It’s New Years Eve and it has been a lovely sunny day for a trip to the other side of the mountains from here and a walk in Glen Seilesdair. There were Sea Eagles on the way, about 150 Barnacle Geese on the beach at Gribbun and Otters and I played my John Denver CD and ‘Rocky Mountain High’ which reminds me of my love of Mull and moving here. We have family with us for a few days and it’s all very colourful and festive around the house. We are as always eating really well with Joys fabulous cooking and good wine. Our boys have also just found lots of old photos of Joy and I [when I had hair] and pictures which I can’t remember any of us taking of the house when it was being constructed. I must now create a file for our guests to see as they are always asking us about the house build etc. Have a super New Year everyone and go to Rome off season if you get the chance. It’s romantic and uplifting like my beautiful Island.
The forecast was pretty bad for Mull and ferry sailings as we got back very late after setting off from Rome at 5pm in the morning and after numerous forms of transport we arrived by train. Having also collected our eldest son Timmy and his friend David at Gatwick we arrived in Oban for the late 9.30pm ferry. The weather in fact was pretty calm for the crossing but at the house I could not get the boiler working and I was blamed for not leaving all the heating on while we were away. However and though I was very tired, I got up at around 5am and found the fault, though I got no words of thanks from the angry mob here! We were all up around 10am and four sea eagles were above the house yelping and displaying with legs outstretched, as you do if you are a sea eagle with big talons to show off !! I think that unlike some they know I am eagle friendly and so it was just like watching your own wildlife ballet, on high. They just needed John Denvers ‘Eagle and the Hawk’ song as background music.
Well, Joy, myself and our youngest son Sam have just got back from our weeks holiday in Rome. How wonderful city life seemed there and I have often said to my customers that the perfect life would be to live somewhere very close to wild nature like Mull for 9 months and then have 3 months in a beautiful city or cities !! Just to get those human needs out of the system. Rome fulfills all of those ambitions as it has to be the most fascinating, stylish and historic city in Europe for me so far. The whole week was also sunny and though I am not religious we were with thousands of other people in St Peters Square to hear and see the Pope give his Christmas message in all the languages. It was all very atmospheric. Our flat is owned by Luca and it was spacious and stylish and I guess he has an artistic nature like myself. It was spacious and emptied onto a narrow cobbled street and the whole area was brimming with enticing little shops selling everything you could want. We ate very Italian and drank much the same, walked miles and miles up hills and down alleyways to visit palaces and see fabulous art in all its forms and although I am inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, our target in Rome was to see all of the Caravaggio’s. I loved every minute of Rome and its happy, friendly, stylish and exuberant people. We are running out of great cities and islands to visit and so what next?
I want to thank lots of people for all the lovely Christmas cards and emails that have arrived here and I apologise for not replying to most of those sending cards but we don’t of course have their addresses other than those of people who come here regularly. It’s quite windy here today but all in all everyone on the ferry yesterday said that it had been the best ever weather this year and so we hope lots of happy visitors remembering sunny days and wild creatures, will come back again in 2013 and maybe tell their friends about these magical Islands bobbing out here in the Hebridean Sea. All of our wild friends also had good weather to raise their young and so we should have lots of them returning too. Hopefully they will also tell their friends to follow them north in Spring. Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year to everyone.
It was a simply wonderful cloudless sunrise and morning today for a trip to Oban. On the upper deck of the ferry I nestled out of the wind to look toward Oban and south down the Firth of Lorne toward Jura and apart from looking stunning as always it was quite warm in the sun. On the way to the ferry I said yet again, because I can’t help it !! ”What a fabulous run it is from the house down Loch na Keal compared with my walk to work when I was a young man in industrial Sheffield”. Everyone gets that big big chance like I did but you have to be brave and want it badly enough. Most people can’t handle those things and so they end up packed together with the rest of the world, on the tube or waiting in traffic and wasting their lives away and that big chance that they hadnt got the courage to commit too just trickles occasionally through their minds as everyone suffers on the tube not talking and then piles off, or the traffic thins and you are on your way. But it’s just not the same. Believe me it’s not the same. This is your natural environment. Return to it if you are brave like you once were, or want freedom, enough !!
It’s been a very tranquil and calm day here with lots of great northern divers around, ravens making a lot of noise and a number of kestrels. At 3.30 in the afternoon and looking from my office it is a golden landscape and a calm mercury sea stretching out to Iona. The Island of Inch Kenneth looks green and gold and beyond and on the horizon the blackness of southern Mull and Iona. Rising above that for miles are solid grey blue clouds topped with what looks like whispy grey hair and golden sky behind. The visual effects from here regularly force me into these poetic descriptions of what I see, but what I see I never quite feel happy about adequately describing because its impossible to convey. I am also pretty sure that a painting would be the same and never quite make the artist happy that they have captured it.
Today was what you call wintry !! Cold, drizzly and windy but I saw a male hen harrier pretty close on Loch na Keal and an otter rolling around on a rocky boulder just offshore. Everything today seemed in black and white and was probably like Iceland is in Spring !! My fingers were numb while I was trying to find oysters but I got one or two and enjoyed them back home with a liitle Tabasco and lemon juice. The bottom line here in winter is that you feel like you are thousands of miles from anywhere, as ocean, islands, towering mountains and sea cliffs wander off into a misty distance, with no one else in sight. Its great to get the ever changing days and feel wild with other wild creatures. Like it must have felt thousands of years ago here.
It’s all about atmosphere, colours, sunsets and stunning visual effects at this time of year and I know I may have said this before but from my office right now the whole scene is like a Turner painting of light and colour and of course above all atmosphere. The other day I was driving down to Salen and a male hen harrier lifted off the landscape and soared between golden grassland, the sea below and snow dappled peaks of Benmore and it was visually stunning. I must enter the wildlife photographer of the year in 2013 because if I get slicker with the new camera I should have a few top pics to put forward. Thing is that I did a bit of photography as a former graphic designer and I dont have the lust for it that is needed I dont think. It is glorious here right now. The sun is low above the horizon and blazing in. The sea is a dappled gold and black and distant Iona is a hazy bluish grey. Inch Kenneth is black as soot and the distant 1,000ft sea cliffs of the wilderness are topped with golden clouds. Off to the extreme left Benmore and its adjacent mountains look like Greenland.
If we can get to February with much this same weather the winter will be over here. The sun is high in the sky again and it can be great. When we moved to Mull in 1979 I recall all the tradesmen working on our hotel sitting on the lawn having their lunch and beautiful Tobermory Bay in the background. The rest of the country was snowy and freezing and Michael Fish came on the radio proclaiming that and so I got onto the BBC and was immediately connected with Michael and explained that I was just going down to Tobermory in my shirt sleeves and that the bad forecast was not helpful for these islands as potential visitors were booking their holdays at this time. He explained that Mull had its own climate and was difficult to forecast, but he would see what he could do. On the lunchtime news he came on mentioning me going down to Tob in my shirt sleeves, so good for him. I wish more people had phoned up this spring and summer when we had the best weather we have ever had here.
Lovely weather again here with star filled skys and a cloudless day today. Yesterday we attended the local Scottish wildlife Trust day out at the Beaver reintroduction site at Knapdale with some friends and it was a really inetresting day with people knowing their stuff about Beavers alright. As we waited for the Mull ferry to Oban an otter came ashore just below us and we watched him with others for about 20 minutes. I personally learned a lot about Beavers on the day but we had to get back to catch the 6pm ferry to Mull and really needed another hour for it to get a little darker and the best chance of seeing them. No matter, if you enjoy beautiful places like this, every day can be an adventure and I look forward to one day being on the trail of Wolves and maybe Lynx in Scotland. It will happen, as governments grasp that such experiences are being sought after by Ecotourists around the world and that there is of course now money it for countries lucky enough to still have wild ceraures in wild and beautiful places like this.