UIG SANDS, LEWIS
There are lovely sandy, unpolluted beaches like this throughout the Outer Hebrides, some of them stretching for long distances. Even on warm sunny days , they never get crowded. This particular beach, at Uig in the far West of Lewis, is an absolute gem, being surrounded by hills and moors. It also has the distinction of being the place where the Lewis Chessmen were discovered in a stone chamber, in the 19th Century.
Some friends are visiting this week for the third year in succession and they willingly drive over 500 miles each way so that their children, aged 9&12, can spend their days playing on safe, clean and beautiful Lewis and Harris beaches. Like all modern children, they are welded to technology at home, but utterly content to do little but run about on the sand throughout their holiday. No ice cream vans, no kiss me quick hats, but lots of fresh air.
3 o'clock, Tuesday morning. Couldn't sleep for worrying about the slow pace of the house renovation and searching for reasons why I have had so many problems with unreliable and excessively expensive tradesmen. They have all been paid promptly and treated with consideration, but little has gone smoothly. The original tiler has finally disappeared, apparently for ever, leaving the kitchen literally half finished and with electric sockets hanging out of the wall. He has left his tools here and I have no idea if he will be back to collect them.
Just as I was sinking into a depressive torpor, wondering if I am somehow the cause of all these difficulties, there was a huge flash of light from outside the bedroom window. It occurred to me for a second or two that Armageddon was upon us, but no, it was shooting stars. They were whizzing all over the clear bright sky every minute or two and I stood and watched them for half an hour or more. A magical experience and I soon went back to sleep thinking that life is not all bad.
Events seem to have taken a turn for the better this week. I found a joiner last Wednesday who has a reputation locally for being a good tiler as well. He was unavailable when I was first looking for a tiler a few weeks ago. Well, I couldn't help but smile when I heard that he was doing the joinery on a new build garage last week, when the bricklayer got drunk and disappeared on a bender leaving him in the lurch and all work on the garage stopped. A very familiar story for me . He found himself without work for a couple of weeks until his new brickie starts and consequently, I have a new tiler. He came round to look at the job on Wednesday evening, we agreed a price and he started work on Thursday morning. He is now halfway through tiling the bathroom and his work looks good. The decorator turned up this morning and between 8am and 5pm, has papered three difficult ceilings well. I can now get on with painting walls. Out of the blue, the road contractor turned up as well today and even as we speak, he's on his JCB, like a big Tonka toy, digging out ditches on the croft prior to repairing the road. All of a sudden, I feel a great sense of elation and optimism that the end might just be in sight.
The new sofas have arrived too, although several weeks before they were due and the window blinds are on their way.
There has been lots of speculation on the island that the ferry company, Caledonian Macbrayne, were about to announce that they are going to start Sunday sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool. They have now denied this but said that they will review the situation at the end of the year after the new reduced fare structure has been in place for a month or two. They pointed out that they have had many more representations in favour of Sunday sailings than against them. It very much looks as if they will eventually make a decision on economic grounds, rather than on local religious sensitivities.