OYSTERCATCHER'S BLOG

2021 – That Was the Year that Was(n’t)

2021 was a weird year wasn’t it?  Like all Self-Catering in Scotland, we were closed for the first 4 months and only re-opened towards the end of April. Choosing to re-open the moment we were allowed, meant that our first few guests had to suffer a little, as we had been unable to travel beforehand to check everything was working properly – it wasnt’t! So to those of you who had to suffer various heating issues and struggled manfully (or womanfully) while we attempted to explain and re-start the system via the phone, to those who had to do without the downstairs loo while we sorted out access problems for our plumbers (note to self – all to be reminded they have to let workmen in when booked) and to those who dealt with a reluctant wood-burner until the sweep turned up – thank you for putting up with these problems.

We have been fortunate ourselves in that we managed to get up to Oystercatchers three times this year despite the shortened season (and daughter managed it a fourth time, by latching on to her brother’s visit) so we feel very lucky.  We’ve therefore managed quite a lot of kayaking, a bit of walking, a few café visits (though none over Christmas/New Year due to increased COVID risks) and not as much hard work as we had originally planned.

This culminated in our 4 week break over Christmas/New Year – I have accumulated a fair bit of leave; husband is able to work from home (wherever that may be); daughter is on a virtual year abroad as part of her degree, so equally has been able to continue to study up here; son, like me, has sufficient leave to come along as well.

We have done some work on the garden – making a start on an enhanced kayak store; repairing the dry stone wall by the gate that some kind soul re-arranged with the side/end of their car at some point over the Summer; re-constructing one of the wood stores in the main garden so that the wood in it actually remains dry.  With just under 2 weeks to go we are still hoping to get some decorating done (but if the weather continues to be more favourable to kayaking and otter watching, then that will be put on the back boiler until the working party returns in late February, ready for next season.

So what did we achieve this year after everything got going again in April/May?

  • After a couple of requests from guests we purchased a new mattress for the double bed – so we do listen!
  • We have also replaced the 2 upstairs twin beds which we had inherited when we bought the cottage in 2014, and which were rather beyond repair – so lots of storage under and much better quality. Pictures to follow.
  • We have put some new furniture in the sitting room – swivel chair and cow footstool! (so “new” armchair in the twin room upstairs)
  • After a few TV issues we have upgraded the TV in the sitting room with a Smart TV and new DVD/BluRay player linked to the soundbar.
  • A big birthday for one of us resulted in a new piece of Art in the sitting room – reflecting our love of the otters we occasionally see from the sitting room window.
  • Although we have not been able to fully bring back everything we removed due to COVID, we have boosted the kitchen equipment with the addition of a slow cooker – a great discovery which has come into its own when we have had a cold day on the hills.
  • We have also invested in a new Shark cordless vacuum which has impressed so far with its ease of use, particularly for under the seats in the sitting room and on the stairs.
  • Outside we got the exterior of the house painted – not entirely without problems, but generally has lifted the appearance of the outside.
  • This visit we started by mending the wall and small gate beside the drive – the wall had been re-arranged by somebody’s car/van this Summer and the little gateway finally gave in to damage caused previously so we also replaced the wooden post that was giving up the ghost by the step.
  • We have removed the old tree trunk from the bottom garden and moved the bench from the top garden in its place, started work on the second half of the outer bothan wall for rebuilding next Summer, and have made inroads into our own kayak store in the bothan – much neater and more secure.
  • We have also finally started making some real progress on the upper garden – removing old sleepers, putting in 2 compost heaps and stacking unused walling stones neatly, rather than in a couple of unruly piles. This has vastly increased the amount of usable upper garden and it just needs re-seeding when the time of year is right. Walling seems to be high on the agenda for June and October – when hopefully we will at least be working in daylight!
  • And finally a bit of progress has been made on re-furbishing the downstairs bathroom – more to be completed, but it’s a great start.

All in all then, we have been lucky. We have abided by the requirements for COVID cleaning, track and trace and all the other restrictions the last couple of years have imposed on everyone. We hope we have provided a safe sanctuary for those who have come to share our wee home. We feel very privileged to have this place on Skye – and are absolutely convinced that letting it out as a holiday home has been the best thing for all concerned – we cannot retire here permanently for a few years yet, but by opening the cottage we have at least kept it alive and occupied for the best part of each year. In 2021 we lost all of January, February and March and most of April. The cottage was then let/occupied for the whole of May through to November, when we closed in order to get some work done and bring in the new beds. We will then have been in place ourselves for the last 3 weeks of December. So in 2021 this house was inhabited for 7 out of 8 available months. We think this is a good use of a cottage that had fallen into disrepair over time (just take a look at the pictures on Streetview of Google Earth to see what state it was in in 2013 – the first picture at the top of the road is relatively recent, then as you proceed down our track, it clearly isn’t!) and whose restoration was started by our predecessors and is being continued by ourselves. Come and visit for yourself and get to know this beautiful island and some of its secrets.