With the calling Cuckoos

Wed 24 May 2023 11:26

With the calling Cuckoos

30 April 2023

It’s raining here on Kerrera today but we have had a very workable variety of weather since we returned to Zoonie, exactly three weeks ago; with bright crisp days, blotting out the top third of the mountains with a mantle of white, and when slightly warmer, ideal for our visit to cousin Liz and her hubby Alan on Iona, and for long solo walks around the island here, while Rob rests his injured leg, and of course for Zoonie’s launch back into the water. So, with hose pipe bans in the Westcountry already, a little rain, or Scotch Mist, is to be welcomed.

The lambing season is now nearly over and the highland cattle are looking as scruffy and chilled as ever. Five days ago, the cuckoos returned after their winter sojourn in Africa and entertain us with their unique call on a daily basis.

We are in the marina awaiting Ken and Bron’s arrival from Tasmania, via South Africa and Chester. On Friday, the eve of the coronation, they will arrive by train in Oban and once the celebrations for both special occasions are over, we will be looking for a weather window to do some sailing. I remain vague because the elements will determine where we sail with them, although The Outer Hebrides have come up in conversation once or twice.


I get excited about visiting Liz and Alan because, despite being second cousins, we have led detached lives for our entire adulthood and yet we came together last year for the first time and have since found we have so much in common.

Not just because we are of the same generation but also, it seems, because we are descendants of the Wells family and share some of the same traits; like strong mindedness, a desire to be useful in society and the will to travel and explore on our own wit and skills and the ease and comfort of living in out-of-the-way places.

William Sharp wrote under the pseudonym Fiona Macleod in the 19th century and he said of Iona; “None can understand it who does not see it through its pagan light, its Christian light, its singular blending of paganism and romance and spiritual beauty. There is too, an Iona that is more than Gaelic, that is more than a place rainbow-lit with the seven desires of the world, (to be:- heard, affirmed, blessed, safe, touched, chosen and included) the Iona that, if we will it so, is a mirror of your heart and of mine.”(I would add three more desires, to be:- useful, trusted and independent of mind, but that’s just me).

Talking of rainbows, the Aurora Borealis was supposed to give a fine show while we were there. So, after supper on the recommended date, the four of us wandered up the track, torch beams wobbling by the silhouetted Abbey in the cool of the night to witness a pinkish sky; but the best views we have had have come through the ether onto our phones!

Liz invited us to accompany her to a talk in the community centre shop given by Alistair McIntosh from the island of Lewis in the OH. Alistair writes and campaigns and gives talks all over the world for the better experience of humanity through encouraging engagement with the individual spirit of compassion, new economics and non-violent defence strategies, in simpler terms, Community and care over the greed of ‘the corporate demon.’ He has written numerous books and is an engaging and humorous speaker. I love the way Liz and I can reach beneath the surface of life when we are together to visit the deeper meaning of our existence.


Zoonie has been given some nice presents to prepare her for this season. Four new batteries to replace the three domestic batteries, one of which was over-heating, and the engine starter battery, that have lasted since her re-fit after her near sinking in New Zealand in 2017. She has also had essential charts and pilots of the Irish Sea added to her library, oh and of course, the Tasmanian ensign and Mexican Train Game in readiness for our visitors!

Its Rob’s birthday on Wednesday so he is sharing a present with Zoonie, a new microwave oven on its way from Amazon. We will also do a big shop and have lunch out in Oban, all on the strength of one return ferry ride each.