Another trip to the Hebrides – Colonsay

Last week I spent on Colonsay (an island between Mull and Islay off the west Coast of Scotland) with my girlfriend Kirsty. She was already there so I had to negotiate my way to Oban myself (I was assisted by Kieran, Kirsty’s youngest brother who drove me from Glasgow to the ferry).  I was going to meet Kirsty’s whole family on Colonsay so I was slightly nervous getting off the Boat after a 2 hour crossing. I should not have worried about anything as I really liked them instantly.

After a good evening in the Pub I woke up the next morning to a beautiful morning. Before heading to the Beach I had some more people to meet when  Morna, Alan Helen, Sally, Jen came over for coffee and Haribo! Helen and sally are six and four! That afternoon we all went to Kiloren the first of a few beautiful beaches in the week! We sat at one end of a semicircle of golden sand and chilled out for the afternoon. Eventually the Mc Nichalls joined us and Kieran and Dougal spent the afternoon playing golf balls along the beach.  The next morning I went on the first of three 12km runs round  the island’s solitary road which goes round the centre of the island. There was a nasty hill  just after half way round but it would have been worse going the other way.  After  lunch we went for a quick walk to to the old sawmill  and Gardens.  We then said our goodbyes to Alexandra and welcomed Roddy for dinner.

The next day was a beauty and we went to Macrans a beautiful beach on the west coast of the Island with a great bay which I   swam out into the beautifully calm waters of. That evening we played Risk, a family tradition for the Binnie’s and a fun game to play. I had never played before and  quite quickly got the general idea but spent most of the game watching and learning rather than actually playing. Roddy and I ended up with most of Europe and Africa which turned out to not be a good thing as we promptly lost it all to the eventual winners Alan and Morna.

On Wednesday we got to go out in Dave’s boat and catch fish and lobster. as  soon as we  had put the line in the water  about 10 fish were caught including a sizeable mackerel. I thought that was impressive until we had 8 lobsters in 4 Creels. Most of them were too Small to be worth bringing back so we only took 2 home. There was a super cute baby one about crayfish size that i almost wanted to keep as a pet but I decided that it would be best to let him go and see him in a couple of years when he was the size of the monsters that we came back with. As you can imajine dinner was tasty that evening!

Thursday was spent going over to Oronsay checking out the  ruined priory and coming back to Poll Gorm beach where Kirsty and I spent the next couple of hours chilling out and going for a dip! Oronsay is absolutely beautiful and has fantastic views over to Jura and Islay. It appeared at times as if we had the world to ourselves but the beach was packed with people as it was another scortcher. I came back looking a bit like the lobsters that we’d had the night before but it did no harm as i smothered myself in aftersun and was not too bad. as soon as we returned we were told that the  hay was being bailed over at Kilchatten so we rushed over to find out that there was very little activity going on.

Friday was hay day and after a morning walk up the hill, we spent the afternoon bailing hay to feed Jan’s horses this winter. I came away feeling as if I could be a farmer!!

Unfortunately London was calling and it was time to head bak to the mainland. The fortunate thing was that we had a RIB take us across, Which was a fantastic way to end a amazing trip with Awesome people.  Colonsay has certainly caught my imagination and I hope to go back there a few more times!

Long way Home!

I have just returned to London after having visited various Family friends and cousins over the past couple of days. Family friends can be a very interesting thing because even if their not necessarily your particular friends you still need to treat them as such. That was certainly the case with the first people we went to say with. The parents are friends of my Mum and no one I know well sees the world the same way the husband does. His ideas are so far off the mark that he has always struggled to make any of his plentiful ideas get off the ground. That said they are very friendly and the wife, Jessica is much more straight forward, down to earth and practical. They have recently moved to a really beautiful house just West of Dingwall near Inverness.


The next stop was a visit to the Cousins and Aunt in Edinburgh. Extended family are really important and My Edinburgh cousins are some of my closest friends. The overnight stay was very relaxing on one level as I could say what I felt and speak the truth with everyone It was great to see my aunt so happy and her lovely house being so well used by everyone. The walk on Tyningham beach in the rain was very bracing but I had a good time finding out how everyone was after my time away in Madagascar.

Places, Why are they so important?

I am currently sitting in the living room of a small cottage in a tucked away corner of the west highlands. This cottage happens to be one of my favourite places in the world. The cottage is not that amazing with three bedrooms a large living room and a good sized kitchen. It doesn’t look much when I describe it like this but it in a very special location, It is on the north shore of Loch Carron and has two almost private beaches one facing west and the other facing south. The view out west is of the Isle of Skye and the Cuillin Ridge, which, on a good day is about the most amazing view in the UK.


There are a couple of reasons that this places is so important to me. I have been coming here for all of my life. it started when I was 1 and there has not been too many years that I have not been here. I have a lot of really good memories of being here as well as a few less good ones. I also know the place. A lot of the experiences that formed my personality at a young age were done from here and I have had a lot of my most deep and those experiences have continued into adulthood. I learned a good amount about how to deal with adversity here having a great time in the process. It is also the mental place that I go to mentally when I need to put myself somewhere quiet and relaxed. This can happen when I need to think or when I just want a quiet moment of relaxation in a stressful situation. I find I can think more clearly here than almost anywhere else it and gives me the space to think and recharge those mental batteries.


Why do we have places that we cherish. Why are places like home and where they go on holiday so important to people and why do we need there to be a sense of place. I believe that there are several reasons for this which start with memories. Memories are very often associated with a location and we build up a set of memories around a particular part of the world such as home or a holiday house that you go to for a number or years. We hold those memories very close to our hearts and having good ones increases your longing for the location where they occurred. Memories also give us a sense of place when we are in the location and If a place doesn’t change too much over time we tend to feel at home in that place. This is a great example of a place that doeset change very much over a long period. There have been small incremental changes over the years which have added to the memories than detract from them.


Another feature of humans strong sense of place is our intrinsic instinct for shelter. The fact that we need to live somewhere means we need to make a secure environment for us and those around us to call home. The idea of home is so integral to society yet we mostly don’t even think of it. I have just been in Southwest Madagascar and the contrast between the poor communities on that coastline, such as Tempolove, and a Village in the UK is just incredible. Yet, at the end of the day. the people in both cases have the same needs to feel that they can call somewhere home. This need means that we create a sense of place and community around where we live.