Island at the Edge

Island at the Edge
The Gathering, Cable Bay, Colonsay

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

2015 a Year in Review...

2015 a year in review!
Happy New Year!! We wish you a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2016.

A second year has passed since the devastating fire, our time we feel to reflect on what has been happening here on the croft! I think we progress more than we think we do, especially when we look at the photographs! 

January 2015 saw an inundation of water and our first New Year on the croft saw us digging drainage ditches to direct the water away from the fields. Kapitein dug nearly 40 metres, my small offering (although the ditch I was digging was much wider) achieved 2.5 metres, but every little helps so they say. With high winds and more rain forecast I suspect I could be digging some more in the next day or two.


We also celebrated Burns Night in traditional style with Haggis, neeps and tatties (turnip and potatoes) washed down with wonderful 16 year old Jura Whisky, yummy...
Our own wee waterfall
Haggis Neeps and Tatties














     






February saw completion of the foundations for my work shed and shop, Kapitein managed to lay breeze blocks all through January and early February to give a sound frame for the concrete to be poured.

Ross pouring concrete - it even snowed!    
     

Raking the concrete.
The Shed duly arrived (albeit 5 days earlier than expected) and building commenced that very day. It took just a few hours to get the main frame of the shed constructed - a bit like putting together some over-sized jigsaw. 


 Mid construction - windows in and doors to be installed and the roof of course!       When the shed was fully constructed, we changed the roof - just to make sure there wasn't any leakage! Then we sprayed the wood to protect it as far as possible from the inclement weather. It is a super place to work and we have even had one lovely visitor who came on a knitting course stated on her next visit she is going to bring her sleeping bag!! Rae, you will be more than welcome and you will be nice and snug amongst the wool too...
Initially access was via steps, but a short while later we were able to install a more 'user friendly' access which works a treat.
Easter and the shop was open for business stocked with many different hand knitted items I had made during the winter months. I was also assisted by several local hand knitters who have worked tirelessly to help me rebuild my stock levels. And this year for the first time, we produced our very own home grown and Skye woven tweed. 

This has proved hugely popular with handbags, hip flasks and waistcoats sent worldwide. All thanks to our wonderful flock of Hebridean sheep!

All stocked and ready to go and with a knitting area too.
Also during April and lambing was in full flow, the Hebrideans and Black Cheviots producing some wonderful lambs – with proud fathers watching on, we could not have wished for anything better. Albeit we did have bleary eyes! Up before the larks and still checking the girl’s way past midnight – all in a day’s work for us.We had an extra special girly this year, here she is with the hens who I am sure believe they are indeed sheep! 

May and the weather did improve! If only for a few days but a welcome break none the less.
This gave the opportunity for the 'boys' to be out and about on the bunds where there was grass in abundance. The 'Big Fella' is always up for a photograph. He is such a handsome chap.
This is 'Big Laddy' The Black Cheviot tup and 'Skyefall (our pedigree Hebridean tup) both lambs are still the best of friends and follow each other everywhere. And get into great mischief whereever they can. They became the best escapologists of all... But always happy to go back with the others, especially when encouraged with food!!

June, July and August and we were busy, busy busy in the workshop. We have had some delightful visitors here to the croft from all corners of the globe. Everyone has been delighted in being able to get up close to our sheep as ultimately everything I make comes from their fleeces. The wool, the knitted products and of course the tweed. You can’t get better provenance than this, especially when you can touch next year’s wool as it grows on the back of the sheep.We have met some wonderful people, one lady who visited with her husband and who has been following the blog. She asked if the Electricity supply was sorted! I realised then I hadn't been updating the blog! So we took the time to show her our progress. I was thrilled to meet her and hope to welcome her and many, many others back again this year too. 
In-between working in my shop, knitting, sewing and designing knitwear both Kapitein and I have been working at Dunvegan Castle. Kapitein – as a fully qualified commercial Skipper worked on the seal boats, taking visitors out to view in excess of 300 native common seals. Whilst I worked within Dunvegan Castle as a tour guide. This was a welcome break from all things sheep and I had the privilege of working within a superb team and of course I met some fantastic visitors here on Skye.
  
Late summer is the show season for most of Scotland which for us started with Dunvegan show closely followed by Portree Agricultural show. My flock of sheep received a very warm welcome and won first prizes in both shows. I am especially proud of my Hebrideans which won reserve champion at Portree. I was privileged and honoured to be awarded a plaque which is on display in my shop. I am permitted to keep the trophy for one year – until the Portree Agricultural Show in August 2016. Who knows who will win it this time, we will have to wait and see.


Here I am for the very first time in a show ring at Dunvegan show with these my two wonderful Black Cheviot Shearlings Harry Hotspur and Ralph Percy (pronounced Raaf Porcy) Ive got Harry and the wonderful gentleman in front of me is handling Ralph. I am especially grateful to everyone who helped and supported me that day. Especially to Magnus (sheep handler extraordinaire) and Kenna (official photographer) the guys in and around the show ring and the huge support from my colleagues at Dunvegan Castle, this was a very, very special day indeed - thank you to one and all.

And there is more… Whilst Kapiten and I were working we had the Bernisdale Boys back. DJ arrived with the even bigger digger and set too building the much needed sea defences down on the shore.


 One balmy summer evening, I was taking in the remaining view just before sunset when a sheep came to the garden gate. I had to let him in!!



How could I resist!! He has become so popular, a very special artist, Linda Foster has painted a wonderful portrait of the Big Fella, she has really captured the likeness and her style of painting is just wonderful. The print is available on our website on the page listed 'Big Fella'. Watch this space for more 'Big Fella' merchandise this coming spring.


Autumn & Winter DJ also dug out the foundations for our Agricultural Shed – a must have before the winter set in. Progress has been ongoing and as I write, the last stages are underway with the preparation for the concrete flooring which should be poured on this Thursday. Fingers crossed. x

The very beginning of the shed build we were once again helped by a fantastic band of folk. Stephen (my son-in-law) aka the Mechanic (little miss no no gladly kept everyone going with teas and coffees!!) General 'Dogs Body', I am sure you will get to know more of him as time goes on! Brian, Salty - not quite a 'sea dog' as he's in training, John the very, very professional Bernisdale Boy, Andrew, Gerry and of course Kapitein. I am immensely proud of all of them and hey voila we have a shed!


If you ever see any of the above team and especially John - the Bernisdale Boy, just don't mention the roller shutter door! If you do, ask him where the digger was!!
John went out on a high, as he has since changed jobs (no I don't think that it was the building of the shed that 'finished him'!!) He has moved on to pastures new and we wish him every success with his new endeavours. He has been with us since the start here on the croft and without him, we know we would not be as far forward with our plans as we are, a truly great guy - 'Kettle's always on John'!! 
But he has left us in very capable hands and in the photo is Ali from Sconsor with the sub base going down in preparation for the shuttering (its all technical stuff - or so they tell me).

Just in time for the last day on the Seal boats Kapitein’s kilt arrived all the way from Edinburgh. A hand-sewn kilt made by GordonNicolson Kiltmakers especially for Trevor from our own Tattersall tweed. He is also wearing his traditionally hand knitted, (and designed and knitted by me) in our Hebridean yarn, Colonsay Gansey and matching Hebridean Kilt socks. I think he looks fantastic…
Watch this space for further collaborative work with Gordon in the future here on the croft!




The kilt is just amazing to see - we have sufficient material to make just 2 more so if you're interested, do get in touch with us or pop along to the croft to see the orginial for your self.

We celebrated our second Christmas here in the caravan. We had the obligatory storm just prior to Christmas Eve, including snow – it didn’t stay, but on the day it was calm and we even saw the sunshine too. 

It’s that time of the year where we wait to see a wee bit of the 'white stuff' and we found some on our journey travelling to Fort William over the hill at Glengarry saw more than a light covering of snow – truly lovely…

I have hardly touched on the immense 'goings on' down on the croft. But for more catch-ups we had a dedicated Facebook page where you can find out news, offers, courses and this is where we upload our video's too.
And last, but by no means least, we would just like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported our endeavours, either by working with us, just visiting, shopping with us, participating in courses and the ' In Stitches' ladies who just make life worth living, it has been truly amazing to meet everyone.  
Happy knitting and 'woolly crafting' wherever you are. Until next time...



Sunday, 11 January 2015

One Year On - A Year in Review...

Just over a year has passed since we lost everything in the fire. We worked as usual on the first anniversary, on our croft and remembered how very, very lucky we are to be alive and well. Since our arrival here on the Isle of Skye, we have been overwhelmed with the genuine kindness that has been shown to us. This is a wonderful island with folk that are sincere and have shown that indeed when you are down on your uppers, that honest help is available. Thank you – you know who you all are…
Such a huge amount has been happening but the main thing was that we found it! Our new abode - for the next few years.
With a a lot of searching - the whole of the UK to be exact, we found a suitably sized caravan. We were contacted about a rather ‘individual’ second hand static caravan for sale. The only problem is the 35 feet x 12 feet mobile home was situated in Dumfries and Galloway, the southern tip in the west of mainland Scotland. But the young chap, affectionately known as JJ, said he could organise the transportation of our new abode. Little did we know at this point that the delivery wagon would require an ‘escort’ due to the width and length of the load, but that wasn’t a problem for JJ.
K.Lee Plant, the owner John who is the dab hand with a digger arrived to excavate a suitable, flat area to site the caravan  with an even bigger digger and this time he brought along his sidekick – Wullie. What these boys can’t do with a digger, isn’t worth knowing about!
Wullie with the even bigger digger

Once again we also needed to enlist the help of Magnus. When he isn’t fencing, he will help with any kind of ‘land’ work, we can add strimming and cutting down trees to his portfolio of skills.

In the meantime, I had been pining! Yes fretting for my 3 boys – No, not some ‘hunky human’ chaps, but my 3 handsome Tups who were still on Colonsay!
So, how do you get 3 Tups from Colonsay to Skye?
It started with a flight with my favourite airline – Hebridean Air Services, the plane was piloted by Julie, it was fantastic to see everyone, especially Dixie, and had a good ‘natter’ on the fabulous flight over.

Our dear friend Annie collected me from Colonsay International Airport and we went to find the Tups. They remembered me (well ish) but they were running with another 3 tups who are renowned for being mischievous. They didn’t disappoint us, it took Graham, Joe (with his two dogs) and me to get the tups into a secure corner of the field so we could grab my 3 and put them into the trailer to take them to the pier.
Graham with my tups at the pier

Kapitein in the meantime had put our unaccompanied trailer onto my other favourite mode of transport, the Calmac ferry LOTI. The tups were safe and sound down at the pier which gave me a wee while to catch up with Annie and visit Gavalus Gavalar in the Pantry. ‘Nice coffee Gav’! Meanwhile, Kapitein was enjoying himself in Oban, he’s grand at shopping, he even bought me some presents! Some fabulous Jura whisky and a bottle of ‘dog’!

The ferry duly arrived and with the help of Phil on the Hill and Will, our trailer was hastily towed off the ferry, backed up to the holding pens, tups loaded and then re-loaded back onto the ferry. With fond farewells my tups and I sailed onward to Oban, all in a mornings work!

The Big Fella in the trailer on-board LOTI 

Kapitein collected me and the trailer and we headed home to Skye. We offloaded the tups safe and well in their new field all within the regulated time for transporting animals.
Meanwhile, Magnus had started with the chain saw and the strimmer to clear a path through the undergrowth, cutting down an abundance of Bog Myrtle. He informed me there were Midgies in the Bog Myrtle bushes! I always thought Bog Myrtle was a remedy!

Following Magnus’s run in with the Midgey, the ‘Bernisdale Boys’ continued to excavate in preparation for the caravan, the area was covered with years and year’s growth of weeds and grass. Then, low and behold, on a balmy summer evening, we came to the croft and a ‘site’ had appeared!

Amidst all of these jobs, we have had little time to go out and explore Skye, but we had been blessed with several visitors to the croft - members of our families and friends from the Low Lands, Islands and the very North of Englandshire. Our friends from the lowlands arrived en-route to heading out over the Minch to Harris. They were due on the Friday evening,  travelling early the next day on the early morning Calmac ferry from Uig to Tarbert onward to their destination of Harris, their base for a spectacular trip to St. Kilda. We had a wonderful time catching up on all of our news.

The Hebrides arriving at Uig, Isle of Skye


I digress…
We finally got word from JJ, that our caravan could be delivered, complete with escort. Ironically, it would arrive exactly 6 months to the day after we had left Colonsay.
At exactly 11.15pm, the wagon and escort vehicle with JJ duly arrived with our new home.


The caravan being offloaded from the wagon.

At precisely midnight our caravan ‘touched down’ onto our land, a very significant and emotional moment – we had our new home, at last.

The following morning John (Bernisdale Boys) came to help Kapitein to site the caravan, quite a difficult task to get a 35ft long and 12ft wide caravan turned and positioned exactly where we needed it to be. But they both did a magnificent job, I was so proud of both of them.


With the aid of Kapitein’s landrover, the caravan was sited.

We had only seen photographs of the caravan, so we were very excited to see the inside! It was all JJ said it was – very purple, but in splendid condition, a much loved caravan indeed, we are so grateful to the previous owners who obviously took good care of it.
Samster & Wolfie enjoying home comforts.
Now then, the next thing on our list was to install services to the caravan, in-between preparing it for the winter. We installed a wood burning stove (our thanks go to Neil from Skye Finishing Touches – well done) anchors and chains – to stop it blowing away in the gales, skirting, to protect the chassis and add much needed insulation and thick carpets – courtesy of Harris Home Furnishings. Water was eventually connected, BT finally put a pole up and Kapitein and I trenched in over 200 metres of phone cable – it’s brilliant when communications are up and running, then Billy came to connect the gas for my new oven and hob! 
But, no electricity! SSE tried their utmost to get the wayleaves signed so mains electric could be brought into the site, but to no avail. So we had to re-think how we can live and work here without mains electricity. But aha! It’s solved… We are officially ‘off grid’. Kapitein and I are ‘eco-friendly’ with solar panels and a battery pack that would keep mobile devices going forever. It’s brilliant…

The Generator only runs an hour or two in the absence of sunshine, plus we have planted in excess of 800 trees on the croft, not bad for 'carbon offset'.

My Birthday during this year was a very special day indeed. Kapitein had a wonderful treat in store. I had the privilege of flying with Loch Lomand Seaplanes. What an exciting day, especially as it was their 'yellow' plane the same colour as Hebridean Air Services plane.
Loch Lomand 'Yellow' Seaplane - fabulous

Flying towards Loch Coruisk - amazing views
We flew over Portree, to the North of Skye - Staffin and the Quiraing then landed in the Sound of Raasay. I highly recommend this trip if you are ever visiting Skye, it is truly amazing.

We had also re-stocked with another breed of sheep – the Black Cheviot. Historically the black sheep were used to spot the white ones up on the Cheviot Hills when the snow fell. They have a wonderful fleece, close and of a lighter brown to the Hebrideans – I can hardly wait until shearing time next year to send the fleeces off for processing into wool.
Meet Harry Hotspur and Ralph Percy - New Black Cheviot tups
We also have some new Pedigree Hebridean ewes. They are delightful and run quite happily with the new Black Cheviot ewes. 
One of the new Hebridean ewes
Amidst all of the work, we put in planning permission for our new home, agricultural shed and business – which will be housed in a traditional Blackhouse – we were again very blessed and all planning was passed. Phew!!

Before we knew it the time had come for putting the tups in. It was quite funny when we went to collect the tups from their field. The 'wee man' (who sadly wasn't going to meet the girls) came right up to me, I think he is saying it all... 
The Wee Man "What about me? Am I not perfect!!
Sinterklass came to us again with a wonderful array of goodies. I didn't know where to start! But we have waded our way through as much as we could. Yum yum - delicious.


A package arrived in the post a year to the day since the fire on Colonsay. This was a copy of the book that Keiko Honda produced when she visited us on Colonsay. It was quite surreal to see the photographs. Also enclosed in the package were copies of the first 3 magazines which my articles about rebuilding our lives here on the Isle of Skye are featured. 

Keiko Honda's Book about my work and life on Colonsay.
Christmas was upon us and Kapitein and I had delighted in preparing for the festivities - purchasing gifts for our family and friends. Last year we were with our dear friend Annie on Colonsay, this year we were in our own home. We’ve even got a ‘caravan’ sized real Christmas tree.
Our 'real' Christmas Tree
In the meantime, I had sent off Hebridean fleeces to the mill for processing and have received the wool back, it is beautiful, so it’s back to designing and knitting – fantastic. Check it out on the Island at the Edge website. It is lovely and soft just perfect for your new creative projects.
Sitting nestled within fleece showing the shades within the wool
This year I will also be producing both Worsted and Wool fabric with the help of Andrea and Roger from Skye Weavers – I can hardly contain myself. They are busy with the first sample so you’ll have to keep a watchful eye both here and on the website for the new designs in the early spring. 

So here we are in 2015 amid huge storms – thankfully the caravan has stood firm in winds of over 100mph! There is something to be said for all of the hard work we have done in securing the caravan during the summer. Anchors and chains, skirting - to protect the chasis, guy wires to secure the chimney to mention just a few, but  I believe we are in for a few more storms, so fingers crossed all will be well.

And finally we have a new Facebook page Island at the Edge this is where we will keep you up to date with daily news.

It's time to go out and feed the sheep now I thought this photo may cheer us all up during this stormy weather it is the view out over the loch from our front window - happy days...


With more plans afoot I'll keep you posted... Be safe and well wherever you are.



Saturday, 18 October 2014

Home Sweet Home...


We have found it! Our new home for the next 2 years or so.
With a huge amount of searching - the whole of the UK to be exact, we found a suitably sized caravan. We were contacted about a rather ‘individual’ second hand static caravan for sale. The only problem was that the 35 feet x 12 feet mobile home was situated in Dumfries and Galloway. But the young chap, affectionately known as JJ, said he could organise the transportation of our new abode. Little did we know at this point that the delivery wagon would require an ‘escort’ due to the width and length of the load, but that wasn't a problem for JJ.
K.Lee Plant, the owner John who is a dab hand with a digger, was then contacted to excavate a suitable, flat, area to site the caravan. He duly arrived with an even bigger digger and this time he brought along his sidekick – Wullie. What these boys can’t do with a digger, isn't worth knowing about.

The even bigger digger.

Once again we also needed to enlist the help of Magnus. When he isn’t fencing, he will help with any kind of ‘land’ work, we can add strimming and cutting down trees to his portfolio of skills.
In the meantime, I have been pining! Yes fretting for my 3 boys – No, not some ‘hunky’ chaps, but my 3 handsome Tups who were still on Colonsay!
So, how do you get 3 Tups from Colonsay to Skye?
It started with a flight with my favourite airline – Hebridean Air Services, the plane was piloted by Julie, it was fantastic to see everyone, especially Dixie, and have a good ‘natter’ with Julie on the fabulous flight over.
My favourite plane

Our dear friend Annie collected me from Colonsay International Airport and we went to find the Tups. They remembered me (well ish) but they were running with another 3 tups who are renowned for being mischievous. They didn’t disappoint us, it took Graham, Joe (with his two dogs) and me to get the tups into a secure corner of the field so we could grab my 3 and put them into the trailer to take them to the pier.
Graham with the Tups at the pier.

Kapitein in the meantime had put our unaccompanied trailer onto my other favourite mode of transport, the Calmac ferry LOTI. The tups were safe and sound down at the pier which gave me a wee while to catch up with Annie and of course visit GavalusGavalar in the Pantry. ‘Nice coffee Gav’! Meanwhile, Kapitein was enjoying himself in Oban, he’s grand at shopping, he even bought me some presents! Some fabulous Jura whisky and a bottle of ‘dog’!
The ferry duly arrived and with the help of Phil on the Hill and Will, our trailer was hastily towed off the ferry, backed up to the holding pens, tups loaded and then re-loaded back onto the ferry. With fond farewells my tups and I sailed onward to Oban, all in a mornings work!
The 'Big Fella' quite happy in the trailer

Kapitein collected me and the trailer and we headed home to Skye. We offloaded the tups safe and well in their new field all within the regulated time for transporting animals.
Meanwhile, Magnus had started with the chain saw and the strimmer to clear a path through the undergrowth, cutting down an abundance of Bog Myrtle. Bog Myrtle is reputed to repel the dreaded Midgey but in my experience, the Midgey seems to thrive in the Bog Myrtle bushes! These ‘wee beasties’ have a nasty habit of getting into small places, especially eyes and ears and for such a small insect, it has a nasty bite. So the less bushes we have, the better it might be!
Following Magnus’s run in with the Midgey, the Bernisdale boys began to excavate for the caravan, the area was covered with years and year’s growth of weeds and grass. Then, low and behold, on a balmy summer evening, we came to the croft and a ‘site’ had appeared!

Amidst all of these jobs, we have had little time to go out and explore Skye, but we heard news that some friends of ours were coming to the island for a wee stopover before heading out over the Minch to Harris. They were due on the Friday evening and would travel, the next day on the early morning Calmac ferry from Uig to Tarbert. They duly arrived and we had a wonderful time catching up on all of our news.


I digress…
We finally got word from JJ, that our caravan could be delivered, complete with escort. Ironically, it would arrive exactly 6 months to the day after we had left Colonsay.
We headed up to the croft to see how progress was coming along with the site, and what a surprise, everything was ready, including a protective bund (a miniature man made hill to protect the caravan from the prevailing southerly winds)
The excavated site ready to take delivery of the caravan

On the day of delivery, we received a phone call to say the transport was running late, their estimated time of arrival was 11 pm! But the weather was on our side and it stays light until late in the evening during the summer months.
At exactly 11.15pm, the wagon and escort vehicle with JJ duly arrived with our new home.

The caravan being offloaded from the wagon.
At precisely midnight our caravan ‘touched down’ onto our land a very significant and emotional moment – we had our new home, at last.
The following morning John came to help Kapitein to site the caravan, quite a difficult task to get a 35ft long and 12ft wide caravan turned and positioned exactly where we needed it to be. But they both did a magnificent job, I was so proud of both of them.

With the aid of Kapitein’s landrover, the caravan was sited.

We had only seen photographs of the caravan, so we were very excited to see the inside! It was all JJ said it was – very purple, but in splendid condition, a much loved caravan indeed, we are so grateful to the previous owners who obviously took good care of it.

In the meantime, I have sent off my remaining Hebridean fleeces to the mill for processing and expect the wool back during October. I will be producing fabric this time with the help of Andrea and Roger from Skye Weavers – I can hardly contain myself - and will keep you informed of some rather exciting new designs which will be made here on Skye during the coming months.

Now then, the next thing on our list was to install services to the caravan, in-between preparing it for the winter. We installed a wood burning stove (our thanks go to Neil from Skye Finishing Touches – well done) anchors and chains – to stop it blowing away in the gales, skirting, to protect the chassis and add much needed insulation in the form of thick carpets – courtesy of Paul & Tasha at Harris Home Furnishings
The boys enjoying the comforts of the caravan.

Water was eventually connected, BT finally put a pole up and Kapitein and I trenched in over 200 metres of phone cable – it’s brilliant when communications are up and running, then Billy came to connect the gas for my new oven and hob! But, no electric! SSE tried their utmost to get the wayleaves signed so mains electric could be brought into the site, but to no avail – Ian was marvelous, he tried everything, but no was still the answer. So we have had to re-think how we can live and work here without mains electricity. But aha! It’s solved… We will be going ‘off grid’. I will tell you all about Kapitein and I becoming ‘eco-friendly’ (no not hippies) in my next post.
So that's me off up the croft to see how the Tups are and how other vital work is progressing, I will report back very soon.








Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Home - at last...


What a journey! In real time, it has taken 6 months to find and secure a croft site for our new Homestead, it seems like years…But our long awaited ‘good times’ are finally here. Yipee!!
On the morning of December 27th 2013, we left the final reminder of our time on Colonsay, our footprints in the sand.

We arrived at our temporary Homestead with a view to settling somewhere ‘out West’.





           
          
The variation of scenes from our temporary homestead are just amazing – including the myriad of wildlife – otters, herons, eagles, you name it and it is here…

So what now! We have settled on the wonderful Isle of Skye, but, we haven’t rested on our laurels while we’ve been here. There was such a huge amount to do even just to regain our identities – Kapitein thought I could be Demi Moore! I’m sure she would have been delighted with that! Especially when I don’t look like her… I thought he could be George Clooney!! Well, one does live in hope… 
All of the paperwork during the aftermath of the fire, takes time and effort, including the reporting of, several times a day, the same story of how everything was lost in the fire. But, we have come out the other side, and are raring to go…
So what about Skye! There is a shop here called the Co-op!! It is such a novelty to us, it’s like being in a huge sweetie shop! Kapitein’s eyes light up every time he sees the large selection of Pizza’s – we’ll have to keep an eye on his waistline me thinks. He is notorious when he nips to the shops, he always comes back with armfuls of goodies, not that I am complaining. There is everything you could wish for and more, nearly on our doorstep, well, far fewer miles than 2.20 hours on a ferry and an overnight stay in Oban. But, I do miss seeing the wonderful yellow plane flying overhead on Colonsay, especially when it was bringing freight for us.
We have visited many parts of Skye and beyond.
It was the depths of winter when we arrived with lots of snow – brilliant if you own a snowdog like Wolfie!

The Faerie Pools at Glenbrittle


Applecross with Skye in the distance – it was very, very cold that day.


Neist Point – where waterfalls traverse ‘uphill’ on windy days

I have also been very busy designing new products, the inspiration here on Skye is fantastic. The Cuillin mountain range is just amazing, and at the time of posting this blog, there is still a wee patch of snow!! And it’s the summer!! I will post up more details on my latest designs soon…
Isle of Skye is our new island home, and we have been so lucky. We have purchased an owner occupied croft where we are at the ‘edge’ too. It has shore frontage, with not one, but three slipways! Perfect for Kapitein. And a huge acreage too, perfect for our ‘boys’ (the canine and sheep variety) so it’s all go from now on.
We received the keys – well, to the wooden gate, on Friday 23rd May 2014, with plans, plans and more plans in our heads. So where do you begin when you own a bare-land croft?


Plant a tree, this is a native Alder – we thought we needed to put down our roots as soon as possible.

Surveying the land, we noticed there is an inordinate amount of Bog Myrtle on the croft – I see beer production, just for our own consumption, will be a must… Anyway, we were put in touch with a young chap, Magnus, an absolute dab hand with a chain saw. He cleared a path through the Bog Myrtle so that Malcolm the fencer could get a paddock fenced off, ready for the Tups arrival from Colonsay.


Malcolm & Magnus fencers extraordinaire

Next was to get a hard-standing so we could access the site with vehicles. John from K.Lee Plant came and started scraping away the top soil in readiness for a temporary hard standing. Brilliant work!! More about John and Willie aka the Bernisdale boys in a later post…


        
With all of this work there is a huge amount of preparation now already completed. But one of our most wonderful moments ( and there has been several) was the day the containers arrived from storage – it was nice to see Gary from MaQueen’s storage in Oban, the last time we saw him was the day he left Colonsay via Hebridean Air Services (as the ferry had been cancelled) arriving home, just in time for Christmas. He told us he had a super flight.
He offloaded the containers which had housed our few possessions rescued from the shed, including all of last year’s wool clip, this is so important, especially when starting anew. Plus Kapitein has some tools again, and we all know that every guy needs a shed with tools! 


Everything arrived safely and in good order, what a relief...


Next on the list of things to acquire was, we needed to get equipment for working the land – it has been neglected for a number of years, but the ground is good. First and foremost on this list was a tractor! And after an epic journey-it took just over a week to get here from the mainland, the tractor, affectionately known as Wouter de Boskabouter, arrived.

Wouter De Boskabouter with our miniature Macleod’s Table in the background – built by a Macleod of course!

And Kapitein! Well, he is in his element with all things tractor. What is it about ‘Boys and their toys’? He is often seen ‘flailing’ about in the field!! Well, that’s what he calls it!!
Next thing we found was that many years ago, there had been caravans on this croft and that there was already a track down to the trees. We spoke with John again from K.Lee Plant and what a surprise, he arrived with his ‘even bigger’ digger and set too on reinstating the track.





This is very exciting to us, the old road, becoming the new! And a bonus for us is we have a wee quarry which contains ‘rotten rock’ which is rock that is perfect for the road. John got very excited when he saw this… He’s nearly as bad as Kapitein! Especially when both could be found ‘inspecting’ rock!! John is an extremely professional person and what he can’t do with his diggers isn’t worth knowing about. We are so very, very grateful for all of his hard work and sound advice.
We also unearthed an old, working, septic tank and water connection – which had serviced the old caravan, neatly hidden under the undergrowth. There was also the old hard-standing where the caravan had stood. I will tell you all about the excavations with Wouter de Boskabouter in my next blog.
The flora and fauna on our site is exquisite, we have so many Hebridean Orchids, amongst other wild flowers here, and they are truly beautiful…



We have also taken time out from working to see even more of our new island home. We headed off south to see the Glenelg ferry, it was a glorious day to see the ferry with new livery.
The Isle of Skye has everything, even two way traffic! Something very new to us having previously lived on such a small island with only single road – and passing places. But once off the beaten track, there are still many miles of single track roads here, with passing places that you never know what you may have to pull in for!!



I am now off back up to the croft to do some more work, I will keep you posted on our progress…