Days on the Peninsula

An essential component of my time in Scoraig: Smidge! Anytime the wind wasnt blowing, the midges came out in force. I learned my lesson after the first day working in the garden. Feom then on, I dont think I spent even 15 minutes without some of this stuff on me. A Highlander’s very best friend.

For much of the time I was at Scoraig, or “on the peninsula” as the locals say, I tried to keep the following schedule:

Mornings — wake up, go back to sleep (repeat a few times), head downstairs around 8:30ish, let the dogs out, make coffee, drink coffee while looking out at where I was (from the deck in good weather, from the conservatory if not), get dressed, catch up on emails, Facebook, general news and then write. 

My morning writing spot.

Make food — some kind of something. Lisa’s house had a huge store of food. I never knew if it was due to being so remote or to having many folks in the household most of the time. I was there just about two weeks and never bought groceries. The pantry was full of dry goods, the fridge (albeit small) held dairy, juice and misc edibles. Two freezers were full to the brim with meat, cooked and storedfoods, seafood, and frozen fruit and vegetables (from the farm, not commercial). There was a stash of coffee, tea, jams and canned goods that would have made any homesteader proud. Plus, a garden just coming ripe with courgettes (squash), tomatoes, peas, cabbages, tons of salad greens, and herbs.Culinary heaven!

Herbs and flowers for throwing into salad. Yum!

Afternoons — after lunch I’d generally reserve for work around the place, taking care of a few projects Lisa asked us to get done and then the routine of watering the polytunnel, feeding poultry and gathering eggs, and feeding the dogs.

Harvesting strawberries – a load like this twice a week!
Not a great picture… but in the Quail’s building. Tiny, frantic birds. They produce eggs about half to a third the size of chickens, but oh so good and packed with nutrition!
Polytunnel with tomatoes, nasturtiums, courgettes, melons, cucumbers and tender herbs. Adjacent strawberry patch. Wish Id taken more picks of the gardens and fields. Food growing everywhere!

Evenings — then it was time to make dinner and settle in for the night having a talk with someone or reading. I had several invitations to dinner, which were lovely. Anthea stayed at Lisa’s off and on during the time I was there, so we had plenty of time to talk and laugh together. What a powerhouse she is! Here’s a single lady, living alone in a remote place like Scoraig, having spent years working as a nurse and then mental health worker before retiring. She’s also taught at the Scoraig primary school and taken care of many of the children over the years ( which she says is great because she know all the children on the peninsula). At nearly seventy (is that right?), Anthea has no qualms about living in Scoraig. She and her neighbors care for each other in a way that feels more like extended family than neighbors. My time with her offset many of the deep reservations Id begun to gather about living somewhere rural while alone and in my fifties. A real inspiration. On nights when she wasn’t at the house, I worked my way through The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I thoroughly enjoyed and started on At Home by Bill Bryson. 

It’s hard to recognize you’re reading far into the night when it’s still light out at 11 pm!

Twice a week, Anthea and I gathered salad greens, herbs and edible flowers. We’d wash, weigh, bag and label them for delivery out to individuals and the two restaurants with standing orders.

Salad bags in the making.

Three times a week, Jonah’s four wheeler would come down the drive with mail and deliveries.

Occasionally an impromptu gathering would happen. One night we invited Jeannie, a neighbor, over for dinner. Yes, I made pizza in yet another new kitchen. Cathy, from the family that provided my first day’s lift from Inverness to Scoraig, also called to say she was dropping by with a bottle of wine and to see how I was getting on. The four of us sat out on the deck talking and laughing and drinking wine. They reminded me so much of my own group of girlfriends. Life hands you the same set of challenges with children, spouses (or un-spouses as the case may be), challenges, making a living, age ing parents, losses and loves no matter where you live.

Making pizza in Lisa’s kitchen. Some skills are welcome wherever tou go!
Jack takes a break after a hard day’s work. Well, a hard hour’s work . Well, he watched a hard hour’s work.

Another night I was invited back to Jill and Bev’s for dinner and got to meet their newest volunteer, Liesie. She’d newly arrived, a schoolteacher from Estonia. The four of us had a lively conversation about education and travel over a wonderful dinner – complete with home brewed beer.

And the days went on like that.

Three times, I blew off writing or work to head out on wanders. The first was up onto the spine of the peninsula to see what I could see. The second, with Liesie, was out to the end of the peninsula to see what we could see. And the third was in the direction back along the peninsula toward the mainland. All were, well… Just wonderful. I mean heck, I was in the Scottish Hoghlands!!!

So for those pics, I’ll do another post. Up momentarily.

One comment

  1. Oh, what a glorious place to stay. Reading about light late into the evening made me so jealous as days dwindle so rapidly now.
    I am glad I set aside some of your blog posts to enjoy on a leisurely morning.


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