Monday 12 April 2021

So Quiet!

It is a very beautiful frozen world here this morning. We are still getting occasional snow flurries, and last night's low temperature left a very thick, furry frost on everything. There's not a breath of wind, and the bright sky is almost completely clear. It is so quiet! I love Skye like this.

But our peace is soon to be shattered. I can almost hear the engines warming-up. The world is buzzing with people who are longing to get away from the lock-down locations they have been enduring for months. And where better to come than the stunning Scottish Highlands, where fresh clean air is all the air we breathe, and the virus seems such a long way away?

Skye is a very special place. The hills, sea, cliffs, mountains and lochs, the light, the dark, the rain, the sun and the silence. Everything combines in a wonderful kaleidoscope of nature that so strongly appeals to the human soul - it is no wonder that people want to come here to experience Skye for themselves.

At first, virus rules dictate that only visitors from other parts of Scotland will be welcomed here. But soon after, travellers from all of the UK will be arriving in their cars and camper vans. There is no question that all the tourism-related businesses will be pleased to get back to earning a living. But I do so hope that the rapid influx of thousands of visitors will not mean the virus will be flooding back with them.

And I'll miss the quiet.

(Photos by Sue)

Sunday 11 April 2021

A Thank You To 'Down Under'

 I have just received the delightful surprise of a late birthday card. The surprise is even more special because the card has come some 11,500 miles from New Zealand from someone I have never met or even spoken to.

A hand-written note in the card thanks me and Sue for this blog, and for our photographs.

So firstly - a BIG thank you for reading our blog and your positive comments, and secondly, and even BIGGER thank you for your kind thoughts and my birthday card!

We return warmest wishes to you with our love.

Richard and Sue

Saturday 3 April 2021

Is There Anybody There...?

We are used to Skye being quiet in winter. The holiday traffic here is seasonal, and from October to March, there is only ever a thin scattering of visitors on the island, as the majority of accommodation providers gladly close their doors and have a rest. For the most part though, the eating places and shops stay open throughout the year, and are well-patronised by the locals.

However, during the virus lockdowns, 'quiet' has taken on a new completely meaning. All accommodation is obliged to be closed, as are all the hotels, restaurants, cafes and nearly all the shops. Virtually the only traffic is an occasional builder's truck or courier van. It is a novelty to see a human.

I had to make a trip to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness last week (for just a routine check-up). It didn't really occur to me before the trip that the roads would be so deserted. I arrived for my appointment nearly an hour too early. The hospital was strangely quiet, too - lots of staff about, but not many patients in evidence. I ventured on from Inverness to have a walk in the nearby seaside town of Nairn. In spite of the day being bright with blue sky, the promenade and seafront gardens were almost deserted. There were just a few children playing in a playpark - no home schooling for them, then. I stayed the night at our cottage - The Old Bakery - in silent Strathpeffer before making another lonely drive back to Skye.

I have thought about how I feel about the quietness, and I remain uncertain. I hate to see all the closed doors, the dark shops and empty town streets, and I do not like to have our own cottages standing cold and empty when normally they would be busy with excited holidaymakers, eager to explore our beautiful landscape. But the peace and lack of traffic is something I know I will miss when restrictions are eased and a more usual level of life begins to return to the Highlands.

(Footnote: I borrowed the title to this post from the first line of a wonderful poem, 'The Listeners', by Walter de la Mare,  Do have a read of the poem - find it here ).

Central Beach, Nairn - spot the crowds

The Links and Wallace Bandstand, Nairn
Is there anybody there...?