What’s been happening in 2015?
This is starting to feel like a tradition now – sitting down on a quiet day in November and contemplating the year we’ve just had. Remarkably, many of those romantic notions we had three years ago about living here on Skye are coming together now. It’s very satisfying!
Okay, we admit this sounds a bit smug. So let’s rewind, and remind ourselves what we were really doing last winter. As soon as the sun came out we were hastily preparing… more breakfasts. Honestly, what else would you do on a lovely bright day? Sadly, these meals were to remain uneaten; but they did need to be tastily photogenic to be showcased on our website. It’s up to you to decide if they were sprayed with WD40 to improve their appearance.
We don’t get much snow down here next to the sea, so any dusting brings great excitement. Martin quickly got the boys in training for the Skye luge championships but conditions were patchy. Luckily, you don’t have to go far in winter to build that snowman – there’s usually a big pile of snow on the road somewhere on the way to Inverness.
Ah, yes, the bright lights of Inverness. February brings the school half term holiday and it’s a good time for us to get a few days away before the busy season. At this point in our lives the city pretty much offers the perfect mini-break destination. It’s relatively close to Skye and yet so different; with exciting things like arable farmland, escalators and sunshine. Head along the coast and you hit Spey Bay, on the Moray Riviera. It’s a great place for dolphin-spotting and fulfills Vanessa’s need for flat and minimal East coast landscapes (apologies, she’s from Norfolk).
It didn’t seem long after our return that the the fresh green shoots of a new tourist season appeared and we were kept pretty busy over the spring. And through the summer. And into October. Some guests have even started coming back, bless ’em! We don’t get weekends off, but there’s always time for the odd outing. We’ve got used to reacting quickly when opportunities arise and this can lead us in some interesting directions – Ghanaian drumming, anyone?
Not surprisingly, our kids are now finding ways of developing their own interests. The big news for the community here in Broadford was the upgrading of the local football pitch; previously not dissimilar to the surrounding croft land and now a carpet of green sward. Like many of the kids in the neighbourhood, Darach has been taking advantage of this relatively dry, green oasis and has been been playing with the under 13s (woolly hat essential this year). His other passion is his mountain bike; with so many muddy tracks around there are lots of places to explore on two wheels. But the highlight of his year had to be a chance encounter with the god-like Danny MacAskill, who just happened to be messing about with his pals in Broadford one day. Things just don’t get better for a nine-year-old.
The kids around here are really lucky when it comes to clubs and activities. Ewan’s favourite is definitely Room 13, an art club based in the nearby village of Torrin. It’s part of an organisation that sets up studios for kids all around the world; this one is a converted stone byre with views of the Cuillin mountains – it’s a totally inspiring location. The whole shebang is financed by the kids – they sell their work and even have an annual summer exhibition. The only problem is that it can be tricky to persuade Ewan to part with his paintings!
You may have picked up that this year really wasn’t the best for weather. Fortunately, we like getting wet and have managed to get out most weeks to do something. We’ve totted up over seventy scuba dives since last year, which is not bad going considering how busy the B&B has been. It’s not quite an obsession but clearly something we’re really getting into. A large part of the appeal is how close you can get to some incredible wildlife and it’s made us want to learn more about the marine environment. With this in mind we’ve got involved in great scheme called Seasearch. Set up, with the backing of environmental organisations such as SNH, it’s currently the biggest ‘citizen science’ project in the country. Experts train recreational divers in marine survey techniques so that they can get out there and record what they see.
It’s amazing how little the world knows about what lies beneath the waves, even here on our doorstep. With this in mind we hosted a Seasearch Observer course here in Broadford and met a whole bunch of enthusiastic surveyors who were keen to check out the local sea lochs. There’s a lot of pressure just now from fish farm applications without a full understanding of their environmental impact, so this kind of stuff can make a difference.
Divers were followed in quick succession by a group of sea kayak coaches who were attending a major symposium here on Skye organised by Skyak Adventures. Note that kayakers who come to Skye at the end of October are not looking for gentle paddling! Actually, we’ve noticed a surprising number of visitors to Skye that are disappointed if they don’t get ‘interesting’ weather. This includes photographers; the really serious ones tend to want to come in November or January. Not only do you get the best light effects, you also get the chance to photograph the old Man of Storr without having to queue.
Our guests arrive by all kinds of transport and we get our fair share of bikers. This year we had a visit from Vanessa’s dad on his vintage NSU. It has to be said Rob’s not the greatest fan of the Skye climate but even he couldn’t resist the lure of a grand tour of the Highlands. And, like many of our German guests, the wee NSU showed great fortitude in the face of yet more challenging weather.
Many thanks to all our guests who visited in 2015, come rain or shine. Now the end of the year is approaching and we’re gradually working our way through the list things that we didn’t get to do in the summer. But wait, hold on a minute, the sun is actually shining. Hmm, it looks so inviting out there…