Back at last. I have been meaning to blog all week, but have had such a hectic time that I haven’t had a chance.
I had a good time away, the party was brilliant, and the happy farmer and children managed really well without me. I arrived home however to heaps of washing, piles of ironing and farming mayhem, as the happy farmer took off the following day, with horse box, to collect the new horse, leaving me once again with the lambs, the pigs and the chickens to feed.
Hansel arrived off the late ferry on Tuesday evening. What a beautiful horse he is. My daughter was out in her pyjamas filming as the horse box made its way up the single track road and into the farmyard. We put him in the fank for the night to get settled in, before introducing him to Meg and Muffin, the resident Clydesdale, and the cheeky pony. Meg is definitely the boss at the moment, they seem to be getting along okay, but are still sussing each other out. Eldest daughter came home from school and took Hansel out, groomed him and took him for a walk around the farm and introduced him to everyone. It is lovely to see her so happy.
Yesterday we buried our friend Paddy. We made the journey over to Jura on the ferry, and along the winding single track road to the church in Craighouse. It was a very busy funeral, the church was packed. We squashed into the vestry to hear the service. Outside people huddled, withstanding the fierce Jura midges, listening to the service through a speaker. Paddy as I said in an earlier blog was an institution, at the very heart of the island’s community, anyone who really knows Jura, would know Paddy, and so yesterday people travelled from far and wide to pay their last respects to an outstanding Jura character.
The service was lovely, local boys played on the accordion to accompany people into and out of the church, they sang and played various instruments throughout the service, as they had sang and played music with Paddy at Ceilidhs for years. We were reminded of the lovely stories that made Paddy the unique character he was. Of the day he went to collect a pig, for a friend, off the ferry coming into Islay, from the mainland. He left his van over on Jura and travelled as a foot passenger across the Sound. However when he reached Islay’s shores, he felt it was too good a chance to miss, and decided to nip to the bar for a quick pint, his only problem being what to do with the pig. His eyes rested on the telephone kiosk. He placed the pig in the phone box, and went off to the bar. He returned to collect his pig sometime later and then continued on his journey back to Craighouse.
We were reminded of when Paddy phoned the owner of the local hotel in the middle of the night, and demanded that he come and open up the bar.
‘Why Paddy, what’s wrong?’
‘I can’t get out!’
Paddy had fallen asleep in the toilets and had woken up to find he was locked in, and could not get out. When the local lads asked him the next day why he hadn’t just climbed out through a window he had replied he couldn’t, he felt someone might have seen him and thought he had been breaking in.
There were the lovely stories of Paddy teaching the youngsters to fish, to appreciate music, and giving them a shot at driving tractors and dumper trucks, years before they were old enough. Paddy lived for the moment, finding contentment in the simple pleasures of life. He loved machinery, was very mechanical and good at building. It is so sad that he died so young.
We all made the journey to the Jura cemetery, set in the most idyllic of surroundings, in the shadow of the Paps, a mountain stream flowing by, with views out across the bay to the sea. A lone fiddler, one of the Jura boys, played. Oatcakes, cheese and whisky were served at the graveside, an island tradition at burials. Later people made their way along the single track road back to the Jura Hotel where soup and sandwiches were served. I returned home to meet the children from school the happy farmer stayed on. As the evening wore on the bagpipes came out and friends and family celebrated Paddy’s life. The happy farmer got the last ferry home. The celebrations would continue long into the night, giving Paddy the send off he would have appreciated and expected.
Until next time…