Today, 1 March, Spring has arrived. And not just officially! Today we’re revelling in blue skies, warm sunshine and turquoise seas. And the forecast encourages us to expect more of the same for the most of the coming week. Outdoor tasks beckon, and we follow gladly, casting off warm layers and headgear and turning on their heads the winter-time excuses to hasten back indoors. Freedom under the sun, indeed!
Overnight, Jack Frost left his hallmark on the windows and windscreens [windshields]. We’ve seen little of him in recent years – this is only his second visit this winter – and probably his last. He didn’t stop long, though, as he’d got word that Sunny Boy was on his way!
The UK-wide poultry lock-down order expired yesterday, along with the month of February – and Winter. Exceot for a few localized problem areas in England, birds can now range freely outdoors, providing a number of precautions are observed.
The sheep seemed pleased with themselves, waiting for me in the middle of the road, satisfied with the warm sunshine on their backs. Later, just as I was packing up to head home for lunch, Primrose left the others, trotting over to see me, skipping with delight.
Even the harbour seals had grounded themselves on rocks to spend the middle of the day basking in sunshine. These are young seals. Can you see an older/darker one on the right having to make do with the lower shoulder of the rock. First on – Last off!
Back at the walled garden, Denise was washing and disinfecting in Greenhouse 4, working around the two remaining spring cabbages. (My but they’ve been tender and tasty!) Washing on the line under blue skies provide the final dash of light and colour that I’ve been painting for you.
Whilst Denise is walking in Lanzarote, I’m waiting in Limbo.
Waiting for the latest barrage of wind to wear itself out, so I can get outdoors and continue preparing the garden for the growing season ahead. I’m waiting for the poultry lock-down to reach its end without being extended again. Waiting for Denise to come home and togetherness to resume. Waiting for the electricians to fix a date for wiring up the croft chicken shed. And, dammit, I’m waiting for British Telecom to finish off installing the landline at Carrick Eriskay so that I can make good all the holes and trenches and get the house ready for guests again. (Wasn’t it enough that I had to do all the cabling work (indoors and outdoors – including under the road) myself? That was supposed to have speeded things up!) But above all, I’m waiting for my own restless anxious state to settle down, and find the quiet steady frame of mind in which I can get on with things that need doing – anything that needs doing, regardless of external frustrations.
Denise is good at that. Her answer to any difficulty is to just get on with it, especially if ‘it’ starts with dusting down and cleaning up. In fairness to myself, once I get going, I keep going. But more often than not it’s Denise makes sure I get going in the first place. That said, the learning-to-cook is entirely self-driven: I need to break through the wall of self-disbelief and move on …
Another bout of bad weather kicked off overnight, and has been building up all day. Tomorrow, Friday, will be worse. Rain – just showers, thankfully. It’s the wind. 50-60mph. Nothing catastrophic, just a bullying wind that grinds you down, wears you out, and not even with a name to attach the curse to.
Desperate to get outdoors, even at the risk of coming home soaked, Tilly and I set off up the lane towards Eiseabhal. I picked up the camera for just-in-case. The other day there’d been a group of Eriskay ponies hanging around at the old fank, sheltering from the south-easterly wind. One of the older boys looked like Midnight. It’d be good to get a photo of him, for old-time’s sake.
There were hoof-marks cut into the soft grass of the old track – but no ponies. What we did find, though, was a brief spell of sunshine that reminded us – all this will pass.
March is an old English word meaning border – as in the Welsh Marches, or in describing one county as marching with another.
After 72 hours of constant gale-force to severe-gale winds from the south east, with everything chilled to the core and enveloped in a clinging damp that spreads like a virus – today was a relief. Soft winter sunshine, mild breeze …
Tilly and I made the most of it, with a walk following the northern marches of the Cille Bhrìghde Common Grazings.
The boundary was, anciently, marked with a bank of earth and stone, and behind it a ditch from which the bank was raised. The boundary marches close to a curious rock formation – The Perched Stone.
At three or four tonnes, boulder woud be more accurate. It will have left like this by the retreating glaciers, many thousands of years ago.
Jonathan: After two named storms – Barbara and Connor – in quick succession, and a week indoors, the wind died down today, and at last we could get out for a proper walkies with Tilly! It’s been good to get out with the dog under blue skies – and be driven home by a violent hail-shower! So, We’ve made do with a there-and-back walk up the old track to the hill gate below the rocky slopes of Coire Bheinn. It’s lovely to see the wild birds busy finding food, their hunger after days of storm making them bold, darting by our feet: Wren, Redstart, Blackbird, Thrush, Rock Dove … A pair of Lapwing silently wheeled and dived – apparently for no reason other than the sheer joy to be free to do so after days couped up in whatever shelter they can find. An owl quartering the fields e and a Buzzard perched on one of the new power distribution poles. Fence wires are decorated apparently with raffia, fluttering in the breeze: in fact they’re short lengths of dead grass torn away from the ground by the storms.
Over the years we’ve been here, we’ve learned to expect – and be prepare for – power cuts during and after storms. For the first few years here, those cuts could come several times a day, though mostly for just a second or two, a few minutes … and occasionally for hours: in fact it didn’t even need to be windy, or even Winter! Back then, the network was old and not very resilient. In recent years, a lot of work – a great deal of money – has gone into not only replacing poles and lines, but also adding parallel or higher voltage distribution lines, automatic switching, telemetry. This autumn, there’s been swarms of engineers – most over for the mainland for a few weeks at a time – working hard to complete £3.5m of upgrade before their Christmas holidays. And they made it, too! So, we’ve only had two power outages this past Autumn and Winter, and those were as new lines were prepared for energizing. Well done, everyone!