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 been 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.
J > It’s eight or nine years ago that Denise and I were struggling to find the money to pay for these top specification triple-glazed windows from Norway. But thank heavens we did. I think back winter nights as a child, scratching with my finger through the powdery frost on the inside of my bedroom window, so that the moon would cast patterns on the opposite wall.
J & D > From the east bedroom window, the light is failing fast. With the sun now below the south-western horizon – behind the islands to the south west, the shadow of the Isle of Barra casts darkness over the southern end of Uist, and the waters of The Minch. In the far distance – 30 miles to the east, its just the the snow-covered peaks of the Isle of Rhum that catch the last rays of roseate light that passes over the top of the lower hills of Uist and Barra.