Tuesday, 29 September 2009

What we did on our holidays

"Oh hi, Malcolm and Sally. We've booked you into the Love Shack."

"What? Seriously?"

"Yes, that's why we called earlier to check you were a couple. Here's the key."

"That'd be the key with 'room 3' on it."

"Yeah, that's right, room 3's the Love Shack."

"Good grief."

We were enjoying a crafty long weekend away on Skye, celebrating Mrs Pig "Farmer's" birthday. We opted for cheap and cheerful and were just about tolerating the terrible, enforced jollity of hostels.

The Love Shack turned out to be a small, clean room with a double bed, sink and broken window latch. Some of it was painted pink, so I suspect that's where the 'love' bit comes in.

Anyhoo, the irony of two Scottish island-dwelling folk going for a holiday on a Scottish island wasn't lost on me, but we've always liked Skye (indeed, we considered moving there) so who cares?

"Timbres! Timbres! TIMBRES!" shouted the very small French woman at the bewildered fella behind the counter in Portree's Post Office.

"Stamps," said the pig "farmer" helpfully.

"Oh right, thanks," said Post Office Fella. "How many?" he asked very small French woman.


"Eh? No. HOW MANY?"

"Combien?" said the pig "farmer", butting into the Eurovision Shouting Competition with his O-level grade C French.

"France et Belgique."

"HOW MANY?" persisted POF, waving his fingers around in the manner of Ted Rogers.

"Un pour France, et un pour Belgique," said VSFW.

"Two," said the pig "farmer", interested to learn it's not just the British who can't be arsed to learn anyone else's language, even when visiting their country.

At a time when Orkney is getting all set for the winter, there are still a lot of holidaymakers in Skye. The island is very much geared up towards tourism, the main road into Portree lined with a forest of B&B signs, most with a 'no vacancies' added. By all accounts it's been like that all summer.

It's hardly surprising. A certain fame from the Bonnie Prince Charlie thing (and that godawful song) and a relative proximity to major cities (relative to Orkney, that is) make the island a major highlight on the Scottish grand tour.

And there's the landscape. Skye has scenery to spare. The mountains crowd around, pushing everything else towards the sea - spectacular. It's just a shame it rains 361 days every year.

The hostel at Flodigarry was full of wiry, thin men and their ruddy-faced partners, the kind of people who are genuinely interested in what sort anorak you wear. The pig "farmer" was enjoying a hearty breakfast. Easily the fattest bloke in the place, he was becoming uncomfortably aware he was the only one who hadn't been up for hours wrestling a Cuillin into submission.

Not to be outdone, the pig "farmers" pulled on boots and waterproofs and walked the few miles to Duntulm Castle on the northernmost tip of Trotternish peninsular. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the ruins of the McDonald stronghold provide fabulous views over the Minch towards the Western Isles.

On the return walk we stopped to buy eggs, swopping notes with couple who ran the croft, the pig "farmers" casting envious glances towards the polytunnels and strawberry plants.

Next day, the rain eased as the midday train left Kyle of Lochalsh, following the shore of Loch Carron on its way to Dingwall where we would have just enough time for a pint before changing trains for Thurso and the ferry back to Orkney.

Sal's phone rang. The evening sailing across the Pentland Firth was "under review" due to high winds. Winter is on its way.


Lindsay said...

I had a holiday to remember on Skye when I was 11 years old. I was twice left in charge of my young brother and cousin whilst the adults went off walking. On my first babysitting duty I walked the two boys (unknowingly) through a spillage from a sewer pipe on the beach. We smelt awful so I hung our clothes out of the hotel window - my mum spanked me! On the second occasion I persuaded the boys to pee out of the bedroom window into an open-topped car down below in the car park - I was sent to bed for 24 hours after that! I might even do a post of my own on the subject - thanks for reminding me!

Dave said...

The Orkneys were quite scenic, last time I was there.

elizabethm said...

I love Skye. We stayed in an amazing Victorian house outside Portree once with an elephant's foot umbrella stand and a general sense of having been much the same for a hundred years. Although it rained I do remember I could see quite a bit of the island, which is not the case for the whole week we went to Orkney, all of which was wrapped in grey mist.

I, Like The View said...

I love Skye - lucky you guys!

one of my mates was there this summer and watched the Crofters Olympics. . .

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Whddya mean "that godawful song"? "The Skye Boat Song" is a lovely, evocative ditty that I used to play in concert on my guitar. Good job you visited Skye when Midge Ure was not in summer residence with his ten billion irritating little clones.

Arcadian Advocate said...

a holiday, how wonderful...
Mrs Tull dreams...

mig said...

How lovely.
I went to Skye in June. It only rained once as we were packing up to leave. I guess we had the whole summer to ourselves :)