To and fro

Typically for us, with the Island of Gigha our new home, there is business we need to attend to on the mainland. It did however allow the opportunity to finish the removal of all possessions from Cardross and I am very grateful to Paul who played removal man for the day. A tiring week that hasn’t allowed us to fully concentrate our effort on the Manse but there are some things to tell you about and pictures to share – life is never quiet, unlike the Island.

Firstly, murder island the tv show. Completely hooked after 4 episodes, as much in identifying people and places of the Island as I am to identifying the killer. The show has inspired both a Facebook group and an excellent post show podcast by @presentsjam (I think I have that the right way round but it may well be @jampresents). I’ve swapped the odd photo with them that I was allowed to take before the set in the Old Manse was disassembled (but sworn to secrecy before the release of the programme). Still as much in the dark to the killer as everyone else but I do have access to the odd fingerprint that neither STV or I have yet wiped clean.

So needing a rest on our return to the Island before starting any form of work we sought out somewhere new to walk. Whilst we have enjoyed the boathouse many times we hadn’t ventured out onto the floating harbour that is the first of the pictures below and only a stone throw from the cottage.

And then to a beach on the South Western shore (Leim) that had bee recommended by friends. A little more difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, but after navigating a field of cows we found ourselves to be the only occupants. The peace and tranquility with only the sound of the waves coupled with excellent views were much appreciated and a route we will walk again soon. One of the reasons we choose to live on the West coast of Scotland is the stunning scenery when the weather is clear. The probability of finding such good weather is likely why there aren’t crowded beaches too.

Then to the first business of the week, the receipt of the caravan I spoke of in the last post. Happy to say that again the delivery happened without incident and the capable driving skills of Donald navigated the entrance to the drive with much more diligence than the scaffolding lorry of the previous week. All of us had envisaged several de and re-couplings between Hilux and motor mover but in the end none of it necessary. The caravan was slotted, for the time being, alongside the Old Manse for us to use as a place of sanctity when the cottage is too crowded. We need to make the space more appropriate to our own use, which immediately means removal of bunk beds to exchange for storage space so some more work there before we have our new bed.

I’ve saved the last topic until the end although chronologically the main event happened on Saturday night prior to the caravan’s arrival. I’m delighted that my passion for astronomy and star-gazing is shared by others on Gigha. There is a group already in existence promoting the dark skies we enjoy on the Island and I am delighted to be welcomed to their committee at next sitting.

To explain a little further as my learned friend Keith did for me earlier. There is a recording taken against the Bortle scale – a nine-level numeric scale that measures the night sky’s brightness of a particular location. At the higher end, (unsurprisingly) with high light pollution, is the inner city sky – almost impossible to star gaze from. Whilst not quite achieving the highest ranking Gigha sits at a measurement of 2 – a typical truly dark site. All this gleaned whilst searching for a different phenomena on Saturday night.

Aurora hunters had been promised a display that may ‘reach as far South as Wales’ by the many apps that track solar flares. More so in Scotland and, just as important, it looked as though the sky would remain cloud free at the time of maximum exposure. Sadly the great show didn’t quite happen as predicted, only being visible to the naked eye much further north. However, that didn’t stop Keith and I exploring the north of the island (where the dark skies theatre will eventually be) and attempting to photograph the horizon. Whilst there were no ‘dancing ladies’ we were encouraged to see both greens and reds in the images captured below. To accompany the shots of the Northern lights are a couple I took earlier of the night sky above the Old Manse to practice focus and one of the milky way. The latter I find mesmerising and now need to find a better framing against one of the many points of interest that are to be found here. Watch this space.

The plough above the Northern Lights on the horizon
Credit to Keith for this one: plough upper left, Old Manse bottom right framing the Aurora.
Different exposure for a more muted colour.
Old Manse under starry sky
And again
Can’t quite tell from the upload but a black canvas pierced with millions of stars – the milky concentration being the many that make up the Milky Way.

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