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Happy happy happy day!

Well November is over and so is my book – hurrah!

Actually it’s not.  I did what I set out to do and wrote 50,000 words.  Well actually I didn’t, I wrote 65,000 but a few vital scenes are missing so my book isn’t technically finished.  Although I have written the ending already I’m holding off writing ‘The End’ until all the bits in the middle are done as I hear those are the most satisfying words.

It’s been an amazing month.  I’ve managed to write almost every day and my life is still pretty much as I left it.  The house is a bit of a mess and my husband may be a little ratty but to the discerning eye I don’t think there is that much of a visible difference.

Sadly I feel this may just have been the easy bit.  Although I’ve produced 65,000 words I would say that at least 30,000 are incorrectly spelled.  Sometimes it was just too exciting and I couldn’t stop to spellcheck. Grammatical errors abound and I tend to become obsessed with one adjective and use it four times in a pragraph – most irritating.  So now I need to edit.  Sadly there isn’t a month dedicated to editing with a counter marking off how many spelling errors one has corrected. However I have found something to motivate me.  There’s a writing competition I really want to enter which closes at the end of February.  Therin lies the problem.  Apparently it should take at least a couple of years to write a novel (try telling that to Alexander McCall Smith!) and I’m aiming to have done it in four months.  I’m not sure I’ve got the guts to do what I have to do. I love the male lead so much that he kept sneaking back in even though this wasn’t supposed to be a romantic novel so unless I want to market it as a gory Mills and Boon I suspect rather a lot of lingering looks and sardonic smiles are going to end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor.  Perhaps I should just cut my losses and walk away so I can talk whimsically about the wonderful book I wrote once but ‘didn’t try to get published as the world just wasn’t ready’.

Anyway I’ve always wanted to write a book and now I have.  The satisfyingly large pile of pages taking up space on our worktop attests to that fact.  Now I’ve done it once I know I can do it again so if this one is no good – and everybody says first novels are crap, I know I can try again.

Meanwhile the world has continued turning without me.  One of my friends has had a new baby and despite her obligingly being eleven days late my knitted gift is not yet complete.  The ducklings are no longer ducklings and I’m beginning to feel less cool about the two named Christmas and Dinner.  Sally lamb is hanging out with the tups and is probably pregnant although she still left her buddies on Tuesday to follow us all down to the beach.  Fat Tracey has taken to guerrilla egg laying.  First I found a cache of 3o eggs in the bracken outside the garden then this morning we found ten in the garden, I feel so betrayed.

Maybe my next novel will have to be an expose of cruel battery hen farming methods – Fat Tracey take note!

Here’s a brief excerpt from the great work:

“The body laid out before us is that of a 65 year old man.  He has long skinny arms and legs and a large paunch.  His chest is partly covered by a long, unkempt beard and a tattoo of a large breasted woman who is giving us a lascivious wink.  His fingernails are also long and stained with tobacco, his toenails curl over at the ends.  His abdomen is tinged with green, the skin stretched tight.  The skin of his feet and hands is wrinkled, thickened and white.  The soles of his feet have peeled away and lie next to him on the gurney like a pair of discarded flip flops.”

 

helen and sally in the gardenFollowed by a picture of my children, because that’s not weird!

Illicit activity

I am being unfaithful.  I’m cheating on my novel with my blog.  Kind of like Charles and Camilla.  I know it’s wrong but I just can’t stop myself from going back……

I’m going to have to leave the Royal family analogy now though as part of the reason I have returned to my blog is vanity.  Yes, it turns out my artistic ego is not above swelling in response to gentle massage.  Over the last few days several people told me that they liked my blog.  One person also told me that some of my posts weren’t very good but we’ll leave that aside for now. It’s nice to receive compliments.  So far although I have produced over 10,000 words of top quality crime-fiction nobody has told me they like my book.  Admittedly nobody has been allowed to read my book so far, indeed the rules of NaNoWriMo even prohibit me from reading my own work back as I’m not supposed to edit anything.  This is proving awkward as I have now forgotten the names of two minor characters.

Blogging about my novel is completely acceptable though.  Indeed I’ve learned over the last week that the most important component to being a writer is to talk about your writing, once people stop listening you should start writing about writing, but don’t actually write anything, unless it’s about writing.

A lot of people have wondered how I have the time to write a book.  So far I have claimed that  I don’t know.  However I’ve given this some thought and obviously I must know as I am doing it.  So I’ve compiled a  short list:

Things I have given up in order to write my novel:

  1. Reality television (apart from the Apprentice and Strictly come dancing)
  2. Baths (please don’t be alarmed, I am still washing frequently, however I have exchanged my hour-long bath for a very quick shower)
  3. Conversation with my husband.  There is this skinny blonde guy who lives in my house, the children seem fond of him but I can’t quite place him
  4. Baking, sadly I have gained 10lbs since the summer so this is a blessing
  5. My blog (ahem)
  6. Reading – I am still allowing myself ten minutes before I go to sleep at night but I am rendered so intellectually stunted by my incessant writing and lack of reality television that I have debased myself to the level of re-reading the 50 shades of grey trilogy – yes I know this is weird, let’s move on.
  7. Computer games – fortunately Allan has taken on the onerous task of caring for our virtual dragon farm, what would I do without him?
  8. Sleep – is for losers
  9. Any form of exercise – see above
  10. Photography – sorry no pictures!

So there you have it.  Anybody can write a book as long as you are willing to ignore your husband, stop washing, exercising and sleeping and only eat ready meals. In fact I’m finding it so easy I’ve taken on a really complicated knitting project as well.

I may be gone some time…………

I’ve been told to warn you so here it is.  My blog may be somewhat neglected during the month of November.  Those of you who stuck with me during the distinctly dry months of August and September will be rolling your eyes and cursing my fecklessness.  Wait though!  This time it’s not what you think.  This time I am will be abandoning my blog for a worthy cause.  Yes it’s true – once more into the breach dear friends.  I am to throw myself upon my sword, do battle with my nemesis, pee into the wind.  I’m going to write a book!

I have this friend who has a really irritating habit of finishing what she starts.  It drives me insane.  I am much more of an initial enthusiasm kind of girl, you know the sort of person who throws themself into something 110% (sorry too much x-factor) and then…………………..oh look a butterfly……  A couple of years ago this friend told me about something called National Novel Writing Month or as those in the know call it NaNoWriMo.  The idea is that you sign up with this site and commit yourself along with thousands of other crazed lunatics to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  You have a rolling word count tool and somewhere you can post excerpts from your work so all of your fans can read them.  She was very enthusiastic and I remember feeling quite smug as a veteran writer of first chapters and thinking to myself “ha, no way will you finish this”.  Of course she did – like I said she’s annoying that way.

I’ve finally reached the stage where I don’t think I can survive much longer without actually writing a book.  obviously I’m proud of my achievements so far – 372 abandoned Mill and Boon’s (one formal rejection), several embryonic fantasy novels and 20,000 words on the life of Pontius Pilate but I think I need more.  I think for once in my life I really need to finish what I’ve started.

Support from my family has been pretty minimal.  Sally threw herself off the toy ambulance several times in protest yesterday afternoon then staged a no sleep campaign last night.  Helen is disinterested but did tell me  that my book wasn’t as good as her website.  Oh yes, Helen has her own website.  Often she’ll start singing little songs or quoting poetry which apparently are from her website.  Believe me if I ever work out the URL you guys will be the first to know! Allan’s lack of enthusiasm has been the hardest to bear though.  He told me last night that he thought I did have a book in me but he didn’t think that this was the right time or the right book.  Harsh.  You must remember that he is a deeply damaged man.  Last time I was really serious about writing a book we ended up spending a week in Israel looking at Roman remains and driving a lot closer to the Gazza strip than either of us was completely comfortable with.  Anyway, I’ll show him, that’s why I’m on here blogging.

NaNo whatsity thing doesn’t start until November (no shit Sherlock) but I’m so excited I’ve started already.  Once I know exactly how to link to excerpts I will try to link them to my blog.  Those of you who enjoy my whimsical tales of ducks and hens will be sorely disappointed  – I’ve gone back to my darkest time and made my main character a female pathologist living in Edinburgh.  I imagine I will probably become the next Ian Rankin – except I’ll be a girl who writes about ducks and  hens mainly with the odd murder thrown in.

Anyway here is the line that caught my eye when I started up my laptop at work this morning.

 

“You can’t slam the doors; they’re soft close so he kicks the filing cabinet in our office on his way out.  I sigh and calmly
go about removing the brain.”

 

Oh yeah and for those of you who think I was joking about the trip to Israel…………………..

 

Here I am in the ruined city of Caeserea pretending to drive a chariot – he’s lucky this book is set in Edinburgh.

 

 

Our daily bread

I entered the shop this morning to find that Shopmeister had been left holding the baby.  No, I don’t mean he was running the shop by himself, although he was also doing that, he was literally holding an infant.

Saturday mornings are a good day to attend the shop all year round.  There is always a boat on Friday so on Saturdays you can stock up on milk, bread and vegetables.  Although in the winter the boat arrives at lunchtime on the Friday so it’s not advisable to leave your shopping until late on the Saturday morning as you are likely to find that the shelves have been picked clean and there is no milk and no bread and you will be reduced to eating UHT and oatcakes…………..again.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with the couple who live next door (well, in the neighbouring field) and the new school teacher.  We have all moved to Colonsay from cities fairly recently and talk turned quickly to what we missed about the mainland.  Cafes was definitely a common theme.  The Pantry is great but having lived in Edinburgh I was used to there being a cafe on ever corner many with play areas for children.  In fact there was a lovely pub at the end of our street where you could let the little darlings loose in the massive play area whilst drinking yourself into oblivion if you so desired.  They would even help you carry your pram up the steps.

One of the things I am most surprised to miss is the Scotmid at the other end of the road.  For those of you not familiar with Scottish culture Scotmid is a chain of small supermarkets (I think they are owned by the Co-op) they are quite cheap and distinctly un-middle class.  It won’t surprise you to learn that the Scotmid was at the other end of the street from the yummy mummy pub.  Our street acted as a kind of bridge between posh Edinburgh and scummy Edinburgh.  At one end was the baby friendly pub, Valvona and Corolla, John Lewis and the New Town; at the other Scotmid, a betting shop, several (very good) charity shops and a football stadium.  You could say we lived in purgatory.  Anyway, although Scotmid stood next to a very nice little bakery we rarely went in there.  Instead, on a Saturday morning after I had taken Helen to an even more middle class part of Edinburgh to her Tumble-tots class (sort of like SAS training for toddlers) I would pop into Scotmid.  By 11am they would have received a delivery of freshly baked bread, croissants and rolls.  Helen and I would buy a few and stroll home avoiding the dog poop and puddles of vomit on the street to a pleasant family brunch. The bread was always delicious, fresh and soft – one of my favourite things about weekend mornings.

Since moving to Colonsay we’ve had to give up on this kind of thing.  Although there are still plenty of SAS style activities for the children to engage in the only fresh bread that is readily available is my own.  I’m actually quite a good baker – in fact I won first prize for a loaf of non-breadmaker white bread in the recent root and grain show (sorry to blow my own trumpet there) – but getting up on a Saturday morning and making the bread yourself doesn’t create the same leisurely brunch mood.

So you are probably wondering why I’m still wittering on about bread, cafes, Edinburgh and my past life whilst leaving poor Shopmeister stranded in the shop holding Shopbaby.  Let’s just take a minute to discuss Shopbaby.  Shopbaby looks how I would like my children to look.  In fact they often look like she does on leaving the house but by the time we go anywhere they are generally plastered  with food, hair stuck to their faces with snot with questionable stains on at least one item of their apparel. Shopbaby always looks like she has just stepped out of a salon.  She is always well coordinated, I have never seen her with sick in her hair and her hair is always fluffy and shiny not matted with food or non-existent as in the case of my two terrors.  Shop baby was a little grumpy this morning though.  Shopmesiter was holding her in that slightly tentative manner that indicated to all present (me) that she may detonate at any moment.

Fortunately Shopmeistress was not gone long.  She had spent the morning slaving over a hot oven to produce the very same bread that our local shop used to sell!  Evidently the islanders had fallen upon it like starving animals and she had to rush home to bake more.  Word spread like wildfire across the island – people were phoning in their orders and rushing to collect them.  No sooner had she arrived with the second batch it was gone and we were lucky not to have been trampled in the rush! High on refined carbohydrates the islanders had become insatiable.  We managed to emerge victorious from the melee carrying a bloomer, two rolls and a croissant (for Allan).  Helen carried the bread out to the car in a reverent fashion ‘it’s warm mummy, it’s still warm’.  She insisted on holding it all the way home.  Sadly when we reached this house there wasn’t much of it left – next week we’ll have to order double!

A pound of flesh

My parents are going to Oban for the day. Judging from the frenzied activity going on outside my office one might think they were going for a month.  In fact they are going to Oban for an hour.  The summer ferry service which allows day trippers to spend an afternoon on Colonsay doesn’t work quite so well in reverse.

My Dad has ascended and descended the stairs at least six times.  With each ascension the severity and decibel level of his expletives has grown louder and louder.  My mother and I remain silent.  We have extensive experience in dealing with his grumps and much like Helen’s tantrums they are best ignored.

I am cocooned in the spare room (my office).  I have taken to this room as our own house is simply too small for me to get any work done in.  Helen and Sally have no respect whatsoever for the rules of gainful employment and my need to earn an honest living.  On the odd occasion I have tried to work at the kitchen table Helen climbs onto my knee and tries to press the buttons on the laptop whilst Sally stands under the table repeatedly bumping her head, pulling at my trousers leg and irritating Helen.

I am now in the last week of working my notice for the NHS.  Our original plan had been that I would return to Edinburgh and hospital medicine for five weeks.  Allan and the girls would come with me and enjoy a few weeks of mainland fun whilst I fulfilled my obligations.  Instead my boss came up with a project I could do online.  At first I felt very grateful to him for coming up with a rescue package that would prevent the upheaval of my family.  Of course I was bowled over with gratitude, stressed how hard I would work and enthusiastically agreed to an ambitious project.

He’s a smart man my boss.  Had I returned to the mainland I would have been physically present at work between the hours of 9 and 5 each day.  As I am giving up my medical career I would not have felt under any particular obligation to work hard. Now I don’t’ want you to think that I am some sort of evil, work avoiding, embezzler of tax payer’s money.  I would have carried out my allocated tasks well and with good grace and enthusiasm.  However, I am capable of a lot more than this.  Pre-child (and before I decided that I really did not want to spend the rest of my life looking down a microscope at bits of flesh I had hacked to pieces the day before) I was hardcore.  My boss knew this.  How? Because on more than one occasion he had come into the office at 10pm on a Sunday evening to find me hard at work over my microscope – Rock and roll.  We’ve also had the occasional e-mail conversation at 2am (no no no we’re not talking 50 shades of Grey here).  He knows that if I feel obliged to do something then I will forsake all others and get on with it.  He offered me what seemed like a lifeline and has instead extracted a far greater amount of work from me than I would ever have imagined.  No wonder he’s emperor of pathology or whatever his actual title is – he knows how to extract his pound of flesh.

Meanwhile life on the rock still goes on.  We’ve acquired a duck and 8 ducklings.  We haven’t named them yet though as they are still gender unspecified – I fear at least a few of them will be named Christmas Dinner.  We have also acquired two more hens – Kathleen and Karine in honour of the great musicians.  Allan is engaged in a battle royale with whoever it is who does or doesn’t issue building warrants and we hope to have permission to build our house very soon.  Great all we need now is the money!  Sadly that is all spent.  Allan has been led astray by my father and is now the co-owner of an ancient tractor which my Dad is picking up in Oban today.

Helen is pretty much potty trained now although this doesn’t affect me much as I rarely see my children……apart from Sally who I see several times a night, each night…………she too knows how to extract her pound of flesh.

Oh well, my Dad has found his man-bag and he and my mother have roared round to the pier in their dysfunctional car which sorely needs servicing.  It’s being left in Oban to be mended.  I offered to pick my parents up from the pier this evening but they declined – they will drive back round in the tractor.  It’s only three miles I’m sure they will be home by midnight.  Now the house is quiet I’d better get back to work.

p.s. I’m now on the third of the 50 shades trilogy.  I still don’t want to criticise these books as I’m giving up valuable sleeping time to read them but I must say I do understand now why the average Mills and Boon stops after 180 pages.

Laters…………..

10 reasons Colonsay is better than Edinburgh

1. My commute

In Edinburgh this involved an hour on a bus surrounded by sweaty strangers many of whom were clearly not acquainted with the bristly end of a toothbrush. On colonsay 20 minutes by bike during which I may not encounter another human being but am guaranteed stunning scenery and unpolluted air.

2. The shop

In the Colonsay general store it is acceptable for ones two year old to wander in without you, meander up to the carousel, select an apple and start eating it. If you forget your purse arrangements can always be made and if you happen to be partial to a particular flavour of crisp you may just come in one day to find that Shopmeister has saved you the last packet from the box.

3. Hedgerow pickings

I can’t really imagine finding things to eat on a walk in Edinburgh – I suppose one could rake through the bins as one went along, this technique seems to work well for tramps. Today we picked brambles (blackberries) as we walked, both girls looked like vampires by the time we got home!

4. The quiet

Last night I couldn’t sleep for the sound of my mother-in-laws Pekinese snoring in the next room. In Edinburgh we were often kept awake by sirens, traffic noise, football fans, people randomly shouting in our stairwell and if all else failed the people upstairs snoring. Muffin (the snoring canine) is in fact an Edinburgh resident and therefore the fact I couldn’t sleep last night is the fault of our mighty capital!

5. Sarah Moss’s cakes

You may think you have tasted good cake, you may even consider yourself a good baker but you have not lived until you have sampled the culinary delights of this local heroine. Even better you can purchase these little nuggets of heaven any time day or night via a self service cake counter in her porch. If you prefer to eat your cake in a more formal setting you can visit the lovely wee cafe at Colonsay House Gardens and have some of Willie Joll’s delicious bread to start. Even Edinburgh’s Michelin star restaurants can’t compete.

6. My mum is here

Edinburgh’s loss is Colonsay’s gain.

7. The weather

Really? I hear you say with incredulity. Yes really. OK things got off to a bad start this summer but over the last month we have pretty much had sun everyday. Helen even has a wee farmer tan despite my best efforts with the factor 50.

8. No library fines

Yes it’s true, you can borrow books from the well stocked library in the Service point and bring them back when you’ve read them without living in fear of crippling fines. I’ll never forget the time I ran up a fine of £16.05 on a single Mills and Boon.

9. The Edinburgh Festival

Ok I may complain about Colonsay being busy but that’s nothing compared to the amount of whining I did during the festival each year. You have no idea how irritating it is to be working full time in a city which is populated by tourists and performers who seem to think that life is just one big holiday. Each morning and afternoon I would have to run the gauntlet of walking up The Bridges to my bus stop with only my wits and my icy glare protecting me from being buried in a mountain of flyers for shows I would never have the chance to attend because I’M WORKING. Also is Edinburgh the only city in the world where you have to pay to get on the bus? I only ask because the average festival tourist always seems surprised to be asked for a fare when they are MAKING ME LATE FOR WORK. Speaking of buses and being late for work I leave you with reason number ten……….

10. The Edinburgh Tram Project

I rest my case.

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It’s so hot here we even eat naked!

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Helen post berries.

Winter is coming…………

………..not fast enough for my liking though. I’ve had enough of summer.

Now before I start this extremely controversial blog I would like to assure all of the friends who have visited us this summer that I have enjoyed seeing each and every one of you. I’m delighted that people have come to visit and I know it will be a long lonely winter but…….

I’m so tired! I’m tired of sleeping in the loft on a sagging airbed which deposits me on the floor whenever Allan gets off it. I’m tired of living out of a washing basket in the utility room like some sort of hobo because other people are sleeping in my bed. I’m tired of missing episodes of my favourite zombie drama because I’m politely socialising with friends. I’m tired of not being able to update my blog because it seems rude to be on the computer in the evenings. I’m tired of our kitchen table being permanently extended causing the kitchen to be tiny. I’m tired of having an audience for Helen’s potty training. Yes I have some issues with cleanliness. No I don’t like it when she has her bare bottom on the sofa or when she poops on the doorstop and Yes I would prefer not to have witnesses to my discomfort. I’m tired of conversation – I’ve been ‘reading’ my book for three weeks now and I’m less than halfway through it – this is a unprecidented situation. I’m tired of drinking too much and staying up too late because I feel like I’m on holiday too even though this is actually just my life and I have to get up and go to work. I’m tired of eating meat. I long for the days when we can go back to eating pasta with vegetable slop every night.

Furthermore I am not just tired of my own visitors, I tired of everyone else’s too. I’m longing for the days when I can take the girls out in the buggy and get all the way to the beach without having to stop fourteen times to let cars come past. I’m tired of cyclists who don’t get off the road to let me drive past them. I’m tired of people who can’t reverse their enormous four by fours into passing places. I’m tired of people asking me my life history when I’m in the service point trying to work. I’m tired of having to que in the shop when I want the place all to myself for a good gossip.

It’s pouring with rain and blowing a howling gale it might as well be winter.

I know I know I don’t deserve all of my lovely friends. Bah Humbug!

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Auntie Jen is coming!

Roll out the red carpet hang the bunting in the street, Auntie Jen is coming home.  For those of you not lucky enough to have met her Auntie Jen is my little sister.  Although not so little these days – she had the misfortune to turn 30 a week ago.  It’s interesting to note that whilst my own 30th birthday left me relatively unmoved I am deeply distressed that I am now the big sister to a 30 year old.  If my sister is old what does that make me?

Jen is like a minor celebrity on Colonsay.  Luckily I have a very thick skin otherwise I might be rather upset by all the people who demand to know when she’s coming home.  She is one of these people who seem to generate buzz and excitement. Whilst I am rather more staid.  It’s not uncommon for me to introduce myself and then for people to look slightly puzzled and then say ‘Oh you’re Jen’s sister’.  I then see them waiting patiently for me to do or say something funny – sadly I generally disappoint in this respect although Jen is a great catalyst, around her even I am funny.

I don’t want to make her sound like a saint but she is also beloved of children.  I actually had to have one of my own in order to make a child pay me any attention and to be honest I’m not sure I was that successful.  I think Jen’s repertoire of funny voices and ability to fart on demand may well have overshadowed my own rather paltry efforts comprising 9 months of safe passage in my womb, 72 hours of labour and two and a half years of loving parenting.  Sally succumbed even more quickly than Helen and from the age around one week preferred to be put to bed by my sister over all others.

As I write this I want to say that Jen is a ski instructor in South America or that she is a professional mud wrestler.  Every time I am asked what she is up to (and at this time of year when Colonsay is swollen with visitors this tends to be several times a day) I am mildly surprised to hear myself say ‘she’s a chemistry teacher’.  Not only is she a chemistry teacher she is by all accounts rather a good chemistry teacher although one with a penchant for setting herself on fire.

Jen has had a variety of colorful jobs before she took my Dad’s advice and accepted that the time had come to do teacher training.  She managed to graduate from university faster than anyone else I know despite not attending the correct lectures for one of her courses – she did attend the correct exam and was rather puzzled to find she couldn’t answer any of the questions.  Even more puzzling is the fact that she still passed.

My favourite of her positions was one which required her to dress as a giant bee and visit local schools to inform children about honey production.  In order to enable her to visit these schools she was given the use of an enormous van and I always imagined her driving around Glasgow in her bee costume buzzing with enthusiasm.  A less glamorous job was the  year she spent as a bank teller a post which could have been rather well paid had she not actually negotiated her salary downwards before she started.

Jen is one of these people to whom exciting things always seem to be happening and strangely teaching fits in very well with this.  During the school year she is a pillar of respectability leaving 12 weeks of holidays for adventure.  This summer alone she has spent a week in Greece – economic crisis be dammed, a week supervising her pupils on an activities holiday in France and a few days in Sheffield.  I think she was visiting her boyfriend but it could be that she simply had a raging desire to visit the steelworks.  She’s now heading home to spend a week sleeping in our spare room (AKA the tent in our garden).  Is she worried about the monsoon like weather and the fact that this is the wettest June in the history of the Gregorian colander? Of course not.  She will arrive and stay for long enough to be co-bridesmaid at Mairi’s wedding before jetting off for the next bit of excitement.  I think she might be playing the fiddle at a wedding in France but you can never be sure with Jen.  She may well be training horses in outer Mongolia.

I’m picking her up from the boat tomorrow night and as she was about to hang up the phone she mentioned casually ‘oh yes I’ll be bringing my paddle board’.  For those of you not in the know a paddle board is a bit like a surfboard if surfboards were the size of a small caravan.  I’m not quite sure what you do with it.  Perhaps stand on it and punt it along rather as if one were a Gondolier in Venice?  It is quite honestly the most enormous piece of equipment I have ever seen.  It weighs about as much as a small elephant and I don’t want to dash her hopes but if it floats it will be a miracle.  Furthermore Jen is tiny.  She is short of stature and slim of build and if it comes to a fight between her and the paddle board my money is not on little sis.  I will not be at all surprised to receive a phone-call tomorrow informing me that she is lying on the Pier on Oban trapped beneath it’s mighty weight.  How she thinks she is actually going to get to Oban is another cause for concern.  Her car (ancient and very rattly Ford Ka which still smells rather questionable from the days we used to drive Max around in it) is as small as she is and considerably less reliable.  I can only assume that she has some sort of system of cranes and winches by which she is going to maneuver the mighty board onto the roof.  She would probably be safer strapping the car onto the paddle board and punting herself round the West Coast of Scotland.  Of course ever the economist she’s not bringing her car over to Colonsay so she is actually going to have to carry the behemoth onto the boat.  It’s lucky she’s not bringing her car really as I would be afraid that the combined weight of this and the paddle board would be enough to sink the vessel.

I look forward to seeing it in action if she makes it here alive.

Life after dog

To anyone who struggles to adjust after losing their beloved canine I have the perfect solution.  Get a pet sheep.  Sally lamb is doing her very best to fill the void.  She follows us everywhere bleating incessantly, she even made it into the kitchen yesterday.  She eats large quantities of very expensive food, craps outside the garden gate and knocks over my children.  Last week she followed our car all the way to the bottom of the field almost as if she wanted to come to the beach with us.  All she needs to do is learn to chase other sheep and a stick and she is the perfect Max replacement.

Sally lamb – photo credit goes to my lovely sister in law.

We’re all staying at home for our Summer Holiday

A few people who have made the move to Colonsay have commented that one downside is that you lose your favourite holiday destination.  So far I haven’t really felt this.  Probably because Colonsay has always felt like home to me rather than somewhere we went on holiday.  However I have felt jealous of all the holidaymakers heading off to the beach each day.  With Allan’s sister and our friends coming and my sudden freedom from the shop I decided to indulge myself with a weeks ‘staycation’.  Apparently this is becoming more and more common.  Cany Brits are shunning foreign climes in order to stay at home for a week and enjoy the British weather.  The phenomenon has become so massive that foreign holiday tour operators are in serious decline!

The first few days of holiday went swimmingly.  (Well I didn’t actually swim but one member of our party did!) The weather, although not fantastic, was at least dry for several long periods.  The highlight of Allan’s sister’s stay was our trip to Oronsay on their last day.  Oronsay is a tidal island at the south end of Colonsay.  When the tide is out there is a five-hour window where you can cross over and visit the 14th century priory on the island.  Since we had 3 very young children between our two parties and walking is a slow and painful process we decided to maximise our time on Oronsay by taking Allan’s car over.  I thoroughly enjoyed driving past all the visitors making their way across the sand.  Cheerily waving to them out of the window of Allan’s decrepit Mazda.  Allan didn’t enjoy things quite so much.  He expressed some concern as we drove through the deeper water and seemed a little distressed when the exhaust kept scraping off the rocks.  We all shared his concern when, on arriving at the Priory, the hiss of air escaping from one of the tyres was worryingly audible.  We felt slightly less smug as all of the visitors we had passed on the sand walked byt Allan while he changed the tyre!  After looking round the priory and establishing that the thermos of coffee I had brought really had melted the bar of chocolate beyond all reasonable hope of rescue we headed back to the shore and spent a pleasant half hour searching for mussels.  Allan’s sister demonstrated a rare talent for this and found more than the other three adults combined.  Indeed she became so obsessed she had to be dragged away from the rocks as the tide threatened to envelop us all.

Our second batch of visitors arrived on Monday night in time to enjoy dinner with the Swedes (mussels featured heavily on the menu along with haggis which I don’t think they will be ordering again any time soon) before they left very early on Tuesday morning.  As I previously mentioned these friends seem to be particularly out of favour with the weather gods and almost as soon as they set foot on the island the heavens opened.  We’ve done our best to keep our spirits up.  On the first day we went to Machrins beach in the pouring rain.  The children didn’t seem to mind.  Helen and their little boy looked charming in the their matching puddle suits and both paddled away and played in the sand seemingly impervious to the, at times, torrential rain.  Eventually I put Sally down on the sand too where she proceeded to try to eat the entire beach and threw herself face first into the moat that Allan had dug to hold back the encroaching tide.  We were pleased to see that we were not the only lunatics on the beach.  There was at least one other family with drenched parents  braving the elements whilst their children played happily in the driving rain.

The weather really has made things difficult though.  Yesterday we visited the fire station which was in inspired suggestion from Allan.  The two toddlers thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the fire engine although Helen expressed disappointment that she was not actually allowed to drive it.  Whilst I was preparing dinner and sweeping some of the sand out of our house the sun briefly appeared.  Our friends, ever the optimists, immediately rushed out to the beach where they were met by monsoon like rain with the addition of thunder and lightning.  I really am deeply concerned that they will never come back. To Colonsay I mean, they made it back from the beach unscathed although quite soggy.

Today dawned sunny though and after a few set backs including the unwelcome presence of a strimmer in our car we set out to walk over to Ardskenish – one of my favourite beaches.  I carried Helen on the way there and following this ordeal I plan to put her on an immediate starvation diet – that child is heavy.  Helen tried out her new wetsuit on the beach – this was made even more exciting when she announced that she needed a poo and the wetsuit had to be removed post-haste.  She did in fact leave a calling card in the sand (now buried) but sadly became hypothermic whilst the wetsuit was off and required to be resuscitated with bananas and rice cakes.  Our friend’s little boy took a perverse pleasure in knocking down sand castles faster than anyone could build them and his five-week old sister was thoroughly unimpressed by the whole outing – I’m not sure she actually opened her eyes the entire time she was there.  She made up for it with some charming smiling this afternoon though.

The problem with visitors is that spending time with them is so much more fun than carrying out the mundane day-to-day tasks which generally require to be done.  As a consequence our house is even messier than usual.  The utility room is so full of laundry you can’t really get into it.  Our new washing machine is currently assigned to be delivered to Falkirk and other than the few luxury goodies our kind friends left behind we have no food.  tomorrow is not going to be a fun day.

All in all though I have thoroughly enjoyed Colonsay as a holiday destination.  Plans are afoot for a reciprocal visit to Sweden next year but I will definitely consider Colonsay for future holidays.

 

Helen investigating the cloisters on Oronsay

 

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