Island Traditions…

The Happy Farmer and I waved goodbye to the last of our visiting relatives on Saturday. On Sunday we headed to Machir Bay for a walk along the shore. It was a very warm, cloudy day, but even on cloudy days Islay does not disappoint. The colours in the waves and the gentle roar of the breakers on the shore were both soothing and energising. As we headed home along the winding single track road it felt as if the clock was turned back by a good fifty years when we met a tractor and trailer from yesteryear trundling along. The tractor had been lovingly restored to her former glory. A trailer at the rear, filled with peats. The Happy Farmer’s old friend was hauling peat back from the moss. Just like old times, in true island style,  as the tractor came alongside the car, engines were switched off, the tractor ground to a halt, whilst farmer and friend had a good old ‘hearty blether’. The sight of an old tractor pulling a trailer filled with peats used to be a very familiar one of the Happy Farmer’s yesteryear. When I first came to the island far more roads used to be blocked whilst cars, tractors, lorries and vans were stopped for a quick catch up during a busy day, it was part of island living. Community spirit ran strong. The peats on this trailer were not for whisky, not for an illicit still hidden away in the caves at Kilchoman, these peats are to keep the home fires burning, long into the winter months, when the storms from the Atlantic hit our shores.

The pottery has been bursting at the seams. So many lovely happy visitors calling by. For some it is  their first visit, others are welcomed back as old friends, their familiar faces popping through the door as if they were just here yesterday. Monday is my ‘day off’, but with the low-lying mist and a day of drizzle and mizzle, it turned into a ‘manic Monday’. By the end of play I had baked two banana loaves, two trays of chocolate brownies, and two dozen scones. I spent a couple of hours washing up in the pottery kitchen for Charlotte who runs the pottery on Mondays. Island living can have its stressful moments. Yesterday they were good stressful moments, as beautiful pieces of art were created, tea, coffee and cake consumed, by the bucket load, literally, going on the baking I have been doing. Charlotte had a huge cheery smile throughout, and the kitchen banter was good. The frenetic buzz and vibe of a busy pottery is both challenging and rewarding.

At the end of the day I went for a long walk through the woods, past Lily Loch and Loch Ballygrant, with youngest. She pointed out the beautiful wild orchids growing freely and abundantly among the Butterbur. The leaves of the Butterbur were used to wrap the home-made butter up in once upon a time.

Until next time….

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