Island at the Edge

Island at the Edge
The Gathering, Cable Bay, Colonsay

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Island at the very edge...

Happy New Year!! And Lang may yer lum reek.
Where have I been! I hear you ask. The answer is at the very edge and beyond...And I am probably still there!!!
I could say I have been inordinately busy and that would be very near to the truth. What with the launch of the new website, keeping up with demand designing and marketing products and looking after the sheep, this has left very little time to spare. Plus, being very, very windswept and less interesting than of late, especially as I am up against all the elements including 100 mph winds and horizontal hailstones, the like I have never seen before. But, and this is a big but, I love it... The weather is just spectacular here during the winter months.
Kapitein and I have braved these elements to pursue one of his favourite pastimes of beachcombing, especially in 80 mph winds. I had visions of acquiring a new skill, being flown as a kite at the height of Kapiteins shoulder, but without strings this wasn’t a very good idea. It was all worthwhile; he claimed a couple more buoys for the collection. I especially like the pink ones. (I know, just a bit ‘girly’ but one has to try).
Wolfie, who is bred for this type of weather, enjoys every moment especially when a washing up bowl size of hailstones accumulated near the back door of the homestead. He promptly rolled in the white-stuff and ran around with glee, much to the amusement of Samster. Wolfie was grossly disappointed the following day when he found it had all melted. Fingers crossed, we get a good covering of snow, even just to satiate the needs of Wolfie.

We have had an inordinate amount of power cuts here, 10 were counted in just one day, and the final one sounded the gong for our being without electricity for over 30 hours. Only, that isn’t strictly true. Kapitein is a master of forward thinking and had Captain Flack’s son install a generator last November. What a blessing for Kapitein as he does need power in his inner sanctum, else he just couldn’t function! The piece de resistance was we even managed to watch the telly!! Amazing what can be done with a UPS, length of extension lead and a wee bit of imagination... We did have a few hours discussing the why and wherefores of life by candlelight just to take advantage of the ambiance.

One worrying fact is that when the electric goes off here for several hours, so does the land line. I ponder, what would happen if there were a real emergency!!!
I remember reading of some inhabitants living on a small island in Northumberland who were running out of beer! It took a ‘mercy’ dash and re-supply of their ‘emergency’ stocks (beer of course) by the local search and rescue helicopter.
We were unable to communicate with the outside world for several hours, so couldn’t have called in any emergency services, let alone a helicopter! Rumour has it when one of our scheduled ferries returned to Oban, staff from Calmac informed the ‘powers that be’ on the mainland that our wee island was totally cut off.
Me thinks a satellite phone would be rather good, based at the service point; maybe something our beloved LDO’s could source funding for? This would ensure our emergency supplies were guaranteed, plus, if there were any medical emergencies, and they do happen, or unlawful activities -whereby we needed to handcuff criminals at the pier is all well and good (should anyone commit a criminal act – fairly unlikely, but they have happened recently) but, to leave them there for in excess of 24 hours, maybe wouldn’t sit well in the court of human rights. It’s all worth thinking about...

I was sitting knitting, when I heard a helicopter buzzing around the houses. I later found out that it landed in the Pantry car park. A rather dapper pilot (you know you are old when pilots look far too young to fly) explained that he brought over the Scottish Electric engineers. I know they were working continuously for several days to reconnect everyone, so fantastic job guys and a big thank you.
Also, throughout all of the power cuts, Orange didn’t fair too well again until, a technician, accompanied by his granny, flew in with Hebridean Air Services and immediately repaired the damage so now all is well. I believe ‘granny’ had a wonderful visit to the island too.

So what else has happened...
Eskie and I took advantage of the new Saturday ferry service before Christmas. She and I sailed on the day return Saturday service maiden voyage to seek goodies from the mainland. We had precisely one hour and forty minutes to gather our fayre from Tesco (there are other supermarkets equally good in Oban). Gavalus was on hand to help as we were faced with the slowest check out assistant I have ever seen! Bless, probably thinking about holidays in Lanzerote (where Gavalus was flying to later that week). We said our goodbye’s to Gavalus in Tesco’s car park, making it back to the terminal with minutes to spare with a very laden vehicle and a very, very stressed Eskie (she obviously didn’t fancy a night or two in Oban out on the lash...) Back at the homestead Kapitein didn’t know what to eat first, he was even eying up the green veg with glee (a rarity here) before I could even cook them. So with over 5 hours travelling for a trolley dash on the mainland, some would say “you're mad” but it does beat the Metrocentre anyday.

Fabby, fantastic, wonderful news...
Little Miss No No and The Mechanic are to be married!!!
Following the obligatory asking me for her hand in marriage, Little Miss No No and The Mechanic have set a date for their wedding, 4th November 2012. I am delighted my wee one is to be betrothed. So now begins the run up to the big day with dress fittings and venues to be confirmed amongst the myriad of other responsibilities. I am absolutely delighted and to coin an age old phrase, I am gaining a son and not losing a daughter. Many, many congratulations to you both...

And then...
Whilst Gavalus Gavalar was gallivanting in warmer climes he entrusted it his beloved Pantry to Kapitein and I – for the Friday night quiz. A very strange state of affairs is to be on the other side of the bar at the Pantry!. From 7pm till 1.00pm we served drinks and as Kapitein has always wanted to hear the ringing of money going into a till (this must go way back into his childhood) his wish was granted. But fear not Gavalus, your Pantry was in safe hands, although, I am not sure if he would ask again!!
Gavalus has also, single-handedly, been keeping Oban Airport staff going with Doughnuts, 24 were sent as a wee Christmas thank you for all of the help and support they have given us last year. It’s amazing what folk will do for a doughnut! I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a doughnut hoarder somewhere within the confines of the Airport, as early reports state that not everyone received one. It just goes to show that the temptation of May’s Sugary Wonders brings out the mischief in people. They are well worth a try when you visit Colonsay. And guys and gals at the Airport, if you are all very, very good then more may wing their way to you in the very near future!

A rather peculiar thing happened...
It has been widely publicised we had a rather unusual, not native, but somewhat dead, visitor to the island – a fox!
It was found in the vicinity of the shop and seemingly appeared from nowhere! Some say it came on the bin wagon, others that it was brought to the island as a joke (strange sense of humour for someone to see that as funny) and yet others say there is a hidden message deep within the confines of the perpetrator’s mind!
Initial indications were it had been knocked over (whilst on the island) yet no-one reported hitting a fox with their vehicle. Another suggestion was it had been shot, others hinted that the fox met its demise (either shot or knocked over) on the mainland prior to its arrival here on the island. I think we need John Nettles of Midsummer Murders to solve this mystery especially as, someone somewhere knows all about it. A real whodunit!
There has been an excessive amount of ‘politics’ going on here of late. I suggest that everyone who is interested should read a copy of the Crofter and the Laird as it is really strange how history keeps repeating itself!

Oh dear, the ‘Big Fella’
All of this stormy weather saw an unprecedented amount of wind and rain. Checking the sheep one day I found the ‘Big Fella’ entangled in brambles and just about taking his last breath. I carried him up to the gate as Kapitein helped me get Big Fella into the vehicle. Back to the homestead, we put him in the shed surrounded by old fleeces and began the slow process of nursing him back to health. I spoke to Tristan our local vet in Oban who gave sound advice and over the next few days it was very touch and go. This even saw me getting up through the night to nurse this 8 month old lamb. We nearly lost him a couple of times, one evening in particular resigning to the fact that, he may die, but at least he was warm and comfortable. Then low and behold, the very next morning he tried to get up after greeting us with a wee bleat. It took two and a half weeks and he has pulled through. A greater sight I have never seen is when he was put back into his field with the others. He did have company during the latter days of his stay with us, as ‘Wee Girly’ took to the doldrums too, she was very, very bedraggled and looking quite weak, so Kapitein decided to bring her in too. It was lovely to see them together munching away and enjoying their 5 star sheep hotel. Both are doing very well especially as we are now enjoying a brief break in the weather with the ‘old current bun’ reappearing.

Many, many thanks to all our customers who supported the business in the run up to Christmas. I hope to meet several of you whilst holidaying in Colonsay during the coming year.
Christmas day was a very quiet affair for Kapitein and I. Danger Mouse the Lonely Shepherd joined us for Christmas lunch and we all sat and watched the obligatory Christmas movie, Avatar. Nice...

I have always celebrated Hogmanay. I like the idea of three days (or several more) of bringing in the New Year. Last year Kapitein made it, just, to the third day (I still had energy to spare) but this year was a little different. We had supper with some dear friends, then off to the Ceilidh hosted by the newly engaged Donald McAllister and Hannah Johnson (huge congratulations to both of you and your respective families). A fantastic evening of dancing to superb music by Donald on the accordion and Jim on the boran prior to the Twelve o’clock countdown as Lewis piped in 2012. The party continued into the wee small hours. New Years day we had wonderful bacon sandwiches at the Pantry, thank you Gavalus... out of this world.

New Horizons...
A new year and a new start as commissions for knitwear as far away as Australia are flooding in. New designs are in production including shooting socks, for which the first pair will be winging their way to the mainland this week. But what of the new year and my own new horizons? I’ll keep you posted!!


  1. Great post! I so enjoyed hearing all the happenings on Colonsay. I truly left a piece of my heart there.

  2. I enjoyed reading this very much. It just gets better and better,
    There is never a dull moment on the island, which i have seen first
    hand on my own visits there. Hope to come back soon, and read more
    of these fabulous bloggs!!