The mornings are darker for longer but sunrise is still before 8am. I’m dog-sitting my folks’ old collie at the moment and he’s used to a walk at 6.30 am which is a bit of a stretch for me, never been a morning person but I’m working on it. So today’s alarm call was the belt and braces combo of the cockerel next door and some slabbery dog breath at 7am. On rising, I dress in the splendourous outfit of:

Thermal long johns
Thick woolen socks
Folk teeshirt
Lopapeysur jumper
Old Stussy cap
Rainproof breeks.

First order of the day is coffee, brewed on the stove in a 6 cup Bialetti Moka, the kitchen radio switched on and the dulcet tones of the presenter of Radio Nan Gaidheal (I have no clue what she is saying) reading what I assume to be the mornings news. Something about golf and Alex Salmond I discern so my incomprehension is of no great loss. I like the gaelic radio in the morning, the music is good and the voices remind me of mornings in my grandparent’s house, their radio always tuned to that same station.

The coffee pot puffles and plops on the hob as I open the back door and take in the view over the croft to Port of Ness, the sea and further on the low cliffs of Skigersta. It’s a view I will never tire of looking at. There’s a ship out there, I look it up on the Ship AIS website and see it’s a Norwegian vessel and heading for Loch Roag. The three Hebridean ewes are grazing happily and look up when they hear the door open. Calan the Ram is standing at the gate looking at me expectantly. For what I’m not sure. Maybe he thinks today’s the day he gets let loose on the ladies on the other side of the fence. He’s going to be disappointed today anyway. About a dozen Greylag geese have landed and are busy pecking away at whatever they peck away at.

Half of the coffee pot is poured into a mug and sweetened before being returned to the hob. Mac The Collie wanders out the door, nose in the air, sniffing something in the wind and I check the days emails on the iPad, waiting for mind and body to caffeinate and wake up. The mug is drained, I follow Mac outside, pulling on rubber boots as I go and we walk to the road and towards the harbour nearby.

The sun is climbing but behind broken cloud, brightly dappled, it’s windy too. The tide is coming in, little fishing boats, bobbing behind the safety of the concrete breakwater walls, clunk when they get too close to one other. We don’t see a soul on the road to the harbour although the light is on in a weaver’s shed at number 12 but no clatter of a loom yet. There’s a little beach at Port, getting smaller as the tide pulls in, and we manage to get halfway along it before executing a swift volte face to avoid getting cut off from the only steps on and off the sands. Enough time for the dog to get wet and gritty however.

Walking back to the croft the air is full of starling chatter, a huge group of them sitting on a weird old house I can’t work out is long abandoned or still inhabited. A car passes, a wave from the driver, I don’t recognise him but we all wave at each other here as we pass, on foot, in tractors, on bikes. It’s friendly, a recognition of an implied connection, even between strangers, something that never happened in Glasgow.

Breakfast.

Two thick slices of Ness marag, topped with two fried eggs from a local croft for me. And the remainder of the coffee, still hot on the stove. The dog gets his usual food. The sheep get a few handfuls of Clover Crunch. The six week old hens now out in their run get theirs. Everyone fed and watered? Then the day can begin, it’s around 8am.

(cont.)