Jonathan: It’s half past ten and still just light. Rhubarb has been fed and settled down for the night. Tilly and I have completed our evening walk – the first time this year without a torch. It’s time to go in and put the dogs, cats and myself to bed after a long and busy day, but the rare calm and quiet of the evening keeps Tilly and I lingering on the bare summit of Cnoc a Deas, taking in the drama of light and dark played out between four horizons. In the north east, the mass of Eisebhal is etched out in reverse with remaining patches of snow – like a plate for a Wainwright walking guide. In the south east, the lights of Eriskay glimmer across the sea, smudged and scattered by a wintry shower heading south. In the south west, more distant Barra and the many smaller isles between here and there – and all of existence between the sea and the heavens, have been swallowed up in a slowly moving mass of falling snow and ice. But in the north west, clouds are assembled in ranks across the horizon, back-lit with the soft hues of pink, yellow and palest blue, as the sun sets somewhere in the far distant lands of ice.
Denise: Jonathan was down on the beach again, and yes in his boiler suit and wellies, as usual. Tilly went too – she stood in the water with a stick of kelp for Jonathan to throw. Rhubarb didn’t stand in the water, but stood back, afraid to get his hooves wet. When Tilly came back with the kelp stem and wanted Rhubarb to play with it, Rhubarb tucked his head under Tilly’s tummy in search of milk. Tilly ran off along the water’s edge, and Rhubarb ran after her, alternately skipping so hard as almost to sumersault, and turning back to Jonathan and bleating. I called them back to the house for lunch. Home-made bread and soup for us, then fruit – and tidbits for Tilly. For Rhubarb? There’s a bottle of milk warming.
Jonathan: Early this morning Denise and enjoyed a romantic dawn on the beach at Smercleit Toabh a Deas (South Smerclete) – about a mile to the west, the very SW point of South Uist. The sun came up over Beinn Sciathan on Eriskay the countless islets and skerries of the Sound of Barra were thrown sharply into sillouhette. We left Tilly to tire herself out, rushing hither and thither in search of something smelly or to chase. We enjoyed the soft sea air, the call of the many sea birds, the tumble of the waves on the Atlantic shore …
… and pressed on regardless with gathering seaweed for our compost heap and mulching the soft fruit. Denise selected the seaweed and loaded the wheelbarrows, I took them up to the trailer and loaded that up. After half an hour the trailer was as full as it could take without risk of bursting a tyre, Tilly was called back (she came with a great lump of fresh fat, recently cut from a home-butchered beef or mutton carcase I suspect) and then back to the walled garden.
After a cup of fresh coffee and toast, we reversed the operation, with me emptying the trailer into barrows, Denise taking them to the compost heap.
This was the second trailer load – we did the same thing yesterday. That’s well over a tonne of weed taken together. We’ll make a similar trip each week – weather permitting and if enough weed has accumulated – right through to Easter. A fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of a Hebridean winter: Keep warm, keep fit, grow food!