WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN, COMES BLOB, BLOB, BLOBBING ALONG
Posted: Monday, 01 October 2007
Well, perhaps you
stay in bed, relax, laze about, take breakfast late, watch television, read the tabloids (shock horror, no)??
USUALLY, in the Squidgery, Sundays are for relaxing, reading the papers (probably Thursdays but that's okay) and generally just chilling out.
But for some reason, not so this Sunday, no sireeee.
As you know, I'm a decent sort of creature, kind to fellow animals, especially the birds, who I feed every day. So much so that one of the little blighters has become exceptionally cheeky. Taking advantage of me and my kindness
On Sunday, whilst I was up to my eyes in decorating, Wee Robin of the Red Breast flew through my open front door, (and I have a pussycat door curtain by the way, which I will show you later) flew along the hallway, through the kitchen, sat on my new pink gingham table lamp, did two didley squats (after eating red berries) yuk, right down the side of the new lamp shade and then sat on the window ledge, looking doomed and forlorn.
Now, I ask you, if you were a tiny bird, would you risk flying into the home where two ravenous collies patrol, constantly on the look out for savoury snacks??
Now apparently, not only do we have cheeky robins around the Squidgery, we also have a coupla cheeky sheep, who scoff all the bread put out for the birds. They eat all my fat balls (suet and seed before you ask) and they are becoming extremely crafty, lurking behind walls of a morning awaiting the ritual of bread throwing.
Anyway, yesterday, Sunday I decided to paint the dining room, and the general rule of decorating is tidy up as you go along.
so leaving a full tin of white paint out on the carpet, no lid on, not tidied away.. I opened another can and began painting in chalk pink, like you do.
Quietly painting away, concentrating hard, admiring my colour scheme, when suddenly in flew the robin, taking me completely by surprise.
"Who invited you in" I asked? "Don't you know how dangerous it is, flying into the lion's den, you might get eaten!"
"Crumbs" said the Robin.
Now, perhaps it was the cheeky sheep with the ewe-mongous appetite that frightened the poor wee birdie into my dining room and if you look closely at the photo, there is my feathered friend on the top of my bird table being bullied and given the hard stare routine by the greedy sheep
Anyway, determined to catch the wee rascal before it covered anything else with its own version of chalky pink, I quickly climbed down the ladders and stepped straight into the tin of white paint, spilling it all over the carpet.
Okay, shock over, gather your thoughts. Quick, Quick Quick, you are not senile yet, you are NOT !! think, think, think, come on act quickly in a crises !!
So, the red, red robin, is blobb, blobb, blobbing along, over everything in sight and I am hastily trying to catch the thing with a tea towel when I knock over a bucket of water, brought in to clean up the spilled paint.
It's becoming very Laurel and Hardy as slapstick in the Squidgery takes on a new meaning. So there I am covered in paint, floor wet through, wool carpet covered in white paint, bird flapping and doing whoopity doodah's everywhere, dogs snapping at the bird.
Sundays, should be easy, shouldn't they?? course they should
Easy like a Sunday morning...
I wanna be high ..... so high,
I wanna be free to know the things I do are right,
I wanna be free ..... just me , oh baby.
Easy like a Sunday morning...
Sang The Commodores
there'll be no more sobbin
When Squidgy goes slobbing along.
Yes, from now on, Sundays will be slobby days, duvet days, leave washing up in the sink days, listening to Steve Wright on a Sunday morning days.
I'll be lazin' on a Sunday Afternoon,
in the summer time.....................
Okay, its October, but... its like summer....
Oh and don't spook me by telling me about the folklore of a robin flying into the house, yes, I do know. thank you very much.
Right I'm off, going away for a few days,
R-OTTER-dam of course...
COUNCIL TAX?? A DEVIL IN DISGUISE???
Posted: Wednesday, 03 October 2007
Today's subject could be a touchy issue. It's Council Tax.
Exactly what do we get for our Â£1,400.00 per year or whatever it is on your island?
Do we get good value for money??
Well, we could moan about the state of the roads
but actually they have been resurfaced on Coll, (well stretches of it from the airport and the road is quite nice to drive along now)
Shall we moan about the lack of street lighting?
I hear the illuminations have just started in Blackpool if that sort of thing floats your boat.
What about the non presence of the boys in Blue?, our nearest one is on Tiree
Well, the Bill's on most nights
What else can we moan about, eeerm
Not a lot really
The children could do with a footpath up to school, and there could be some better road signs provided, especially at the Junction near the Smithy.
So, now that I've established we don't have much to moan about, I will have to moan about...
Ah yes, freight charges on the ferry. Scandalous !!
I ordered 4 boxes of shopping from the Co-op in Oban, and the charge was Â£25.00.
Yup Â£25.00 for 4 small boxes.
Why not support the local shop? I hear you cry. ..Oh but I do, everyday, my cheque book is certainly proof of that, but sometimes, I need special things for my delicious baking and I need feminine things (cough, splutter) which the shop may not stock.
Moving swiftly on...
back to Council Tax.
Coll has a superb school, small classes and wonderful teachers. We have a Dr's surgery and an ambulance, yes I've had call to use that unfortunately.
We even have an airport, flew away in a helicopter once I did. And now wait for it. the first commercial flight is scheduled for 7th or 8th January 2008. You heard it here first. The aircraft?? Well, a Twin OTTER, no less. yipeeeeeeee
Our Bins are emptied every Saturday and there are many recycling bins provided.
We have a person dedicated to looking after the roads.
We have a firestation and volunteer fire officers.
I suppose I've missed out a lot more that we should be grateful for, probably just taken for granted.
So should we count our blessings, and not moan about Council Tax, or is Council Tax just the Devil in Disguise??
Over to you.
SEVEN SEALS ASLEEPING, TWO DOGS A WORKING AND A SQUIDGY IN A NICE WARM SEA
Posted: Friday, 05 October 2007
Well, the weather on Coll is still splendiferous, the beaches empty and stunningly beautiful.
I visited Cliad beach today, the tide was out so I was able to get quite close to the seals, who usually just slide off the rocks when I approach and follow me the length of the bay. Seals are extremely nosy and they seem to respond to high pitched voices - their heads bobbing up and down, checking us out.
Today they stayed sleeping.
All seven of em.
I wish I had a longer lens, but there were definitely 7 seals sleeping on the rocks.
The seals are quite difficult to see, they look like fat pebbles, blending into the natural colours of the rocks.
For once they did not mind me or the dogs
Jenny on a working coll ie-day.
One pretty seal woke up and looked at me....
Is that an otter down there??
"Squidgy, please throw this for us"
Now, I've got sand in my eyes...
How many more days of warm sunshine and blue skies will we have before Winter finally takes over.
I felt better for getting out and about today, but I am dreading the onset of foul weather which will keep me indoors.
But right now, the weather is fantastic, the wildlife as always, amazing, the beaches, well, I could wax lyrical for ever and a day about Coll's beautiful beaches.
All on our doorstep....
Just how lucky are we??
LIVE BOMB FOUND ON COLL - SATURDAY WENT WITH A BANG !!!
Posted: Sunday, 07 October 2007
Explosive news went round the island on Friday night when a bomb was accidentally unearthed in a remote bay at the far end of the island.
The farmer who had been working in the bay made the shock discovery and immediately contacted Oban Police.
A 4 -man bomb disposal team arrived from Faslane Naval Base, the next morning to do the necessary and I, the splendiferous otter, was asked to guide the chaps through the sand dunes, across the beaches to the remote farmhouse where the bomb was found.
My heart was in my mouth as I zoomed across the bay, luckily the tide was out and the sand reasonably firm, what if I as a guide, got stuck, then the Naval guys got stuck, That would never do.. How foolish would I look then?
Oh my word !!!
We arrived at the farmhouse and the team took their landrover down into the bay, and there was the bomb.
The farmer, thought it had been buried for years, the writing on the bomb was incredibly clear. DO NOT TOUCH, IF FOUND, NOTIFY THE POLICE
The experts confirmed that it was a live smoke bomb and had probably been used in training exercises.
The guys, fearful that the noise of the controlled explosion would disturb the horses and various other animals around the farm, dug a hole in the sand and buried the bomb to muffle the noise.
After fixing the bomb with sticks of "Jelly" a lead was run out to behind the Naval Landrover, ready for blast off.
Would you like to press the detonator?", they asked
Well, I was fair honoured to be asked, and under expert instruction, pressed the right buttons and blew the wee rascal to smithereens.
None of the animals seemed unduly perturbed by the bomb, but the smell of the explosion lingered in the air a while.
Excitement over, the 4 man unit, reluctantly left to catch the boat on her return journey from Tiree but for technical reasons they were unable to catch the boat and stayed in the Hotel for the night,
Thank you chaps for carrying out a dangerous job, professionally and safely, keeping Coll a wonderful and safe place to live.
Well done, and I hope you enjoyed your visit to Coll and especially your early morning jog.
I took quite a few photos of the incident (with permission of course).
With AOL as my internet provider I am able to use their service at AOL pictures and have posted more photographs on my public gallery.
I recently created the gallery, which still needs some fine tuning to separate the wheat from the chaff, but I am working on it and hopefully I will have some nice images of Coll in my gallery, together with the unusual and the unlikely.. The link is
Well, it's back to the quiet life now and wasn't Sunday just glorious??? I managed to get up close and personal with some tiny birds, but that's for another blog. See ya !!
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE, I'LL BE WATCHING YOU
Posted: Wednesday, 10 October 2007
DAYBREAK - A favourite time for stalking wildlife
Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you.
Isn't it amazing just how many people are stalked??? you don't even have to be a Celebrity any more to get stalked...
CALM, PEACEFUL BAY, ARINAGOUR, ISLE OF COLL
Until Squidgy arrives with her camera ...
I think that I, Squidgy the Splendiferous Otter was stalked the other day. There I was over at Toraston, my favourite place, scampering beside my stream, when suddenly I saw... triple gulp
Footprints of a M.A.N. Huge ones they were too.
The M.A.N. had been pacing up and down alongside my stream...
Had he been looking for me Squidgy the Otter, trying to take photographs of an elusive creature. Surely he needed MY permission? You just can't go around taking photos of wildlife can you?.
But in a way, many of us have been guilty of stalking at some point in our lives. Or maybe we have been less than courteous, even downright rude, taking someone's photograph when they did not want it to be taken. In some cultures it is highly offensive.
At times we take liberties, we are less than courteous.....
How about on holiday, when we take photos of local people, of their homes, their dress, The Masai Warriors in Kenya for example.
Main Street Cottages, Arinagour, Isle of Coll
Do we ask permission first? surely it is good manners to ask.
During summer we have many first time visitors to our beautiful island, they pass my home and they photograph it. Of course, it is a very special home with many tiny fairy folk in the garden, so I can see the attraction.
Some ask permission, some don't.
What about my photograph of the Flocking Twites, think they are twites, but will stand corrected.
TWITES FEEDING ON DRIED SEEDS, TORASTON, ISLE OF COLL
I did not ask, I just crept up and snapped.
I creep around at daybreak taking photos of animals and birds, Do they mind, do I ever ask to find out their take on things?.
Did I ask the Heron.
Patiently stood in the ebbing tide, minding his own business, when snap, he had been "papped" and ended up on a place called the internet.
TIDES OUT, HERON FISHING, ARINAGOUR
And then suddenly you come across somone bigger than you,
Do you stand your ground?
Or do you flee
There is a psychology known as the fight or flight syndrome.
Would you fight this big chap? The Bull
or would you take flight?
Chance your arm (or even your leg)
I stood my ground and I took the photo, I spoke to him gently and quietly, he seemed okay about it.
I suppose with wildlife photography, we have to take our chances when they occur,
we creep up through the machair, we stalk our prey. But there must be rules and guidelines,
Never approach too close,
Use a long lens
Take care not to frighten
Never touch babies - mum is around somewhere
Keep downwind, be silent, be still
Odours travel such as spicy food and pungent perfume
Keep a spare set of batteries
Set your digital camera to record date and time
Have a good pair of binoculars (you won't spot an otter without them)
Wildlife photography is a fascinating hobby, it takes time and patience. Eventually, you will get that perfect shot !
BUT REMEMBER - ALWAYS KEEP YOUR CAMERA AT YOUR SIDE, THE BEST SHOTS COME AT THE MOST UNEXPECTED TIMES !!
Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you.
More nice images on my public gallery: http://aolpictures.aol.co.uk/galleries/alp2311/
Have a good day y'all......
BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND MEANS YOU HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN AN INCOMER, RIGHT????
Posted: Monday, 15 October 2007
Even these Collachs have, at some time, left Coll to live on the mainland, only to return to Coll.
There are many new people moving to the island now, with beautiful houses being built in many areas of the island.
The whitewashed cottages along Main Street and Shore Street are occupied or owned by families who have lived there for generations, passed down from family to family.
SHORE STREET, ISLE OF COLL
The Old Crofter, and village character, Neilly John, has long since passed away and with it it seems old traditions which the Old Collachs value.
So what advice can be given to potential incomers?? What's the success rate of the average incomer moving to a Scottish island??
I'm an incomer, I'm English,
I am hardworking,
I care for and appreciate the environment around me
I care for and appreciate wildlife
My hobby is taking photographs which I post on my AOL public gallery
(copy and paste this link)
I intend to breed rare breed poultry and provide eggs for the island
I bake using traditional Scottish recipes
I would love to learn gaelic
I keep myself to myself and quietly go about my business, doing the garden and decorating.
I am pleasant and I am courteous
I am helpful and friendly
I don't get involved in island politics, but
I can stick up for myself when the need arises.
and I don't like being bullied or being made a fool of
You may ask what has prompted this self-analysis and personal reflection....
Well, I will tell you.
Over the weekend, a comment was made which quite upset me and made me feel rather sad and disillusioned, and that was...
that the island was changing - a change for the worst.,
it was never like this in the old days, the incomers are taking over from those BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND
So. how should an incomer react if they find themselves targeted by a bully, Pushed around
Should they suffer in silence
Be afraid to speak up in case they are labelled as trouble making incomers
Just because they were not "BORN AND BRED" on the island
Are incomers less of a person, less of a human being simply because they are not BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND
Perhaps incomers should not have a point of view?
not have rights?
Perhaps incomers should simply roll over and die when someone BORN AND BRED on the island bullies them, or makes their lives a misery, simply because they are incomers.
Should incomers allow themselves to be manipulated, forced to take sides, to be in one gang or the other, to form one of the many temporary alliances so commonplace in small communities.??
Some people BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND have their own agenda which does not include "incomers"
Should Incomers be marginalised and resented?
Marginalised: Oxford Dictionary : to make or treat as insignificant
after all Incomers take over, don't they?? they change the date of the Coll Show.
Incomers make the wind blow from west
Yes incomers are to be blamed for all kinds of dastardly deeds.
In the Yorkshire Dales from where I hail, Incomers from the wealthy South, and that means London, buy up property at exhorbitant prices so much so that young people cannot afford a home in the place where they were BORN AND BRED.
Drastic action was needed and the National Park did indeed take action, placing restrictions on property so that it could only be sold to local people.
Obviously the Yorkshire Dales is massive compared to Coll, but even there where you could be quite anonymous, there were resentments.
In the Yorkshire Dales, it could take 10 years before a "local" even nodded your way, or acknowledged your existence.
Coll is a small island
It has a young population
It also has an ageing population
So if there are no incomers, who bring with them families, children and babies, useful skills, what will happen to the island??
We all have to live together
to help each other
to lead whatever life we choose to lead
We have rights, human rights, whether we are incomer or BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND.
If an incomer arrives on any Scottish Island, hoping to change it, hoping to impose their past lifestyle on the islanders, trying to influence them with strong opinions and views, they will fail dismally.
Incomers should not move to an island and start to take over, to start changing years of traditions,
to moan when the cockeral crows
or a sheep strays into the garden
Incomers have chosen to move to the island NOT the other way around.
But what we don't need is skilful manipulation by those with their own agenda, to exploit even the slightest hint of friction and turn it into a full scale war against incomers
What we don't need is an island with a divide and rule strategy
Whether you are BORN AND BRED ON THE ISLAND or an incomer, a bit of give and take, courtesy and respect goes a long way.
It is a sad fact that the "old Days" have gone
It is a sad fact that "old traditions" are dying.
But that has happened the world over.
I am sure our parents would love to go back to the 1950's
Alas, the time has gone.
For my part, I will continue to cherish the environment, to care for our wildlife, to appreciate every moment I am on the island, to be respectful, to be courteous, to be guided by the old Collachs and to learn from them.
However, I do not agree that Coll is changing for the worst,
Coll maybe different to what it was 30 years
but then again so is everywhere else.
Some people love change, some don't
Some people want to see more development, some don't
We are all individuals, we all have choices.
We can all contribute, we all have something to offer
We are living, breathing human beings, with hopes and aspirations
No-one has the right to destroy our dreams,
to shatter our illusions
To take away our confidence and our selfworth.
Can incomers make a useful contribution to the island without "taking over"? Perhaps we should write some guidelines, some do's and dont's of being an incomer on a Scottish Island.
A favourite programme of mine is DISTANT SHORES, which starts a re-run tonight on ITV 3, although this is fiction, it certainly demonstrates the difficulties faced by both the Islander and the Incomers.
Perhaps those BORN AND BRED on the islands, feel threatened, see old traditions and values disappear before their very eyes. I can empathise with that point of view too.
Coll is a wonderful and very special island, it is a thriving island
thanks to the islanders of the past
thanks to the islanders of the present
and thanks to the islanders of the future.
ISLANDER: OXFORD DICTIONARY: a native or someone who inhabits an island
BUILDING A DUCK POND, I'M QUACKING UP, TAKE A GANDER AT THIS.....
Posted: Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Misty Blue with ducklings.
ENOUGH, Enough!!! I hear you cry.
No more Quackers jokes.
Okay, It's a deal, but I am now Pondering (go on let me off with that one!!) on my next project, which is to build a duck pond in my garden.
I'm really eggs- cited,
I love chickens and ducks, in fact I'm off to Skye to buy some ducks.
My friend in Selkirk breeds RARE breed chickens, the Scots Dumpies, so she may let me have some of those too.
RARE BREED - SCOTS DUMPIES, SELKIRK
Apparently Freddie Fox is about in Selkirk, the wily old so and so and has devastated most of her birds..
So here it is - the before photograph
THE BEGINNINGS OF MY DUCK POND - A HEAP OF TOP SOIL
Top soil left for me by my good neighbour, so I can transform my jungle of a garden, or left in its natural state, as the Estate Agents, glibly mask the truth.
Now what inspired me to do this, well, it was in fact, island blogging. First we have Fred Blog, from Lewis, working wonders with his new home and providing his chickens with lovely 5* chicken houses, and flying cat with his delightful garden pond.
Although my duck pond will not be in the same league, it will be all my own efforts and I will then have something to CROW about..
I did some research on the internet and found a really good site about building a pond, but would be extremely grateful, if anyone who has actually built a pond could give me advice and any problems they HEN-countered.. sorry
So far, I know that, I need to dig a hole
line it with old carpets
Buy a liner from Wickes
Place liner in hole
Place stones round the liner to hold it in place
Fill up with water
Release my duckies !!
Job's a good'un.
This is how it will look eventually.
Will post more pics as work takes place. May wait until spring to collect the ducklings though.
My baby ducklings awaiting collection
Any island bloggers who keep poultry, ducks or chickens, if you could advise me which breeds thrive the best, I'd be eggs-static
I have ordered the Khaki Campbells, they seem to do okay, but am now wondering if the Scots Dumpies may be too near the wet ground.mmm
Sly Predator on the lookout for easy pickings
Hope there are no wily old foxes around on Coll, or otters for that matter. !!!!
"Oh my word, we're not off to live with Squidgy the Otter on Coll are we, she's QUACKERS
ISLE OF COLL, SQUIDGY THE OTTER, SAYS THANKS FOR HUGE RESPONSE TO ISLAND BORN AND BRED
Posted: Saturday, 20 October 2007
SQUIDGY THE OTTER,
THE OTTER WHO BLOGS
WOULD LIKE TO SAY THAT.......
Firstly, may I thank everyone who contributed to my recent blog. Your response was over-whelming and the varied comments conveyed both happy and sad experiences.
Thank you also to Arnish Lighthouse, back in Stornoway, a good old fashioned hug can indeed work wonders !! However, I prefer having my tummy tickled !!!
I think the comments which summed things up for me personally were from changeingman from Mull who wrote:-
The problem I see is that people are so busy making sure that they fit in and get so bloody sensetive that they forget how to be themsleves which is the quickest way to get accepted in any situation. I often find that people appearing on islands are those that want to escape the "rat race" which is often other people. Sometimes these are the worst types at fitting into a small community because you probably have to deal more with others than elsewhere. Just get on with it.
Changeingman hit the nail on the head. Maybe incomers try too hard.
Incomers escaping the rat race, seeking a slower pace of life, escaping the pressures of urban life, escaping from the 9 - 5 daily grind, escaping from towns where they live cheek by jowl with other people often find that even living on a remote Scottish island, that need to interact with people still exists, only more so, and in many ways can be greatly intensified.
COLL, FAIR GEM OF THE OCEAN, photo by Squidgy
People move to these beautiful islands for many reasons, and it is certainly not to harm them. It takes a great deal of soul searching, time, money, effort and organisation to move to an island, any island, be it Hebridean, Shetland or Orkney. People move through choice, they move because they want to contribute to the island, to enjoy the tranquillity and the lifestyle their particular island offers.
Families are often seeking a safer environment for their children. Away from urbanisation and smog, island children enjoy much more freedom, unpolluted fresh air and wide open spaces.
End of the day - 3 children walk home, photo by Squidgy
Incomers to any island move to be at one with nature, enjoy the wildlife, the natural beauty and more often than not, they want to give something back. They may do this by joining committees, volunteering in various activities, helping wherever they can.
FREEDOM TO PLAY - Photo by Squidgy
But it takes time to adjust, to be accepted and during that time, incomers may make mistakes, it’s not that they are insensitive or wanting to take over, they just haven’t adjusted to island living yet, Some families may struggle to adapt to their new lifestyles, however eager they may be to do so. but gradually they will adapt, they will slow down, blend in, take things easy and ultimately find their own niche on the island.
Some incomers experience a great sea change in their lives, they miss their family and friends, they may feel isolated and lonely, others take to island life immediately and never look back.
Squidgy the Otter adapting to her new life
Much research has been undertaken and the results are quite revealing, There is an interesting book by Dr. Watson...
"Being English in Scotland" published by Edinburgh University Press was based on a study involving in-depth interviews with English-born people living all over Scotland.
Dr Watson said nine out of 10 English migrants said they had not experienced anti-Englishness, other than in the form of teasing and banter which occurred when Scotland played England at rugby or football.
He added: "There were recorded incidents of unpleasantness, but we have to remember that much of the Scots' ire is directed against England the state and not English people.
For myself, as an English incomer, I made mistakes, and I acknowledge that fact. It took time for me to settle into island life, to understand and to learn. Perhaps if I had had family on the island, my earlier days would have been less traumatic. But I was alone, vulnerable and as green as the proverbial cabbage.
But the world over, kindness, tolerance, mutual respect, honesty and communication all play a very imporant part in any human interaction, whether it is on an island or on the mainland. Misunderstandings over petty things may sometimes lead to disagreements, but hey, that's life, it happens everywhere, in marriages, partnerships, in families and in politics. Keeping things in context is vitally important.
Wide open spaces and big skies - Photo - by Squidgy
But your comments have prompted me to look at things from a number of different perspectives, and also look at more far ranging social issues. It has also made me look at myself and I thank you for giving my brain cells the nudge they needed.
Feall Bay at Sunset, photo by Squidgy
Over the past few evenings I have sat on the hillside at Feall Bay, contemplating life, watching the seabirds feeding in the surf,
SEAGULLS FEEDING AT FEALL BAY - photo by Squidgy
I have sat and watched as the sun set across the shimmering ocean. Alone on the hillside, just a few curious sheep and my faithful collies for company.
IN THE COMPANY OF SHEEP, photo by Squidgy
The stunning beauty at Feall Bay simply takes my breath away, it is a humbling experience.
SUNSET OVER FEALL BAY, by Squidgy
As I have said on many occasions, Coll is a very special and beautiful island, her people protect her. New people moving to Coll are very fortunate people indeed.
Faithful Collie at Feall Bay, Photo by Squidgy
Coll is a thriving island. There are new babies everywhere, the school children are well mannered, well educated and very polite, there are environmentalists taking care of the landscape, rare species such as the Corncrake are increasing in numbers. There are magnificent beasts in the fields, Highland Cattle and Hebridean Sheep.
MAGNIFICENT HIGHLAND BULL, photo by Squidgy
The island has more than its fair share of writers and artists, a fantastic VisitColl website and many, many talented people all working in their own unique way to keep Coll the beautiful, the incomparable Fair Gem of the Ocean.
Boy and his Dog, Isle of Coll, photo by Squidgy
I, as an incomer, am truly thankful that amongst all the Scottish Islands I have visited and there have been many., I was finally washed up on the beautiful shores of Coll. Thank you all again.
LOST SOUL FROM ENGLAND WASHED UP ON COLL'S SHORES
Posted: Wednesday, 24 October 2007
I am scared, really scared.........
It's almost halloween, but spooky things are happening to me.
Could this be a message to me from the blue beyond?.
Just a few days ago, I wrote in my previous blog about being English ... and that....
I, as an incomer, am truly thankful that amongst all the Scottish Islands I have visited and there have been many., I was finally washed up on the beautiful shores of Coll.
I wrote about lonliness, feeling lost, and then.....
Today as I was walking along the shore, I came across this.
A LOST SOUL FROM ENGLAND.
Well, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, shivers tingled down my spine, for there laid in the sand was me.
A lost soul washed ashore like a piece of flotsom and jetsom.
A lost soul from England
Squidgy the Blogging Otter.
Surely this is no coincidence
It is a sign !!!
I write in my blog one day about being washed ashore, and the next, there I am laid in the sand, washed ashore and alone....
In my previous life, I must have been washed up, walked upon and always in the red.
(a bit like the present life really)
But I must TREAD carefully
Magical influences are AFOOT
This is all very unnerving indeed - should I TOE the line - or STEP up my game??, .
I wish I hadn't watched Spooks on Tuesday night either... in fact....
I'm going to sleep under the blankets with the light on !!
I, Squidgy the Otter
must always be a
SOLE SURVIVOR !!
WHEN IT'S SPRING AGAIN, I'LL SING AGAIN, TULIPS FROM...THE ISLE OF COLL?
Posted: Sunday, 28 October 2007
I’ve been busy planting spring bulbs this weekend. Daffodils, tulips and crocus. What a colourful show there will be in the spring.
Back in the 1950's the Island of Coll was famous for growing field upon field of spring bulbs and exporting them. It was a huge boost to the island.
April 26th 1958 and the Farming News runs a story entitled
HOLLAND IN THE HEBRIDES -
Bulb Growing gives the island farmers a new crop.
“Bulb growing is becoming big business for island farmers with Daffodils and tulips taking over rapidly from turnips and potatoes as the root break.
If you fly over the Hebrides they begin to look more like Holland and for the first time in years there are real prospects of getting a degree of populace and prosperity back to the islands.”
Extracts Taken from Farming News, April 1958:-
Mr. G. Armstrong, Crofting Advisor, told the Farming News Reporter that “bulb growing should prove a great factor in repopulating the island. With two acres, a young fellow might even make Â£10.00 a week”.
He added " Although I saw plenty of bulb plots on Tiree my active explorations were confined to Coll. With no airfield, electricity or pier, the island has been progressively depopulating and it was particularly interesting to see the impact bulbs have made.
Impact is really the right word because there seems to be prospect there now. An improving standard of farming with intensive operation such as bulb growing can stop the depopulation. Why ! already there is a most excellent hotel, signs of a tourist trade and a hostel to which a number of gay young ladies are coming in order to harvest the bulbs. It is on such developments that the island's future depends and that means the farming future."
1950's was such an innocent era when the word Gay had a totally different meaning than in 2008, it simply meant ... mirthful, cheerful and lighthearted..
and what about ....A young fellow might EVEN make Â£10.00 per week.
I wonder what Â£10.00 in the 1950's equates to today in 2008??
Mr. J. Kerr Elliot, tagged as the “Flying Farmer” was the owner of Gallanach Farm the largest of the farms producing the bulbs. Mr. Elliot flew his own light aircraft between Gallanach on Coll and three other farming areas in different parts of the UK.
Every summer about a dozen college girls would arrive on Coll to harvest the bulbs. They were accommodated in the hostel and taken to and from work by the Gallanach tractor driven by Andy MacKiinnon
Neilly J, (Neilly John Maclean) was a crofter and bachelor who lived on Shore Street. The remains of his old stone byre still stands in my garden today. Neilly J was one of the village characters, a witty man who enjoyed a good laugh and a dram. He would stand, leaning in the doorway of his wee cottage, chatting to a few of the Tulips, as he called the girls, roaring with laughter and as he himself would admit “taking a rise out of the girls”
The flowers in bloom in the spring time would be a beautiful sight in the fields at either side of the road. They could be clearly seen from the hill at Crainaig leading towards Gallanach. Unfortunately they were not left in bloom very long as the heads were cut off to allow the bulbs to grow bigger.
Farm workers’ children would help in the Coll bulb fields. They removed the heads from the flowers at full bloom, leaving the stem and the bulb for lifting later in the season”
The "TULIPS" - the bulb picking girls would sing happily as they were transported to the bulb fields.
There are many verses to the song, but here are just a few….
Everything’s up to date on Elliot’s bulb farm
They work about as hard as they can go
The bulbs are planted 7 foot deep, all snug and right and tight
And every morning hordes of girls go dig with all their might
And when they’ve got them out then they go on back home at night
And they dig about as hard as they can go.
Friday nights are a social celebration
They all dress up in party frocks and skirts
Then they go out and wait around till very late indeed
Until the men come staggering in, the ones they hoped to meet
And then they go on dancing till they’re dropping on their feet
They dance about as hard as they can go
Our stay, alas, on Coll is nearly ended
We really have enjoyed our visit here
With films and hops and yachtsmen
Our time here’s been far from tame
We danced and swam and sung, and shooting rabbits was fair game
We’ll remember our time here until we’re old and fat and lame
We’re sorry as we can be to say
I can just see all the pretty Tulip girls, in their fifties dresses, dancing the night away with those handsome young men.
How many hearts were broken I wonder when the tulip girls returned to their homes at the end of the summer....??
But what a fantastic time they must have had and such a healthy way to spend summer, gathering bulbs on the beautiful island of Coll.
The young TULIP girls must now be into their late sixties, but what wonderful memories they must hold of Coll, working hard picking the bulbs, swimming in the beautiful turquoise sea, dancing and singing and old Neilly John pulling their leg.
Such treasured memories of the all too fleeting carefree days of youth and what a legacy to that old rascal Neilly John, the much loved crofter, to be remembered in such a fond and affectionate way.
But hey, enough nostalgia, and roll on spring, when my own tulips and daffodils come peeping through.!!
Perhaps not as greater show as the 1950's but hopefully they will bring a bit of colour and cheer to my own wee croft.!!
C U L8R ALIG8R xxxxx
COULD I WRITE A BOOK TO HELP NEWCOMERS - now that is a nice way to put it.
Posted: Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Newcomers to the Island.
It's a good combination,
New people are, well, they are new, so that's okay,
they are incomers
that's okay too
But I think the term outsider or stranger is a very unwelcoming term.
This fine morning I was out at 7.30 am taking photographs. The light was superb, the weather mild with just a slight breeze. The scenery as always magnificent.
Some days, I just sit on a rock and watch the ocean. The beauty takes my breath away.
This morning was one such day. I sat on the rocks and looked out towards Barra, perhaps I saw Lewis, I can't be sure.
Holly always at my side.
I was thinking about how big a decision it is to make in your life, to up sticks and move to a Scottish Island.
If you get it wrong, make a bad decision, how your life will forever be affected by this decision.
I have been pondering (to use one of AC's words) about writing a book, maybe entitled
A LOST SOUL FROM ENGLAND
What you should know about moving to a Scottish Island.
In my book I could discuss some or all of the folloing:-
1. reasons for wanting to move - a reality check. Running away is not the answer
2. strengths and weaknesses - do you have the strength of character
3. research - go in winter and not just in August
4. housing - where will you live, buy, rent, or caravan
5. job opportunities - or will it be love on the dole
6. schooling - waving goodbye to your kids at 11 years of age
7. health - are you robust enough for island life
8. legal aspects, buying in Scotland, the Scottish Legal System
9. Buying in a crofting area - crofting law. What YOU must know, and what your lawyer must TELL you.
10.Are the natives friendly - can you win them over
11. Fitting in and making a contribution - what qualities have you got?
12. If it should all go wrong - Common mistakes
13. Dark nights and depression, foul weather, food and ferries
14. The rewards of living on a Scottish Island
15. Crime statistics, benefits for children, low crime figures
16. Wildlife and the environment, fishing, walking, the great outdoors
17. Self sufficiency, buying chickens, growing veg, baking, recipes.
An all round guide, a realistic look at moving to an island. Quitting the ratrace, seeking a slower pace of life, whatever your reasons, be it
a safer environment for the children
there are things you need to know...
Sorry, Jenny you are too late to get your face in !!
Well, I sat on my rock this morning, mulling things over as it were, and maybe just maybe I could put something together,
Something, positive but realistic.
something lighthearted but informative
Anything you would like to add which I have missed out would be most welcome.
Try again without the darned dogs getting their faces in....
RESEARCH FOR MY BOOK - HELP NEEDED FROM FELLOW ISLANDERS
Posted: Wednesday, 31 October 2007
I am doing research for my book and wondered if I may possibly ask if you would help me by sharing any island experiences with me (in confidence, no names needed)
CALLING ORKNEY, SHETLAND, LEWIS, THE FAIR ISLES, ANY SCOTTISH ISLAND REALLY
I have been up since 4 am typing my book.
A Lost Soul From England
All you need to know about moving
To A Scottish Island
In order to give experiences from more than my own island, may I make a plea to all island bloggers from far and near to email any experiences they care to share with me in complete confidence.
email me at Lostsoulbook@aol.com
(by kind permission of Anne at IBHQ)
I do not need your name, only your experience and your island.
To focus on the following areas would be great:-
1. Why did you move to a Scottish Island, what was the impetus which made you up sticks and quit the rat race?
2. How different is your life now compared to your old life ? Are you less stressed, happier and more content??
3 What do you love most about living on a Scottish Island, Is it the wildlife, the beaches, freedom, the people around you??
4. Is there anything you or your family miss about your old life?
5. Any difficulties that you faced or have had to overcome. Any funny stories or tales would be great.
6. Were you accepted by the local, indigenous people. How can an incomer ensure they are accepted? Did you find work and are able to support yourself financially?
7. Would you ever leave your island and return to your old life?
8. What advice would you pass on to anyone contemplating moving to an island? Any customs, they must observe and respect?
I am also seeking the views of indigenous island folk, those born and bred on the islands.
IN YOUR OPINION...
1. Are incomers made welcome/accepted on your island
Do they fit it easily and respect the traditional way of life.
2. Do they contribute to the island, if so, in what way?
3. Do they observe local customs, are they respectful?
4. What advice would you give to any newcomer moving to your island.
5. How can incomers/newcomers integrate better?
I have checked with Anne at IBHQ and it is okay to email me.
All I need is your experiences and your island. No name necessary.
I wish I had had my book 5 years ago, I wish I had taken my own advice.
You can search all you like on the internet for information about moving to a Scottish Island, but the closest thing you will find is BBC Island Blogging. If I can help others not to make the silly, naeive mistakes I made through lack of research into Scottish Law, then my efforts will all be worthwhile.
Many, many thanks for your support everyone. I will work hard on the book and make it as interesting, enlightening and helpful as I possibly can.