Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Inner Hebrides

 In September I boarded the night train at Euston in the pouring rain, ready to make my way up to Scotland to visit my sister.  Those of you who have read my Oban post will understand why I expect the horrendous weather to follow me up the country.  Imagine my surprise then when I woke up the next morning to beautiful sunshine.  Waking up on the sleeper train is always a bit of a treat and I enjoyed my breakfast in bed while watching the world go by and it made a great start to a lovely holiday.

We decided that this time round we would explore some of the islands.  We took the boat over to Mull and then on to Iona.  I was spoiled for choice when it came to finding pictures that could later be turned into drawings or paintings.  The ruins of the abandoned nunnery did catch my attention though and when I got home, I didn't waste much time in getting started on this picture.  It's a pencil and chalk drawing done on pastel paper.  The level of detail meant it took ages and there were times when I sat down after work to draw the next layer of bricks and found myself wondering why I thought it was such a good idea to start this in the first place. I'm glad I persevered though as I am quite pleased with the end result and I hope it captures the beautiful but isolated feel of Iona.

Sue lives on Seil Island and the next day we stayed a bit closer to home and headed over to the neighbouring island of Easdale.  This was one of the biggest days in the Easdale calendar as stone skimmers from around the world gathered for the World Stone Skimming championships. I'm told that Easdale is normally a quiet little place with no cars and a close knit community.  Everyone was there on September 29th though, including all three Blue Peter presenters and a full film crew.  It would have been rude not to join in so we signed up and I'm proud(ish) to announce that I came 43rd out of 71 women.  I've got to say, I was amazed at how seriously some of the competitors take this event.  I watched one man sit for hours filing away at his stone so that it could be reduced to regulation size and he would then be allowed to skim it.  Actually, I watched him for about a minute but one of our Blue Peter friends assured me that he had been chipping away at it for hours and who am I to dispute the word of Blue Peter.  All in all, it was a fun day out and a very friendly and sociable place.  Even when it was overrun with people, you could see the peacefulness of Easdale with it's little rows of cottages all centered around a village green.  I'd like to go back some day and see what it's like when the stone skimmers have gone home and life is just happening at it's normal pace.

This final picture is also from Easdale but looking back out across the sea.  Sue tells me this is looking back towards the mainland.  It's from a photo I took towards the end of the day so the sun was quite low in the sky.  After spending so long on the first picture I quite enjoyed doing this one quickly and feels like more of a sketch than a finished painting.  It reminds me of that last evening before I left when we sat in a pub back on Seil enjoying a nice glass of wine and looking at those stunning views.  I don't suppose you could ever get bored of a view like this.