so skye then

The eye seems to be bedding back in quite nicely. Checked the map and headed for the Isle of Skye. The idea behind this was to make a change from the summer norm where we all congregate at Mum’s in Caithness; so I booked a cottage on the southern part of Skye at a place called Ferrindonald. Gemma’s boyfriend was unable to come because his dad broke his wrist mountain boarding and he needs help looking after the kids until his wrist is mobile again.

Lots of debate about whether to take the Loch Lomond route or head North on the A9 and work across. A warning from John by text convinced us to do the A9 thing. So it was the usual route as far as just above the House Of Bruar, and then across via Spean Bridge. Twisting and winding through the mountains past several lochs, which was stunning to look at but made demanding driving after a long run up the motorway. The last section on the way to the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh was particularly beautiful, especially with the ambience added by OK Computer on the car CD player.

The new car made the journey really well: its first big test. I’ve definitely missed the responsiveness of a petrol engine, and the two litre Zetec seems to pull the estate hulk with grace and elegance. I’m still a little worried that it might be running a little cool. Can’t decide whether it’s just the way the temperature gauge is calibrated.

Skye is surprisingly close to the mainland. Left past the dustbins after the Ferrindonald sign. Very close to the sea. Met by Mum at the bottom of the drive directing us to the right place. Then a quick tour of the house and allocation of bedrooms. Sky plus in the lounge. “I have to get me one of those.” A few beers and some catch-up conversations, and then bed.

View from the living room window is of mountains shrouded in mist across the sea on the mainland.

Sunday we didn’t go very far. No-one was up for very much driving after the run up on Saturday, so we just went and did some shopping in Broadford and had a barbecue back at the cottage. The barbecue was some cheap Asda job that I’d brought up with me. It turned out to take more assembling than I’d imagined, but in end it did the job remarkably well. I’ve never known quorn burgers and sausages be so popular. Something about burning meat or fake meat in an outdoor context appeals to the atavistic urges in us all, I think. Something like that anyway.

Sunday evening we watched Lost In Translation in the newly launched free Film 4, in their “fifty films to see before you die” season. A subtle and original take on the whole mid-life crisis thing, I thought.

Monday was the first proper excursion of the holiday. The aim was to have a look at Portree, with it being the capital of Skye and everything. The journey up there convinced me of why people say that this is such an amazing place. Dramatic mountain formations against brooding expanses of sky. Beautiful, peaceful lochs alternating with dramatic seascapes.

Portree itself was a disappointingly drab little tourist trap.

Next we went to the Aros visitor centre to surf the gift shop, walk in the slightly spooky woods and eat potato wedges. There’s also a small art gallery upstairs that’s worth a brief visit.

On up to Staffin to see if we could find a sandy beach. Lots of stunning views on the way up there – old man of Storr and waterfall. The sand at Staffin proved illusive because the tide was in. Bought some very expensive petrol at a quaint little shop and headed back.