Thursday, 29 October 2009

More About Skye

Could we have known that in May we were about to enjoy the best weather of the year? This year I have become acutely aware of how short summer is. I like all of the seasons. They make sense to me, but summer is so eagerly anticipated, expectations are high. Spring is the teaser and then it's time to stock-take and update your outdoor seating and barbeque equipment. Whatever you do, don't save this stuff for the perfect balmy evening, get out there and burn something while you can. Also, just because the weather forecasters tell us it's going to be a long, hot summer, doesn't mean it will be. And, just because last summer was wet and we all felt like we were robbed doesn't mean some universal law of fairness will deliver a scorcher this time around.

We were lulled into premature hot summer excitement when we had a couple of really hot days at Glenbrittle. Our tent-dwelling neighbours were returning from conquering nature and geology looking decidedly drained and sweaty. I put their pathological unfriendliness down to a preoccupation with personal clamminess and an ability to focus only on achieving a summit whilst forgetting even the most basic of social niceties, such as a simple 'Morning' when you happen to be sharing the same tiny patch of this awesome planet.

We started to encounter midges in the evenings and worked on our strategies for keeping them off us and out of the trailer. But when we arrived at Loch Greshornish we were encouraged to hear that the blustery wind was keeping them away. Hurrah! Unfortunately that same blustery wind made it impossible to sit outside, let alone barbeque or enjoy our stylish new outdoor furniture.

No problem because it was at this time that I became firmly hooked on listening to Radcliffe and Maconie on Radio 2 in the evenings. They play a fine mixture of new releases with classic old stuff, including a generous helping of the cool stuff from the seventies and eighties. Mark and Stuart have a great, dry banter going on, even if Mark does sometimes sound a bit fed up or bored with his co-presenter. They know their music too. Then there is "The Chain", an ongoing, unbroken sequence of connected songs which members of the audience call in to suggest. The links can be as obvious or tenuous as you like as long as the chosen record is quality.

There's more but I don't think I can do justice to "This just in", or the live chat and music sessions. It's just exciting sometimes to hear something that you haven't heard for years, that doesn't get played on the programmes with their play lists handed to them by their producers. It's good for the soul to be reminded that you used to love this song or dance to that one, especially if you're looking out of the window, across a loch and watching the light change.

And while I'm plugging things I like I can recommend Cafe Arriba in Portree on the road that winds down towards the harbour. It is bright and jolly and the food is prepared freshly. There are loads of daily specials including plenty of imaginative veggie choices. For that reason this is a most superior cafe. We were about to embark on a journey where our lunch options would invariably end up being a cheese and onion toasted sandwich if we were lucky, or a bag of crisps if we weren't. I kid you not.

Our access to the internet was getting as scarce as a decent and nutritionally sound lunch. We had hoped that Cafe Arriba would have WiFi, it looked like the sort of place that would and we would have happily whiled away some time communing with the world at large and knocking back the coffees. However it didn't and, after peering into the windows of every cafe, pub and hotel without any luck we finally spotted a sign that led us to a kind of village hall with craft market and internet access. That's a rocking combination in my opinion. For a tiny donation we were given a choice of passwords to try and left to our own devices in the balcony-cum-mezzanine. And naturally I bought a hand-knitted scarf too.

Of course our phone signals were equally miss and miss and we would occasionally drive into a zone and start beeping as two day old messages made it through the ether. In time we would become more and more comfortable with feeling disconnected from everyone and everything, but not yet.


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