Jonathan: It’s familiar as a Christmas Carol, but the season it describes – with ‘earth as hard iron, water like a stone’ – is more typical of mid to late January, and this year I’d even say it describes life in Uist. Not that I’ve seen Cherubims and Seraphims appearing in the sky – just snow clouds! The weather continues cold but calm, and that means no seaweed cast up on the shore; or rather no fresh seaweed, just an accumulation of rotting old stuff, which is little use for feeding the soil, much of the goodness having already leached out of it. Nonetheless, for a second time I’ve been to Smercleit Taobh a Deas to load up a trailer of the stuff: this morning I’ll be taking that load to the croft to put around the fruit bushes. There are bright spells during the days, and I’ve put these to use working on Tilly’s Fence – the new fence separating off our back garden here at An Gàrradh Mòr; collecting seaweed of course. At other times there’s been sawing firewood – every two or three days. But the main occupation for me right now is catching up on maintenance and decoration of our holiday let at Askernish – plenty to do there!
Denise: Phone call, yesterday afternoon, from our guests just arrived at Askernish: No hot water. As in no water coming out of the hot taps. Oh dear: that means only one thing – frozen feed to or supply from the hot water cylinder, up in the roof. J puts on boiler suit, collects equipment from the store in Eriskay and then drives to Askernish. Sets up two 500W halogen lights in the loft, directed at the two pipes and leaves them there – will check again in the morning. Guests seem happy that at least something’s being done. This morning they phoned to say the water was running again, so J went round to clear away the lights and ladders. Another job for next year: improve insulation around and over the water tanks (but eliminating any insulation underneath). This wouldn’t have happened at all had the house been in use throughout this cold spell, due to the warmth leaking from the hot water cylinder. Best way to look after any house is to live in it!
Denise: Baked potato for lunch. Snow and iced up outside, so can’t get to pull fresh carrots and other veg. Usually the winters are so mild, here in Uist, we don’t need to lift in autumn and store for the winter – can leave the vegetables in the ground for picking fresh. Thankfully, potatoes are the exception!