Friday, 27 May 2011

Soggy spring

Does bad weather ever make you miserable? You are not alone...

I'm copying below a short section of an email received yesterday from a friend who has lived on Skye for many years, and who tries to be as self sufficient as possible.

"There are really no words to describe the awfulness of the weather, so think I'll pass on that one and hope like me you have enough things to do inside to take your mind off the otherwise unbearably depressing effect of watching everthing outside either shrivel and blacken in the wind or keel over with the weight of the water attacking it from the top as well as at the roots..... Things here are so badly battered now that they will never fully recover, even if we were to get a heat wave as from to-morrow, it's this learning to be accepting no matter what, that I find hardest, and don't expect I'll ever fully master it, or perhaps even want too if it comes to that ! "

Yes, it can be tough. I will be re-planting some of my allotment too. It was disastrous harvests and subsequent famines that drove many of the residents to leave Skye in the 18th century.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Latest Cupar pics...

....with a bit of a look of, 'will you get off that computer and take me for a WALK?!!!'

Floral fireplace

Sue is charge of flowers, including the indoor pot plants. Most of these spend their days on the windowsill, but the current 'sunshine and showers' weather means periods of hot dazzling sunshine, which they wouldn't like. So, as the stove is not in use during the summer, they have found a new themselves a new home. Look good, don't they?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Allotment Impatience

I have almost all of the ground in the allotment planted now. The weeds had not reappeared  much over the winter, so preparing the ground was easy. The potatoes went in first, and are growing well. Every one of them has come up.  The onion sets are all  looking good too - only about three have failed to sprout.

Elsewhere, most things are barely poking a leaf above the soil. I find myself on my hands and knees looking for the first sign of a carrot leaf or a shooting runner bean.... today, I excitedly spotted that the swedes are showing - just two little seed-leaves to each baby plant. Just think about how big they will grow over the next six months!

To be fair - the brussels sprouts and broccoli are all six inches tall or more - but they were started in pots, and have only been put in the ground today, each one tied to a stake in an attempt to prevent them being broken by the wind.

This year, I have been offered the use of some land on a nearby building plot to grow a few more veggies. It's only about three miles from Roskhill, but the soil is very different - being clay. I'm going to try the sprouts, broccoli and cabbages over there, as they were not very successful here last year. It will be interesting to see which location suits the plants the best.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Living on Skye

It’s not at all difficult to see what makes visitors to Skye think that Skye is a wonderful place to live. 

Skye is stunningly beautiful. It is peaceful, magical, etherial. Nature is vibrant. There's more sheep than people. Strangers wave to each other. People have time to stop for a chat. The roads are virtually empty of traffic…. and yet the post arrives every day, there is high speed broadband, and the supermarket is stocked with just the same fruit and vegetables as you will find in Edinburgh, or even in the south of England.

There are building plots for sale with wonderful views….. “we could build the home of our dreams here”…. There are lovely houses for sale too… lots and lots of them… business premises too… 

errrr... What does that tell you.....?


Living on Skye IS every bit as wonderful as people imagine  …….…..providing they are of the right mind to live here.

What do I mean by that?

Well, don’t tell the tourists… but… Skye is wet, cold and infested with midges. The wet and cold can be anytime, including mid-summer. Shorts and tee shirts are just never the right clothing for Skye. GOOD NEWS…the midges only swarm between May and September.

Joking aside - every member of the family who move to Skye with you MUST want to move here and live here just as much as you. Do they all like wet, cold and midges?

If you plan to move to Skye and in doing so, you will move away from close friends or family – you MUST be sure that both you and they are completely happy with that. On Skye, you will be as far from London than London is from Innsbruck in Austria or Milan in Italy.. It’s an awful long way to ‘pop back to see the kids’.

You will need LOTS of money. Living on Skye is much more expensive than you can imagine. It’s not just the inflated cost of petrol for the car, or the huge distances you have to drive to do the shopping - it’s the cost of heating your home (summer as well as winter, remember) and the cost of maintaining it too. ‘Weathering’ happens at least twice as fast here as in the south of England – so expect to be decorating outside every couple of years, and replacing the entire roof every 25.

You will need to be totally comfortable with the silence. Are you OK with not seeing another human being, outside of anyone who lives with you, for several days at a time? Are you SURE? It’s an expensive mistake to move here only to find that you are crying out for human company after six months…

Then there’s cinema, shows, soccer, shopping…

Can’t we do that on Skye…?  

Friday, 13 May 2011

B&B or Self Catering?

B&B or Bed and Breakfast is a convenient way for a travelling visitor to procure a bed for the night and breakfast the next morning. There are many B&B establishments in Skye and Lochalsh, ranging from small croft cottages to large modern purpose built premises.

Historically, the B&B business started when Skye began to become a tourist attraction. People wanted to visit this unique and beautiful part of Scotland, and they needed somewhere to sleep. Crofters would often be asked if they had ‘a bed for the night’ and soon, the hospitable offer of free accommodation turned into a useful money-making business, usually operated by the crofter’s wife.

Visitors would share the crofter’s house – maybe sleeping in a spare bedroom, but sharing the bathroom facilities (such as they were) and eating breakfast with the family. There are still a few B&Bs where little has changed, though over the years, it has become commonplace for B&B accommodation to include an en suite bathroom or the exclusive use of a separate bathroom, and many establishments also offer a guest lounge and dining room, often with free broadband access for the wi-fi equipped traveller. B&B businesses are invariably family owned and run, and many hosts take pride in offering substantial high quality cooked breakfasts to their guests.

In the 1950s, an increasing demand for holiday accommodation encouraged local residents to come up with other ways of providing beds for the visitors. By putting a caravan on the croft, beds could be provided for visitors who were willing to cook their own breakfasts. Ideally, such visitors would stay for a full week, rather than the night or two that the B&B guests would stay… and the idea of self-catering was born.

There are still a few self catering caravans to be found on Skye, but the modern visitor has come to expect self catering accommodation to provide all the space and comfort of home. So today, although self catering accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes - from one bedroom chalets and apartments, through restored croft cottages to modern bungalows and houses with five or six bedrooms - a typical self catering cottage will be equipped with a modern fully fitted kitchen with full size cooker, fridge and freezer, microwave oven, electric kettle and toaster, a washing machine and maybe even a dishwasher. There will be a comfortably furnished lounge with colour TV, and bedrooms will be made up with cosy duvets. The bathroom is likely to have an electric shower.

The ‘icing on the cake’ is that the majority of B&Bs and self catering accommodation in Skye and Lochalsh is situated in stunning locations, with views to die for out of every window. A visitor is more likely to be woken in the morning by birdsong rather than traffic noise, and when they draw back the curtains; they will probably be greeted by a view of grazing sheep, the sea, mountains and sky.

Are you coming to visit soon?