The above title sums up the Isle of Skye in the winter months. Its one of the things I like about living on an island, the winter weather is totally unpredictable. We can get up in the morning and the sun will be shining, with the weather forecast suggesting it might stay that way. But living on the Eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean can make for some interesting changes and some very quick switches in weather.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like before we had the bridge, supplies being dependant on ferries crossing the small stretch of sea (approx. 500m) between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin. Even in our ‘modern times’ (the bridge was only opened in the mid 1990’s) it was a bit of a lottery as to whether the crossing could be accomplished in winter time. However, I doubt that residents complained as much in times gone by as they do now when the bridge is closed due to high winds. In fact, from what I’ve read, it would have been simply an accepted inevitability for the time of year.
Getting back to the present though, this year has seen more thunder storms raging over Skye than in several winters past. Huge gales, have swept across the Island removing tiles – not ours I hasten to add – and causing all manner of destruction. Lightning and thunder have created dramatic, earth rumbling displays with horizontal rain from clouds that have sucked large quantities of salt from the sea and then deposited it all across our windows. The first time it happened it was a strange sensation. As I looked out the windows it appeared there was a dense mist draped across the foot hills of the Cuillin. However, on closer inspection, as I peered through the glass, my eyes finally focussed on the indisputable fact that the “mist” was on the glass itself and comprised of encrusted salt. I’ve hosed this all off once, but now I can’t be asked, every time the wind blows in another blast of icy rain – of the horizontal, hailstones by the bucket full variety – it just adds to the salty deposit, and now its too flipping cold to go outside and hose it off so what the *****, it can wait until it annoys me so much I just have to don my waterproofs and clean it off.
Salty windows hasn’t been the only inconvenience as a result of the storms. Can someone enlighten me as to how we can go through howling gusts of 60mph+, torrential rain, thunder and lightning and only have a couple of small power cuts that last a couple of hours (tops), to end up with one that lasts nearly all day when all we have is – well – no ‘weather’ to speak of? One of life’s many conundrums probably.
Today it is snowing! Yey! Snow was late arriving this year as anyone who has followed Bla Bheinn’s Facebook page will have seen. Usually we have snow on the ‘tops’ by the middle of October. It gradually works its way down the Red & Black Cuillin hills as the month progresses, until by the end of November its pretty well established and we start to get it laying here in the glen, but not this year! So far it has snowed, then thawed at least a half dozen times interspersed by the above mentioned storms. However, today we have proper snow. When I say proper snow I mean the type that stays on the lawn, even when the sun comes out. In fact today, we have what the weather person (to be politically correct) would call ‘wintery showers’. It snows, the clouds go away, blue sky appears and the sun comes out, then a big black cloud wanders up the glen and it obliterates the sun and it snows again.
Personally I love it! Its crisp and cold and to tell you the truth its nice and warm in here, in our house. Before you even think it, YES! I have been outside, albeit for a short while, but in that ‘short while’ during my effort to top up the bird feeders so our feathered friends have plenty to eat, the sun shone and then it snowed – in horizontal fashion – all down my neck and somehow inside my wellies, which was an interesting sensation I can tell you.
So this has been our winter so far, typically unpredictable, northern hemisphere, north west highlands – well Hebridean in fact.