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(12) Back to Skye

Back to Skye

It was summer time again, I had been in Wiltshire for nearly a year and was missing my old life and friends on Skye. I’d kept in touch with most of my chums from college and on visits regularly bored them to death with tales of how wonderful a place it was and how one day they must see for themselves.

Finally one succumbed and I set off with Marigold (best not ask how he got that name) on the long drive up.

It was great to see old faces and visit old haunts but Katie was changed.

She’d obviously moved on with her life and I soon got tired hearing all about the bloody world cup every time we met up. So one evening we decided to take a drive over to the west side of the island.

Our road trip took us up to Dunvegan castle the ancient pile of clan McLeod and various points north and west ending up at the lighthouse in the picture above just as the sun was going down.

Next stop was Greenland and the sunset over the Atlantic was worth the price of the admission alone.

By the time we set off back towards Portree it was getting very dark

Fiery immolation’s R’ us

Skye’s a big place and we totally underestimated how long it would take to drive back As fancy things like street lighting hadn’t arrived there yet the feeble headlights in Marigold’s Vauxhall didn’t exactly inspire confidence in our ability to arrive back in one piece.

Eventually we turned off the road through a small hedge into a gently sloping field parked the car and tried to kip down for the night.

I got the short straw and with it the front seat, the downward slope meant I had the handbrake pressing into my side as I lay across the front seats and I was soon sorely tempted to release it just a tiny wee bit.

I can only assume one of the more benign local deity’s stayed my hand as I spent a rather restless night in not inconsiderable discomfort

The next morning dawned bright and early and as I rose bleary eyed and not too bushy tailed you can imagine my surprise to be confronted by a sea of not green as expected but blue as far as the eye could see.

Instead of the fields we assumed we had parked in we found ourselves 30 feet from a cliff top with a 100 foot drop onto the rocks below

Releasing that handbrake would have shortened our life expectancy rather dramatically.


The cover image was provided by one of our “lifer’s” who took a trip up to the misty isle a couple of years ago and captured some rather stunning images which I feel sum the place up quite nicely.

You can see them on his website:

Type it in exactly as written as there are several similarly named sites

Look in the gallery section for Isle of Skye to get a feel for some of the more unspoilt area’s the island and surrounding are has to offer.

The other galleries are worth a look as well.

The builders I’d not been in Wiltshire long when right out of the blue I got an unexpected phone call.

Archie had moved down to London and found himself a job with some builders doing house renovations and suchlike

Having spent his life up to then in a sleepy croft the hustle and bustle of the 70’s London made his head spin.

I decided it was incumbent on me to introduce him to some of the finer things in life which in those days involved an evening in a spit and sawdust followed by a trip to the latest craze the post pub curry house.

In those days the nation had only just begun to take to this new-fangled foreign food and decent emporiums were few and far between.

Luck was on our side and we found a newly opened establishment within staggering distance of his local.

First time we visited I chose a Vindaloo which for some reason is much hotter in London than it is in Nottingham, seems to be a regional thing these proved eye watering but nothing we couldn’t handle

Next time we went and eager to demonstrate my manliness I immediately homed in on a dish I was unfamiliar with called a Phal, (which translates as something like bonkers hot) not wanting to appear unworldly Archie did the same

The owner looked at me as if I was mad and virtually ordered us to choose something else, maybe it was the drink talking or just the challenge but we stuck to our guns, with a pitying roll of the eyes he went to place the order

I’ve eaten many many curries in all parts of the country since but nothing has ever come close to this experience. Of what followed I only have three snippets of memory although those snippets are forever burned into my brain.

The dishes arrived and I heard a kind of strangled squawk from over the table followed quickly by triple vision

I’ve scoured the medical journals from that day to this and found no similar occurrence.

The next thing I remember was waking the following morning to a distant if higher pitched than normal but still vaguely familiar highland accent….

It seemed Archie had found religion

It sounded like he was appealing to a rather unsympathetic deity if my ears were to be believed.


“Och nooooooooo!!!!”

From that day forth the local chippy got a boost in patronage.

I was regaled with this story when I went to visit Archie one weekend

It was around the time that the classic sitcom Fawlty towers first hit our screens. For anyone wondering where John Cleese got inspiration for the episode the builders I might be able to offer a clue.

So as not to perpetuate any stereotypes I’ll just say that nearly all of Archie’s new workmates came from a faraway land where Patrick or Micheal seemed to be the moniker of choice.

One day they were given a job to knock through a wall in a terraced house in west London, the foreman opened the rectangular plan and rotated it to fit on the rectangular kitchen table. Pointing to the marked wall they set too with great gusto. After a morning of hard work the wall was gone and they retired to the local hostelry for some refreshment.

Able to spot a business opportunity when he saw one the landlord had laid in extra stocks of Guinness which our heros did their level best to deplete as fast as he replenished

Returning to work sometime later the relaxed mood quickly evaporated as they neared what was now little more than a pile of rubble.

Like the genie in a puff of smoke his workmates seemed to disappear into thin air.

It didn’t take long to realise the foreman had turned the plan through 90° and they’d knocked the supporting wall down.

It seems no one was around to witness the homeowners reaction when he returned from work to be confronted with his now modified (£2-3m by todays reckoning) abode.

Blinking computers

Stella and I recently attended a fascinating talk on blinking and computer use (OK it wasn’t THAT fascinating but we don’t get out much)

Basically a woman was asked to read a passage of text on a computer screen then dictate the same text to the tester.

She was filmed doing this for 30 seconds each time and we the audience were invited to count how many times she blinked each 30 secs.

Firstly she read the text out loud and we counted approx. 20 blinks in the 30 seconds recorded

She was then asked to read the text off the screen to herself.

We counted one blink in the 30 secs

So the moral of the story is if you spend time on any form of computer or tablet educate yourself to blink at regular intervals.

This is not an easy thing to learn but educating your eyes to blink regularly Stop every 5 mins and practice blinking maybe 5 –10 times

Blue light and tablet’s

Continuing the above theme of blinking when using a computer we’ve been having a look at the whole “blue tint” industry which has grown up around tablet/ipad/kindle type use.

So far I must admit I’m pretty unconvinced by what I’ve seen and read.

Firstly we have the “special” blue tints especially designed to relieve fatigue from prolonged daytime computer use.

Sorry but the evidence that this works is so far wholly unconvincing.

If I see anything that changes my mind I will eat humble pie and correct in a future newsletter.

Using a tablet at bedtime, now here there is more convincing evidence that such use stimulates brain activity

So if you are having trouble sleeping try reducing your use half an hour before sleep. Let us know of your experiences and I’ll add them in a future issue.

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