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

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

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What's in a language......

Exams over, and I have decided it is far more stressful to be the parent of a child sitting exams, than the candidate, especially when said offspring have thankfully inherited the completely laid back attitude to life their father the happy farmer has. This year my stress levels doubled as I had two teenagers putting me through my paces with their exams. I appeared to be the only one who suffered from exam stress in this house, which is a good thing, except when one teenager gets exam times totally wrong and is on the bus instead of in the actual exam. Lots of motherly flapping and the issue was soon sorted and said child was thankfully unfazed and sat the exam quite confidently, unlike mother who was a quivering heap of jelly on the floor at home. Other teenager then announces they have just realised they copied their candidate number down incorrectly on all exam papers and only realised their mistake when they could not log into their details on SQA website…more jelly wobbles and panicking, until I am reassured this is not going to affect the paper or mark. So finally the exams are over and I can pack my bag of nerves away for another year having endured lots of teasing from my laid back eldest two, who really could not work out what all of my fussing was about.

The laid back attitude continues when eldest daughter drops into the conversation as an aside remark that she has won the school’s award for Gaelic this session and will be presented with a £50.00 book token at the forthcoming awards ceremony. Truly proud mum is immediately texting nearest and dearest to spread the happy news, while eldest daughter is completely unfazed. It is a real asset that when success knocks at her door, she takes it in her stride.  Her real sense of pleasure and success is not awarded by other people or how others perceive her; it comes from deep within, from a journey through her own talents and ability.

Eldest was only 7 when she decided she wanted to learn more Gaelic, having been immersed in the Gaelic culture by her Seanmhair and Seanair ( the happy farmer’s parents) who conversed in their mother tongue to my youngsters. For years she sat in the evenings with a local Gaelic tutor learning to converse in a language which inspired her. This year, not having studied Gaelic at school for a number of years, she opted to study Gaelic and sat her Higher Gaelic exam. In April I was invited to a conference at the local Gaelic college where there were children from across the island showcasing their Gaelic studies, youngsters of all ages, singing, performing and giving speeches in Gaelic. I watched with huge pride as my eldest daughter took to the stage with her peers, in front of the large assembled crowd, and gave a fluent presentation in Gaelic. It is quite something to see your own child converse comfortably in a language you know only a few garbled phrases in, and for me it was especially poignant as both her Seanair and Seanmhair have now passed on, but their mother tongue is living on through the future generations. They would have been so proud to see their granddaughter take to the platform, to know that their Gaelic heritage is being nurtured, preserved and is passing on to the younger generations. A language that is so vitally important, because locked up in the language is the humour, dialect, idioms and culture of generations of islanders, it is a language that for many years was persecuted, has struggled at times to survive and in recent years it has strengthened, and is today embedded in the present and the future of the island. My daughter now holds the key to her own island roots and heritage and for that I incredibly grateful and extremely proud.
Gle math agus slainte! (Well done and good luck).

Until next time…

Friday, 17 June 2011

Flying away in a hammock.....

The weekend saw a gathering of teenagers and slightly older teenagers, invariably in their 50s, although Farmer T possibly 60s, as they gathered in the old byre to celebrate eldest daughter’s 16th birthday.
Preparations for the day had been conducted in top secret as I had been warned that under no circumstances were there to be any balloons, decorations and fuss, just a small gathering of her friends. As she sat her final exam I enlisted the help of the younger two to help transform the byre, complete with streamers, and of course balloons.
As I traipsed between byre and farmhouse with goodies the line of helpers seemed to be ever increasing. First it was just me and the children, and then the dogs began to follow our steady stream back and forth, between farmhouse and byre. Charlie hen then joined the line, waddling closely behind her pal Mist the sheepdog, much to Mist’s annoyance. Finally it all got a bit too taxing when I found myself tripping over Sherbet the pet lamb too, constantly under my feet, bleating away, faithfully following backwards and forwards, until I could persuade youngest to go and mix a bottle of lamb’s milk and put her back in her pen.
The BBQ and party went well, teenagers tripping back and forth, happy farmer and Farmer T in charge of cooking and drinks, girlies sat in sunshine giggling away, and as the evening wore on, and the sun disappeared, fading below the horizon, we retired into the byre, to the disco lights and music. At some unearthly hour I made it back to the farmhouse where various bodies were sleeping in various corners, movies playing in one room with popcorn, lights out and snoring from another. The following day they all headed off to the beach for an afternoon of sunbathing and swimming. Oh to be 16 again.
Finally in the early hours of Sunday evening the happy farmer and I got to relax in the garden hammocks. We were joined a while later by the happy chappy and his brother. As I went to get drinks I suggested the happy chappy relaxed in a hammock, slightly cautious he remarked that he had not ventured into a hammock before, and would not know how to position himself without toppling off. Full of the joys of the hammocks I carefully advised him to place his bottom in the middle of the hammock and swing his legs across. Being ever so over zealous in following my good advice his backside missed the middle as he flung himself right over the edge of the hammock, flying backwards through the air, and landing upside down, legs splayed and hammock landing on top of him, and hardly a drop of his cider spilt, I was most impressed.

Until next time….

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nourishment comes from ripped carpets and body cream.....

The blog, like my flower beds, has been suffering from serious neglect. Weeds have taken over, as the flowers have been burnt and battered by the May gales. The weather has been challenging and not what you would expect for the time of year. The island’s whisky festival was wild and windy and the whisky club that took over our holiday accommodation took over the farmhouse kitchen as well, as we all mucked in together to cook by candle light on the oil fired Rayburn as the harsh weather led to lengthy periods without power.

The farm house has been neglected too. The building project has taken over. It has been something of a mammoth undertaking, borne out of the necessity to diversify, to survive.  The happy farmer decided several years ago to renovate the old farm steadings and transform what were ruins into comfortable living spaces once more. The old Millhouse and the original farmhouse into holiday homes which we let, and now, where the horses were once stabled, we will have more living space and further holiday accommodation. The old boiler house and what was once the stable for the Clydesdale, now houses a ceramic cafĂ©. It is an undertaking which brings the farmer a lot of satisfaction as he rebuilds and renovates the old buildings where his great uncles and grandparents lived before him. He has worked his fingers to the bone, taking on all the elements of the building project himself, in between farming, from the brick work and slating, through to the plastering and plumbing, no mean feat when you are one man building alone. The latest part of his project is very nearly there.

 Meantime the animals that share our living space are adding suggestions to the building and housing projects themselves. Ruby, the pup, has decided to helpfully join the farmer's wife in her quest, after several years of nagging, to convince the happy farmer that new carpet is required not just in the extension but in the existing farmhouse too.The pup has taken it upon herself to rip out the old worn dining room carpet,a project which has taken her a few weeks, but  which is gaining momentum, with victory in sight when the happy farmer was overheard quipping that once the pup has got through her chewing phase new carpets are a must…yes yes yes smiled the farmer's wife, at last!! The happy farmer’s wife was most impressed to see  the resident cats have now joined in her 'build a conservatory' campaign. The happy farmer gave an amused groan when he saw that his tractor cab has been invaded by cats sprawling out in the glass cab, three at once, all lounging around waiting for the day they have a conservatory to laze about in.

Comfort arrived in the shape of the most luxurious package last week, a gift from Ila spa, via Jane’s blog. A jar of the most silky soft, nourishing body cream, it is truly the most gorgeous cream I have ever come across and it arrived at a time when the weather was dismal and I felt as if the house was falling down around me with all of the building work. The cream has a soft, velvety texture with the  light scent of fresh roses, which nurtures the skin long after application. It is a very soothing, relaxing cream, made from natural ingredients and has been a huge boost, "Central to Ila's healing potential is the higher energy or vibration present in its products. Each ingredient is chosen for its spiritual attributes as well as its physical and emotional benefit: ",
 thank you so much to both  Ila and Jane, it was very much appreciated.


Until next time.....