Saturday 08 August 2020
An exquisite day. A heron is stealthily stalking the shore. A balletic bird and a frequent visitor. Since we came out of total lockdown in the middle of July, the roads and seas are busy as never before. Ships, kayaks, paddle boards, cyclists, ferries, walkers, dogs.
Wordsworth’s idealised and overly romantic sonnet, ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ (one of a bag of sonnets I have memorised) comes to me:
Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Smokeless air: London then … I don’t think so. But it was that line ‘Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples’ that prompted my recollection. However, the view from Westminster Bridge simply cannot compete with the Lynn of Lorne and I am intimate with both. The Wordsworths visited Scotland more than once and Dorothy wrote the best-selling travel book, Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland 1803, which you probably have never heard of; she had a brother to promote. They mainly walked from Cumbria, with the occasional ride on a cart and were frequently drenched, we all know how that works. In fact it was a cold, wet slog and they occasionally begged to be put up in filthy places with sullen landlords. They did not come to Lismore but certainly visited Inverary, Dalmally and Tyndrum and then the through Perthshire to Edinburgh. An astonishing book. Oh and they often went up mountains after a hard day on inadequate roads. Just for the sheer joy of it.
After three months of utter quietude in a Lismore I have never known before, suddenly the Highlands and Islands are destination superdesirable. Those who would be in Europe are staycationing. The North End ferry (the Lismore) is running almost continuously. I’m not keen on this busyness. I know it has to happen so people can make a living, but I am mourning the quietude. I am not the only one. Also missing the miracle of never having to make decisions about what to do and where to go, beyond where shall I walk or cycle today.
Yoga on the decking first thing. A luxury. Then a swim and play on my board. The sea is silky and soothing. Two paddle boarders, despite having the entire sea, come in very close! Then, as I was drying off in the conservatory, two kayakers stare seemingly fascinated by a woman drying herself in the sun. Do they think I am blind? I wave. They look sheepish. Oars start again.
H (short for Husband) is away at 9 Craignich, his croft, mending a gate with Archie MacColl. It was rained off yesterday. Archie is helpfulness walking with a large side order of expertise. H is grateful. If you look carefully at that strainer on the left, you will see it is now most secure but could only be buried after they removed a huge stone. Over the centuries Liosaich have spent a lot of time removing stones.
Afterwards we biked to Balure road end and walked through Bailuacraich Farm and into the field before the Broch, staying close to the high coast looking for a way down to the raised beach which we found but had to climb up again as it was too overgrown. We then walked under the Broch and into Balnagown where H showed me a fence, now collapsed, which he had put up in the late seventies. As a child, until he went to Oban High and beyond, he spent his summers here as his mother, Morag MacCormick, was born and brought up at the Mill. Eventually we turned towards Balnagown Loch and north again through Balure, passing ruins which must have been heavenly for children to play in, and into Bailuacraich through the cutest gate, wondering who made it and kept it so. I hope someone will tell me.
Today’s Tip: Whatever your age, always squat when you bend to pick something up. Squatting keeps your back intact. It’s naturally arousing too. Well borderline exciting. I do it all the time even when there is nought to pick up.