isles. Occasionally other vessels such as the MV Hebrides and the MV Isle of Mull have visited the island.

The MV Lord the Isles with a snow capped Ben More
The MV Hebrides in Gott Bay in February 2021
The MV Isle off Mull providing relief

There are no native rabbits of the island but there are plenty of hares.

From our living room window!

There however is one rabbit that lives in our garden. He followed us all the way from Oxfordshire and Somerset.

Complete with Bible and church cat
In amongst the Machair

What a view for your daily walk – blue sea, sky and the mountains of Mull.

Scarinish
The Tiree Ranger introduces the packed evening event

In previous years the Tiree Ranger of the time along with Dr John Bowler and Dr John Holliday ran an event called ‘Tiree the Secret Island. The secret is out for this month’s Scots Magazine ran an article on Tiree and Coll and last weekend three different newspapers featured Tiree.

A surreal sunset in July

This is Life on Tiree

Baugh Beach

Celebrating Our Eighth Anniversary

Close to the Ringing Stone

Trusting the Lord our God for what lies ahead.