PENTLAND ROAD, LEWIS
Nothing momentous has occurred recently, but no disasters either.
Spent last week in a cottage near Torridon in the West Highlands. All very therapeutic and relaxing and now feel ready to return to work and take on the building industry.
Whilst away, did very little apart from read books, stoke the log fire, go out for lunch and shop. Managed to return to the island with 100 Litres of paint in the boot, which should keep me busy for a few months in my spare time.
The most exciting event to happen when I was on the mainland was sighting a pair of Red Kites flying above the A9 at Black Isle, when I was on the way to Inverness. These beautiful large fork tailed birds of prey were once common in Scotland, but became extinct about 1900 as the result of persecution through poisoning and shooting. They were reintroduced in 1989 and following a few teething problems, have thrived, are now commonly seen and have become something of a tourist attraction. They nest in forestry, which is presumably the explanation for them being absent from the Outer Hebrides.
During my absence, the builder has kept his part of the bargain and finished most of the internal work. He has installed the kitchen, which looks brilliant and the house now has the early semblance of a home. Not quite sure what the plumber has been doing all week, 'cos his work seems very little different from when I left. The central heating and water supply, although installed, are still not connected and it is now only the lack of heating and water that is preventing me from moving back into the house. The new cooker has an electric oven which the electrician can wire himself, but the hob is worked from Propane bottled gas and the plumber has decided now is a good time to tell me he does not have the required certification to install it. Now have to find another qualified plumber to connect it , so more expense and time lost.
Three cheers for B&Q . Hip Hip Hooray. Went to see them at Inverness and told them my tale of woe about the damaged wash basin and toilet seat. Even though I bought them in January 2007 and do not believe B&Q were responsible for the damage, they readily agreed to replace them at their expense and to ship them here at no cost to me. The basin arrived yesterday and is being fitted by the plumber today, whilst the loo seat is in transit somewhere. My experience of the service provided by tradespeople and shops over the last year or so has been generally fairly negative, so I'm delighted to sing praise where it's due.
In a previous blog, I told of finding a dead otter on the road in Benbecula. Well, it's happened again, in my own village. Last Saturday evening, driving close to home, I saw this big dark shape run in front of the car in front of me, which did not stop. I did and was sad to see this lovely healthy looking otter quite dead in the middle of the road. The driver of the other car was not speeding and could have done nothing to prevent himself from hitting the animal. The otter was huge, more than a metre from nose to tip of tail, so I assume it was an adult male, the females being much smaller.
Great news dear reader. Tesco are coming to town! They have bought out six Somerfield stores here in the Highlands and Islands and will be taking over the Stornoway branch from May 12. Those of you who have brought and sent me jars of Tesco smoked garlic mayonnaise - a little weakness of mine - during the last couple of years, will be thrilled that I will soon be able to buy my own without having to trouble you any longer.
The social consequences of having Tesco, the possibility of Sunday ferry sailings and discounted air and sea travel are potentially huge. Some will see it all as progress, others will regret it, but daily life here is likely to be very different within the next few years.