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!
Wherever our home has been, Sunday has always been a special day for us as we gathered with the church family to worship God. It is no different here on Tiree, but at present our ‘Sunday Gathering’ has had out of necessity to move online. All of us have agreed that we have missed being together in the one place, nevertheless our online services have had several advantages.
The online gathering, especially the live edition, has enabled some people to be part of the gathering, who in more normal circumstances are prevented from being present. The online gathering has also seen the involvement of so many different people with a whole variety of gifts and skills. Later in the day a recording is posted online to further make the gathering accessible.
A first glance out of the window at first light was indicative of what a glorious day weather wise it was going to be. So after breakfast just as the sun was rising, the opportunity was taken to walk around Scarinish. First of all down by the pier and then later across to the harbour and up to the lighthouse.
There was a nip in the air, but it was bright and sunny. With only the merest hint of a breeze, the nip in the air remained that – a nip. The risen sun caressed both land and sea with its golden touch.
How I appreciate the view across the Passage of Tiree to the Treshnish Isles and Ben More on the Isle of Mull. While Tiree remains snow free it is a pleasure to look across to the snow capped peak of Ben More. It is interesting to observe the snow line. Some of the snow capped peaks seem lower than Ben More but many have to be higher – it is simply the distance that they are away that makes them appear lower.
The Rum Cullin which although distant – beyond the neighbouring Isle of Coll – is snow capped. Beyond the Rum Cullin the snow capped Cullins on the Isle of Skye were clearly visible.
Asked if I had met anyone on my walk I had to report only the Pier Master, the only other contacts were some members of the resident sheep population in Scarinish.
Back home it was time to set up ‘ZOOM’ for the Sunday Gathering. It was a real joy to welcome visitors to Tiree ( via the Sunday Gathering) from Mainland Scotland and England. Unlike in ‘the old days’ at the conclusion of the worship, you cannot serve tea or coffee and some of the home baking that Tiree is famous for. However, for those who want to, there is the opportunity to meet up in smaller groups for a good chat.
Daylight hours are few in number, so after lunch, around 3:00pm we headed back out into the sunshine for a walk around the township. As the sun got lower and lower in the sky not only did we have long shadows, the golden rays worked their magic touch.
For the the third of January this really was a ’SUN’-Day. We appreciated the weather, but we also valued the time spent with the church family as we came together to worship the living God. How uplifting it was to sing (and no one could hear us) the words written by Rend Collective to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Below is a link to the first Sunday Gathering of the New Year. if you care to listen click on the video link.
We look forward to at some point in 2021 getting out and about around the island and not just when we are delivering meals on wheels. It looks like the settled weather will continue for a few more days.
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.
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.
Today was a ray of sunshine in what otherwise has been a rather dull grey week. Thus far on the Isle of Tiree it has been a very wet Autumn, and this past week has been no exception. Today, Friday, has been in stark contrst to the previous day.
The United Auction’s Annual Cattle Sale was meant to be held last Saturday (24th October) at Tiree Rural Centre. However, due to the weather the sale had to be posponed until today. After a wild week of weather, this morning dawned bright and the sound of cattle bellowing provided the dawn chorus.
With the clocks going back to GMT last weekend there was a noticeable difference when we went shopping this morning just after 7:10am. Instead of pitch darkness there was light. Due to the Cattle Sale the ferry had departed Oban at 5:30am instead of the more usual time of 7:15am and was timetabled to arrive at Tiree at 8:50am
Yesterday, it was a case of trying to find shelter from the rain as the ferry sat alongside the pier. Today it was a pleasure watching the vessel berth and depart. Although there were some clouds for the most part of the day the sky was an uplifting shade of blue.
Cattle floats arriving for the Cattle Sale
We waited until the ferry headed out to sea on its way back to Oban before continuing with our morning constitutional. With this an addition sailing (there is not normally a Friday sailing in the Winter Timetable) the ferry did not visit Coll either inbound to Tiree or outbound to Oban.
Our walk took us over the Machair towards Scarinish old harbour. The beach next to the harbour was piled hight with seaweed, evidence of the recent sormy weather. The swell on Wednesday was spectacular and this no doubt contributed to the seaweed strewn beaches.
The sound of cattle bellowing coninued throughout the day. It was most likely due the separation of cows and calves. Wivth the exception of one short, sharp shower, it remained sunny throughout the day. An update confirmed what farmers had feared, Saturday’s sailing(s) had been cancelled due to the forecast of winds gusting up tp 62mph.
The livestock ferry had been timetabled to depart Tiree at 5:50pm but an update advised that this would be delayed until 6:20pm ‘to allow for the loading of livestock’. The ferry’s arrival coincided with the full moon rising over the Passage of Tiree.
On board the fery were another two livestock floats. Due to the cancellation of Saturday’s sailing(s) the drivers would have an extended stay on Tiree. In fact with winds forecast to gust to 62mph on Sunday their stay could be extended until Monday morning.
The marshalling lanes by the Pier Office became a hive of activity. It appeared that there was a problem with the ‘tractor’ of one of the articulated lorries that had just arrived off the ferry. Under the cover of darkness a swap of ‘tractors’ took place with one from the departing floats.
As well as the livestock floats a few vehicles managed to escape before Saturdays’ storm. Otherwise those booked on Saturday’s sailing will most likely be here until Monday morning, provided there is room for them.
With all the traffic having gone down the pier I was able to make my way down the pier approach. I arrived just as the stern ramp ws being raised in readiness for heading out to sea. During the pandemic I have not often ventured down the pier, but I made an exception this evening.
The sun came out to welcome the ‘MV Clansman’ this morning after yesterday’s rather damp grey arrival. This evening the moon cast its silvery beam over the waters of Gott Bay and the Passage of Tiree.
When the ropes were released the ‘Mighty One’ set sail into the dark, yet in reality she sailed under the light of the silvery moon.
No doubt tomorrow morning the waves will be crashing over the pier and its approach as the winds are forecast to gust up to 62mph.
On more than one occasion recently we have been asked what has happened to ‘Life on Tiree’. The explanation is that we were off island for 10 days and it is difficult to write about life on Tiree when you are in another part of the country. An additional factor in the lack of posts is […]
The 22nd of August marks the 7th anniversary of our coming to live on the Isle of Tiree. Today it is Saturday, but seven years ago it was a Thursday, Back then on a Thursday it was possible to come to the island for a day because the ferry sailed from Tiree to Barra before […]
‘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 […]
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 […]
No! Lockdown and social distancing has not been all too much It’s just I thought that we might commence with a game. You could call it ‘Catch Phrase’ or ‘Dingbats’. ‘Just say what you see.’ Well! Did you work it out? Was the clue too easy for you? Anywhere the phrase is, ‘Just in case’. […]