Monday 26th May – Sunday 1st June
We really do have some wonderful ‘guests’ staying on our site, Caravanners, Motorhomers and lots of Tenters and all different Nationalities. We recently had a group of French Motorhomers, fifteen Motorhomes in all and we have also just hosted members of the ‘Good Companions’ Motorhome Club, a group of solo travellers. In the main the weather has been exceptionally good and it is nice, when walking around the site in the evening, to see our guests in relaxed mode and always willing to have a chat with me, of course I am always more than willing to stop and give them my life story even if they do insist, after a couple of hours of listening to me wax lyrically, that they really do have to empty their toilet cassette !!!!!! But I do also enjoy listening to tales of our ‘guests’ travels. One chap, a solo fulltimer in a Motorhome, is so physically active that I really was in awe of just how fit he was, he had to depart after spending the maximum number of consecutive nights with us, but had already walked and climbed fifteen ‘Munro’s’ so far this year, mountain biked numerous trails and Kayaked on several of the lochs, I was very impressed indeed. He would call in the office on his way out in the morning to let us know which mountain he was attempting to walk that day and, depending on the time he returned, would pop his head around the door and tell us what he had achieved and what he had seen during that days adventure, what a really nice man.
I guess by now you have heard enough of our daily routines and will probably know them as well as we do so I do not intend to keep repeating our daily tasks, but I will throw in a few of the more ‘interesting’ or humorous anecdotes as and when they occur and of course ‘brief‘ accounts (now there’s a laugh) and photographs of places we visit on our days off. What I will just mention is that the four of us work very well together and are getting to know each other better as each week passes. However, being just a two couple site, with days off to get in, we actually only work together for a few hours on a Friday. Terry and Ennyd have been great mentors and they have taught us all we need to know to manage the site in their absence from all the machinery, the Office Administration and the daily, weekly and monthly checks. It really has been quite ‘full on‘ and quite physical and we both have been exceptionally tired at the end of each day but now that we have the knowledge and skills we have to utilise them in a paced manner. Both Terry and Ennyd have been concerned that we would ‘burn‘ ourselves out and have told us in a firm, but friendly and caring way, that we need to slow down. There are a variety of things to do every day so we do not need to do a full day of grass cutting, grass strimming or hedge cutting and we can share the ground maintenance and Office duties between us. I think now that we know what we are doing we will manage our days much better, this job is supposed to be enjoyable and fun and the next twelve weeks I feel sure will be just that. Not that we have not enjoyed ourselves up to now but coming from our professional backgrounds we probably felt that we needed to impress more than was actually necessary. Anyway, we will find out at the end of the week when we have our first ‘One to One’s‘ !!
For our day off this week, with the anticipation of yet more good weather, we decided to explore the more Northerly parts of Skye, a circular route North of Portree, cutting across to the Westerly coastline and up to ‘Uig’ then beyond to see the Memorial dedicated to ‘margarine Mac‘, better known historically as ‘Flora McDonald’, she apparently helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Skye and the English Troops who were hunting him down !
The scenery was, as we have come to expect, truly magnificent and the quite longish drive up and beyond ‘Portree‘ to ‘Uig’ was in parts quite breathtaking but we were both quite underwhelmed with Uig itself. To be fair, the main reason for coming to this place for ‘tourists’ is to catch one of the many Ferries to the ‘Outer Isles’ and whilst waiting for the ferry there is a handful of ‘tourist tat’ shops to part the traveller with their holiday cash. We have been there ourselves in our former lives, the ‘tourist tat’ looks good whilst it is in the shop window or in the ambient lighting of the shop shelves but when you get it home it gets put out of sight as it doesn’t really have the same charm !! That is the good thing about living fulltime in our Motorhome, we carry what is either ‘essential‘ or ‘useful‘ and as our ‘limited budget’ is not ‘holiday money’ then we are not enticed into parting with any money in these establishments, although it doesn’t stop us from looking and then turning to look at each other and uttering the words “Once Upon A Time”. After a very brief halt we headed North and came upon a historical lifestyle site, a number of small crofts that reflected what the community would have been like and the professions and services that existed from the ‘Smithy’, ‘Stables’, ‘Miller’, Church and a typical small crofter’s house.
It was an interesting enough place but relatively small and so we were about to move on when we saw a sign pointing to the ‘Flora MacDonald’ memorial.
I was getting rather peckish and didn’t feel this was the right place to ‘rest’ to eat our picnic so we headed back to ‘Wuxly’ and continued to the most Northerly point on the Island.
Where we had stopped was an ideal place to eat our lunch and drink our coffee and just gaze at the wondrous scenery that surrounded us. I was using my camera to focus in on the Kayakers whilst Shazza was using the binoculars to scan for marine life. She suddenly announced in an excited voice, “I think I’ve seen a Seal‘ !! I asked her to point in the general direction of where she had seen it so that I could try to get it in my viewfinder, “Just over there” she pointed with one finger wobbling around frantically which was a little less accurate than I was hoping for. I asked if I could have a look through the binoculars, after wrestling them from her reluctant vice like grip, I looked out to where roughly she had been pointing and I saw it, however that ‘Seal‘ was actually an ‘Otter‘ and now that Shazza had the camera she decided to snap it before it disappeared. I have to say at this point, to save reader disappointment and anticipated expectation at what is to come, that my beloved, whilst okay at close distance ‘Point and Shoot’ type photography, is not the best at using a ‘proper’ camera and telescopic lens so you will have to just take my word for it that the ‘Thing‘ you will see in the next photograph IS an Otter !!
We had attracted a small crowd, other cars, seeing us with camera and binoculars, obviously thought that we must be looking at something worthwhile, and we had been and we told them what we had seen and we showed them the picture. However, by this time our marine friend had become shy and left the scene, or at least out of our view. So, we left the ‘crowd’ of Otter spotters to it and continued weaving our way around the Coastal road finally heading Southwards.
We didn’t bother with a guide-book and on all of these trips neither where we were using the services of ‘Snoopy’ we were just using a Road Atlas but it showed ‘Points of Interest’ and the next stop a few miles away was a ‘Waterfall’, got to be worth a stop we said, and so using those immortal words of ‘Captain Kirk’ I turned and said “Make it so Shazza” and she did.
Well at least our Otter sighting had made this trip worthwhile in its own right, the scenery spectacular, the sun was shining and the sea and sky a beautiful blue could it get any better ? The answer was a most definite yes. We were heading South, back towards Portree when Shazza asked “What sort of bird is that ? It’s big” and she was right, this was no seagull so we stopped and whilst Shazza tried to focus it in the binoculars I attempted to focus on it with my camera but although it looked as if it was just soaring it was actually moving across the sky at great speed and totally effortlessly with barely a beat of its wings.
Wow, what a day, isn’t that just typical though, if we had gone out to specifically see Otters or Eagles we probably wouldn’t have seen anything but both these sightings were totally opportunist encounters and it really did make it one of those days to remember, just dolphins, seals and perhaps a whale to tick off the ‘would like to see in the wild’ list. We were beginning to feel tired after our six-hour adventure and with at least another hour before we would get back to ‘Big Momma’ it was time to ‘Simon & Garfunkel’ and make our way ‘Homeward Bound‘.
It doesn’t matter what profession you may work in, days off always seem to pass far too quickly and we were soon back into our ‘Elf & Elfette’ uniforms and on with our tasks. The office closes each day at 6pm, however, we accept arrivals up to Eight o’Clock each evening and it is the Duty Wardens that will come out and book on any arrivals in that two-hour period. We do not have any Barriers at the entrance or any late arrivals area so we put a sign on the door that states “Arrivals after 8pm please find a vacant pitch and pay at reception in the morning” it also states “Emergencies Only Ring The Bell“. The Duty Wardens keep a ‘Defibrillator’ with them as this will save essential time if it is required rather than having to open up the office to retrieve it before responding to a time critical emergency. On this particular night we were the ‘Duty Wardens’ and the bell rang at a quarter past eight. I went out to find a young ‘French’ couple at the door, they were most apologetic for disturbing me but were in need of a tent pitch for the night, I explained that the office was closed but showed them where they could pitch and where all the facilities were located and asked them to come and pay at the office in the morning. I had just settled down again when at half past Eight the bell rang again, once again I went outside to find three middle-aged ‘English’ men who explained that they had been walking in the mountains and it had taken them longer than anticipated and were looking for tent pitches for the night. I again showed them where they could pitch, where the facilities were located and to return in the morning to pay. It was going to be one of those nights, fifteen minutes later the bell rang again so I re-attached my ‘sticky smiley face’ to discover one of our Caravan ‘guests’ at the office door. He advised me that there was a ‘Big Bird’ which he didn’t recognise dead on the grass near one of the pitches !! My heartbeat quickened, was this an overweight camper who had taken a turn for the worse, would I need the defibrillator ? By the ‘guests’ calm nature I made the assumption that this ‘Big Bird’ was probably of the feathered, rather than unfeathered, variety and so went to investigate. Sure enough there was a ‘massive’ seagull lying dead on the grass, there was no external sign of any injury, no blood or ruffled feathers, perhaps I should have tried the ‘defibrillator’ ? I went for the easy option, I put it into a bin bag and placed it in the rubbish skip. It’s amazing though what some people consider an ‘Emergency’ !!
On Saturday we had our much awaited ‘One to Ones’ and we were both exceptionally pleased. Terry and Ennyd were also very pleased with what we had achieved in just four weeks, we could now use all the ‘ground equipment’ and manage all the office admin, we knew how to prioritise tasks and they paid us the compliment of telling us that they were confident that we were capable of managing the site. Terry and Ennyd then went on their half day off and invited us to join them in the evening for a BBQ. We both felt well chuffed with ourselves, we had worked hard and took pride in everything we did but we have to give an enormous amount of credit to our two ‘mentors’ who had really taken the time to teach us what they knew, more than what we probably would have learnt in such a short time on another site.
Shazza then went to make a late lunch, she returned with my sandwiches on a plate as I was happy to remain in the office to deal with any ‘guests’ or phone enquiries. I had only eaten half of my sandwiches when I felt the left-hand side of my face from my jaw to the middle of my ear swell up like a balloon !! It did t hurt but it was certainly uncomfortable and I suspected that I had been bitten by some sort of flying insect. Although I couldn’t see the swelling when I saw the look on Shazza’s face when she returned to the office I knew that it was bad !! My first action was to return to ‘Big Momma’ and take an Allergy Relief tablet and within half an hour the swelling began to reduce. By the time we closed the office at 6pm there was a small lump but the swelling on the side of my face had virtually disappeared. We went across to join Terry and Ennyd for the BBQ and I had just bitten into a lovely sausage when the side of my face suddenly started to swell up again, there was still no pain just discomfort and the look of shock on Shazza’s, Terry and Ennyd’s faces told me that this swelling was as visually large as it felt to the touch. Again I immediately went and took another Allergy relief tablet and again it had the desired effect. When I awoke the following morning there was just a small lump but this time there was a nagging ache so as a precaution I took another Allergy Relief tablet before going to work. However, this time it didn’t work, as the morning went on the swelling got larger but this time it was accompanied by a great deal of pain from my throat, up the side of my face giving me a horrendous earache and then headache. It was our half day off and so I soldiered on until we finished at 1pm. The nearest doctor was 15 miles away in the ‘Kyle of Lochalsh’, but it was Sunday and was closed. The nearest hospital was at Broadford on the Isle of Skye some 25 miles away but there was no alternative Shazza would have to drive me there.
It was a small hospital but it did have a ‘A & E’ Unit, there was nobody else in the reception area and after taking a few details we were told to sit and wait to see the duty doctor. Under normal circumstances I probably would have got seen fairly quickly but today of all days they were dealing with a major incident and were awaiting the Air Ambulance to transfer a rather poorly patient to Inverness. We waited for ninety minutes before eventually being called to see the duty doctor. He was quite an amusing sight to behold, aged somewhere in his sixties, dressed in theatre greens and with longish grey hair tied back in a pony tale and with a broad Scottish accent, he looked as if he was a left over hippy from the swinging sixties, the only thing missing was the ‘spliff’ hanging from the corner of his mouth and the words ‘Hey man, that’s a cool looking lump you’re wearing‘ !! But credit where credit is due, before even examining the facial bulge he diagnosed that I had a blocked saliva gland that was probably infected. He prescribed a course of antibiotics, a course of painkillers and told me to go to the Co-Op supermarket and purchase a bag of ‘Sour’ sweets that I had to suck to get my saliva gland working again, when giving me directions on how many tablets to take and the frequency he finished off by saying “and as for the sweeties, take as many as you want“. He did advise that if the swelling hadn’t reduced in two or three days that I would need to return for an X-Ray and further treatment as the blockage was caused by calcified crystals !! What is it with me and bloody calcified crystals, first kidney stones, then Gall stones and now these !! So all in all another interesting week, I wonder what week five will bring ? one week there may be a blog post of very little content…………………….. Yeah right !!!!!!