Friday, 29 April 2016

Colonsay, Tuesday - last day

On Monday morning, still without Herself, we went for a good circular walk from the cottage.  We passed a dilapidated old sawmill in the woods.  Lots of old corrugated iron, which I always love to photograph!

Colonsay, Monday

Monday morning dawned with Tilly hobbling around on three legs.  She had a mystery injury which meant she spent the next two days lying on the sofa.  Poor little scrap.  We couldn't identify the cause of her lameness, and without a vet on the island, we were a bit hopeless.  However, we managed to get her some pain relief after a liaison between the vet in Oban and the doctor's surgery on the island, who keep small animal medication, which is dispensed with agreement between the two.  (We have now established she must have picked up a thorn in her paw, and after a visit to our own vet at home, and a course of antibiotics, she is now gadding around on all four legs again).

Without our little sidekick alongside, Mr Gaucho and I braved a very strong, icy wind (still some sunshine) for a walk behind the dunes of Kiloran Bay and back along the beach.  It was a good walk, but not the same without Tilly pottering about between us.
We needed to thaw out following our walk, so we drove to Scalasaig for a cup of tea, and cake of course, before going home to our little invalid.  
Hot on the heels of the island's book festival, they launched their Festival of Spring on Monday,  It is three weeks of wonderful things - events, workshops, walks and talks.  Another good reason to visit this brilliant little island again next year!

Colonsay, Sunday

On Sunday morning, we drove over to the island's west coast (takes about five minutes), to walk across to the beaches of Ardskenish.  We parked by the airfield (yes, you can fly into Colonsay, if your aircraft is small enough) and walked across one or two of the golf links' greens.  I have never played a game of golf in my life, but even I can appreciate the challenge of putting on these greens, negotiating the strong winds, rabbit and sheep poo, the broken limpet shells, indentations from cows' hooves, worm casts, and other bits of debris which have worked their way up from the beach. Bravo for those who rise to the challenge and triumph!  Actually, their website is worth a read
One of things I love most about these wild, far flung coastal shores are the colours.  When the sun shines, the sea is sapphire blue.  On grey days or in more gentle sunshine, the colours soften and soothe the soul.  

Colonsay, Saturday

Set out in the 1930s, the gardens of Colonsay House extend to about 20 acres.  There is an extensive range of rhododendrons and exotic trees and plants from around the world.  The outer woodland garden is overgrown, without the workforce of pre-war times to keep it in check, but it is still a magical place to wander through, especially with the spring sunshine filtering through the trees.
Growing in the boggy ground either side of the burn, which runs through the gardens, are these large, handsome yellow arums, Lysichiton americanus.  
The timing of our holiday on the island was tied in to the Colonsay Book Festival.  I went to two talks. On Saturday afternoon I heard the nature writer, Jim Crumley, talk about wolves, beavers, and eagles.  His little book Hare is blissful and I bought one other in his series of four, Barn Owl.  Before his talk I was lucky enough to chat to him for a while.  He kindly signed my two books, so they are even more cherished now!  On Sunday afternoon I listened to James Naughtie (past presenter of Radio 4's Today programme) talking about his new novel, Paris Spring, which I bought, read and can thoroughly recommend. Both talks were excellent.  The dates for next year's book festival are 29 and 30 April, so that's in the 2017 diary already!
Another good day on the island.

Colonsay, Friday

Another bright and sunny day.  The weather was being very kind to us, and with blue above I walked into the woodland surrounding Colonsay House, which stopped on the other side of the track from our cottage.  I had spied a glamorous-looking magnolia tree and wanted to take a closer look.
On the edge of the burn running through the gardens, a grey wagtail bobbed about on the rocks.
The OS map showed a short walk up to Loch an Sgoltaire, which has a series of small islands in the middle, one sporting ruins of pre-16th century fortifications.  As we walked along the track, the spicy, delicious coconuty perfume of the gorse flowers wafted over us.  
We made the mistake of going off piste, once we had reached the end of the track.  The next hour was spent trying to pick our way across open hillocky moorland, through endless brambles, woods without any signs of previous human presence, and scrambling over old dry stone walls in order to get back down on to the lane. It all looked very do-able on the map but in reality, it wasn't!  But we did it, in the end.  Mr Gaucho was pouring blood from scratches and gashes to his knee and torn trousers from a tumble or two. Tilly picked up a thorn in her paw which made itself manifest a few days later, but other than that, we survived!
We rewarded our triumph over the obstacles we had encountered with tea and cake in the little cafe next to Colonsay House.  Apart from good things to eat, they also sell hot water bottles!