Weather: Windy and chilly for many days, followed by a week of sunshine and slight easterly winds.
Tuesday the 2nd of April a glorious evening sunset, the sun shone with deep crimson highlights that seemed to shift through a spectrum of orange, red and yellow, although it was still quite windy and cool, a quiet descended at the close of the day. We watched from the rear of the house as the mist began to appear above the surface of the loch.
Wednesday the 3rd of April we woke and the day was unusually silent – the wind had gone. The loch was a mirror to the hills and the sky and wraiths of mist hung in the air. Although it was well past dawn, the air was full of birdsong, perhaps it was the lack of wind but somehow the wildlife seemed to harmonise with this sublime weather to create the maximum effect. During breakfast preparations I was provided with a backdrop of animation from the sea loch view. There were seals and eider ducks enjoying the sunshine, oyster catchers, geese, and herons flying across the surface of the water and what I took to be a solitary otter swimming to the nearby shore, its characteristic v- shaped wake behind it.
A perfect day – we walked across the fields, past the freshwater lochs to the outlet of the sea loch at Sponish. Close to the small harbour, where there is a fishing boat together with piles of lobster pots, we encountered a number of cows with their calves. We climbed a nearby hill and made a detour until they reluctantly moved away and we could pass.
The ‘Hut of Shadows’ is located on the foreshore at the entrance to Loch Houram. It is a small stone hut, built in the style of many old blackhouses in this area. Inside, there is a small viewing area that enables one to view a camera obscura image of the exterior landscape. The hut was made by Chris Drury, and provides an excellent focal point for this walk across the footbridge from Lochmaddy. On the path back to the village there is a smallish loch. This Loch looks to be landlocked, but it is tidal and water runs out into the open sea through a rocky inlet. Somehow there were half a dozen or so large Laithe (Pollock) swimming close to the surface, seemingly enjoying the sunshine. It is difficult to understand how they arrived there.
Leaving them to their display, I felt inspired to see if I could move a trout or two up on nearby Loch Fada. Nicola dropped me off at the loch and disappeared up the road to the Co-Op at Sollas to purchase a celebratory bottle of Malbec. True to form this year, I came away empty handed but did manage to raise a couple of fish on my team of flies (not premier league, obviously). This is a good sign, as it is still a little early for the trout. Nevertheless, Spring has arrived! Life has improved, and the wildlife on the Island has come to express its collective voice and, in line with ourselves, to celebrate this perfect day.
The weather has continued fair this week and we visited the wonderful beach of Clachan where we donned our wet suits and swam in the sea! Unbelievable, the first time that I have ever attempted such a thing and it was an amazing and exhilarating experience.
Due to the often lack of bread choice on the Island we are now experimenting with traditional baking.
Cheese Scone tip – you can use lemon juice in place of cream tartar
Oat Cake tip – press oat dough till compact in the baking tray
Angie has stepped up to his role of rat patroller and regularly leaves his night catch of rats on the kitchen doorstep. One could ask no more of a cat than they keep the rats away. He comes bounding in, frequently with ticks showing on his white fur. We have learned how to deal with these wee beasties, and squashed between two thumbnails they splat into oblivion. Well, its them or us.. Two buzzards were circling the still air above our cottage. It was difficult to think that they did not have thoughts about the white cat patrolling the ground far below. Perhaps if one were to lift one end, and one the other..