Winter, Adventures, SkyeSarah H

New islanders

Winter, Adventures, SkyeSarah H
New islanders

We've been here on Skye for just over a week. A long journey made over two days (I drove here alone, Jay and Joe followed) which took us through the Highlands in the snow.

I rediscovered the joys of listening to the radio. There's something very relaxing about driving through stunning winter scenery whilst listening to something quiet in the background. Actually, a week earlier, I discovered a new pleasure: sitting in the car, engine running, and waiting for the frost to clear whilst drinking a cup of tea. It had been a cold night so the inside was frozen but by the time I'd taken my last sip the windscreen was de-iced. Rather than getting stressed and scraping away at the glass I just acknowledged that it was going to take as long as it took. This is not my usual mindset. 

So perhaps I'm making progress towards this whole slower living thing: moving to a remote location. Going with the flow. 

The run-up to the move, though, had been stressful. Jay had been up in Skye moving our furniture into storage and trying to secure that long-term let. I'd been at home taking care of Joe and packing whilst he was at school or in bed.

Saying goodbye to my friends wasn't easy - there were lots of little outings and meet-ups and visits. Even on our final morning at the house, loading the last of our things, people were dropping in with cards and gifts and good wishes. I'm already missing them. A lot.

Before our new rental house was available we had to stay a few nights in the static caravan which was chilly, cramped and the water was icy cold. In fact showering wasn't bearable so we had a couple of grubby days. It happens.

We ended up eating out in pubs and hotels, places with open fires and glassy-eyed taxidermy gazing down at us. Hearty food and friendly people, some of whom had come here from Lancashire too.

And then we got to move in.

The house - to our surprise - was already very furnished indeed. Fortunately the owners, a farmer and his wife who live next door, have another property: an empty care home where we can move everything and replace it with our own furniture. Which will probably happen after Christmas.

So now we're here: a big old farmhouse high on the hillside. We have to close the gate when we drive in and out or the sheep wander into the garden. It's dark at night (the stars!) and when it's windy everything creaks and rattles.

Actually, it's rarely not windy.

We have internet access - slow at times (I'm chopping vegetables for soup in between each picture for this post loading) - and my mobile won't let me text or call anyone. The satellite dish, admittedly pretty ancient-looking, was torn from the wall the other night by that wind. But we now have a new one.

The house is in a bit of a mess. We can't empty boxes into drawers and cupboards because our furniture's in a storage container ten miles away. So we made one sitting room into a retreat, decorated it for Christmas, and we've been slowly chipping away at the rest.

Of course, if you live on Skye you have to go and explore. And we do.

The house overlooks a bay and we've been on a little expedition down there. A ruined inn, a flock of sheep belonging to Farmer John (our landlord), a jetty.

Yesterday we met the local minister. He introduced himself after we'd seen him wading into the loch to pull a wayward ram out of the water by its horns. 

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Life here seems to be made up of little stories: those that people tell, those of the land and the weather and water, the odd things washed ashore. We already have lots of shells and fragments of sea-smoothed pottery.

Joe's in his element. We took him for a look around his new school on Tuesday and he met all four (!) of his new classmates. The only other boy is the same age and it wasn't long before they had their arms around each other as Joe got a guided tour. I'm really happy with the school; it may be small but they do link up with other primaries on the south of the island and there's a strong emphasis on nature, ecology and outdoor play.

It's hard moving house so close to Christmas. I usually love December; the rituals, the anticipation. But this year we've had to cobble things together. Joe has presents waiting for him, wrapped and hidden away. We went into Portree on Wednesday to buy the food. There's a very modest little tree and some of our favourite decorations have been retrieved from storage.

No baking or preserving or collecting of greenery. We ran out into the howling gale this evening to snip a few twigs and Joe hung tiny baubles on them. There are candles and fairy lights, strings of bells and snowflake garlands. It's enough. I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself.

So after weeks of loading and unloading, packing and unpacking, travelling, address changes, phone calls, strange beds, goodbyes... we're easing off for a little while.

We're sleeping better. Perhaps it's the air, maybe the exhaustion of a big move is catching up with us. It could be the complete lack of traffic noise and light pollution. I'm not sure. But it's good.

Tomorrow I'm ignoring the huge pile of ironing and the boxes which need sorting through. We're taking Joe to a pantomime and coming home to festive food and a real fire. I'm closing the door on the disarray - we can watch films, read and stay cosy and the rest - for now - can wait.

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I'll be back soon. In the meantime, I hope you have a magical and peaceful Christmas.