Well! The weather forecast was correct for Tiree. For the most part of the week the forecast was for wintry showers turning to snow on Saturday. Snow is not unknown on Tiree, but it is an unusual occurrence, therefore it is something noteworthy.
The island in many ways gets the best of both worlds. From a snow free Tiree we can look out on snow capped neighbouring islands and distant mainland mountain peaks.
Last evening around 23:30 hours we happened to look out the window and to our pleasant surprise the roof of the car had a covering of snow. It was too dark to see any distance but the road around Pier View was covered in snow.
Waking up we wondered if the snow would still be around and we were not disappointed. In fact it appeared to be slightly more than a dusting. Not enough to bury the grass but certainly enough to turn it white.
Much as we would like to have gone out other responsibilities meant that we had to stay indoors. Not even the thought of photographing the ‘MV Clansman’ in such a setting could draw us out. This was all the more difficult as this was the last sailing she would make to Tiree until later in February. Tomorrow witnesses the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ (LOTI) take over the route in the absence of the ‘Clansman’.
Before getting down to work, the opportunity was taken to photograph the view from our home, For the time being that had to do.
Around 12:30 we managed to put work aside and get out for a walk, It was just our normal walk, down Pier Road to the pier and then back up and across the Machair to the old harbour. By this time Pier Road was more or less clear of snow. It was mainly the verges that had a covering. From the pier we looked across Gott Bay and Ruaig to the snow capped Rum Cuillins. How sharp and impressed they looked. Across the Passage of Tiree Ben More on the Isle of Mull was shrouded in dark clouds.
Looking across Gott Bay towards Gott and Kirkapol, we could see the sand covered in snow – right down to the water’s edge.
The sky itself was dramatic. There was bright blue sky, jet black sky, shades of grey and shafts of sunlight. Tiree’s wide skies had it all.
It was great to be out. We didn’t meet many but the few we did see were appreciating the wonder of a snowy island landscape.
Now come walk with us around the old harbour – Enjoy the views!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
Yes! SeánBatty 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The next stop was at Balephuil to watch the Atlantic roll in relentlessly. It appeared to be sending up a mist.
The next stop was to admire the view across Balemartine and the Passage of Tiree towards Ben More on the Isle of Mull.
This past week flocks of birds numbering in the thosands have been seen in the sky above Tiree.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
The British people have a reputation of talking about the weather. It is a good conversation starter and normally gets a response. Living on an island lying off the West Coast of Scotland you are even more aware of the weather because so much depends on it, much more so than if you were living on the Mainland.
The Isle of Tiree is not flat. It is low lying and sits out in the Atlantic. There is little in the way of shelter, no high mountains and very few trees, consequently a major consideration is the strength of the wind. One of the helpful pieces of advice were were given when we came to live on the island was to be very careful with your car doors when the wind was strong. Injuries are not unknown!
Poor visibility can result in the cancellation of the plane as the pilots have to land by sight. Wind, on the other hand, can result in the cancellation of the ferry, due to the sea conditions. When planning to visit the Mainland it is important to consult the weather forecast in advance.
For several days last week there was very little wind and as a result the sea was unnaturally calm. It was a joy to out walking and with little wind it even felt relatively warm. It must have made conditions easier for those carrying out the on-going works at the pier.
Everything changed on Monday. As predicted it rained for most of the day and several island roads were flooded. The rain continued throughout the night and the wind also got up.
This morning at breakfast we looked out on a restless sea. From our south facing windows we had a clear view of the waves crashing on the rocks that surround the Scarinish headland. It was still pleasurable going for walk. It was just different. It felt like a morning to observe the ferry.
As the ferry turned from the Passage of Tiree (the stretch of Water that separates Tiree from the much larger Island of Mull) into Gott Bay the wind was blowing from the south. So the ferry ran into the bay with the wind behind it. There was little in the way of a bow wave as the ferry made its approach to the pier. What was noticeable were the waves breaking on the shore and the rocks. As they broke the waves sent up spray. It added a touch of drama!
The ferry has to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern towards the linkspan. (The linkspan is like a bridge that links the ferry’s stern ramp to the pier thus enabling vehicles to roll on and off.) As the vessel makes this manoeuvre it can appear as if she is heading straight for the pier. Thankfully the skipper and crew know what they are doing.
Although there was a swell running the ‘MV Clansman’ appeared to have little difficulty in berthing. As usual the first ropes to be cast and caught are the midship and bow ropes. Then the ferry cautiously goes aft and the stern ropes are secured. Only then is the ramp lowered.
The pier feels like the centre of island life for over an hour on the days that the ferry calls. At present it is a hive of activity for much of the time as the work continues on refurbishing the pier. Before lockdown the linkspan was replaced. Then when it was deemed safe to do so work recommenced on refurbishing the old pier. Right now the work on replacing the footway is nearing completion.
On days when the air is still and the sea calm it is easy to forget just how restless the sea can be. This morning was just a gentle reminder that the sea is restless.
‘Life on Tiree’ is a personal reflection of our life on Tiree and for that reason we do not normally advertise or promote. However, just like slogan concerning Glasgow, ‘People Make Tiree’. Yesterday we received an email for a gentleman asking us to covey his appreciation for all the help that he received from so many when he fell off his bike and broke his hip on the 23rd of September. The list of those who came to his aid is extensive and he wants you to accept his thanks.
It’s Friday and it feels like the return of Summer to the Isle of Tiree. It has been a good week of weather, especially when you consider it is Mid-October. Today has been particularly bright and warm, when ytou take into account that this is October. A real feature of the past week has been […]
‘Upon Reflection” is not so much about some of the picturesque reflections that we have observed over the past week but more a consideration of the two weeks that our son Andrew spent on holiday with us this year. It is a looking back at some of the highlights of the past two weeks. Nine […]
You can almost tell the schools are back – the weather is wonderful! What an amazing weekend it has been – almost too calm on occasions. It is a sure sign when the midges make an appearance on the Isle of Tiree. Kenneth McKellar recorded a song about these wee but monstrous beasties. The midges, […]
Tuesday the 4th of August was a stormy day, both wet and windy. The ferry was on an alert of possible disruption and berthing at Coll and Tiree was not guaranteed. Even with fins (stabilisers) those who travelled to the island on Tuesday certainly knew that they were on board a ship. They were no […]