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 […]

Read more "No’ awa’ tae bide awa’"

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

Read more "Hare! Hare!"

Playing Catch-Up

It feels as if ‘Life on Tiree’ is playing catch-up. I have been reminded and I am conscious that is quite some time since there has been a post. Life has just been busy in one or another.

From Scarinish, looking across to the Isle of Mull

For a start as a church family we have been unable to meet together as normal in An Talla due to the Covid restrictions. We do meet, it just has to be online at present and this involves a different set of skills and ways of communicating and sharing. However, it is such an encouragement to share together in our Sunday Gatherings in the presence of our living Lord – Jesus.

A sprinkling of snow around the remains of the Mary Stewart

We both enjoy walking and some weeks the weather has been against us, but whenever possible we get out. For much of the time our walks have been close to home, but throughout lockdown we have appreciated the freedom we enjoy on the island. At times we hardly met anyone, so social distancing was not a big issue.

It’s snowing!

A week into April and the daffodils were in bloom, yet at the same time we had snow showers. Thankfully it was only showers, unlike the experience on the Mainland. There have been cold northerly winds but frost is rare on the island, due to its position in the Gulf Stream which washes our shores.

April Showers -Snow Showers!

This past week we have had almost wall to wall sunshine. Blue skies have been the order of the day and the sea that surrounds the island turns the most amazing shades of blue.

Blue skies over Gott Bay

Whether or not it is the weather, but our daily walks are taking much longer. It is not so much that we are walking further, it is we are meeting more people and passing the time of day – naturally socially distanced!

I spy a hare outside the window

Rabbits would wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape, but as hares do not live in burrows they are acceptable. Unlike much of the Mainland they are not a rarity. We still say,  “Look over there – there’s a hare!” It is a special treat when observe one out of our window.

MV Clansman approaching the pier

For some people Monday’s relaxation of some of the Covid restrictions that will lead to the opening up of the island is a cause for concern. For other people the easing of some of the restrictions is most welcome, especially for those dependent on visitors for much of their income. 

Scarinish Old Harbour – Ready for Business

Tiree Sea Tours has been preparing for the season and both of their boats are in the water. In fact they have given them some exercise in preparation for the start of their trips. Surely a trip to see the Puffins on Lunga is a must.

Just testing and it’s all systems ‘Go!’

Tiree welcomes visitors. If visiting please respect our landscape, culture and community. Follow the guidance regarding testing before travelling to the island. We want to remain Covid free and safe. When on the island follow the guidance regarding visiting the shops. You will find helpful information at TIREE COVID-19

Sundown by Scarinish Harbour

Monday sees the start of the summer timetable for the ferry. Capacity is still restricted by social distancing measures, so make sure you book. Perhaps you never know, we meet you while out on one of our walks.

Scarinsh Harbour at Sunset

This is Life on Tiree.

Goodnight
Read more "Playing Catch-Up"

CANT — CAN

Watching the MV Clansman berth at the pier in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree, I could not help thinking of a play words. As she turned in the bay in order to berth with her stern to the linkspan thee was a fair degree of CANT. The Southerly wind was gusting up to 41mph and there was a warning issued the previous day that the Oban, Coll, Tiree service was liable to disurption or cancellation at short notice.

CANT

Would she manage ro berth or not? “She can’t!” or Oh! Yes she CAN!” This was the Mighty One after all. In fact although those standing on the roundhead faced challenging conditions the lines were thrown, caught and the ropes hauled and secured. With her bow across the roundhead and the ropes in place she employed her powerful thrusters to bring her stern in towards the pier. With the bow ropes secured the ramp was lowered.

CAN! – The MV Clansman alongside the pier

With the conditions as they were there was no hanging around. As soon as the traffic movements were carried out and the few foot passengers safely on board the ramp was raised and the vessel prepared to head back out to sea.

WAITING FOR INSTRUCTIONS

A WATCHFUL PRESENCE ON THE BRIDGE

Preparing to head out to sea

POWER TO THE PROPELLORS

THRUSTING OFF FROM THE PIER

Bow Plunging into the Waves

Was there any doubt the ‘Mighty One’ would successfully berth? “Can’t – Oh! Yes she CAN!” What a picture as she headed out of the bay. There was to be no second stop at Coll. It was straight back to Oban today.

CAN

CAN

CAN

This is ‘Life on Tiree’ at the pier.

Read more "CANT — CAN"

A Welcome Return

In sharp contrast with the day before, the weather report stated that Tiree was enveloped in dense fog.  Although it was not a pea-souper, visibility was greatly reduced.  As a consequence of the poor visibility the daily flight from and to Glasgow was cancelled. 

Barely discernable the ‘MV Clansman’

On the way down to the pier I could hear what sounded like a ship’s horn.   A fishing boat was dipping in and out of the fog and this was probably one reason for the sounding of the ship’s horn.

A fishing boat dipping in and out of the fog

Yesterday morning the MV Hebrides took over the sailings on the Uig Triangle to Tarbert (Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist). After an early morning crossing from Tarbert to Uig the MV Clansman proceeded to Castlebay on Barra. From there she sailed to Oban. She was in place to be deployed on the 7.15am Thursday sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Arriving in Gott Bay and coming outof the murk

From Tiree’s pier the Passage of Tiree was shrouded in fog and it was out of the murk that the MV Clansman made her welcome return. She was well into Gott Bay before the outline of the ferry could be discerned. It was even further into the bay before she could clearly be seen.

The MV Clansman preparing to berth

With almost no wind and no swell the MV Clansman enjoyed calm conditions for her return to Tiree. In her extended  absence the MV Lord of the Isles covered most of the crossings, although on two consecutive crossings the MV Isle of Mull made an appearance. The latter was down to technical difficulties elsewhere on the network. The MV Isle Lewis which normally operates between Castlebay (Barra) and Oban is berthed in Stornoway (Lewis) with what has been reported as thruster problems.

The MV Clansman in front of the renovated old pier

In line with Covid restrictions both traffic to and from the Mainland was reassuringly mainly commercial vehicles. It was good to see, even from a distance, well known faces among the crew.

Well known faces

The equinox in March and the month of April can still bring with them stormy conditions so it is reassuring to have the ‘Mighty One’ back on duty.

Midship and bow ropes being hauled in

Welcome home.

The ramp lowered and local drivers board the car deck

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

MV Clansman – A Welcome Return

Read more "A Welcome Return"

The Hours of Darkness

It is not often that the ferry arrives or departs Tiree during the hours of darkness. It is not unknown for the ‘MV Clansman’ to arrive after the sun has set, but it is much more unusual to witness the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ arrive in Gott Bay in the last vestages of daylight and depart in the darkness.

The MV Lord of the Isles enters Gott Bay

With the ‘MV Isle of Arran’ out of action the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ is operating to an amended timetable. Instead of arriving in Tiree at 11:00am she arrived at 5:30pm. There was just enough light to catch sight of her out in the Passage of Tiree and watch her swing to starboard in order to enter Gott Bay.

‘LOTI” in Gott Bay

In the presesent circumstances. when only escential travel is permitted. traffic is light. With tomorrow’s sailing cancelled there was perhaps slightly more traffic than might have been expected.

‘LOTI’ approaching the pier

There was a definite nip to the air as we watched the ferry’s arrival. The wind was from the South East and the temperature was 3 degrees C, but it certainly felt like -2 degrees.

LOTI’ prepares to berth with her stern to the link-span

For much of last year we felt it unwise to visit the pier, but with everything much quieter and with fewer people around we consider it safer. Obviously we observe propoer social distancing measures. The latter is not difficult with so few travelling on the ferry.

‘LOTI’ alongside and preparing to draw back to the link-span

The bow ropes were thrown first and then with the stern to the link-span the stern ropes were secured. The ramp was lowered and the traffic rolled off. It certainly did not take long.

The bow and midship ropes secured

The ferry brings a touch of colour even in grey days, but there is something special about the ferry alongside the pier during the hours of darkness. Even ‘LOTI” is like a floating palace of light.

A floating palace of light

With the traffic light it was not long before all the vehicles were safely on board. HGVs and Tankers need to be lashed to the card deck during the passage. This was something we had to remember when we moved to Tiree over seven years ago.

A tanker being lashed to the car deck

With the stern ramp raised and the vessel was secured in readiness for heading out to sea. There was no hanging around this evening and in no time at all the ferry was heading out of the bay on her way to Oban.

The pier staff getting ready to release the ropes

Thankfully we don’t live far from the pier and so as soon as the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ made her exit – bound for Oban – we headed home for a warming cup of coffee.

It is dark!

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Read more "The Hours of Darkness"

Island Seascape

The sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree is through some of the most spectacular Highland and Island seascapes. After departing Oban Bay the ferry crosses the firth of Lorne, past Lismore Lighthouse and into the Sound of Mull. On a day such as today mountain peaks are covered by sunlit snow. Click on the […]

Read more "Island Seascape"

Welcome LOTI

Today the Isle of Tiree welcomed the arrival of ‘LOTI’, otherwise known as the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. For operational reasons Tuesday’s sailing had been cancelled and there is no timetabled sailing on a Wednesday. So the arrival of the vessel was most welcome and especially as the Skipper was a ‘Tiree Man’.

The MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree

Few people appear to refer to the ferry by her full title, most calling her ‘LOTI’. She was not due to visit Tiree until the 24th of January when she replaces the ‘MV Clansman’ while the latter goes for her annual overhaul and inspection or to replace another vessel due the same treatment. The official explanation for the present visit is ‘operational reasons.’ Since Monday evening the ‘MV Clansman’ has not left her berth at Oban Ferry Terminal other than to allow the ‘MV Isle of Lewis’ to use the berth.

LOTI prepares to come alongside the pier.

When a ferry breaks down the status refers to the cancellation or delay as due to ‘technical reasons’. When the cancellation is down to the weather or sea conditions the reason is clear. However in this instance the reason given was ‘operational reasons’ – make of that what you may.

LOTI coming alonhside the pier

Tiree, like many of the Hebridean Islands, is under the Scottish ‘Level Three’ resitrictions. The Mainland and the Isle of Skye are under Scottish ‘Level Four Plus’ restrictions. This week the Island of Barra has reported a few cases of the virus and the Island of Coll, Tiree’s near neighbour, has reported at least one case of the virus. It would be so easy for the virus to arrive on Tiree and perhaps more than at any other time during the pandemic there is a need for vigilance and observation of the Goverment guidance intended to stop the spread of the virus. It is an ever present danger.

The vessel alongside – the stern ropes are secured before the ramp is lowered

In the winter months the ferry traffic is light and this is especially so in the present circumstances. However, with no sailing on Tuesday inbound traffic to Tiree was up, but nothing compared to normal. Any additinal traffic was mainly freight.

Local drivers board the ferry to collect lorries etc

As the day has gone on the weather has improved and LOTI sailed in to Gott Bay with her bow facing blue skies. By the time she departed for Coll and Oban she took the blue skies with her. What a contrast today has been compared to yesterday. Most unusually we never ventured outside yesterday.

The stern ramp raised in preparation for sailing

With the vessel movements complete and foot passengers transferred the stern ramp was raised in preparation for sailing. Although the ferry would visit Coll on its way to Oban to take Coll traffic on board, all the traffic, vehicle and foot passengers, boarding at Tiree was bound for Oban.

Waiting to cast the stern ropes

It would be a pleasant sail to Oban with a flat sea and hardly a breath of wind. It was low tide and with LOTI’s low stern care has to be taken with the stern ropes. Tiree remains snow free but those arriving in Oban today would get quite a shock if they were travelling any distance. Much of the Mainland is under a blanket of snow.

Clear evidence of low tide

By the time LOTI arrives at Oban Ferry Terminal it will be more or less dark. Today’s sailing was 45 minutes later than normal – for operational reasons. ‘LOTI’ her skipper and crew were a welcome sight today. Perhaps the ‘Mighty One’ will be back on duty on Saturday, even if it is only for a few days. Those who serve on the ferries and who work on and at the pier are indeed on the frontline.

A watchful eye from the wings of the bridge

Thank You!

LOTI’s Departure

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

LOTI heads out to sea
Haste Ye Back

Read more "Welcome LOTI"

True to Forecast

After three glorious days, true to forecast, a change is on the way.  Over the past three days the air has been so clear and the views simply breathtaking. This morning most unusually the cold air has persisted.  The temperature is nothing like as cold as on the Mainland where temperatures got down down to -7.6 °C. Here on the island the official temperature went as low as 0° and continued in that region for several hours. 

From our south facing window the approaching sunrise

Who could stay indoors when the sun was rising and about to rise in such spectacular fashion? As soon as breakfast was over it was out for a walk. First of all just across the road to the memorial. The timing could not have been better as the sun was just on the horizon.

The sun’s rays reaching across the Passage of Tiree and the frozen lochan

After three days of frost, walking across tracks the ‘earth felt as hard as iron’. Lochans that I have never seen frozen before were frozen over. I could hardly believe that on the sand by the water’s edge I almost slipped over. On the sand it can be difficult to see the ice! 

A frozen lochan close to the sea and in the distance the Paps of Jura.

How great it is to be able to get out of doors and breathe the clean air and enjoy the simple pleasure of the stunning scenery that is right on our doorstep. 

A change is in the air as the clouds work their way in.

The work on the old pier was completed in time for Christmas. How different the pier and the area that surrounds it is without the contractors and all their equipment.. How bare the pier looks – there isn’t even a waiting room on the pier now! With the pier sitting out in the bay a waiting room is a must for such an exposed location.

It is a long walk and wait on a wet and windy day

The pier looked particularly attractive as the sun’s rays highighted the piles which support the concrete superstructure. The waters of the bay were like a large mirror – there was hardly a ripple.

Spot the seal.

Seals can be seen all around the island. In the summer months a highlight is when we catch sight of Sammy and Sally, (well that is what we call them) in the waters by the pier. We are grateful to the Pier Master for drawing our attention to what would appear to be a young seal that has taken up residence on rocks close to the Pier. He is present in the morning and slips off in the late afternoon for a spot of fishing.

This seal has been seen on the rocks in recent days

We could not resist taking photograph after photograph of this latest attraction to the pier and its surroundings. At times this seal seemed to blend in with the black rocks and at other times he semeed much lighter in colour as the sun highlighted him – or was it her?

Ben More on the Isle of Mull

The change in the air could be seen in the build up of cloud over the Isle of Mull. The clouds certainly appeared to be releasing some of their load over parts of that island and in a most colourful way from our perspective.

Across the sea rain is falling

Gott bay was far from a wild place this morning. It was calm and colourful – a perfect setting for the Lodge Hotel. Without the telephoto lens something of the expanse of the bay is more apparent.

The Lodge Hotel by Gott Bay

Glebe House in its time has been as its name might suggest a manse, but is has also been a high class Guest House. Close by is the present manse – a kit house. Glebe House and the present manse are often the first and last views that those arriving and departing by ferry see.

Perhaps one of the most photographed houses on the island

This morning the air was so still and the sea was so calm. There was certainly no noise pollution. Just before 10:00am the distinct sound of the ‘Twin Otter’ approaching the island could be heard. Shortly afterwards the change on the engine tone could be heard as it made its final approach to the airport. Later we saw the same plane cross overhead as it flew back to Glasgow.

Behind Ben Gott the ‘Twin Otter’ makes its final approach

Perhaps it is the fact that we have not been venturing far, but there is a growing realisation that within walking distance of our home there is so much to enjoy and appreciate.  Oh! There are still can be dark grey skies and wet, windy days,  How much more then we appreciate the sunny days and the rich colours that come with the brightness.

The Rum Cuillin beyong the Isle of Coll

Around 9:00am it was crisp, clear and calm. Nevertheless it felt and looked as if change was in the air. By the time we returned home about 10:30am clouds were building up over Tiree and by 4:00pm it was a return to grey skies and no visible sunset.

Looking across Gott Bay to Ben Hynish

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

PHOTO Postcript

thought you WOULD like to see another photograph of me!

Not wet sand but slippy icy sand.

Read more "True to Forecast"

The Wow Factor

What an amzing and colourful start to January 2021! For the third day in a row we had crisp clear views of the neighbouring islands and distant Mainland mountain peaks. The Isle of Tiree rarely gets frost but we certainly had a hard frost today and where the sun did not reach the frost lay all day.

The view from the breakfast table to the right are the Paps of Jura

From sunrise to sunset the views have been stunning. Between sunrise and sunset we have had clear blue skies. Out of necessity I had to cross the island and found the journey breathtaking. For practical reasons I had not taken the camera. I do not think I have enjoyed such spectacilar winter views. You could see over Rum to the Cuillins on Skye. The Nevis Range which includes Ben Nevis could be seen in the distance. Beyond Ben More on Mull could be seen several Mainland Mountain Peaks.

The Paps of Jura at Sunrise

As the sun ws setting I made my way down to the pier. I find that I never tire of the view or the exercise. Life on Tiree certainly has its rewards.

From the Pier the view is across to Ben Hynish

Thankfully here on Tiree we have not the full lockdown imposed on the Mainland. Nevertheless we have still to be vigilant and follow the rules. It would be so easy for the virus to reach the island and then spread among the residents

Looking across Gott Bay to Ruaig to the Rum Cuillin
A plane’s vapour trail on the Western sky
The Pink Halo that surrounds the island and lights up distant peaks
The Paps of Jura from the Pier
Ben More on Mull

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

Read more "The Wow Factor"