We've been back from our holiday on Skye for almost a week now, and I'm well aware I'm behind with posting. So many photos (these are just a small selection; I haven't included any from a beautiful forest walk, a trip to Waternish, a visit to Dunvegan Castle or a day taking in delights such as the Fairy Pools).
It's also been a busy time. My work is taking off and while that's a good thing, I'm still trying to figure out how to best use my time. But more on that another day. Here's a snapshot or twenty of a week in the Inner Hebrides.
We stopped at Crianlarich overnight as the journey's such a long one. Lots of mist and a lovely host. He insisted on not charging us for our wonderful breakfast the following morning.
We were blessed with beautiful weather all week too. And our little cottage didn't disappoint either.
It's been in the same family for forty years and they use it for their own holidays. You can tell. It had a homely feel to it - no sleek, impersonal hotel stuff here.
Yes, I'm now coveting a rocking chair. And thinking we should replace the sheepskin we used to have.
The garden wrapped around the cottage and descended steeply up at the back, giving us views of the sea and mountains. It was filled with bluebells, violets and cow parley. The fence had a stile where you could climb over to the moors beyond.
Joe's room had three beds. I'm also coveting cabin beds and matchboard panelling. And I fell a little bit in love with the seashell wall decoration which was in our room.
It was so peaceful; the roads are very quiet, often single-track with passing places. Every other house sells eggs. And sheep wander freely. There were lots of lambs too.
There are quite strict planning rules on the island, so most houses are only single storey or one-and-a-half floors high. I saw several Grand Designs-type dwellings, timber-clad and minimalist and probably eco-friendly.
We didn't want for anything. And although the weather was warm we did light a fire one evening (at Joe's request).
The landscape is really varied; huge mountains, bleak and remote areas and green fields and sheltered beaches.
I hadn't expected Skye to be quite so big. We stayed in the far north-west of the island, which necessitated long drives if we wanted to go and visit places we'd read about. The roads are very narrow and winding, so 'as the crow flies' isn't really an option.
But why would you want that when the scenery is so spectacular?
The picture above, by the way, shows the view from our front gate. I had a read of the visitor's book and was glad I did. I learned that the track led down to a little private cove where we spent a morning beachcombing. Yes, I came home with two skulls. But we also saw a sea eagle while we were down there.
We haven't made any secret of the fact that we want to move to Scotland in the next few years. Is Skye an option? Maybe.
The people are really friendly and welcoming. And it's a very creative place - galleries are dotted about all over the island. Some are clustered together. The pace of life is much slower, property is very reasonably-priced. Yes, there are very few shops. One high school serves the whole of Skye.
But Joe loved it. A great place to grow up. Yet it has an ageing population. One school we saw has a total of five pupils; another had closed down a few years ago due to lack of intake. Realistically it could be unfair to take an only child to live somewhere with not that many playmates.
Still, enough of the pondering.
I can confirm that there's very good ice cream to be had.
And beaches which look like a page from a Mediterranean holiday brochure.
There are little islands everywhere along the shore, some with seals basking on them. We had a cuckoo in the garden and Highland cattle down the road.
Lighthouses and pine forests, harbours and castles.
We did some touristy things and visited the main town too. But mostly we just explored and meandered and slowed down.
I have so many other pictures of Skye. Some are really beautiful.
Maybe I'll share some in a 'looking back at June' type of post.
Of course, I bought a few things. I tend to follow my mum's tradition of buying presents for the house when I go on holiday, so we came away with a few prints (one from here) and a little ceramic crofter's cottage. And some undyed wool which I'm currently knitting with.
And no end of seashells, pebbles and stems of cotton grass. Again, perhaps another post...
Thank you for reading. It's a long one this time!
I'm looking forward to catching up with my favourite blogs. This evening I have to mount and package lots of prints (which I spent yesterday making) ready to take to the Lake District gallery on Saturday.
Perhaps on Sunday we can take things a bit easier. Because you know that a holiday with a three-year-old isn't really about relaxing, is it?