Superfluous to requirements on holiday:-
- Cropped trousers
- Sun hats
- Rounders bat
- My crutches!
Would have been useful:-
- More fleeces
- More waterproofs
- GP2’s current wetsuit (ie not the one he grew out of 2 years ago)
- More warm things for under my drysuit
- Wooly hats
But I’m glad we left at home:-
- The tent.
I’m sure you get the idea. On our last two holidays on Coll we experienced weather hotter than the Mediterranean. In fact, the last time we were there, there was a drought and water had to be shipped in by tanker. That was the time we were being kept awake in the tent by corncrakes in the adjacent field.
The weather wasn’t really that bad, this time. It was a mixture of wind, showers and patches of sunshine and, as the wind came from the north and west, we could body board on the glorious, deserted beaches of the west coast and dive on the east coast. And yes, I went diving. I’d had a dig around in the depths of our shed before we left and uncovered my very old drysuit, one that had been put to bed several years ago. In the cupboard I found my 21 year old Helly Hansen undersuit that I’ve kept for warm water diving (just goes to show you should never throw anything out). So I rolled into the water, hauled myself out again safely, and finned around the seabed as though I’d never been away.
Between us we also cycled, went power kiting (the male contingent did that bit), dug a sandcastle or two, played frisbee, drove the RIB, collected mushrooms for dinner, marvelled at the machair, made some pottery (or a mess, depending on your viewpoint), fished, played Rummikub and poker, did most of a jigsaw, ate a lot of good food and, at the very end, went doughnutting. Alton Towers eat your heart out! The thrill to be gained from an inflateable ring, a bit of string and a fast boat is hard to describe. It was a little too exhilarating for some of the younger members of the gang but GP1 couldn’t get enough!
There may only be 180 permanent residents on Coll but they’re a very social bunch. A rock band from Tiree was playing in the hall on our first night there and a home grown ceilidh band on the last night. Midweek we had a mackerel and scallop barbeque at Steve’s house, huddled around a stove in a shelter he’d rigged up. Come midnight, a talented, very unaffected 12 yr old, one of the Hedderwick line, was persuaded to bring out his accordion for a burst of music. Not his best accordion, as he’s not allowed to play that outdoors, but it seemed pretty good to us. The high school children have to go off the island for school and most go to Oban, staying in hostel accommodation there. It’s not as supervised/structured as boarding school and must be quite daunting for kids going from a very small, close community. Sam, the self-taught accordion player, now boards at the music school in Aberdeen.
“You’re taking me on the holiday from hell” said GP1 as we hitched up the dive club boat before we left. It might not have been hot and sunny but he had a great time, as did we all. I found myself wondering, one wild afternoon on the beach, how much the children appreciate or understand that they’ve spent considerable chunks of their childhood in some very special places. They take deserted expanses of sand and potential sightings of whales and basking sharks for normal. Maybe they’ll look back and appreciate it when they’re older!
But they’re back at school today and, as soon as I’ve finished this post, I’m back to work.