Bleak

Miserable weather. Even by sunrise it was miserable. Dark. Damp. Cold. Yet our mission today was to reminisce and celebrate the life of a lady who had lived through many things. Not least of which was leaving Prussia a young lady as Russian tanks thundered into her town, literally as she cowered at the road-side; made her way through France and on to London, up to Scotland to then settle, marry, raise a family and live for a life-time in Fife, before passing on and leaving 3 generations behind her.

Mull has a lot of poignancy for me, and Mrs. We only ever seem to return to pay respects or to add more respects to the land. Today was releasing the ashes of Mrs’ Gran into the wind on Calgary Bay, where her Gradad was released many years before. It was to be a sombre affair I assumed, but there was promise of a visit to Tobermory keeping things upbeat.

In the event, which turned out to be a bit of a botched comedy release, with some laughing and apologies for the unfortunate placement of ashes, Missy and I walked the shores of Calgary Bay, digging in the damp sand and looking out to the icy waters. It was breezy; the air peppered with beads of the salty Atlantic sea air. We pottered about until the rest of the family had paid their respects. Mrs and I made a call early on, to make sure Missy wasn’t involved in the scattering, because we just couldn’t reconcile the idea of explaining how her great Granny was dead, then turned into white powder, and is now being thrust into the wind (or onto the grass as it turned out; a freak reduction in wind speed coupled with the worst of timing leaving the bright white ashes lumped on the grass, instead of whisked into the air) because we loved her. How do you explain that to a 3.8 year old? We couldn’t, so we didn’t. Missy and I took the spades and cut our way across the sand dunes and out to the shore, and Missy was none-the-wiser. Sand flinging is much more interesting and understandable.

A moment or two in reflection, then an impromptu pee stop behind a massive rock, made way to lunchtime and our trekking across Mull’s finest single-track roads, towards Tobermory to seek out hot food and shelter from this weather. We soon made it and headed along the promenade, past all the colourful façades and shops selling local produce, to the Mishnish hotel and restaurant. We had two botched attempts to get lunch at another restaurant down the stretch (not open for lunch, sorry) and a chocolate place (don’t do much else other than chocolate) but the Mishnish was perfect. Missy made every effort to embarrass us as we entered, shouting “IS THAT A LADY OR A MAN” to the assisting proprietor. So sorry, she doesn’t know what she’s saying.

We had some absolutely delicious fresh Cullen Skink with freshly baked sourdough and chunky chips! Missy had similarly tasty fish fingers, freshly caught and breaded. We know because she didn’t eat it, and we just couldn’t let it go to waste!

After our lovely lunch, we headed back towards the chocolate place, as Mrs fancied some Mull chocolate action. On the way I noticed in the local book shop window that they had Hergé’s The Black Island but in Scots! I headed in without hesitation to find it, and lucky for me they had a couple of copies left. By the time I got along to meet the girls in the gift shop, Missy had a small pink Narwhal in her hands and was demanding to take it home.  The shopkeeper must have saw us coming as the small stuffed toy cost £12. Anything to keep that little face happy, I guess.

Choc shop was packed, and full of people licking their lips and humming and hawing over all the sweet treats. Mrs was one of them, and after ages had managed to narrow her decisions down to half the shop. Finally she decided and added some take-away coffee to her order. We then had a bit of a sprint to the ferry from there, but we made it in good time, drinking our rather tasty coffee in the warmth of the car, looking at my newly purchased “The Derk Isle” and loving the thick, quality paper bag from Tobermory Tackle and Books, that fit the Hergé translation perfectly.

Another blustery ferry from Fishnish to Lochaline, before a short stint over to Strontian, through yet more beautifully bleak Scottish highland landscape. I wished I had some Abul Mogard on; his “Slate-Coloured Storm” would have fit beautifully with the visuals. We got home, set the kettle to warp speed and had a nice evening chat beside the roaring fire, thinking of Grannie and where we are in the world once more.

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The next morning was chilly and we were in packing mode. So much stuff remarkably works its way into every available nook, in such little time. Recovering it all successfully is a challenge in and of itself. We managed to get ourselves on the road by 11am and reversing our route to head back home. The Ferry was arriving at Ardgour as we drew up, which was handy, and we weaved our way back through Ballachulish, Glencoe and Tyndrum once more. It was to be a long day for me; I was getting home, unpacking the car, then heading back up to Perth for my monthly hair-cut, then back home to pack my bags to fly down to London on the Wednesday. It wasn’t going to be a happy time for me, as my flight was at 6:20am, which meant a 4am rise. Needless to say I was facing somewhat of a rapid exhaustion come Wednesday evening, but luckily I ended up heading into Oxford to see some friends, and my tiredness kept itself at bay until the taxi home. Then it set in proper. What a tiring yet relaxing few days.

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