Yes, we are all still here! The summer has been very busy, as usual, and so our ‘weekly’ blog writing had to be put aside for...a short while...
Much has happened since May, and I (Rachel), will try to summarise the highlights.
In June, we went to Scotland for our annual two week holiday. It is seemingly impossible for us to go anywhere for any amount of time without visiting islands, as we stayed on Eigg, Muck and Rum in West Scotland.
After a week of walking on Eigg and winding up our fitness levels, we climbed the Cuillin Ridge on Rum during the second week.
After battling persistent midgies on the long and arduous ascent up Sgurr nan Gillan, we claimed our first summit of the day and watched Askeval and Halival emerge out of the cloud, their peaks looming above us. We were in and out of the mist all day, but when, eventually, the sun burnt off the fog, the views of the ridge and the valley below were spectacular.
We climbed the six peaks in 8 ½ hours, (including losing our bearings slightly on the descent of Ainshavel), and were all fairly relieved when the small outline of Dibidil bothy came into view, and we put the stove on for a much-needed beaker of tea.
We returned to our own, now sun-baked, island to discover that we had missed a heat-wave whilst intrepidly exploring in the highlands, and it had apparently just left, (this seems to be an annual pattern), as July was, for the most part, inescapably wet and foggy. The weather did not stop the swimmers in the family from braving the artic waters almost daily with friends who were as ‘keen’ as we were.
In August, after diligently watching the weather forecasts and willing the wind to turn to the east, dad seized the opportunity and set off in his kayak for ireland. He started at an absurd hour in the depths of the night, and we all stumbled, bleary-eyed, down to Solfach to wish him a safe trip. The next day, after a tiring 14 hour paddle, he arrived in Wicklow, having been met by a friend, and after being treated to a curry, he got a ferry back to Hollyhead, having satisfied his adventure-craving for one year, anyhow.
Mum also took to the sea, exchanging a kayak for a wet-suit, and set out to swim Enlli sound for a second time, hoping to touch land at the other side. She completed the swim in 1 hour 23 minutes and became the first woman, (mad enough), to swim across the sound.
Ben and I did not escape the insanity, as we participated in the first island triathalon, along with mum, Rich.E, Gwyn and Carwyn. Inevitably, the weather took a turn for the worst about an hour before we had planned on starting, but we were determined to continue and ended up swimming in pitching waters, our ‘target’ buoy bobbing out of sight behind the waves, and running and cycling face-on into horizontally squalling wind and rain. Nevertheless, everyone finished; shivering and soaked, but alive and all headed up to Ty Pellaf for a mug of hot chocolate and warm bath.
Ben and I, along with Rich.E , run around the island every week, endeavouring to improve our personal times.
Hence, the summer passed in a blurr of visitors, farming activities and mad epics. September came round all too quickly and Ben and I were back in our classrooms. I have now started my A levels and Ben, now in year 10, is continuing his GCSE’s, having to be pinned to his chair by his long-suffering teacher every time a rare bird is announced on the VHF radio. Dad has now started his fencing work, and has recruited a temporary ‘slave,’ Tim O’hare, for a couple of weeks, who is a great help.
One of our recent challenges was erecting mum’s newly- aquired polytunnel. The foundations were painstaklingly marked out by mum and dad, and then, armed with shovels and pick-axes, we all joined forces to dig the holes and trenches for the base-plates.
It took the better part of two days to raise the skeleton of the polytunnel, and, a week later, the wind had died down enough to attempt the plastic.
I was absent during this phase but am told that it took the combined efforts of dad, mum, Ben, and Tim to prevent it from taking off with all four clinging on.
It was eventually finished and was still standing the following morning after the night’s gales.
Mum and I went to West Dean College for a week in September. Mum did a basket course, and I did a fused glass jewellery course; we both returned full of enthusiasm.
Dad continues to take stunning pictures of the heavens on clear nights.
And so, we are all now starting to adjust to our daily winter routine, and, as the days get shorter and colder, the wood burner is in use once again. Hopefully, we will be more diligent with our blog writing and there will be an update before next May...