Gometra and Storm Ali

Whatever Storm Ali brought us during last night wasn’t the kind of thing to wake me, nor Andy. It was more dreamlike by nature. The story from Oban, however, was a different thing altogether. A text came through from Katy, who was concerned for our welfare after a spell of lightening strikes around the hostel, and “panic attacks” in quick succession.

What we were offered by Ali was the sensation of sleeping on a battered galleon, as the house creaked and groaned evocatively, and the sound of the ripped plastic sheeting on the polytunnel being whipped around in the gusts, so that we were even tempted to climb the rigging and furl the sails. Old ‘Ship Ahoy” (the cockerel) was silent on the presence of our vessel. He chose to stay in his airy chicken-shed rather than come to the rain-lashed step for his crumbs.

Then, in the daylight, we had the first lull in the wind, and we took the pallet with the solar panel on it back outside. There seemed no reason to stay inside, and we made it to the headland before retreating ahead of the next squall, but not before I was blown off my feet a few times. My complacency about the strength of the storm was beginning to find it’s answer as we fought our way back to Faery Cottage.

From then on domestic chores were in order. Andy made some Laver bread (not the Welsh kind, but two loaves of bread dosed with dried laver), then continued with the kitchen refurb. (Well, that’s to say the repositioning of the taps and sink and building a shelf for a worktop). The job was delayed by our vigilant watch of the weather progressing towards and over us from across the water.

When the next dry spell arrived we set out to the cliffs above ‘Lost Harbour”, but before getting there our heads were bowed against the hail in our faces. We picked our ways down to Lost Harbour, then over the pass and down into ‘washing machine bay’, all the time being buffeted sideways and backwards against the hillsides.

The sea was in a confusion of heaped waves and rollers, and had filled up the line of ascending plunge pools with foam that blew up in vortices off it, so that it became a salty fluff-ball sky, like in a snow shaker. We stood and watched – right next to the breaking sea – for ages, in this surreal landscape, for a while in no rain and not even subjected to cold but in comfortable warm air.

As ever, we did not return empty-handed. The sea gave us a fuel mixer bottle (much needed to replace the one we failed to bring for the dinghy outboard), and some large ovoid shaped buoys (useful for Katy’s ‘garden seating’ project). It was a comical sight (which is probably why we found ourselves being watched by a seal) to see us completely incapable of holding on to a small bottle and the ropes on the buoys without being knocked completely off-balance by the gales which tried to take them from us and back for the sea.

Faffy managed to impress us on the gale-force stagger back over the hillsides by leading us to an out-of-the-way goat carcass. There was no mistaking her pleading expression and pointed direction that she wished us to take a detour so that she could show us where it was (and grab herself a rib bone!). She is now contentedly asleep – her head resting on the substantial ‘Forager’s Handbook’ that Andy has recently put down.


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