Friday, December 29, 2006

Everybody Wants To Be A Cat


A wild and windy day on the sunshine isle, with winds gusting up to 70 mph in the morning. Driving was interesting. Coming across the reef today I had to steer left to keep going in a straight line. Oh and then I got bogged down in the machair at a friend's house over in Baugh. Good old Simon came to my rescue with his Land Rover and a sturdy nylon rope.

The Defenders are playing at An Talla tonight but unfortunately I can't attend, as much as I'd like to. I have a 07:00 rise in the morning and I don't want to wake up feeling 'tired'. All the best to the lads and especially Billy on his first outing as lead singer.

Today my song 'Easy Living' is featured in the Phedippidations Podcast. I've spoken about Steve Walker's excellent and highly entertaining podcast on this blog before so I won't bore you. The song features fairly early in the show so if you want to listen online or download the podcast go to www.steverunner.com

Thank you to everyone who emailed me to say how glad they were to hear about Connie's safe return to the bosom of her family. She's painfully thin and very reluctant to lose sight of us for very long. Just now all she really wants to cuddle in and feel warm and secure.

Needless to say, she's confined to quarters for the meantime.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Wanderer Returns


I heard a commotion outside the house at about four o'clock this morning. Two cats having a fight. Next door's cat, Tabby, likes to mix it a bit with the local felines so I just assumed some stray had been caught out crossing our lawn. But I decided to check it out anyway. It simply couldn't be Connie out there, getting duffed up by Tabby - not after nearly three weeks.

So I lumbered downstairs, opened the door.

And in she ran, my wee cat Connie!

She was meowing like crazy and she was obviously starving. After cuddles - which revealed that she has indeed lost a tremendous amount of weight - we fed her and took her upstairs where she slept on top of our bed.

Today's photograph was taken in our kitchen at about 04:15.

What a relief to have her home.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 25, 2006

Shurely Shome Mishtake?



Surely not. A seven course meal? No, really. That's what they served up today at The Elephant's End over at Gott. As it was I had to forgo the cheese and biscuits and mince pies. I made a fair old go of the home made fudge cake but by that time I needed to lie down fast.

The place was packed and there was a really nice family atmosphere.

We were the first served and we were the first to leave. And thank goodness. I am looking forward to my new training regime so much! As it was I really struggled to get into my trousers today and by the time the meal was finished ... well, let me put it this way. I was instructed to walk around a little before I got in the car.

Major hassle of the day is this: we bought Jenny broad band wireless but we can't get it to work. I can get the communication going between our laptops and the unit OK but it just doesn't want to connect with the phone network.

On the bright side, though, all my presents are working wonderfully well, especially my Christmas Camera, which captured today's lovely shot, taken by my missus.

Folks: when you smile the muscles seem to pull up the old double chin.

Think about it.
Posted by Picasa

What a happy looking guy ...


Well, good morning all, and, of course A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Isle of Tiree. Going by the picture above, wee Gordon got everything he hoped for this Christmas. He got a new digital camera, the new Bob Dylan album, a Maglite for reading comics under the covers, a boxed set of The Doors' albums, a Celtic FC scarf and hat ... I'm a lucky little lad, today.

And talking of today we're heading off to Elephant's End across at Gott Bay for our Christmas lunch. The three of us. Never before in the history of our family have we gone out for Christmas lunch. Joanne wasn't amused when I announced it was part of her Christmas as it meant she didn't have to cook food this Christmas.

After we get the lunch out of the way I think it's back here for Christmas TV or DVDs (Superman Returns or Pirates of the Caribbean 2? Hm, decisions, decisions ...) and of course a little snooze will be worked in there somewhere.

The one present I really wanted is the one I didn't get. I suppose my cat Connie must be dead. That's nearly three weeks since she went missing. She just disappeared, hours before we got back from Oban. Somehow I just knew at that time that something was wrong ...

Oh well, that's 12.30 and we sit down to lunch just before 2 o'clock. Time for the Scott's to start queuing up to use the shower!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ben Williams in Tiree/My 2007 Challenge/IOTON Archive

First of all: apologies for being away all week. 'Tis the season to be jolly and all that kind of stuff. It is all the season in which to eat and drink too much and voluntarily embrace near penury. I am skint, as they say in this part of the world. Note to myself: definitely review your contribution to the commercialisation of Christmas next year.

That apart, we Scott's are all well and looking forward to the big day.

Now, today's photograph: that's Ben Williams, from Balemartine, here on the Isle of Tiree. You can probably guess that this picture wasn't taken on the island, though! Ben is cycling the length of Vietnam this Christmas to raise funds for Save The Children's work in the far east. Ben has a fascinating website, full of information, a great blog, a picture section, communications from friends all over the world and - perhaps most importantly - instructions on how to sponsor him or even make a one-off contribution. To find out more, CLICK HERE.

Now, do you remember a few weeks back I was telling you that I had been selected to take part in a health and fitness programme organised by the Doc and Will Wright? After I made that posting I then said that the Doc thought I was already too fit and wouldn't benefit from the training. Well, it seems that decision has been reversed. Me and another four people - of all ages and fitness levels - will embark on the great experiment in the New Year.

There isn't an over-arching goal. We all had to state what we wanted to get out of the programme. Me? Well, since stopping training after my running exploits I have been piling on the weight. Of course, a lot of that is down to the time of year and the limited light. But I could have overcome these obstacles easily with a bit of will power.

So, here are my goals: I want to lose weight - maybe about 20lbs - so that I can not only continue to run in 2007 but run competitively in my age group. I also want to have a crack at a couple of Mountain Bike Veterans' fun races. I know that if I can do this I will be a happy man.
The other folks taking part will have different goals according to their lifestyle aspirations.
What's interesting about all of this is that our base recordings will appear in the local paper, An Tirisdeach and our progress (or otherwise) reported on a regular basis.

The aim is, of course, to demonstrate to others that everyone can adopt a healthier lifestyle through regular exercise and a sensible diet.

Hopefully Will and the Doc will let me reproduce the articles here on the blog for the wider, worldwide audience.

And so to this week's exciting instalment from the archive of Isle of Tiree Online News. Quite by accident I came upon a page which was posted in October 2001 and mostly covers the visit to Tiree by my good friends the Robertson's, from Winnipeg. Also on this page are photographs from a few other regular contributors. The link is in the sidebar. Hope you enjoy another wee delve into the past.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Isle of Tiree Online News Archive

A few days back my good friend Scott Cameron pointed reminded me that it was almost a year since we lost our dear friend and Tiree photo journalist, Neil MacKinnon. I still mourn his premature passing.

Neil, of course, was an enthusiastic photographer and his reportage from Tiree was renowned the world over.

Scott reminded me further that there is always a queue of people looking for images of Tiree. That's when I remembered the IOTON pages - Picture Store, and so forth - are still out there in cyber space. It's just that they're a little inaccessible at the moment.

So I've started to trawl the vaults again and make the best of IOTON available at this site. If you look at the sidebar you'll see a new heading - 'Isle of Tiree Online News Archive'. This is where I'll put the links to the rescued pages.

Today we kick off with a beauty, from October 2000. I called this one 'A Sunday Wedding on Tiree' and it was one of the first special features I put online. In fact, IOTON had just gone 'live' a couple of weeks before so I was still at the experimental stage. But I hope you enjoy looking at this, either 'again' or for the first time.

I also have loads of genealogy information in the IOTON posts and I think it's about time I made this available once again.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sad Old Sunday 2

15.45: That's when the power went down. The only thing is, is the power outage local or is it island wide? Will we be playing Cluedo tonight instead of watching crap on the television? I just checked out the readings from the Tiree Met Station. It's giving only a 32 mph constant with gusts of 42 mph - but I don't know about that. The barometer is going down rapidly although right now it's sitting at 991. But believe it or not this wee island is recorded as having the highest constant temperature over the last 24 hours - at 8.1 degrees centigrade.

16.17: God Bless the boys from The Hydro. That's the power back on. Seems it was a local fault. Good on 'em for going out on a night like this.

Sad Old Sunday

We just had a good laugh at the weather man on Sky Television. Due to the weather, so he says, there is risk of flooding in Scotland. Oh and something else: winds are set to gust up to 65 mph in the north west.

The reason we laughed is, well, we've already noticed. Our back yard is more or less a shallow pool. The sheep in the field across the road are stoic but I daresay their wool will seem very heavy when they start to float around. The wind is whistling under the door and water is appearing on the window sill in this, my 'study'.

The sky is slate grey.

Sorry, am I depressing you? If you're reading this in the UK you're probably having to put up with the same crappy weather. If you're in Australia or South Texas can we come to your place on holiday for a few weeks? Months, even?

Tomorrow I am 51. It's incredible. A whole year since I had my big party at An Talla. 2006 went by so quickly. I achieved a lot of the goals I set but there are a few biggies lined up for 2007.

A few things have changed. I'm no longer singing with The Defenders, for instance, but I'm glad to report that the new line-up will be playing at An Talla on the 29th December. If I can possibly make it I'll be there. It'll be strange watching the band as opposed to actually performing but I still don't regret my decision to leave. I've got so many things going on just now.

The recording continues to go well. Four hours I was at it last year. But there won't be any CD in time for Christmas. My original plan was to give the CD to friends as a gift but the project is taking longer than I thought.

I was intrigued to read Scott Cameron's piece on the junk packaging that came with his new Gillette razor. He made some good points in his blog (see sidebar for the link). What gets me about these razor manufacturers is that they seem to bring out a new 'improved' version every couple of weeks.

About a month ago a friend and I were looking at the razors in the Scarinish Co-op here on Tiree. I drew his attention to the 'new' four bladed razor and joked about how long it take for the manufacturer to find a way to sell us the concept of a five-bladed version.

Well wouldn't you know it? It's here. It's in the Co-op. Right next to four-bladed vibrating wet-shave razor David Beckham seems to like so much.

Is it possible to make a six-bladed razor? Surely not ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

An Island Ferry Tale

http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/76223.html
This is a link to an article in today's Glasgow Herald about a new book co-authored by local lad Professor Donald Meek. Entitled The Kingdom of MacBrayne, this now publication is being tipped as 'the definitive history' of Caledonian MacBrayne.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have You Seen This Wee Rascal?


This is Connie, last seen in these parts on Sunday by our neighbour Donna. We were still in Oban at the time of course. Wherever she is - and presuming she is still alive - she's bound to be wet and cold. The weather just now is just awful. We woke up this morning to find a loch where our lawn used to be. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Still no cat

Still no Connie. I don’t know how many times I have been out and about today looking for her. Listen – I know that cats do this from time to time. In fact Joanne reminded me today that she’s gone off on a long ‘vacation’ before. The last time she went away – so Joanne says – she was gone for a week.

I hate this. After the last cat died – Dibble, who came to a messy end in the field opposite when he got taken out by a tractor that was grass cutting – I swore I would never get so attached to any animal. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Anyway, here we are in front of the television, with my Celtic top on, watching Copenhagen V. Celtic in the Champions League. If the Celts win this game they will win their group. That would be quite an achievement.

21.16: Celtic score their first goal. Now it’s only 3 – 1 to Copenhagen. Things are so bad I’ve started plunking away on my guitar, working some more on the current track.

I like being on holiday on Tiree. The reason I mention this is because your first instinct as a Tiree resident is to make for the mainland when you get the chance.

But when I stay here when on holiday I get a taste of what it must feel like – for instance – to retire here.

Carefree. Calm. Serendipitous.

If only I could find my bloody cat.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oban



Ok. So you want to see all the wonderful photographs I took for the blogspot while I was away for a few days in Oban. See above. Yes folks, I'm afraid that's the extent of it. Oban was wet, wet, wet. But then, so was the rest of the country. I must admit though that Oban was not as windy as I had expected. But we decided to cancel our trip down to Glasgow on Sunday because apparently down there the weather really was pretty rough.


So what did we do. Well here's a clue: I had two women with me and it's nearly Christmas.

Well done! Yes, we shopped. And then after that we shopped. And then we shopped a little more.


I must admit, I like a wee bit of the shopping myself, so don't be fooled.


The prize discovery of this trip was the board games Joanne and I played when we were younger. We bagged 1930s and 1940s reproductions of Cluedo and Monopoly. It was great trying to remember the rules in the flat in Oban. We had a great time.


Oh, the innocent days of our youth!


I suppose the highlight entertainment-wise was the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I had been looking forward to seeing this and I was not disappointed. There great action and the new Bond looked super cool and even a little dangerous, something that's been missing since dear old Sean was in the part.


But I must admit I don't enjoy going to the cinema like I used to. I don't know if it's me or my eyesight but I much prefer to watch a good quality DVD.


I must tell you - I was in Argos in Oban and I stood transfixed by a plasma High Definition TV for ages. I have never seen a picture like that ever. More real than life, honest.


Anyway, we are back on the good old Isle of Tiree. But I'm a bit upset. My cat Connie is nowhere to be seen. When we came home this morning, the next door cat was sitting in our kitchen, in the very spot where Connie usually sits. I know cats come back when they're good and ready but the fact is that I'm very fond of Connie and I want her to come home now. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Well, we didn't but we are now ...

In the end we decided not to try for the boat last night. It was wild again but we were and are optimistic we will get away this morning, off to Oban for some R & R. And of course spending!

I'll leave you with this piece of bizarre news: Scotland has just won the Elephant Polo World Championship in Nepal.

Apparently this is the third time we've won it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

To go or not to go ...

Tomorrow - or tonight, we're just not quite sure at this point - the three of us are heading off to Oban to do a little Christmas shopping. We hope to squeeze in a trip to Glasgow as well.

A boat on a Friday night in the winter time on Tiree? What happened was that yesterday's regular sailing was cancelled due to 'adverse weather conditions'. Violent Storm 11, actually.

So a boat - not sure if it's the Lord of the Isle or the Clansman - is coming out to Tiree this morning, going on to Barra and Lochboisdale, and then coming back here this evening.

We think tomorrow's boat - the one on which we're booked - will come in but I just had a look at the forecast for tomorrow and it's talking about 40 mph during the night, calming down to 29 mph as the morning wears on. So now I'm sitting here at 8.20 AM and I'm not sure what to do.

A quick conference with Joanne I think. And of course the pier, just to make sure we can get on tonight.

By the way, I have Google alerts set up to tell me every time a new item featuring the word 'Tiree' appears on the Internet. Every other day I get a false alert because the writer intended to write the word 'tired' and accidentally wrote 'tiree'.