Monday, March 30, 2009

The Final Fundraising Push

Sometimes I wish I hadn't put that countdown timer on the site. Every time I look at it I get a case of the collywobbles. I can't believe the time to leave for Nepal is only days away.

The part of the whole thing I am looking forward to the least is the long flight to Kathmandu. I fly to Heathrow on the 9th. Later that night I fly to Bahrain and a few hours later I fly to Kathmandu. I arrive there some time after 17.00 hours local time. Those guys are about seven hours in front of us so my body clock is bound to be well and truly mixed up.

By the time I'll be heartily sick of planes, that's for sure.

As for my fundraising effort in aid of Sense Scotland, we're just about there. Originally, I had set a target of £2000.00 but this was a very arbitrary figure. I've adjusted it down to £1000.00. This is not defeatism: it just seems a realistic figure. As you can see from the new 'widget' in the sidebar, in terms of hard cash we're almost there. A lot of people here on Tiree have made pledges as opposed to cash donations so for all I know we may be there already.

If you haven't donated there's still time of course!

Sense Scotland is a wonderful charity, providing support to deafblind people and people with behavioural difficulties. I urge you to think if you might possibly donate a pound or two to help these very vulnerable members of our community.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Traigh Bhi, Ceann a' Mhara and St. Patrick's Chapel

Yesterday - Saturday - Joanne and I met up with Caroline and Myra for another stretch of coastal walk along Traigh Bhi, down at Balephuil, all the way over to Ceann a' Mhara. I mentioned to Myra that I had looked for the ruins of St. Patrick's chapel on many occasions but had never found them. Luckily, both Caroline and Myra knew exactly where it was located.

In the 6th century, Tiree provided the monastic community on Iona with grain (hence Tir Iodh, Land of Corn). A number of early monasteries existed on Tiree itself, including this little chapel. We found engraved crosses on two of the stones.

According to the sign which stands nearby the chapel walls were intact until 1898 when two local lads vandalised the site. Legend has it they died soon after.

With this walk Caroline has completed her journey around the coast of Tiree. We went to The Farmhouse to celebrate with hot drinks and sandwiches. Jo and I still have a few walks to go before we can say we've circumnavigated 'the land of corn'.

Today's photographs were taken by Roger McLachlan and F. Leask and are reproduced under a creative commons license.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lost on the Hill/Tiree Trust Open Day/The Pub

Saturday was a good day.

In the morning. Joanne, Caroline and I went for one of our regular Saturday morning coastal walks.  This week the plan was to walk from Hynish over to Balephuil via Ben Hynish. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men ...

First of all, I should have realised that this quite demanding hill walk would be too much for Joanne. With all her recent history of medical upsets it was a sure bet that she would find it very difficult. The trek from Hynish up to Happy Valley was fine. We even had a comedy moment on the way when Caroline found herself walking through a boggy patch and has one of her wellies sucked off. Being a true gentleman I didn't start laughing until I saw that Caroline was alright and that she was, in fact, having a good laugh herself.

But it wasn't long before we began to see Joanne's face turning red with the effort of the climb up to the hill. It was at this point Caroline left us to recce the route above us leaving Joanne and I to slowly make her way up. Trouble was, when we got to the top there was no sign of Caroline. We started trudging onward hoping to come across her but, worryingly, we couldn't see her. Had she taken a route closer to the coast?

We shouted a few times but to no avail. The wind was strong and coming from the north-west and it was sure to be carrying our voices off in all directions. We started to get a little concerned: nearer the coastline there are lots of gullies and inlets. What if Caroline had had an accident? And of course, by this time I'm kicking myself because I don't have her mobile number.

The we heard her, from somewhere behind us. In fact, she was away back over at that first little summit where she'd left us to go check out the lay of the land. We shouted back, waved our arms, jumped up and down, but it was obvious she wasn't seeing us. She disappeared back down the hill, out of sight.

We made our way back and - thankfully - bumped into her. She'd indeed gone scouting and had come back to report minutes later but we must have taken slightly different routes and passed each other by not very much. In the interim Caroline had been all over the place looking for us, even going back in the direction of the car, perhaps thinking Joanne had abandoned.

Which is what had to happen anyway. Joanne just couldn't go on so we parted company at this point, Caroline heading off to finish the trek across Ben Hynish.

Then, for Joanne and I, it was home for a quick shower as we were going to the Tiree Trust Open Day at An Talla.

A number of local groups were giving presentations about what they were up to along with a number of off-island groups and agencies. We were a wee bit late in getting there - only minutes really - but we arrived to see and hear the Tiree toddlers from the Mainly Music group giving us a few wee songs.  After Tish MacArthur gave her welcome and introduction, pupils from the school gave us their visions of the future for Tiree.

During and after the free lunch we were able to wander about to chat to the local groups, view the art competition entries and take part in an interactive quiz. There were prizes of iPod shuffles for the art competition winners and then this very successful and well attended event drew to a close.

We had a great time and came away feeling, once again, that there are great things in store for Tiree in the near future.

Then, that evening, we did something we haven't done in years: we went to the pub. We got Sam's Taxi (220420) to come over for us and we were over at The Lean-to for a good few hours. I bumped into a few people I haven't seen in a long time. Michael Holliday and I reminisced about the time we performed The Jam's That's Entertainment at my 50th birthday party. Maybe we should slot that into the next Defender's gig ... ?

Please support my efforts to raise funds for when I trek to Everest Base Camp in April 2009.  Donate online right now at Thank you!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Roamin' in the Gloamin'

Last night at about 7 I went out with the camera to catch a video of the hazy mist (or 'gloaming') that was settling over the fields round about us. It was so still, not as much as a breeze, and the birds were singing peacefully. Boy, was I shocked when I discovered a strange creature roamin' in the gloamin'!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Wee Ramble Through Cornaigbeg

I'm afraid I'm rambling as I ramble. But it was too nice a day not to post a wee video, even if it's mostly of my ugly mug!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reap The Wild Wind

Last night Jo and I went to An Talla for the meeeting hosted by the trust and three representatives of ScottishPower Renewables, the company who propose building a .5GW wind farm close to Tiree. This could see turbines on more than 1,200 sq km of sea.

The meeting was very well attended and the questions put to the hosts were numerous, sensible and well thought out. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half and we came away from it feeling positive about the project. Of course, it's very early days yet but the overwhelming mood of the meeting - as far as we could tell - was positive. A full report of the meeting will appear in the next An Tirisdeach.

To read more about the proposed development, click here.

Please support my efforts to raise funds for when I trek to Everest Base Camp in April 2009. Visit my site - - for details or donate online right now at Thank you!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Video Blog: A peaceful morning on Ben Hough

Chilling out this morning on Ben Hough.

Please remember to visit If you've already done so, thanks!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Press and Journal Article

Here's a link to a short article in today's Press and Journal about my Everest Base Camp Trek.

Please support my efforts to raise funds for when I trek to Everest Base Camp in April 2009.  Visit my site - - for details or donate online right now at Thank you!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Stuffed Again

Saturday morning Jo and I got up nice and early and headed out the door with a spring in our step.  As usual on a Saturday morning we met up with a couple of friends to walk another section of Tiree's coastline.  We started out at Crossapol, walking to Scarinish by way of the beach as far as we could before taking to the busy road (it was boat-time) for the final stretch.

I told you yesterday that we usually head down to Farmhouse Cafe for our post-walk snack.  As we'd been there the previous night, however, we decided to check out the recently re-opened Cobbled Cow at the Rural Centre.  The Cow was recently taken over by Elaine Williams, owner of the very popular restaurant The Elephant's End , situated over at Gott Bay. 

We were impressed by the new menu.  Nothing outlandish or too fancy here.  Good grub and value for money.  We both decided to have our lunch there and then and ordered burger and chips.  Not just chips; hand cut by the chef, Elaine.

We drank our beverages and read our newspapers while we waited for the food to arrive.  And when it did, my, our eyes widened and our jaws dropped.  What a mountain of food.  Not one burger on the plate but two! More than this, they were Tiree produced Nan Burgers from the MacLean butcher shop in Scarinish.  And those hand cut chips?  Jo took one look at them and said "just like my Daddy used to make them".  High praise indeed!

The meal was great.  It was so great that we didn't have another meal for the rest of the day.  I'm writing this on Sunday morning and I'm still not hungry! - and that's what 'good grub' is all about.

Please support my efforts to raise funds for when I trek to Everest Base Camp in April 2009.  Visit my site - - for details or donate online right now at Thank you!