After a rather tumultuous nine months (which have been mentioned elsewhere) we arrived on the Isle of Lewis on Thursday 1st July about 5 weeks ahead of our ‘deadline’. We did well! Of course, this being island life, the broadband connection was completed only today. Actually that’s not quite true as it was connected on Tuesday but in doing so BT managed to cut off the phone completely or, more accurately, they routed the whole line to someone else’s house! What fun it was trying to get hold of BT on their stupid automated lines using a mobile phone that doesn’t work inside the house! Standing on the front porch trying to work out when to press 1 instead of 2 while the wind was whipping across drowning out the sound was not much fun. Anyway, the BT lady finally came round and said ‘That’s funny, the exchange can see this socket and this socket goes all the way back to the exchange but there’s no line’. That’s what I phoned you for in the first place! It only took three days.
So we’ve been here now for 15 days and we have never come across so much culture. Went to An Lanntair (the Arts centre) last week to see Spiers and Boden and Saltfishforty and had a splendid evening in a great venue. Found out after I had bought the tickets that The Boy Who Trapped The Sun was launching his new album with a concert on the very same night at the Woodlands Centre in Lews Castle grounds and I would have loved to have gone to that as well. I can’t recall anywhere in England outside of London where you would have two great gigs on the same night within half a mile of each other. So much for ‘the back of beyond’.
On Wednesday this week we went to a piping concert to celebrate An Lanntair’s 25th and the HebCelt Festivals 15th anniversaries. A great local band with two highland pipers playing music exclusively from Lewis (plus a couple of tunes from Harris with appropriate apologies) and with Julie Fowlis as their special guest. Another great evening. To top it all off we’re off to see Runrig tomorrow. Culturally, life couldn’t get much better! We’ve never been out so much!
The run up to the move was rather strange due to all the things that have happened and our change in circumstances which have led to some big compromises. There was little emotion until the removal lorry drew up outside the house on the dot of nine o’clock as promised and then I have to confess to a few tears. Four and a half years to the day in the planning and when a bloody great lorry pulls up outside with ‘Hebridean Removals, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis’ plastered all over the side it kinda hits home! We didn’t tell the neighbours where we were going, I guess there was no need!
Hebridean Removals John driving and little John guiding him back outside the old house in Stafford, now forgotten. There were a few tears when this arrived and a lot of sweat once it had been loaded. Didn't tell the neighbours where we were going, why the hell would you want a van that just said Pickfords!
We have rented a bungalow at Newmarket just outside Stornoway for six months pending the purchase of a property at Swordale in Point which we can split in half to shut the mother-in-law away so we can get our lives back. Oh, joy! That purchase is steaming ahead with completion due on 16th August or, possibly, earlier if the sellers want the money. All the ‘missives’ and other enquiries are completed, the money is with the solicitors and all that remains is for the seller to get their furniture out and let us in. Then we can have some fun ripping down walls and building the MIL proof apartment. Finish her side first and leave our side in a total mess. She can’t abide mess, so no chance of just popping in!
The plan was to use a transit to ferry stuff up the drive but Big John was not a man to be easily defeated! If ever anybody wants a great removal team you know who to contact.
There’s going to be some busy times ahead, especially with all the getting out and about. We went to the Point show last weekend and spent a grand afternoon watching the sheep judging and listening to the ceilidh band and it’s ’show time’ all over the island for the next few weeks so we’ll want to get about. I have always loved agricultural shows and it doesn’t matter how large or small they are, the fascinating things are the animals, the vegetables and the flowers. Much more enjoyable to see someone ‘ordinary’ win a First prize for a vegetable or a beast than go round all the stalls selling ‘Miracle window cleaner’ or ‘One handed miracle potato peelers’ (which they don’t have at the shows here by the way). It remains to be seen whether these things are as enjoyable in the rain! Whilst at the Point Show in glorious sunshine the announcer informed everybody that it was pouring with rain at the Ness Gala Day not too many miles to the north!
This is the view from the living room (and also two of the bedrooms) in the rented house at Newmarket. That is Tong down there and I would like The Croft to point out just whose house is whose!
It’s great to be here - beyond words. I went to a Gaelic taster session this morning and came away with a most useful phrase - Tha i fliuch an-diugh. All the locals have said it’s not been a good summer so far. Right at this moment I really don’t care. We’ve been here two weeks and this time we don’t have to go back home. We are home.