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Day 8: 18.09.20 - its been an awesomely magical day!

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

After our stargazing evening on the beach Maice and I stayed up until midnight, which is very late for us, trying to sort the photos, write the blog and upload the blog but the wi-fi was having none of it so we turned the lights off and went to sleep. We awoke at the same time, 2.50am with an urge to use the facilities, so donning our jackets, we stepped out of the pod and walked through the grass to the facilities block, under a night full of stars. There were slugs everywhere, on the footpath, the porch, you name it they were there. We didn’t have a torch so had to rely on our eyes getting used to the darkness and hoped we wouldn’t squish any of the slimy critters underfoot as we walked. If the moon had been around we could have used it’s light as a torch but it was very strange, there was no moon. Well not up here in Iona there wasn’t. There wasn’t one last night either which had us pondering as to where it had got to. We never did find out!

We woke later that morning at 6.45am to be precise and still clad in our nightwear and clinging onto our cameras and phones we wandered along the track towards the sunrise hoping to capture Iona at dawn. With Dawn caputured in all her glory we got ourselves ready, packed our bag and set off into the village in search of somewhere for breakfast. We did consider the Columba hotel, where we’d had our supper the evening before but decided to look for a little café. Having come to the end of the village, which took all of a minute, and with no café to be found, we retraced our steps back to the Columba hotel and enjoyed one of the best breakfasts we’d had in a long while. What could be better than breakfasting al-fresco in the garden, overlooking the Isle of Mull, the sun beating down on us and it was only 10am. Fabulous darlings, absolutely fabulous.

We weren’t rendezvouing with the others until 11.30am so after breakfast we said hello to the three juvenile highland cows in the field next door, they’re just so cute, until it was time to meet up with the others and make our way down to the port for our boat trip to Staffa. We couldn’t quite believe we were still in Scotland as the sun was so hot, the sky was so blue, the sea was so calm, it was amazing and perfect weather for photos. How lucky we’ve been with the weather on this holiday. We were hoping to see Dolphins and maybe a Minky whale on our trip over to Staffa, so fingers crossed. We did pass a large rock in the sea that was covered with Cormorants, standing ramrod still catching the suns rays and about ten minutes into the journey, our prayers were answered as next minute we were surrounded, literally surrounded by a large pod of dolphins. We couldn’t quite believe it. We were snapping away taking loads of photos and we’ve got a great video of them alongside the boat. Wow, it was amazing!

We were soon at Staffa, and what an amazing place it is. Staffa, is an uninhabited island, home to hundreds of seabirds and has its very own Puffin colony, which sadly we wouldn’t get to see any of them today as they’ve all migrated to warmer climes. The island is best known for its magnificent basalt columns protruding from the sea, and it had a wonderful sea cave, more commonly known as Fingal’s cave. Just the approach to the island was amazing to see this natural phenomenon open up before us. Think of Giants Causeway in Ireland, well Staffa is the lesser known but so much better, in our opinion, not that either of us have been to Giants Causeway of course. Just walking across the columns was incredible, going into the cave was incredible, walking to the top of the island was incredible, the views were incredible and the weather was incredible. It was truly a totes amaze experience. Word of caution……Staffa is not for the faint hearted if you want to walk into Fingal’s cave. It’s just a couple of feet between the rock face and a very steep drop into the waters below, but the saving grace is there is a handrail! Still, if you don’t like heights, just don’t look down! We had a snack stop at the top of the island before getting back on the boat at exactly 2.20pm. We had the time drummed into us at least ten times by the captain. ‘Everyone back on the boat at 2.20pm’ he reiterated time and time again. We didn’t see the pod of dolphins on the way back but we were lucky enough to see a fin, a sharks fin, moving stealthily through the water. It belonged to a basking shark, which just seemed to be basking in the sea. It didn’t do anything like the dolphins did, you know, jump up out of the water, do some arial acrobatics or somersaults like the dolphins did, no all we could see was the fin. I must say, it was very ‘Jawsesque’ in it’s movement. Ah, what a great way to end an awesomely magical, as Maice put it, afternoon out! We most definitely highly recommend this trip to everyone visiting these parts.

Back on Iona we went our separate ways, with a view to meeting up on the west side of the island for a picnic supper and to watch the sunset. Dianne, Pearl and Sandra were headed off to Marble Quarry on the south of the island and then making their way up to the rendezvous point at the ‘Bay at the back of the Ocean’, honestly, that’s what it’s called, a walk of some 2-3 hours……..whereas Maice and I did some food shopping at the local Spar shop, had a little mooch around the local craft shops, where Maice bought a hat to add to her hat collection and I bought a fridge magnet to add to my fridge magnet collection. We then set off, without a map on our very own sightseeing tour of the village, walking through the the ruins of ye olde nunnery and then onto the Abbey where we chatted to the gardener and asked about her thistles. We’d seen them the day before, looking very much like an artichoke and were reliably informed by the gardener that artichokes belong to the thistle family, and that the artichokes grown on Iona only have a little heart, not a big heart like their European counterparts. So, there you go, you learn something new every day.

After our educational talk with the gardener we met up with the friendly laughing cows, the juvenile Highland cattle in the next field and had a good old natter with them over the fence post. They really are lovable creatures and full of character. Continuing on with our local history tour we stopped at the house of Lorna and Reverend George MacLeod, the founders of the Iona Community back in the Great Depression of the 1920’s and then made our way back to the pods where we became very industrious. We tidied up, made sandwiches for our sunset picnic and for tomorrow’s car journey to Cumbria, and we tried, without success to add some more photos to the blog photo album. Seems the wi-fi here has come to a complete standstill!

We finally set off on our walk to the Bay at the back of the Ocean, all wrapped up as the air was cooling down quite rapidly. Hats, socks, gloves, fleecy gilets….we wore it all. And without further ado, believe it or not, we all arrived at the correct spot at the same time and settled in on a grassy bank at the end of the beach, all set to watch the sunset. Poor Pearl and Dianne were drying off due to some misfortunes that befell them on their walk through the boggy countryside. Apparently Pearls feet sunk into the bog drenching her socks and footwear and Dianne suffered an even worse fate by falling head first into the bog when her feet got stuck. Both were by now freezing because, of course, they had no change of clothing. To warm ourselves up on this very cold evening Sandra taught Maice and I how to do the Highland Fling. So there we were, arms and legs flapping about unceremoniously in all directions attempting to Highland Fling on the shores of the Bay at the back of the Ocean! Such fun!!

We ate our picnics whilst watching the sun go down and then a funny thing happened to our cameras and phones whilst taking said photos. A green dot appeared on the screen and in the photos. What is this strange phenomenon we asked ourselves? Why has it just happened now, this evening? Is there something magical and mysterious happening to us here on the beach. Is it to do with the sunset, or even the lack of moon? None of us had any phone connection so we’ll just have to wait until we’re back at base to find out.

We walked home, freezing cold, finally reaching the warmth of our pods at 8.50pm. Maice and I are catching the 9.35am ferry to Mull tomorrow morning so we want to give ourselves plenty of time to make the journey from Fionnphort on Mull back to Craignure on the other end of Mull where we’ll be catching the ferry back to Oban. I’ll be in the driving seat on this last leg of our journey and not having driven a ‘manual’ car for some years now, mine being automatic, I can see us kangaroo jumping all the way across Mull! Such fun! Mind you, what’s even worse is that Maice is now in the navigators seat. Note. If you don’t hear from us by Tuesday, can you please send our a search and rescue party!!!

On that note, it’s goodnight from me, goodnight from her, and goodnight from them

M&A…..and M xxx

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