Island at the Edge

Island at the Edge
The Gathering, Cable Bay, Colonsay

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Year in Review 2016 – Part 1



Happy New Year!! We wish you a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2017
We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has visited our croft this year, whether it was via tours buses with amazing tour guides, our fabulous overseas visitors came from all corners of the globe. Our local, regional and national visitors who arrived from all corners of the UK and whether your visit was to pop into the shop, meet the sheep or participate in one of the several courses we ran this year.. Thank you.

We must also say a very special thank you to all of those tradesmen and suppliers who without whom none of what we have achieved would have been possible. We would like also to say a huge thank you to our family and friends who's ongoing support is just amazing... Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the kindnesses we are shown and we can hardly believe that another year has passed and the progress we have made here on the Croft is just immeasurable!! So here is a brief look at 2016 here at Eilean Oir Croft, Isle of Skye.

January 2016

Last New Year’s Day (2016) we were up with the larks and did our usual chores – feeding the sheep and walking the dogs ironically, we first footed ourselves (as Kapitein was once upon a time a very dark haired guy  - as per tradition - and as we did last year) so here’s hoping we have as good 2016 as the previous year.
We did receive visitors later that day. Then off out again to feed the sheep again. Thankfully we didn’t have to dig drainage ditches this year.
Ironically, we have had some lovely weather here during the month of January – a refreshing change. Here is Stamford aka Wolfie watching for seals on the sea shore just as the sun was setting.

We had huge issues on the island with our Broadband access. But, we were not the only ones here on Skye with problems, this saw a new dedicated Facebook page has well over 1000 people who have had similar problems and are taking BT Openreach (who have the monopoly and are the only supplier of Broadband) to task. We have been very lucky in so much as our local MSP Ian Blackford has taken it up with BT directly and there is to be a public meeting on Friday 5th February. I do hope they manage to get things sorted as soon as humanly possible so we can all go about our business. And they did sort of sort it… All thanks go to Brian for his ongoing fantastic support…

Storm Gertrude struck Scotland in the latter days of January!! We had winds in excess of 80 mph! And mainland Scotland has had gusts in excess of 125mph!! Even the Forth Road Bridge was closed. Ironically, yesterday was the day the concrete floor was being laid within the agricultural shed! The wagon came down at 07:30 yesterday morning and after three and a half loads of concrete he left and just before 10:00pm last night. Neil Montgomery, another fabulous tradesperson from Bernisdale another friend of John MacLeod, arrived with his team and they barrowed and tamped down the concrete all day. The only break they got was when the wagon had to go to refill with cement, gravel mix and water.


Norman, working with the Lazer Level

Ross’s brand new wagon

Cammie barrowing concrete into the lean too.

What we didn’t know was that once the concrete was laid, they needed to use a ‘polisher’ (they call it a Helicopter) which would smooth and even out the top layer of concrete to give it a good finish. Ah, but, you have to wait for the concrete to dry! These guys worked, worked and better worked well into the night. At 11.30pm, Neil said that they would have to come back through the night to finish the job as the concrete just wasn’t quite dry enough!!! You can imagine our amazement! True to their word, they arrived back at approximately 01:00 am and worked until 4:00am in the morning. They did this amid storm Gertrude with the winds howling and the rain lashing down. They are truly an outstanding team I am sure you will agree. And the shed base is amazing, just perfect!!
And finally for January…
We were up very early one morning because of the very high winds. We had a severe electrical storm at around 06:30 am and the lightning struck just above the caravan!!! We were very lucky indeed, we both just got a very big fright at the huge ‘crack’ as the lightning struck. Thankfully all was well.
As soon as it was light we were up checking for any damage and we were then able to go and see that the sheep – and the hens were all ok. I am pleased to report, barring a waterlogged field, due to the subsequent deluge of water, all was well.

February 2016

The new Agricultural shed completed, and as the winter weather was quite harsh, we moved the sheep into the purpose built lean too. I think they thought it was a Palace! We put the girls at one side and the boys (in the foreground) in the other. I know they were very comfortable as they didn’t wish to go out into the paircs in the morning! I was working in my workshop when the ‘Big Fella’ decided to pay me a visit!!




                  

I don’t know if those of you who have visited us here will remember that we had some trees between the caravan and the shop? Well, our old friend Magnus and a ‘tree surgeon’ Ali from Staffin came to inspect them to find that they were extremely dangerous! We did suspect this as they weren’t your average tree! They were in fact overgrown Leylandii hedging, planted over 25 years ago. During high winds, one of the trees lifted the land surrounding its roots as it swayed with the gusts of wind! This is not a protected species of tree (as it was never supposed to grow into a tree). The decision was taken to clear fell the trees for our safety. We decided to have the trunks logged and the remainder was fed through a machine that chops up the leaves and branches to make chippings – these are suitable for composting and making natural walkways.

The day came and Ali had to go up the trees to remove the thicker branches to secure them so as they wouldn’t fall onto either the caravan or the shed! He was amazing to watch. Magnus was the ‘ground man’ to guide branches securely to the ground without touching either the caravan or the shed.


Ali up the tree
                    
                                                 Magnus logging and chipping.

Billy the posty brought us a rather large package, our first consignment of Shetland wool I am thrilled to be able to sell such a prestigious brand of knitting yarn which is produced from their native Shetland sheep. This has brightened up the ‘shop’ with an array of colour – and of course, they have send me many patterns. As I teach Fairisle knitting here, it is just perfect

and is the most appropriate yarn (and patterns) to work with.

March 2016

My dearest friend (buddy) D’Nanty Sue came for her first visit of the year way back in March. I love it when she is here…
She works hard on the croft while she is here, even helping to clean the lean too and preparing it with clean bedding. She was also on hand to help Kapitein (on a very cold day) with the windbreak around the vegetable plot. It was so cold, she even shared her hat with Sammy!!

                       
We also had some other visitors to the Croft. Karen and Rob from the ‘Scottish Farmer’ magazine decided they wanted to write a feature about us. Karen is especially interested in the sheep and how I use their fleece for wool, knitwear and tweed. They duly arrived and the sun shone for them. The magazine came out with me on the front cover – complete with my favourite old orange jacket!! I was amazed!! It was super to welcome them both and the article is lovely. Karen is coming back to do some knitting too in the not too distant future…


My next adventure was off island for another very special occasion. I had been nominated in 2 categories in the Scottish Rural Awards – Business Diversification and Rural Enterprise. The ceremony was held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh and both of my daughters, Dionne and Nelly agreed to travel from Northumberland and come with me, sadly Kapitein had to stay at home to look after the sheep, dogs and hens.


Dionne, Me and Nelly all dressed up for the ceremony.

I was truly amazed when ‘Island at the Edge’ was chosen from hundreds of nominees to become one of the 6 finalists in the two nominated categories. We were told this was a fantastic achievement and we all enjoyed the evening, I shan’t forget it in a hurry – we all had a lovely time, and we met some other small start off businesses from the Outer Hebrides too. 


                        
While I was in Edinburgh, I went to visit Gordon NicolsonKiltmakers on the Royal Mile. Gordon is who made Kapitein’s kilt in our Tattersall Tweed. He is currently piloting a new venture, ‘Kilt School’ a SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) Qualification to make kilts. We have been in discussions about running this course up here on Skye at Island at the Edge. And for me to offer Traditional Dress Hire and kilt making facilities here too. This is a wonderful opportunity and will develop further during 2017.


  April 2016

Lambing started in earnest with ‘Guffy’ having twin lambs, closely followed by another ewe lambing just as the most horrendous snow storm hit!! Thankfully the girls were in the lean too so were more protected than in years before. We had an interesting lambing this year, what with Mastitis, breach births – back legs first, difficult twins it just went on and on. We were thankful when lambing ended and we counted our blessings.


May 2016

We received our very first large ‘group’ of visitors here on the croft, comprising of Rare Breed sheep breeders all the way from Germany.
We spent three days prior to their visit getting everything ready. Kapitein had a couple of helpers and together they tidied up the whole croft and stacked logs neatly away. I prepared fleeces and rovings (wool prepared for spinning) for a spinning demonstration in the agricultural shed, got my shed ready and gave Kapitein’s kilt a much-needed press in anticipation of our visitor’s arrival. Our dear friends and helpers all arrived just before the earlier than anticipated arrival of the bus.
We had 37 people and one guide arrived at 09:00 in the morning. They managed to park their huge 55 seat coach off road at the entrance to our croft. And then we divided them up into 3 groups so Kapitein could take one to show them around the croft where they got to meet the sheep including lambs in the lean too, one of our friends had the second group and took them where they were shown how to spin and saw demonstrations about the differences between the fleeces and myself and Sarah had the remaining group and showed them how to knit a Gansey telling them all about the heritage and what the motifs mean (the designs knitted into the garment). The groups were amazing and huge fun, we all laughed a lot and they presented us with books, literature and a small hand woven mat made with their own wool as a farewell gift, what a lovely thought.

       
They left at 11:00 am and traveled to Dunvegan Castle where another warm highland welcome awaited them.
We all had some hot soup and coffee for lunch as we waited for the next group of 41 and 2 guides arrived at 1:30pm. They too parked their huge coach up at the gates and were divided into 3 groups. And again, this group were amazing fun and as the first group, presented us with some lovely gifts.
We were all very pleased that they had enjoyed their day, as we had too, but as we waved off the final coach at 4:00pm, we all needed to sit down and have several cups of tea as we reminisced about the day.

Not resting on our laurels. We have been running several courses on everything from learning to crochet and knitting to a first for us an introduction to spinning. This course was run by our friend Anne Salter, a renowned spinner and teacher of this skill. We all learned about choosing the right fleece, preparing a fleece and spinning with a spinning wheel, a drop spindle and another spinning device that Anne has invented – based on a football rattle. All of us had a wonderful time and we even managed to spin some fleece into wool.


         

And finally for May…
You may remember I was a finalist in the Scottish Rural Awards. Well, my daughters and I made it into the ‘people of note’ section of the Scottish Field magazine during this month!! One of our customers has likened this to being in the ‘Hello’ or OK magazines!! Either way we all feel very privileged indeed.

June 2016

 We had a mini heatwave here on the Isle of Skye. This has been recognised by the Met Office that we were the hottest place in the whole of the British Isles with temperatures of 27c!! What a coup this was.
Whilst the sun shone, we welcomed another group of visitors here to the croft. They came on the cruise ship Zuiderdam which came into Portree harbour and one of our tour operators, Tour Skye brought on a pre-booked tour, several groups of ‘knitting and craft’ ladies and gentlemen here to the croft. One very, very special lady arrived with the first group. A very famous lady called Hazel Tindall – she is the world’s fastest knitter and has held this record since 2004. She knits with the wonderful Jamiesons and Smith’s Shetland yarn and she knits Fairisle.


                                 
We took delivery of our very own digger. This is mainly due to our needing to get lots of small jobs done that require a digger. Kapitein has never used one before but he took to it like a ‘duck to water’. His first job was trenching in the water pipe ready before the installation of the Poly Tunnel (Greenhouse). He also carried on and trenched in over 100 metres of electricity cable from the back of the agricultural shed to the caravan as he could complete another big job, which was to move the Generator, battery pack and solar panels to the agricultural shed. What a star…

     
Ably assisted by Calum MacRae, joiner extraordinaire, the Generator was swiftly moved into the shed. The battery pack has taken a battering through the 2 years it has been outside, so this is the best option.

We waited with bated breath for the arrival of our KederGreenhouse. Kapitein had been working for several months getting the foundations ready. This was a very precise job, and we really hoped everything would fit when Dean and Lee from Keder were setting the framework down.
We watched the weather forecast and realised that the wonderful heatwave we had been enjoying was coming to an end!! This didn’t mean a storm was brewing, but more of the ‘usual’ misty and wet weather we usually have here on Skye with a slight 30-40 mph breeze.
The day arrived and the guys travelled up from Evesham in the south of England. They arrived here on the croft at 3.30 in the afternoon and told Kapitein that the foundations were perfect!! He was extremely happy – and so was I…
The following morning the boys arrived on site at 7.10am and started work immediately. I can honestly say, I haven’t met such fast and precise workers for a long time – they put up these greenhouses on a regular basis, but to watch them work was amazing.
And since they have installed it, Kapitein has planted several seeds, bedding plants, slips and cuttings so we can ‘hopefully’ have our own vegetables this year.





Visitors tell us that we have made phenomenal the progress this year, in the next installment, I will tell you all about the progress on our house build and the trip of a lifetime… Japan…
Until then, Bliadhna Mhath Ur - Happy New Year.

   



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.