We (myself and Faffy) survived the first school run: the 4 hours from here on Gometra to the ferry on Mull to meet Katy at 4.45pm, then the 4 hours back with her, by which time it was getting dark.
I put her bicycle in the car, hoping that the long trek back over the islands would be a bit easier for her. It worked! She’s not a keen nor experienced biker, but by pushing it up the really steep rocky bits, then freewheeling down the descents, she was in much better shape at the end of it than last time.
It was a lot for myself and Faffy to do (out and back), especially since the weather for the outward leg was wet and windy – the tail-end of a tropical storm. Donald, the Ulva Ferrymen, wondered whether the Calmac ferries would be running, which put the frighteners on me. Katy would be taken back to the hostel in that event for the weekend, but I’d be stranded on Mull with no Ulva ferry till Sunday, meaning that Percy cat would be alone and unfed for two days and nights.
Fortunately by late afternoon the weather had improved.
I was absurdly excited at seeing the monumental Calmac ferry gliding towards Craignure from Oban, getting the welling-up feeling that I often get at the sight of ships and boats, planes and trains. It’s quite odd. Buses and cars never hit the spot.
Anyhow, I searched the crowds and saw her bustling along with the other hostel children, in a close bunch, as though she’d been doing this all her life. It disappointed me a bit because I felt that it was a very special day; something that had finally taken shape after half a year of trying to organise it, and something life-changing for all of us.
She continued with the nonchalance and inflatedly casual manner. Like a teenager, of course. So I stopped being soppy and became casual too (calling her bluff), which did the trick. She told me tales of school and hostel life all the way home.
All weekend (meaning Saturday) she was preoccupied with concerns about going back: what to take, when to leave, what ferry to catch, the route back to the hostel, whether any other children return on Sunday etc. Etc. And I was worried about getting there and back in a day and whether Faffy would cope with a round trip again so soon, whether I could leave her all day at home (which I decided I couldn’t) etc. etc.
So we weren’t very productive that day, and decided to fill our time playing the card games that we’d been sent. The question of how and when to get back to the hostel played so heavily on Katy’s mind that I decided I’d have to go over to Oban with her and then stay out overnight again (sleeping in the car). But I was dreading returning, like before, to a depressed cat.
The trek out on Sunday was helped enormously by having the bike for Katy, but even so the mood was grim for the first hour. The day passed in a series of highs and lows from then on, as obstacles were encountered and than either overcome or worked-around (like getting the ferry times wrong through not using the Sunday schedule).
As I write this I’ve just had a voicemail from the hostel, which made my blood drain quicker than water. It is Katy’s key worker to ‘touch base’. Nothing is wrong but she wants to chat about her care plan. It feels very odd that our daughter has a key worker and a care plan – terms that remind me that other adults are in loco parentis. It makes me feel very vulnerable.
Rather than hang about on Mull this morning I wanted to get back to Percy, so I drove straight from the spot where I’d parked up for the night (though I couldn’t say I slept much), to wait the couple of hours at Ulva Ferry for Donald’s first crossing at 9am. As it turned out, by the time I’d re-packed my rucsac and organised the dumping ground of a car, Donald was arriving, so we made an early start back.
Percy cat came to greet us at the door, and although he wasn’t best pleased at having been left, at least he wanted to be cuddled. The animals have become very close to me and each other here, and even the cockerel which comes over from Rhoda’s is now sunbathing with Faffy, Percy and myself on the doorstep.
At night time I hear snoring and assume it’s Andy, and then suddenly remember that it is actually Faffy. The cockerel continues to crow “ship ahoy” every morning, and to do it closer and closer to our doorstep. Katy agrees that he doesn’t “cock-a-doodle-do”, but she doesn’t make out the “ship Ahoy” that is blatantly clear to my ears.
There are two other cats living here on the island – a ginger tom and a small black and white – and they go about together, side by side. They remind me of the 2 cats in the French cartoon called (I think) ‘Mio Mao’, which is outrageously cute of them. Percy just ignores them now. He’s more Scottish in temperament!
Since I wrote this blog, only hours ago, Percy cat died. I can’t write any more about it except how loved he and his brother Buster were, and are.