J & D > Amy (our motorhome) has been brought ‘home’ from storage in The Boatshed. We’re getting her ready to be put officially back on the road – ie tested, insured, taxed. In anticipation of which we have bought tickets for our first journey away together since late 2019 (when we took the ferry to the nearby nearby island of Barra, for a few days). And, having tickets, we will travel to …
In recent weeks, when Tilly and I go for our early morning walk, there’s been a pack of young stags hanging out at the foot of Coire a Bheinn, close to the hill gate.
Coire Bheinn, South Uist : Young stags near the hill fence:
They don’t seem much concerned by our presence : the path we follow is carpeted with short grass, we walk in silence, and the stags are perhaps even somewhat accustomed to us. Generally they stay put, but may move a little further away.
On one occasion, though, a couple of stags decided that, having hunkered down amongst the vegetation, they were invisible : but I knew they were there from their antlers turning and nodding above the bracken!
Posting to this blog has lost momentum. Until the purchase of our house in Wales is completed, we daren’t allow ourselves much freedom to make plans for our new lives there. Similarly, until both our remaining properties here are sold, we have to work hard and keeping things going here, just in case things don’t work out as well as planned. We really can’t afford to let ourselves get stuck in limbo-land. So, for now, we’re just getting on with the mucking out and making good – whether for the benefit of us or those who follow.
Both our own home An Gàrradh Mòr and Carrick Eriskay are now ‘on the market’ with Bell & Ingram.
Photos of the interior of our own house – An Gàrradh Mòr – here at the walled garden have appeared from time to time in these blog posts, but here’s a wee tour of the principal rooms, in no particular order.
This is a very significant milestone for us, in what has to date been a long and fraught journey without signposts or reassuring waymarks. We hope it becomes more straightforward as options narrow.
Snow is very infrequent here : most winters we get nothing more than a light dusting on a couple of occasions. Jack Frost is, likewise, a seldom-seen visitor to the island.
True, many a winter we see the top of Beinn Mòr, Beinn Coradail or Thacla topped with snow and glimmering with ice on their rocky ramparts ; but that’s more than a fifteen hundred feet up and more than a couple of miles from the nearst roads.
The winter now well behind us was no different.
So what a surprise, then, this morning, to wake up to this –
An Garradh Mor, Isle of South Uist : Snowfall in Spring! Our first ever Uist snowfall in April!
Over the course of nearly twenty years here, in Uist, we’ve been very fortunate to have forged for ourselves, from scratch, a way of living and working that has (mostly) suited us very well. In doing so we’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things we’d never done before (some we’d always wanted to, but most we knew nothing about). We’ve learned to be self-sufficient, to stand on our own two feet ; and we’ve also learned to truly appreciate and value the time and talents of our neighbours. We’ve become more confident in our own capabilities, but also more conscious of limitations – whether our own or those inherent to human life – to all life. There are only so many hours in the day, days in the year, years to a life ; and we have but one of those.
J > This is in the ‘Dyeshed’ – which is also used for preparing garden produce for the kitchen or preserving it for the pantry (where we keep our winter stores). Preserving includes a variety of methods : dehydrating/dessicating and salting ; jams and jellies ; chutneys and pickles ; and – as you can see here – wines.
In the white bucket we have a gallon of gooseberry juice, filtered off from the skin and the seeds, with just one kilo of sugar added dissolved into the juice, a teaspoon of yeast nutrient, and a sachet of Gervin GV9 yeast – perfect for the job, and here you can see it already beginning to froth up. (Carbon dioxide is a by-product of fermenting sugars.)
Here’s the front of the house at An Gàrradh Mòr, with the last light of a winter’s day casting the west wall of the garden onto the house in sillhouette. If you look carefully, you’ll see the big sitting room window (to the right of the bench) framed by the two piers (or pillasters?) on either side of the west gate. When you live and work in a place for many years, you get to observe little details like this.
J & D > This is one of our regular stock-takes of our winter store of spuds – with three varieties of main-crop potatoes. We do this every 3-4 weeks, normally. We take the opportunity to check the potatoes in every box for any rot or starting to sprout (both are high risk if the weather is mild and very wet – typical of south-westerly winds). This time, there was not a single spud that had to be thrown out. Typically, any problems are before Christmas : in the new year, it’s rare to lose any of our stores, and the spuds will probably last us until early summer.