Jonathan: All of Uist seems to have retreated indoors for the past few days, but not to escape the fury of the wind, or to take shelter from driving rain, but to help our minds escape the soul-sapping blight of endless dreich-filled days. Now, for the benefit of those south of the border and therefore not expected to have a proper understanding of what dreich entails, let me explain. The air is still or nearly so ; the cloud is thick, dense, and shuts out most of what little light winter affords us – even on the best of days (if we can actually remember – or even just conjecture – what they were like), and is so low and so saturated with atomised water as to leave everything below it, living and inanimate, infused with its very essence. In short, all of life as we know it, enveloped in a cold, sodden, thick, heavy grey blanket that extends in every direction – even into the ground itself, and from which there can be no escape. Not even sound escapes, for not only does the blanket and suspended moisture muffle (I was going to write dampen, but I need to save your tolerance of puns for later) – yes muffle any utterence exclamation hoot ring or percussion, it also robs us even of the joy (or indeed any desire or motive short of dire emergency) that would give rise to any such sound.There is no escape. Not by car, nor by ferry – and even the flights are cancelled due to lack of visibility!
It’s been like this for days ; but this afternoon – for just a short while before darkness fell – the clouds cleared enough for us to get a visual sighting of Barra, which at least gave us an opportunity to reset our in-built compasses. There is now a significantly improved chance of finding our way home from the co-op without reeled out a rope – a reflectorized yellow rope – on our way there. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for what we actually received, but had the visibility extended just an incy wincy bit further to the sea horizon, we could even have recalibrated our internal spirit levels, and refamilarized ourselves with the concept of up-and-down. Heavens above (ah yes, here’s that pun I warned you of) the iPad even sprung to life to say that it had been able to re-connect with the satellites that enable it to certify that we do indeed conduct use the PayPal Here app and card reader within the territorial extent of the UK and therefore are entitled to do so using UK bank accounts. And thus together with its sophisticated electronics it too can re-establish itself in time, place, orientation and inclination. It does not however – having been conceived in sunnier climes across the Atlantic – come equipped with a dictionary that includes the word dreich! Yet our iPad started its conscious life here in Uist and has never known anywhere else, and so though it might not know the word dreich, it certainly does know exactly what it means to be dreich. It means weather where you stay indoors and surf the internet.