Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Leaving Skye

No...!! Don't panic!! We are here for the rest of our days - this post is about how we travel south to visit family and friends...!!

Sue's Mum, now 86 years old, lives independently in her bungalow in Ashford, Kent. Sue travels south for a fortnight every three months to stay with her Mum, and also visit her sister (in London) and numerous other friends in the Ashford area.

When we first lived here, Sue would make the journey by coach - Portree to Glasgow,  Glasgow to London Victoria, and train out to Ashford. The cost was reasonable, and Sue coped with all the bouncing-around in the coach as it raced through the Highlands... but one time she tried the train... This was better! I now regularly take Sue to Kyle of Lochalsh (our nearest station) where a little train trundles Sue to Inverness where she boards the Caledonian Sleeper overnight to London Euston. These days, Sue then takes a tube to her sister Helen's where she picks up a car that we share with Helen and drives it to Ashford. This means Sue has use of a car while she is in Kent.

Sue tried flying down just once. The cost is not hugely different to travelling by train, but the hassle of being at Inverness airport at the right time, and then getting from Gatwick to Ashford, and having little room for luggage (unless we paid extra) all proved too much to be bothered with. So for now, the train is the way for Sue.

As for me - I travel south three or four times a year. I visit family and a friend in Devon (Oakhampton and Torquay), friends in Hampshire (Hedge End near Southampton) and a cousin near Oxford. I have always travelled by road, and for years, have coped with the 700-mile each-way journey with one overnight stop. I have made it part of the trip to try a different bed-and-breakfast every time I travel. I've also tried a few different routes, and I usually to take my overnight break somewhere in the border country. I have to say, over the years, I have enjoyed visiting many small and interesting border towns including Gretna, Langholm, Hawick and Lockerbie - places so many tourists dash past without a second glance. I would really like to get back to Jedburgh and Melrose some time in the future, too.

Now, however, even in my super car, the experience of sitting on ever-busier roads for pretty much two whole days at a time, is beginning to become less and less fun and more of a chore - to the point when I am considering taking to the air for at least one trip in 2017. I can fly direct from Inverness to Bristol, where I will hire a car to do my visiting, and drive rather fewer miles. I feel it is worth a try. If the journey proves to be relatively hassle-free and I enjoy the trip, then maybe... just 'maybe', Puss will be staying in her garage when I go south in the future....

Kaged Kat

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Our Christmas, 2016

I did my friend and family visiting earlier in the month, and Sue is travelling to Kent to see her sister, Mum and friends in a day or two's time. So for Christmas Day here at Roskhill, it was planned to be just us. As it happened, a nearby friend became widowed a short time ago, so we invited this friend, Anne, to join us for dinner and part of the day.

We had a great time. Sue was working in the morning (doing her usual home care job - which of course goes on 365 days of the year). This left me to cook the dinner, and although I say it myself - it all came out pretty fine! As to our visitor -  If I ever reach Anne's age (she is 93) should I then be only half as interesting, witty and jovial, I will still be having a good life. Anne was a life-long teacher, and became head teacher of a tough Glasgow secondary school in the late 1960s. She has many tales to tell, and remembers everything in perfect detail. She is a lovely, gracious and respectful lady - endearing qualities which I fear are going out of fashion in so many younger people of today.

Cupar was on his best behaviour. He only opened his own presents, and this year unwrapped one to find it contained a replacement for his much-loved but rather tattered rubber chicken toy. I didn't think to video the unwrapping until it was too late, but there are a couple of photos below.

So, although Christmas Day for this year is now in the past, we are still very much in the Christmas season, so I wish all readers of this blog Season's Greetings, and may we all have good health and happiness throughout the coming New Year.

Sue with Anne and Cupar
Cupar's 'deceased' rubber chicken (headless, feet-less, tail-less...)
'I've got a new chicken!! I've got a new chicken!!'
...but you're not having it !!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Skye at Christmas

I'm sure I have mentioned before in this blog that the age demographic of Skye's resident population is somewhat different to that of the UK as a whole. We are all getting older anyway, and Skye is a popular place to retire to, so attracts plenty of ageing incomers (much like ourselves...)! Young families are few and far between, and as the children grow up, they often want to leave the island to seek a more exciting life elsewhere.

All this means that the autumnal family events such as Bonfire Night and Halloween tend not to happen here at all. Pensioners generally do not go trick-or-treating (or 'giuising', as it is known in Scotland), though there were a few 'spooky' masks for sale in the local shop.

You could be forgiven for not realising that Christmas is almost upon us too. Probably the most obvious sign is the stacks of beer, wine and spirits which now partially block most of the aisles in the Co-op, and some of the check-out staff are wearing Santa hats. Then there is the annual wonky Christmas tree outside Dunvegan Community Hall. But you don't see twinkly lit-up houses here, and we won't be expecting any carol singers to trudge through the black night to knock at our door.

I did manage to sing some carols the other evening though. The enthusiastic Skye Light Orchestra performs an annual Christmas Concert, and this year the orchestra was augmented by the recently formed 'Skye Chorus' choir. Sue sings with the choir, so I happily went along to one performance where audience participation in the carol singing was encouraged. I was also particularly impressed by the vigorous rendition given of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Clearly, we're not all huddled round our log-burners every evening!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Best Place To Live In Britain?

Apparently, a recent survey by the Rightmove estate agency group has revealed the Isle of Skye to be the most desirable place in Britain to live. Hmm... I think there are a lot of these surveys. Is there anywhere in Britain that has NOT been included in a list of 'healthiest', 'happiest', 'cheapest' or 'most dog-friendly'? I don't imagine the Skye vote will result in a flood of new incomers rushing to move here.

Having said that - as regular readers of this blog will know - Sue and I love it here. Skye life suits us well. The winter weather so far this year is being very kind. We've had a bit of frost and a bit of snow and even a bit of fog, but it's not been especially wet or windy yet, and the sun has been making quite frequent appearances.

At this time of year, the sun never gets very high in the sky, so the low angle of sunshine enhances the rich browns and oranges of the winter vegetation and long, deep shadows all combine to give us the most glorious of light shows. The landscape seems to vibrate with beauty. There's no explaining it in words, and photographs don't do it justice - you have to be here and experience it for yourself!

But if you have read the survey, and are rushing to get your house on the market in preparation for moving here - remember - it's a long way to the shops...!