A Day on Swainbost Beach

Of all the beaches I visit, my favourite has got to be Swainbost beach. Now, undoubtedly, part of my bias comes from the fact that this is the beach on which so many of my childhood memories were made. Growing up, this was My Beach.

But I also love it for what it has to offer: the mix of sand and rocks, and sea and rock pools. Places to shelter from any breeze that may be blowing, places to set out a picnic on a rock. I love it all!

Today's visit did not disappoint.

For the first hour, I read and took notes for my Bible study. 

Calum Stewart and my nephew, Ross, were having a wonderful time with their boogie boards, or simply sitting on the warm rocks and chatting.

After we'd been at the beach for an hour or so, some more folks joined us. My Mum - yes, my Mum! - came along with my niece and nephew, Iona and Owen, and some of Owen's friends.

The kids even managed to get Granny to dip her toes into the sea.

It was a very special day for me because the memories that make Swainbost beach such a wonderful place for me were all created with my Mum! Mum hadn't been on this beach since we were children until today, so it was a very special day for her. Today, she made more memories - not only with her own offspring, but with the next generation - her grandchildren.

Even Calum Stewart seemed lost in thought at times.

As the tide comes in, lovely pools form - pools with warmer water than the open sea. I remember playing in this very pool as a child.

Looking north towards the Eye of the Butt from the beach itself, 

... and from the machair. The machair flowers are so lovely at this time of year. To have the wonderful pinks and yellows and purples of the flowers, and the deep blues, turquoises and greens of the sea all in one picture is truly a delight.

Eye candy.

And finally ... just to prove that I did get my feet wet ...


Summer in Ness, and Summer on Patrice's Porch

Believe it or not, Patrice, I'm reluctant to leave our own weather to come to Virginia today. Yes, we have had a few perfect summer days, and today I'm savouring more of the same. I'm heading off to the beach later today, so I'll answer your questions, have a wee chat with y'all, and then head back to our sunny Ness ....

After all, this weather doesn't happen here too often :)

1. Do you like cucumbers?

Hmmm, I can take 'em or leave 'em. I'm not overly keen on them, but if you put them on my plate, Patrice, I'd eat them. However, I don't like tomatoes at all.


I enjoy tomato sauces, but I cannot go tomatoes at. all.

2. How good a housekeeper are you?

Ooh, please may I skip this question, Miss?  No!

Well, 'I'm not great' has to be the honest answer to that question. I wish I was much more efficient, much tidier, much more organised.

I do love having an open door, and would hope that visitors would always feel welcome. I do, however, wish they were always welcomed into a tidy home.

3. Please finish this: To spend a day ___________ would be amazing!


That was easy! But I'll embellish it slightly. If I could have a day sitting out in the sun whilst reading, that would be even better.

And if I was being plied with cups of tea, biscuits and cake on a regular basis, my day would be further enhanced.

And if I were to end the day gazing at this view ...

whilst still being fed tea and cake, it really would be the perfect end to the perfect day.

Actually, this photo - taken tonight from my Family Room window - was the perfect end to a perfect day. And d'you know what? I spent a good part of the afternoon sitting outside, in the sun, reading.

The only part that doesn't fit with the 'perfect scenario' is the fact that there was nobody making tea for me.

4. How do you handle times with you are 'down' or 'blue'?

I look out of my window.

Well, that's only part of the story of course, but quite seriously, the view outside of my window really and truly does lift my mood. I think beauty does that. And beauty for all the senses helps.

So, the sound of beautiful music can lift my mood. The taste of beautiful food can bring me more alive. The sight of beautiful views like the ones I'm blessed with on my doorstep. The company of friends and family whom I love soon lifts the blues.

And above all of them, having communion with my Lord, and meditating on His Word... That really does alter me.

I'm aware that answer may be slightly flippant, but for low-level, and very temporary blues, these things can surely help.

I have had times of deeper blues too. That hue is much harder to deal with, and cannot be sorted by reading a few words on this blog. Our friend, Dr David Murray, wrote a book recently called Christians get depressed Too. It can be found here.

It is worth getting if you are struggling with depression - and maybe you haven't even recognized what you have as depression. This book may help you in recognition of it too. 

5. Have you started using essential oils, since they have become so popular?

No, Patrice, I haven't, though I'm coming across folks who are using them more and more. Just recently actually, I was thinking about the amazing world God has made for us to enjoy and from which to benefit, and I couldn't help thinking that I am sure He has created so many herbs that have the answer to very many illnesses and troubles. It's something I'd like to learn more of, and may set aside time soon to do that.

Thanks for these questions, Patrice, and once again I've enjoyed spending time with you this week.

Unlike other weeks, mind you, I am rushing home to our own gorgeous weather now! 

On Tuesday evening, I nipped outside to take some photos - erm, yes, I left the comfort of my chair and ventured down to the machair. The sun was just setting and the beach and machair were so peaceful. Serious therapy.

Can you spot the lone surfer to the far left of the photo?

Marina (my sister) was over with me for the evening, but d'ya know what? It was worth leaving her scintillating conversation to savour the beauty and the smell of the machair just as the sun said its farewell for another day.

After the sun had set, I took this photo from the machair, looking up towards Swainbost and Cross. The warmth of the day and the calm of the evening gave a striking ground mist which added to the sense of peace and tranquility. 


Our Loss, Her Gain

Our congregation lost one of our older members this week, and her funeral took place here in Ness today. Until she suffered a stroke a couple of years ago, she sat across from us in church every Sunday, and walked out the aisle after each service with our family ..... No, let me get that right.... she walked out arm in arm with D.R, whom she adored! DR would wait for her, or she would wait for him, and they'd walk out smiling and laughing arm in arm every Sunday.

She was the epitome of a Joyful Christian. Through all of life's trials, she worshipped her Saviour, she spoke of her Lord, and she smiled at the world.

Someone said of her today that 'there was a hug in her every handshake'. So true! The love of Christ simply oozed out of her. What a joy for us to have had the privilege of knowing her.

Today her remains were placed next to the remains of her husband, who passed into glory forty years ago. Tonight, her body may be dead, but she has never been more alive. Her eyes closed the other day, but one day, on that great day of the resurrection, they will awaken to see Christ in all His beauty. Tonight, as we prepare for the Lord's Day, she has entered her eternal Lord's Day.

Her greatest joy on earth was Christ.... Her total joy now is Christ.

Those of us who are still walking the Pilgrim's way seek to display the same love and joy that Annie did. And tonight, we have just a little bit more longing for when we will see our Saviour face to face.

Soon, it will be us.

"Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outwith the gate. Let us go forth therefore outwith the camp, bearing His reproach, for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
Hebrews 13: 12-14


On Patrice's Porch ... and Needing Therapy.

I'm back on Patrice's porch, and oh boy, am I loving the Virginian weather! Yesterday, we got a wee hint of what summer in Virginia can be like - our temperatures here in Ness reached the heady heights of 70F, and we had almost no wind. It felt positively Mediterranean.

Today, we've had driving rain and winds of over 50mph. Aye, I guess I'm at home right enough ...

My sister and her kiddos were with me for the past couple of days, so I dragged took her out to the peats yesterday to lift what had been cut a few weeks back.

My sister and I are, erm ... different

Can you imagine me dressed this beautifully for the peats? In fact, don't answer that .... Can you imagine me dressed this beautifully at. all? Ever??

I just love spending time with my sister. Anyone who has a sister knows it's just such a gift. And thankfully, many who don't have a 'real' sister have been blessed with beloved friends who are like sisters. Anyway, despite my love for her, she doesn't appreciate my boots. 'Nuff said.

And so, onto your questions for today:

1. What do you think you would have liked most from my menu?

(Patrice had a party for her daughter last week, and if you go to her blog, you'll see the wonderful menu she had on offer)

Patrice, your menu looks amazing, but I'm going to go with the boiled new potatoes and butter. I am a real potato person and new tatties with butter are my ultimate choice. All the food looked amazing, though, and knowing so much of it was home-grown and home-made, would have made it all the more delicious.

2. Have you ever had an interesting experience with serving dinner guests?

Oh dear me ... I'm not sure I can bear to recount this horrific experience. Were I not Scottish, I'm sure I'd still be having counselling following this day in my experience.

It took place around twenty years ago, the Builder and I were living in Glasgow and we were still childless. It was Christmas and a couple who were friends of my parents asked us to join them and their family for Christmas dinner.

And now I want you to picture the scene.

The house is immaculate. The people are immaculate. The couple, in their 60s, are always immaculately dressed. They have two sons, who are both married and their wives are with them for the day. Yes, you guessed it - they are immaculate too. These ladies are petite, gorgeously dressed, and are, erm, well, let's just say they wouldn't be wearing my boots any time. 

Three immaculate couples. And the Builder and me. 

The table is covered in a crisp, white table cloth, and three red candles burn sedately throughout our meal time. 

Our meal is delicious and is served with no fuss, no mess. After dessert, our hostess brings through her home-made Christmas cake, covered in gorgeous white icing.

As our hostess thinks about passing tea and the cake around, she decides to blow the candles out, lest they cause any damage. She gives a little whoo. Just a gentle puff. The flames flicker slightly, mocking her attempt to extinguish them. She tries again.

Whoo. Gentle. Ladylike.

But unsuccessful.

Her gorgeously dressed, and equally sedate and ladylike daughter-in-law tries. A genteel whoo passes her lips. The flames barely notice.

Enter stage left .... Moi. Whilst watching the little puffs, the slight flicker in the flames, and the still burning candles, I'm thinking, 'Well, that's not going to put out the candles'.

So, she huffed. And she puffed. And she blew ....

Oh the flames were extinguished in a split second, but ... oh, horror of horrors. The deep red melted wax from the candles were everywhere.

I mean EVERYWHERE. On the hostess' dress. On her daughter-in-law's dress. On the WHITE tablecloth. And ALL over the beautifully iced cake.

Patrice, I am actually traumatized relating this story. I can feel the shame even now! I can still see the red splashes everywhere. And I can still hear the moments of silence following the ... the ... the event. I can feel the horror and I can remember the realization dawning on me on why these ladies had given genteel whoos.

See ... that's why I moved back to the Croft. I was clearly made for these shores.

Now, anyone have a number for a good therapist ... I feel I need one now.

3. What's your favourite beverage this summer?

Erm, tea. Of course it's tea, Patrice! Whether it's January or July, my favourite beverage is always tea.

4. Do you ever have bouquets of fresh flowers in your home?

Yes, I do, although they're bought in the supermarket, so I suppose 'fresh' is pushing it a bit. Catherine, from time to time, comes home with fresh flowers because she knows I love having them in the house. Right now, I have a vase of deep red roses in the kitchen.

Dearie me, here we are on 'deep red' again. Quick, ask me another question!

5. Tell me something interesting. Please.

Oh, I'm not sure how interesting it is, but DR will be 21 - yes, that's twenty-one - in a fortnight's time. We're planning a wee party for him and his, and our, friends. I've begun preparing food, and I've most certainly begun preparing mental lists! Last year, we had a BBQ in July and had a wonderful evening of food and fun and fellowship and singing.

Our lovely American friends were here at the time.

The young folks were back and fore from the 'football pitch' all evening, and when the sun went down, 

our peat campfire kept us warm.

 It was such a lovely evening, and some similar weather for this year's get-together would be wonderful. Unfortunately, one can't plan around weather in Lewis, so if the weather is unfavourable, we'll eat, talk, and sit inside, rather than outside.

Either way, I'm sure it will be a fun time.


It Took a While, but ...

... we finally have some decor on our stair wall.

We've only been in our home for eight years. 

That's waaaay longer, of course, than I've actually had these pictures. But still ... these photos have sat in a cupboard, and then on a stool in the Family Room, awaiting their final resting place - the stair wall - for quite some time.

This week, though, Catherine decided the hall walls were going to be decorated. She pushed us to get the photos sorted, to decide where they were going to go, and then, tonight, to Just Do It.

All the photos are black and white, and they're all family snaps. They may get some tweaking over the next few weeks, but for now, I'm happy not to have an empty wall here.

And this finally found a home too. The wall where the door from the hall into the kitchen used to be doesn't look so bare now.

Family. Where life begins and love never ends.

I reckon I agree with that sentiment.

Oh, and I've decided our girls are never gonna leave home. We'd simply never get anything done if they did ...


Sheep Shearing on the Croft

It's the time of year again for the sheep to be getting their short-back-and-sides, and so Big Brother called on my help once again.

Okay, so he didn't actually call for my help, but having my offspring there as his assistants is kind of the same thing.

And talking of offspring, for this post, I'm going to let DR do most of the talking ...

Take it away, DR.

Okay, here's where the process starts:

The smallest amongst us dives in and grabs an unshorn sheep, holding it for long enough for....

me to take over the head.

I haul it over to the shearing platforms and.....

flip it over on its back.  

Uncle Calum, aka Big Brother,  then takes over for the expert part - the shearing.

When BB is almost finished with the sheep, I prepare to take its head. As a side note, the best way to hold or control a sheep is to hold its head - control the head, control the body. (I'm sure there is a sermon in there somewhere ... )

At this point I take the head again,

Calum clears the wool and I hold the sheep in preparation for...

a dose from CF and a mark from my cousin, Mairi.

This is what I do while CF is shearing - I lay out the wool, inside up, clean any lumps off it, and fold the sides into the middle

I roll it up,

and use the tail at the end tucked into the middle of the ball to hold it in place.

And, voilĂ !  Half a dozen balls of wool ready to be packaged.

Now for some trivia:

Sheep are sheared section by section - front, tail, neck, and sides.

Mairi is holding the power cord to the shears - here it's because Big Brother is almost finished, but if it's a restless sheep she'll be there just in case it goes postal on BB.

(note from Mother: I have no idea what 'postal' means in this context. Any help from readers on this score would be appreciated.)

Here, she's just pulled the cord. 'Good action shot, Mum!' 

I've taken the head and.....

I have it.

"Huh? A camera? And Anne? What is she doing here, so far from her natural environment?!"

(By 'her natural environment', I do believe Big Brother means the kitchen... )

Home free..

These two are really 'home free' - two runners who jumped the fence. We got them back eventually - two rugby tackles later!

Calum takes a go with the spray.

This sheep is wondering where her buddies have gone - they've made sure they're as far from us as they can get!


This Past Week

Those of you who follow Homeschool on the Croft on Facebook will know why I didn't post earlier this week. For the past week, our district of Ness has been shrouded in foggy, cloudy weather - weather which was a reflection on how its people were feeling. Today saw the funeral of a young man who was tragically killed in a road accident some days ago. When you live in a community like ours, you really do know what it is to 'mourn with those who mourn'. Everywhere we went over the past week, we greeted our fellow Nisich with quietness and sorrow. On Wednesday night, in the minutes before our Prayer Meeting began, there was loud silence instead of the usual quiet chatter. People we met on our trips to the local shops were subdued.

Everyone was sad.

But I know that we don't grieve like the family of the boy who was killed. We may not forget for some time, but our lives will move on. We will not lie awake at night thinking of him. He will not be in our thoughts when we waken in the morning. We will not remember him as we sit at our evening meal, and although we will continue to remember his loved ones in our prayers for quite some time, our prayers, too, will become dominated by our own family concerns and burdens. Such is life.

But for now, our hearts ache for the parents, the siblings, and the loved ones of the young man whose life came to such a sudden and tragic end.

And, as if to prove my own point, I was able to spend the past couple of days with one of my favourite people on the face of the earth.

This is my cousin, with whom I spent many happy days in my childhood, and with whom I love to spend any time I'm able to to this day. 

She was born just a few months before me and is also named Anne, after our grandmother.

Anne and I took a walk down to our local graveyard yesterday. Here is the gravestone marking the spot where our grandmother is buried. We love talking about relatives who are now no longer with us but who are part of our wonderful heritage.

We were also able to take a run down to Port Beach, where the sun obliged and made an appearance while we were there.

Sitting talking, and sometimes sitting is silence ... with the gently sounds of the sea always with us. It was wonderful.

Best of all, Anne and I are always able to talk. I mean really talk. What a precious gift it is to have someone with whom you can laugh and cry; a person with whom you can share your joys and griefs. We opened our Bibles and we opened our hearts. I know that she will pray for me, and I will pray for her, in more meaningful ways, now that we have had this time together.

Anne and I love the same things. We love fellowship, friendship, and food. We love our families and our shared history. We love to reminisce, and we love to look to the future. We love cups of tea. We love to blether.

And we dress the same way.

Could it get any better?

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