Wild swim Skye

It’s taken a little perseverance, local recommendations and an OS map to find swim spots on the beautiful Isle of Skye. Much of the land is fenced off – even by the coastline, and there are very few marked footpaths.

The payoff for our research has been incredible though!

Snorkelling off Colbost jetty revealed a world of vibrant seaweed and iridescent fish darting about.

A hack through fields found us on Milovaig beach where, on honeymoon 19 years ago, we had combed the beach for sea glass and Victorian pottery. This time we lit a fire, toasted marshmallows and enjoyed the company of an inquisitive seal while Eldest and I swam. We found huge purple-blue lobster shells – Little One calls them ‘lompsters’, I hope she never grows out of pronouncing them that way!

The crowds visiting Coral Beach faded away as we took to the water, bright turquoise and clear as glass even under wild grey skies. Tiny fragments of shells and white coral peppered our feet as we rushed to get our clothes back on in the wind.

Potholes like craters bumped us along the road to Ramasaig. We asked the farmer if we could climb a couple of his gates and a boggy squelch downstream rewarded us with a waterfall and pool right by the sea.

We picnicked on a flat rock looking out into the bay, warmed by the sun. In the waterfall we scrambled up to ledges and let the rust-coloured peaty waters tumble over us. I found a natural jaccuzi for a bracing pummel of cold water.

However, we wouldn’t recommend a swim in the bay here! Eldest and I were thoroughly freaked out by the dense forest of leathery seaweed just below the surface, and the rough scramble over barnacle-encrusted rocks was pretty treacherous.

We decided to give the summer crowds of the Fairy Pools a miss but it’s on the list for an out-of-season return trip. I would imagine in October or February it is indeed “Baltic” – to quote a local vlogger

Thanks to a tip-off from the vlog above, my final swim on Skye was a magical skinny dip in a thundering waterfall – there was even a ledge to jump from the edge of the pool into the falls. There’s nothing quite like the feel of river water on your skin, and the softness of your hair as it dries after a waterfall shower. I kid you not, it’s a mere ten minute walk from the Sligachan bridge which swarms with day-trippers getting their photo shot of the Cuillins! After walking a hundred yards from the bridge, we met no-one else on the path.

Instagrammers of Skye, thank you for sticking to the well-worn path and allowing the wilds to remain wild!

Long may it stay that way…

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Rewind

willow

Seated around the table

Quiet clicking of laptop keys

I rewind

See my fear in your eyes

My exhaustion

I can’t do this, I can’t do this job

Please don’t rely on me…

 

Seated around the table

You can rely on me today

Rely on me to tell you the truth:

This pain will end

You will hold a small hand in yours

and walk under willow leaves

Shade, and shelter

 

7p22.1

Chromosome 7

In the beginning was the Word

L, O, V, E

transcribed as A, C, G, T

adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine

Four nitrogen bases to compose a three-billion note sonata

A, C, G, T

the hue of her skin, her rosebud lip

heart fluttering on an ultrasound scan

A, C, G, T

the cosmic typewriter skips a beat

A T

G C

a microscopic pause

missense in the melody, an unexpected note

A, T, G, C

she dances to the music

dances to the beat of her own drum

she runs with open arms and heart into the world

our little love

L, O, V, E

A, C, G, T

In the garden

There is joy in my garden this summer.

For a number of years it’s been a struggle against the enormous weeds that infiltrate the patio. Overgrown ivy weaving its way through the fence panels, tired decking slippy with leaf mould. A flowerbed that used to be a pond tangled with wild strawberries and dandelions.

The funny thing is, many of those difficulties remain – but we’ve created places to tend and nurture. I cut back the ivy, cleared the ‘pond’ and filled it with rocks and alpine plants. Resilient little clumps, they are weathering the hot, dry weather admirably.

We painted dilapidated fence panels in turquoise and blue which draw the eye to the bottom of the garden. I spent a satisfying afternoon with my father in law cutting up wood from the local sawmill and building raised beds. It’s been a family endeavour – driving around Devon with my husband and Little One to collect free topsoil and lugging rocks with Eldest.

Tending peas, courgettes, pumpkins and a runner bean plant is a gentle and soothing after school activity for Little One and I. Watering in the cool of the evening offers time to talk with Eldest.

It struck me that the inner life is a bit like my garden. We need spaces to rest, tend new growth and be fruitful. These help us to have the energy and impetus to tackle the weeds that can otherwise feel overwhelming: anxiety, work pressure, parenting challenges (to name but a few).

My plants need water and nourishment to produce a crop. My garden helps me to reflect on my own needs as I tend new growth in work life and life as a parent.

Bullet journalling

I have some new fluorescent gel pens, bought on impulse as a treat when shopping in Bruton with a girlfriend.

It turns out, they’re invaluable!

I came across the concept of a bullet journal, and wanted to personalise it to incorporate some of my learning about my mental health through occupational therapy.

At the beginning of a month, I brain-dump the things I’m aiming for in a bulleted list. Examples of mine are:

  • swim in the sea once a week
  • build some raised beds in the garden
  • organise crèche provision for a course I’m delivering

I try to keep the overarching aims to 1 page of my A5 journal. Then I circle the bullets with a colour in beautiful gel pen:

blue – work related

green – self care

yellow – my kids

pink – social time

pink heart shape – my husband & I

orange – house & garden

The colour code helps me to look at the balance of priorities, and to be really mindful of when there’s an over-emphasis on work at the expense of other areas!

Each weekday, I bullet my to-do list in the same way. I make sure to bullet self care time such as blogging, tea alone in a cafe, running, wild swimming. When there are naturally days with a swathe of blue work tasks, I’m reminded to book in the other aspects of life later in the week. I get to see where I’m putting blue circles in days they’re not needed, and here’s a very useful thing:

An X over the bullet means I did the task or activity

An > over the bullet means I just move it to another day

I’ve found this extremely liberating in comparison to a traditional to-do list where I can feel I’ve failed if it’s not all crossed out by the end of the day.

My bullet journalling helps me to prioritise and also to notice when my expectations of a day have been unrealistic. I really love that little > symbol…

Before there was a tree

I have a new job, an incredible job full of possibility and hope for families suffering through perinatal mental illness. This poem is a reflection on another stage in my own healing.

oak

Before there was a tree,

or even the thought of a tree

there was dark, decay pressing down into the earth,

leaves disintegrating

only to release their final nourishment to the soil

there was the sleep of death, curled up, dormant

 

Before there was a tender shoot,

or even the thought of a tender shoot

there was a husk cracking

an unfurling – anaemic and fragile

searching for the light, spreading tiny roots

reaching for Spring

 

Now there is a sapling, the thought of a tree

the wind buffets the stem

the leaves are nourished by sun and April-shower

the soil enriched through loss

there is the beginning of a tree

 

What if we rewrite the stars?

Easter is kind of a weird day when you don’t know what you believe anymore.

Hope wrestles with bitter disappointment.

The old simplicity is long gone.

A soundtrack of

Candi Statton, U2 and Nirvana all turned up too loud. Washed down with Prosecco.

I’m not sure it’s a fitting tribute, but it’s all I have today.

Unfulfilled hope of miracles,

Are you the Only Way, to hell with those born into another Way?

A wedding feast for the whitewashed proponents of Family Values?

No thanks if that’s the good news after all. Sorry.

Spring swim

jacobsladder

The first day after the clocks change.  Incredible stillness and light at Jacob’s Ladder.

I forgot my fleece rash vest.  I decide I don’t care.  Bikini & wetsuit boots – quite a look.

Fabulous, freeing, breathtaking water all to myself.

I stay until I start feeling the cold seep back into my core.

The air is warm enough to enjoy a towel down and a cup of tea in my dry robe.

To be still and enjoy the feeling of being awake, alive.

 

 

#missyou

A love letter in hashtags for Eldest.

Also a love letter to anyone parenting a teen.

#hugs from you are even more precious

when you’re feeling #grumpy

I do #missyou sometimes

and it’s ok if I seem a bit #needy

because when I lie on the end of your bed and we listen to music

(#Nashville of course)

#itsallgood

and all feels right with the world, because I’m needed too

#iloveyou

*The teenager print is from Etsy