Sunday, June 01, 2008


This is one of hundreds of spotted Orchids growing on the croft at the moment. They are such beautiful flowers and it's a real pleasure to see them. The carnivorous Sundew has appeared too and it's a joy to see them in the sphagnum bog. To the best of my knowledge, the croft land has never been treated with herbicides or pesticides and is fertilised solely by sheep droppings. I'm not a botanist, but think this absence of chemical treatments may be the explanation for the great profusion of wild flowers around the house.
Whilst walking the croft with a friend last weekend, we found the nest of a meadow pipit with eggs in it, which was pleasing. Over the next few years, I plan to make this place as wildlife friendly as possible and am particularly keen to create conditions suitable for corncrakes, which are to be heard calling up and down the islands this month.

Progress continues to be made on the house. Although I'm finding it hard to motivate myself into decorating in the evenings after work, others are working harder. The electrician has installed the cooker - hot food at last - and is currently putting lights and sockets in the shed. I've always, always wanted a great big shed to do nothing in and although the one I've got needs some more renovation, it's still good to have. It's about 30 feet long x12 feet wide and over the years, has been used for everything from accommodating a weaving loom, to storing fishing gear, tools and housing cattle and sheep.

The plumber has finished installing the multi fuel stove, although I've not been brave enough to light a fire in it just yet. Maybe tonight, although it's far too warm at present to have a stove chugging away in the lounge. The tiler is doing stirling work fitting tiles in the kitchen. His work is of high quality, but he, like some of the other tradesmen, is unreliable and often fails to turn up when he says he will and then appears out of the blue to do two or three hours work. At least his progress is forward though.
After some harrying, I persuaded the aerial man to return and I'm now the proud possessor of a working television with extra channels from a digi box. One more reason to delay the decorating.

Not too much out of the ordinary happening on the island this week.The most exciting thing that has taken place recently was the arrival of an expedition ship, the National Geographic 'Endeavour', which suddenly appeared and anchored in deep water in the loch right at the bottom of the croft. The passengers were taken off by RIB's, which delivered them to a small local pier, where they were collected and shown round the sights of the Island. The 'Endeavour' stayed overnight and looked very dramatic and overwhelming with all its lights twinkling in the dark.

Tourists have now started to arrive in ever increasing numbers and there are more cyclists than ever before, biking the length of the Outer Hebrides from Barra to the Butt of Lewis. They seem to be passing in front of my kitchen window every hour throughout the day now, although that may be an exaggeration. One of the good features of the islands is that there is accommodation ranging from decent hotels to basic hostels and so everyone from the well off to penniless students can find a way of visiting here. If walking or cycling, It's perfectly possible to get a cheap Island hopscotch ferry ticket from Calmac and visit here on a very limited budget, which is excellent. When the ferry fare drops dramatically from October of this year, tourism is expected to hugely increase and apart from the distance and sheer effort of getting here, there will be no excuse for any of you not to visit and have a good poke round this wonderful landscape.

Contentious issues such as the windfarms, Sunday ferry sailings, Sabbath observance generally and the imminent arrival of Tesco, are still bubbling under and I'll write about them more over the next few months as developments take place.

Fuel watch -- Diesel 139 pence per litre in Stornoway yesterday.


Fair isle faerie said...

Was having a wee walk round our gimmers holding park before I started shearing the other day & found scores of spotted orchids, early here this year, marsh orchids are out too & the frog orchids are starting to appear.

Our croft is the same as yours, most of it has never known chemicals, the folk who we took the croft over from did use chemicals on the silage patch but we swapped that over last year to using seaweed & manure only.

Love this time of year up here on fair isle, with all the wild flowers I dont miss my herbaceous borders & walled garden that we used to have so much.

Marty said...

No worries about decorating - if all your reader friends sent you a wee house warming gift (we can't exactly help paint...), it will be done in no time! I see packages from all over the world finding home in your croft. What a fun and interesting project for everyone.

Anonymous said...

should you wish to write a novel -- i don't know why this thought occurs at this point -- the mouse, the tiramisu, the wine, the landlady in the tiny town -- must be it. still thinking about that lovely mouse.