It feels like a long time since I was here. A busy Easter, bookended with trips to Inverness and Edinburgh (an almost six hour journey each way), and in between we've had family visiting for a week. This morning I listed everything we'd done in Joe's school diary and was genuinely surprised at how much we'd squeezed in.
Not that I'm including an exhaustive list here. In a nutshell, it's been all about beaches, castles, chocolate and exploring the island. Our visitors came at a good time; the weather was dry and, later in the week, warm and sunny. And although the tourists are arriving in ever-growing numbers, everywhere we visited - the 'must see' places - were still nice and quiet.
The tourism situation here on Skye seems to be a hot topic. There's been much reporting of the pressure it's putting on services and roads, the infrastructure and the environment. Basically, that the island isn't able to cope. Not enough accommodation to go round, not enough basic facilities. I agree with that in some respects. The past few years have seen an explosion in the number of people coming here and problems do need to be addressed. But many residents rely on tourism for a living and enjoy meeting the new people who come to appreciate the abundant beauty and history. And let's face it: this time last year, we too were tourists...
Some of the driving leaves much to be desired though!
In other news, we actually had some child-free time. So I got to write about Plockton in my Skye Journal blog-within-a-blog. I also joined a local printmaking group which meets at the college once a month. They have an etching press and other exciting things I can use, so I'm looking forward to getting more creative again. It's good to meet other artists, even when feeling completely out of my depth to begin with... Of course, they're all friendly and happy to share tips and knowledge.
That's fortunate as my notebook filled with stockists details, materials info, techniques and so on is somewhere deep in a storage container awaiting our final move to a forever house.
One of the sunniest days of the year - actually, the warmest by a long way - was spent at Neist Point lighthouse. We took a picnic and indulged in a bit of sunbathing. It's a steep climb back which requires a few stops to regain your breath, but we couldn't have chosen a better place to enjoy the weather. It was still and blue and June-like. Which is why I took off my scarf and coat and tied them around my waist (below).
You have to dress for all eventualities up here.
We discovered a new beach too: Camas Ban, near to Portree (Skye's capital). Another killer climb back out but worth it, especially when you get to meet a tame little black lamb and a friendly Shetland pony on the way.
We also did Talisker and the coral beaches and, a bit closer to home, Glenbrittle. The coffee shop there has just reopened for the season so we treated ourselves...
The beach at Staffin (I told you there was a lot of beach-going during Easter) was much different to the first time we went. Calm and still, but again very quiet in terms of other people - even with its much-visited dinosaur footprints. Our previous trip there had been on a wild, windswept day and the sea had been dark and menacing, crashing against the rocks and swirling inky blue with frothy white foam.
Romantic as that sounds, I definitely prefer a hazy shoreline with lapping waves. Joe made friends with another little boy and they built a dam together. It was sweet to watch.
And now: I'm playing catch-up after the holidays. This post was top of the to-do list.
The weather has turned again. Last night it was so windy we didn't sleep at all. Draughts and the roof creaking, bedroom floorboards shuddering and the bed shaking. Yes, really. The TV's on the blink too. It's like having a particularly malevolent poltergeist in the house. Outside isn't much better. The car door is almost impossible to open against the gales, and once you're in, it rocks disturbingly from side to side. The bin's blown over. A rogue sheep keeps getting into the garden and chasing it out and closing the gate isn't much fun. You basically run in circles around the house, whilst said sheep repeatedly misses the gate and the point entirely. Joe finds it hilarious. I don't.
We've got other exciting things coming up, but I'll share those in a week or two. For now I'm making lists and trying to keep up the momentum having done so much walking recently - my fitness levels have definitely improved. Although today (now the school run's done) I'm hiding indoors until the winds drop and the showers ease off a bit...