Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Gathering the Sheep

As I ran out the hill in the sunshine yesterday I met the happy farmer and his dog on the quad bike gathering in the sheep. Even the lazy dog gets to sit in luxury, in a fish box, on the back of the quad, as the happy farmer makes his way over the boggy ground and around, up the back of the steep hill.

He didn’t need a hand with gathering them yesterday at all, the girls were perfect, and followed each other in a big herd meandering down the hill. I think they must have known that it is clipping time. The girls are going for a hair cut, their fleeces will be shorn today by our team of New Zealand clippers that come over to the island every June and July to sheer the sheep. The happy farmer used to clip all of the sheep himself, but it is a back breaking, thankless task. They use electric sheers now, in years gone by the sheep were clipped by hand, I remember old Hughie and Baldie sitting for hours in the sunshine, a sheep at their lap, a pair of clippers in their hand, chatting away as they skilfully removed the sheep’s’ fleece. The sheep positively skip out of the fank after their hot, heavy fleeces have been removed. The fleeces are then packed into sacks and sent away to woollen mills on the mainland.

The happy farmer was up bright and early this morning, ‘as always,’ he says leaning over my shoulder. He was slightly caught out though when our son answered the phone to Mike, the clipper, and told him dad was still in bed, but could make it to the phone. He will be in for a bit of a ribbing later on!

Farmer T came racing into the kitchen; he had been out the hill checking his cows

‘Quick grab your wellies, I forgot to shut the gate, the sheep are all out over the hill again’
The happy farmer fled from his chair, grabbing those wellies, cursing Farmer T as he went, only for Farmer T to fall about laughing
‘Only joking!!’
So coffee was poured instead.

The sheep were out in the far away field for the night. The happy farmer took the children and dog with him this morning to bring the sheep across the farm to the fank in preparation for the clippers arrival. Youngest daughter has just arrived in, her fingers are frozen,
‘Why does daddy always need us to be a sheepdog?’ she asked as she placed her cold hands in mine for warmth. Of course the hot sunshine of yesterday has given way to torrential rain and gusty wind, a problem if it continues as the sheep need to be dry before they can be clipped; with electric sheers it would be dangerous to clip wet fleeces. The weather forecast last night promised it would clear after lunch. The happy farmer is busy making a huge pan of tablet with the children, as a thank you for their help. I am away to make a huge pan of curry to feed the clippers and their helpers as we have our ‘after clipping’ feast this evening. Fingers crossed that rain stops.

Until next time….

The photos are from last year's clipping.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Pup's paradise

I have put the hours into the vegetable patch this weekend; it is starting to look promising. The potatoes are getting ready to burst with flowers. I thinned the carrots. The courgette plants are beginning to flower, the broccoli is beginning to burst out, the cabbage and cauliflowers are growing good healthy green foliage, and the onions and leeks are beginning to grow taller. The salad leaves I have begun to gather proved irresistibly delicious for lunch and worth the sore back I had from hacking away at the weeds that were appearing in all corners. I am of course covered in clegg bites, the horse flies happily tucking into a feast of flesh as I worked away, oblivious to them.

Mist our sheepdog pup is not so little anymore. She is growing bigger by the day and the old sheep dog seems to be getting thinner by the day. I think the feeding arrangements will have to be changed; she is definitely getting more than her fair share, obviously stealing his food when she has finished her meal. We went out to lunch today and arrived home to find her sat smiling and wagging her tail on the front doorstep. She had managed to jump over the garden gate; even eldest daughter’s woodwork skills to extend the gate have failed to contain her. Luckily she had chosen not to venture too far from her home, although she looked very muddy, so I think she must have been away digging somewhere. She is going away soon to live for a month with the shepherd we got her from, for some intensive sheep dog training. The happy farmer doesn’t spend so much time working the sheep these days, so the opportunity for her to be with a shepherd working with sheep all day will be a huge bonus. We will miss her though, even if she does chew everything in sight, pulling the washing off the line, digging up the flower beds and eating the children’s shoes!

The farm house has been very quiet for the last few days. My son is away on an outward bound trip, and although the girls had friends over it doesn’t quite fill the emptiness that surrounds us. He is due home tomorrow, so chaos and noise will be restored, and I can’t wait!

It is going to be a busy week ahead, the schools close here on Friday, and the head teacher of our primary school is due to retire. It is always a mad, hurly burly rush to the end of term for the children and then whoosh we will have the seemingly endless summer holidays stretching ahead, I do so love that feeling, unfortunately they always go by far too quickly.

Until next time…

Friday, 22 June 2007

Duncan's funeral

We made our way over to Jura for Duncan’s funeral today. The happy farmer, the happy potter and me, the happy farmer couldn’t resist taking us on a quick detour as he drove over the verge chasing the chickens away from the pottery on his way.

There was a stream of cars queuing for the Jura ferry when we got down to the Port. Duncan was an extremely popular man and many had travelled from the mainland to come and pay their last respects to this special man.

We meandered along the road to Craighouse where we met my parents, and I handed my father the black tie I had brought across. They had sailed into the bay last night, returning from their recent sailing expeditions to come and say their goodbyes to Duncan.

The church was full and outside many of us stood in the warm sunshine as we listened to the service via a speaker that had been erected outside.

The happy farmer gave a beautiful speech full of memories and funny stories about his friend.

We all made our way to the small graveyard, tucked away in the hills, with beautiful views of the bay, and stood a while as Duncan was laid to rest, a lone fiddler playing. Oatcakes and cheese were handed out and whisky poured, a Jura tradition at funerals, as friends, family and the community gathered together and remembered their friend Duncan. The celebration of Duncan’s life will continue on well into the night, as pipes and accordions are played, a ceilidh in the bar for Duncan.

Until next time….

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Summer Parties

I have been wrapped up trying to paint a picture for someone. It is a gift for a friend, and as I am no artist, well not trained in anyway, and only discovered watercolours a couple of years ago, it has taken up a lot of time. A picture doesn’t always take that long to paint, but initially finding something that inspires you, in my case the Paps of Jura, which are an incredibly challenging subject, and so beautiful in all of their different lights and coats, that it can be a frustrating and rewarding process trying to capture them. Of course if the painting is for someone else, well, then there is the added problem of will they like it, I mean really like it, enough to look at it each day as it hangs on their wall? Anyway, four paintings later and I have the one I like. Of course the happy potter didn’t help when he arrived in this morning and liked them all, but particularly two of them, that totally confused me, am I making the right choice? Anyway enough meandering, that is why my blogs have not been getting posted over the last few days.

We have had an incredibly busy few days. On Monday evening we were due to go to a summer party at the big house, on the nearby estate. A group of gamekeepers, friends of the happy farmers, called in on their way past. They were heading for home after a day’s hard work. The happy farmer poured them all beers and they sat in the early evening sun having a crack. Eldest daughter arrived on the lawn with Hansel, her horse; before I knew it the ‘eldest’ gamekeeper, I have to say eldest as he is near retrial, had jumped on Hansel’s bare back and was cantering around the garden.
Hansel loved the attention, especially having a few spectators thrown in.

Gamekeepers often worked with horses when they used to take out parties stalking, before quad bikes and four by fours, and this gamekeeper was exceptional. Hansel had obviously never been ridden bare back, but after a few rounds he had him calm and enjoying the new experience. Eldest daughter spent the rest of the evening riding him bare back.

Of course by the time they all left we had about fifteen minutes to serve the kids’ tea and get ready, add in the fact that at the last minute the happy farmer decided to wear his kilt, then couldn’t find his socks, shoes and cuff links, just the usual. The shirt had to be ironed, as I took it back off him, and quickly got the iron out, it is like ironing a tent ironing that kilt shirt. How we did it I don’t know, but when our lift arrived we were ready…just.

The evening was spectacular; we were thoroughly spoilt by our lovely hosts, there was a huge billowing marquee, with a dance floor, and huge full length windows looking out across the sea to Jura and up to the Isle of Mull. Champagne was served before we sat down to the most delicious meal. Each table was intricately laden, with a beautiful arrangement of flowers in the centre. We danced the night away, as the sun set over one of the most beautiful settings in the world.

Until next time…

Saturday, 16 June 2007

School Sports

There were squeals of excitement this morning, amid a lot of bleating. The pet lambs had found their way to the front door of the farmhouse. They have been somewhat neglected over the past few days, with youngest daughter confined to the house with a cold, and our son away on a school trip, and eldest daughter having given up all interest in any pet lambs in place of a horse. Anyway this morning they had somehow managed to get out of the front field and make their way to our doorstep. ‘Oh no’ giggled the youngest, ‘they are eating the roses’. I heard the front door being opened, followed by a roar from the happy farmer, ‘Don’t let them come in.’. It brought back memories of when we had the pet goats and had to steal our way out of the door, pushing them away from the step as we went; otherwise they were in the house like a shot.

Milk was duly made for Lucy and Frizzle and they were returned to the field. It seems the lambs are going to have to be weaned off the children as well as the milk.

We went to the school sports last night. The railings were festooned with balloons and banners, the children excited at the possibility of winning some races. It was a lovely atmosphere as they raced in year groups of between two to eight children, each getting a sweet after they made it across the finishing line. There was a running race, a potato and spoon race, a sack race, and a jumping race, where a squashy ball was placed between the knees. The primary sevens got to compete in the dressing up race, which consisted of heavy duty fishing gloves, tee shirts, shorts, hats and wellies. Finally it was time for the parents’ race; although I had half expected the happy farmer and his friends to join the high school children in the former pupils’ race, I am sure there was an odd grandparent there who would have qualified. We stood in a line and waited as we were told, ‘get set, take your marks,’ of course all the cheating dads took off at that one, and finally ‘go’. I managed to do really well thanks to the happy farmer and his friends grabbing onto one another, pulling each other back, tripping themselves up, and rolling in a ball down the hill, before finally managing to pick themselves up off the ground and race to the finishing line. It gave me those much needed extra minutes to beat them all.

Following the races we went into the hall for home baking and tea while the children went to try the lucky dip, the coconut shy and the ‘soak the P7s’, in which my son got completely drenched. The happy farmer won ‘oodles’ of wine in the raffle, and Farmer C came to the rescue when our youngest was in tears because she hadn’t won a coconut. The rain had held off all day, finally beginning to fall in huge plumps. We haven’t had rain up this end of the island for over two weeks. Yippee, no watering the vegetable patch this weekend, then I got home and watched the news with horror as I saw scenes of widespread flooding elsewhere, I do hope none of you have been affected by the flood waters.

Until next time……

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Baking Days

Baking day today, you can’t beat the aroma of freshly baked scones and cakes. It is the school sports tomorrow evening, so we’ve to bake for the cake stall and provide some lucky dip presents and raffle prizes. So I have been busy in the kitchen all morning.

Youngest is off school today, she is full of the cold and feeling very miserable that she cannot practice her running for tomorrow’s races.

My son is due back off the evening ferry; he has been off the island, on his first away from home trip, with the school, for the past few days. The hours are ticking away very slowly; I have missed him, and can’t wait to catch up on his adventures.

Eldest daughter has left a long list for the happy farmer by the phone, and reminders all over the house, to make sure he phones for a catalogue and entry forms for this year’s show. She wants to enter Hansel, and is putting him through his paces in the field every night. I still can’t watch the galloping bit, but luckily that will not be required in the show field! The happy farmer has built her a new tack room in his shed, so we will be able to move in her room once again, as the saddles, and bridles and all of the other horse paraphernalia goes out to its new home. She keeps arriving in the kitchen, covered in paint, as she has been decorating the new digs.

The happy farmer has been busy fencing all week. Farmer T’s cows are back to graze on our pastures, hopefully the fence will keep them off the hill, and away from the Highland cows, and I can still access the hill for a run without getting chased by the crazed animals. Farmer T’s cows are particularly unfriendly and it wouldn’t be the first time they have come stampeding after me.
The dogs are still glued to the fence watching their friends the pigs for hours on end, as seen in the photo above, they are worse than the children at the television.

Until next time..

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Duncan Buie

The Isle of Jura is an island in mourning again. We are all absolutely devastated that Duncan Buie has died. Duncan was from an old Jura family. He was a close friend of Paddy who died only the other week. Jura has lost two of its best known characters in such a short space of time, each one dying well before their time. Duncan was only in his fifties. He always had a smile on his face and gave visitors a fantastic welcome to his island and home. Everyone who truly knew Jura will have known Duncan. He worked in the island’s distillery and was seen in publications throughout the land as the distillery featured his familiar face, in amongst the barrels in the warehouse, in many of their adverts. I am so sorry for his many friends and family and for the whole community for their sad sad loss, it will take a long time to heal such deep wounds and Jura will never quite be the same again.

Until next time…

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Tagged Response

I have been ‘tagged’ …eek. I was actually tagged a few blogs ago but didn’t understand that it meant you had to provide a list of eight facts about yourself, no I stupidly thought it simply meant you were linked to someone else’s blog! Must concentrate more!

Here goes:

1.I have loved poetry and Shakespeare’s works from a young age, and could often be found, aged 11, performing monologues to a crowd of friends, during my lunch hour at school, as I rehearsed pieces for some performance or other.

2.My brother accidentally killed my hamster and I didn’t find out until his best man spilled the beans in his wedding speech some eighteen years later. There was a long moment of silence following my horrified outburst, as the best man realised his faux pas, and my brother giggled into his champagne.

3.I went on a pond digging holiday with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers when I was in my late teens. A local journalist came along and tried to take some photos of us up to our waists in mud. We hurled huge globs of the stuff at him, so as to prevent the publication of any such hideous photos, you understand.

4.I went on a windsurfing and sailing weekend to Lake Bala with my brother and a crowd of his mates. We had a huge row and I decided I was going home, but had locked the keys inside the car. I had to get a group of Hell’s Angels who were camping nearby to break into the car, without causing any damage to it, to retrieve the key for me. If any of them happen to be reading this…..then thank you.

5.I was at Drama college with James Nesbitt, Graham Norton, Stephen Tompkinson (who was lovely), Caroline Harker and a whole host of others who went on to become famous.

6.I used to do a lot of youth hostelling, especially around Derbyshire, but would never be without my eyeliner and mascara on such trips.

7.I have backpacked around the whole of Jura several times and feel incredibly privileged to have done so; it is a truly magnificent island.

8.I have spent the last eighteen years of my life with the happy farmer who is completely spontaneous and bonkers in the nicest possible way, providing hours of endless fun and amusement. He is my absolute rock.

PS Still basking in glorious sunshine, photos show the animals’ reaction to the heat.

Until next time…

Monday, 11 June 2007

Happy and Handsome Farmers.

The happy farmer drove down to Port Charlotte to borrow a digger from the handsome farmer today. The handsome farmer had offered to drive it up, but has several cracked ribs and is somewhat ‘crippled’ following his participation in the beach rugby at the weekend. A structural engineer is coming along to the farm to inspect the foundations for the next building project; we are going through all of the red tape at the moment to secure a building warrant to allow the happy farmer to continue on his way with his building works. A digger was required to dig two large holes into the rocky ground for the inspection, and the handsome farmer very kindly let us borrow his digger at short notice.

The handsome farmer is a good friend of ours. He also does ‘farming’ things and ‘self catering’ things, but is also a special constable, was a lighthouse keeper, and now mans the wave power station, although the happy farmer has never quite made it down there, as whenever her has set out with the handsome farmer, they always stop for a 'wee sweetie' or two along the way, otherwise known as a dram to me and you, and usually end up having a crack somewhere else, never quite completing their journey to their destination.

The handsome farmer travelled all the way down to the Midlands to pipe me from my house to the church when I married the happy farmer. He stood in a rather hung-over state, pre wedding celebrations apparently, and played those bagpipes outside my front door in the Midlands, while I got ready. He played the pipes all the way in the wedding car, through the busy traffic, hanging out of the window, until we reached the church, where the happy farmer’s brother was piping in the guests. The pair of them piped me into the church. It meant a great deal to me that I had pipers from the family and community, who had made the long journey all the way to Walsall, to play for the happy farmer and me on our special day, bringing the island’s culture to the Midlands.

We went to watch the beach rugby at the weekend. What a day, the island is still basking in glorious sunshine and has been for days now. Saturday was no exception; luckily we managed to get a pitch on the green next to some friends who had arrived complete with picnic hamper bursting with goodies, chilled wine, strawberries, juice and crisps for the kids and so on. So we sat and watched as the teams wrestled their way across the sand, fighting over the rugby ball. There were three pitches, with several teams coming over from the mainland to participate. As our friend pointed out, it is the nearest you will get to a Spanish beach holiday on the island. The beach and surrounding green were packed, with spectators, children paddled and bathed in the sea, and were soon joined by the players, as after each match they ran, splashing into the sea, to submerge themselves in the cool waters. The pipe band was playing; the whisky and beer were flowing. Usually the island’s beaches are deserted, but today there was a real buzz.

I felt particularly cruel as I dragged the happy farmer away from the crowds, but I couldn’t take anymore of the heat, I was literally baking on the beach and needed to find shade, which I did as we headed for a bar supper with the children on our way home. I think the team from Melrose won, at least I hope they did anyway, or else I will get slated if I have given you the wrong result.

I hope it is hot and sunny with you too.

Until next time….

Friday, 8 June 2007

Dribbles no more.

The children are off school today. It is a staff training day. I thought I might have managed a bit of a lie in, no manic rushing around to get packed lunches, PE kits, trombones and saxophones, as I send one off to the bus and pile the other two into the car for the school run, no this morning all was peaceful.

That is until I was woken just after 7am by the sound of trombone music coming from outside. I surfaced to see my son cut a solitary figure in the front field, as he stood alone, playing away on his trombone. I clapped from the window when he finished and watched as he made his way back to the farmhouse. How thoughtful of him not wanting to waken his sisters he had gone out to the fields to play his music, or so I thought. I did wonder at the holiday people in our cottages, whose windows would be wide open as it was such a hot night, at what their thoughts would be on getting a solo from the trombone at 7am.

When I praised my son for being so thoughtful and not wakening his sisters, but practising outside, he looked up sadly at me.

‘I wasn’t practising. I was playing for Dribbles. Dribbles is dead.’

Dribbles the pet lamb is no more. I took heart in the fact that my son bless him, was giving Dribbles a good hebridean send off, and suggested he go and play the tune he has been driving us all mad with, on his chanter. He practices his chanter morning noon and night. He insisted he is not yet good enough on the chanter to play it for Dribbles, hopefully one day that chanter will be attached to a set of bagpipes and then he will be perfectly equipped for occasions such as these.

Good news came in the form of our eldest daughter, who madly in love with her new horse, has kindly said that her brother can adopt Frizzle, her pet lamb, instead. Give my son his due out of all of the children he has been the best at feeding the lambs and caring for them so it did seem a bit cruel that it was his lamb that went and died. As I have said before the happy farmer says a sheep’s ambition in life is to die, let’s hope the remaining two lambs make it!

Until next time…

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Horsing Around

I sat on the bench this morning, coffee in hand, soaking up the morning sun as I took in the sea views. It feels like we are basking on a Mediterranean island just now, the weather is gorgeous. It is in total contrast to the torrential rain we had at the weekend, and it is hard to imagine the gales and storms that battered our house during the winter months. I think that is one of the wonders of living in the Hebrides, it is quite common to experience all four seasons of weather in one day sometimes. Last night as I looked out across to the Paps of Jura, there was a layer of sea mist encircling the lower levels of the hills, it looked quite magical.

Dribbles, one of our pet lambs is very ill just now, I don’t know whether he is going to survive. He has got a very bloated and gassy tummy and wouldn’t take his milk last night. The children are quite devastated, now if you are familiar with my previous blogs you will be well aware that we have had to nag those children to feed the lambs. I have often been left balancing three bottles, one clutched between my knees as I juggle to feed three hungry lambs alone, because they are all too busy at other things. Of course the first sign of tragedy though and their love for their pets is renewed once again. Suddenly they are very concerned and I fear we will be going through the whole grieving process soon, unless of course poor Dribbles, who has already cost the happy farmer a tidy sum in powdered lambs’ milk and cake, makes a dramatic recovery!

My eldest daughter has fallen head over heels in love too, but no need to panic, she hasn’t brought home a long haired spotty teenager….. Yet, no her love is for Hansel, her horse. She even caught the early bus home the other night, skiving her band practice, feigning to have forgotten her saxophone, so she could get home to go for a ride. I was not too impressed, but then as I watched her tenderly grooming and fussing over Hansel I did forgive her. What a carry on though. My cod liver oil capsules are disappearing from the cupboard, good for the horses coat don’t you know. My sponge from the kitchen sink went AWOL, he needed to be sponged down after the ride. Apples and carrots are getting chopped up, polo mints disappearing from my handbag; he even got treated to a slice of my birthday clootie dumpling last night. With his hooves all oiled and his coat well brushed she saddled up and took off at a rate of knots through the fields. At this point I tend to hide my eyes, but you can’t escape the thundering noise of hooves on dry ground as the two of them fly across the field.

Until next time…

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Animal Farm

The pet lambs want to go to school, or so it seemed this morning when they climbed up the steps of the school bus and tried to get on along with our eldest daughter. She was highly entertained as she battled to push them back off the bus while the driver quickly closed the doors behind her. The happy farmer has now confined them to barracks, placing them in a bit of hedge that has deer fencing along it. He is feeding them cake as well as their bottled milk, which they get, when we can persuade the children to feed them, no pet lambs next year then!

I spent last night hoeing the weeds out from between the vegetable plants as the midges descended. I tried to remind myself how I ever thought gardening was fun, sweating, aching and scratching away with the heat and the midges. The happy farmer keeps trying to persuade me that we should get one of those midgie machines; I am not convinced they would work though, and keep arguing that for the number of evenings we actually get midges and then when we actually get the time to sit outside it is hardly worth it. I am not convinced they really work either, but if any of you know different please let me know, my vegetable patch doesn’t need midges….or slugs. Is there a machine out there that would eat midges, slugs and work the garden for me at the same time? The happy farmer maybe, or maybe not.

The happy farmer’s sister was over for the weekend’s celebrations. She flew home yesterday, however before she left she decided she should go and visit Hansel her niece’s horse, as she hadn’t seen him yet. She arrived back in the farmhouse kitchen covered in mud, having gone to see the horse, the horse had galloped towards her, she had taken a step back, fell onto her bottom and rolled right down the hill. Unfortunately I missed it, but the happy farmer saw it all, he hasn’t stopped laughing since.

Until next time….

Monday, 4 June 2007

Party Burgers

Somebody must have told those pigs that we were having a barbecue; either that or they had heard that the happy farmer was making his own homemade pork and apple burgers! Whatever, on the day of the party those pigs were not for hanging around; they kept getting out and going AWOL. First time was when I got a phone call from one of our friends who had just come off the morning ferry to say he was stood in the pouring rain in our yard with two pigs chasing around, squealing like mad. The poor lady who was doing the cottage changeovers was hiding in the doorway of the cottage, too terrified to come out. From my previous encounters, and now that I am confident that those piggys won’t eat my legs, I coolly and confidently walked over and herded those pigs into the ponies’ field. The pigs immediately began to chase the horses causing even more excitement, I think even the animals were getting ready to party!

Of course the happy farmer managed to get the pigs back into their ‘home’, only to get a phone call, just as people were due to start arriving to say those piggys were on the loose again, this time they had gone off down to the main road. He duly went and reclaimed them and put them in a more secure area, personally I think those pigs were afraid that the party might get in the way of them getting a mention in this blog, talk about stealing the limelight!

I had an absolute ball at the party. The house was heaving, as over 40 friends and family boogied, ate, drank, and sang. The ‘burger bar’, aka the happy farmer in his horse box, or my new sun lounge as I was referring to it, was a huge success, as people huddled in out of the rain, watching the happy farmer cook, sing, dance and clatter those barbie tongs. The house was jumping. At midnight everyone sang ‘happy birthday’, and I was given a candelabra to blow out, and was just about to burst into tears at the thought of being 40, when my brother enveloped me in a huge bear hug. My friend Sheena, who has a fantastic voice, she sings at the jazz festival and has a CD out to raise funds for cystic fibrosis, sang me a beautiful Gaelic song, followed by a couple of blues numbers, as everyone, clapped and swayed to her beautiful voice, and the party continued long after the children had gone off to bed or been collected by babysitters, well into the ‘wee small hours’, as we laughed, sang, shrieked, hugged, fought over music, and generally had a good old time.

Sunday morning arrived, and the happy farmer presented me with a gorgeous little package, inside was a lovely ring box, and as I opened it, there shone a lovely polo mint, in true happy farmer style. I didn’t even get to try it on as eldest daughter’s hand shot out and ate it before I got a chance! Later as he cooked mounds of eggs and bacon, as bleary eyed people surfaced for breakfast from various corners of the farm, he slipped a beautiful new ring onto my finger. He even wore the slim fit, pink stripy shirt I had bought him specially for the party, having given up coffee for several weeks to fit into it, and also so I would stop referring to him as the happy fatty farmer, and even though his daughters are mortified that he should dare to wear pink, and even though he is always a jeans and tee shirt person. Bless him!

Until next time….

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Festival Spirit.

Yesterday my niece and I spent the morning baking, the sun was shining and we got several deliveries of the most beautiful bouquets of flowers, balloons and chocolates. The house is filled with flowers just now, it smells beautiful and I am feeling incredibly loved and spoilt. Youngest daughter was wanting to go outside and play kites with the helium filled balloons, the happy farmer said not as he is wanting them for the party, to ‘sook’ the helium out of them, and ‘play’ squeaky voices. The happy farmer’s wife just wants them to stay looking pretty beside the fireplace, although with the big 40 facing the wall!

We had a lovely day, enjoying the sunshine as friends arrived, and in the evening we went off to Bunahabhain distillery for another night of music and malt. The road to Bunahabhain is quite magical. It runs through the farm and is a twisting winding single track road which eventually leads to the tiny distillery village. When the happy farmer was a child it boasted a school and a village stores, now it has just a few families living there, and many deserted homes, lying sadly empty on the hillside.

Last night as the sun was setting every bend in the road unveiled more stunning scenery, with views out across the sea to the isles of Colonsay and Mull, and the unspoilt and remote north west coast of Jura. On the way home the fields were filled with a herd of meandering deer, dazzled in the twilight by the car headlamps.

My sister in law and friend were a little worried as we entered the old warehouse, the pungent smell of barley and malt in the air, as they realised wine would not be on the menu. We each took our complimentary drams and headed in, where pipers were playing, and a ceilidh was commencing. The warehouse was filled with music and people. As they finished their first Islay malt, they were hooked, several drams later and they were still going back for more. We stood outside for a while and watched the purple glow fade across the hillside, the sea was as calm as a mill pond, and with the music in the background and the many visitors and locals mingling in the cool night air you could see how the whisky tasted particularly good.

Today the rain clouds have gathered and a cool breeze is blowing, but undeterred the happy farmer has set up the horse box in the garden and put his barbecue inside it, so much for it being a bed for the night then! There is a buzz about the place, and lots of friends have arrived on the island already. The boys are back from their ‘bivvy’ bag experience, and we are ready to party.

Have a good weekend, until next time….