Friday, January 08, 2010



New year, new beginnings. Having had a break of several months, I've missed writing the blog and have decided it's time to start again, although perhaps less frequently than before.
Since I last blogged in October, life here has continued in an easy, comfortable and relatively stress free manner. It's three years since I moved into this house and eighteen months since the renovation was completed. Although there is some evidence of cowboy building, most of the work is of reasonable/good quality and I hope to continue living here for the forseeable future, or until life presents an unexpected turn, which tends to happen to me every now and then.

There have been changes at work recently and I now spend about fifty percent of my time working in Uist and Barra. That has both benefits and disadvantages just now. I love working independently and getting on with the task in hand unsupervised and still can't believe that I'm being paid to toil in these spectacular surroundings. I've always had a great fondness for Uist, although there are too few facilities and shops for me to think about living there permanently. Lewis seems to have the right balance of amenities, scenery and gritty dourness to suit me and keep me here for the time being.
The downside of spending half my existence in the Southern Isles is that I get fed up of living from a travel bag and going back to a guest house in the evenings, however pleasant. I like my own house very much and would prefer to return here every night, given the choice. Also, I've always wanted to develop the croft and keep livestock, which is not possible whilst I'm away so often. It still feels a bit like I'm living to work, like I did in the South, but surrounded by more beauty and with fewer pressures. Mustn't grumble though, because the general quality of my life has improved no end since I landed in the Outer Hebrides four years ago.
Talking of the weather, what a week. I've always been ready to stress to visitors that it is warmer here than you might think and that snowfall is a rarity. Well, there you go then. We've had lots of snow recently, see photos, and it's not risen above freezing in seven days.
I was away for Christmas and returned here before New Year, intending to take part in Hogmanay festivities. Following a five hour delay at Gatwick, which set the pace for the day, the plane arrived at Inverness just as the runway was closed because of heavy snow. We circled for three quarters of an hour until the airport was opened again and then I had to listen to the nice lady from Flybe telling me off for being late for my connection to Stornoway.
After finally arriving back here just before the local roads became unsafe to drive on, there was so much snow on New Year's Eve that I couldn't move the car and spent the evening watching the telly and drinking cocoa. Oh the excitement.
I'm still on holiday from work this week, which is just as well because I couldn't get the car down the drive for three days until yesterday because of depth of snow. Felt no need or compulsion to dig myself out. Plenty of food in the larder and ample supplies of coal, wood and peat to keep warm.
The birds are finding it much harder to survive in this weather and I make a point of feeding them every day. Apart from the usual Rock Doves, Starlings, Blackbird, Buzzard and Hooded Crow, I've had one or two less common visitors to the garden in the last few days. This morning, a Raven came to strut its stuff, much to the annoyance of the smaller birds and yesterday, a Woodcock arrived to take shelter under the front wall.
I'm off to the Balti house in Stornoway with friends now. Happy New Year to you all.