Isle of Skye otters
On commission from removal companies 'down south'?
You can't help but notice the number of residents on Skye who were born furth of the island.
They add to the vibrancy and go-ahead air the place has these days. (No, that wasn't intended to be ironic. I mean it.)
And I am going to repeat, without exaggeration, a conversation I had with one of these new Skye converts on a recent visit.
I was in a fairly unfrequented spot, on a rocky shoreline with barely a path. I intended to make my way to a wee headland. I was looking for sea eagles. (Well, you do, don’t you, hereabouts?) I suddenly came to face with a lady, sitting gnome-like and alone on a tree stump, staring out to sea, as if communing with the landscape. She gave me a momentary fright, to be honest. I thought I had the shore to myself. She shot me a question as I passed. (Let me paraphrase…)
‘Ave yoou seen th’ otters?’
(Otters are cuddly and popular, naturally, and a kind of yardstick of unspoiltness in several parts of Scotland.) Without waiting for a response, she continued...
‘Ooh ah loov th’otters. Do thee know that raised bit at the back of carpaak at Broadford Co-op?’
Now, by an extraordinary coincidence, I confessed that I did indeed know the very spot to which the anoraked female referred, having parked beside the grassy bank there while bestowing my custom on the said Cooperative barely an hour before. The line of banking that she was referring to separates the store’s car park from the beach beyond.
‘Waal, we used to coom up ‘ere t’ Skye every year. An we were thinkin about moovin ere, ye know, permanent-like. But we were not quaaite sure. Then one day on wer laast holiday, I parked at the Broadford Co-op, looked over t’ bank and there were two loovely little otters playin-like on the shore. That did it for me. Ah said to ma husband, ah said - eeh, we ave t’ coom and live ‘ere now.’
...and so on, plus lots more friendly and helpful advice on wildlife spotting - whether I needed it or not - and I walked on. I turned over in my mind what would have happened had the otters been playing somewhere else, or if nature had not been so providential. She could have said:
‘...I parked at the Co-op, looked over t’ bank and at that moment a blooody great gull flyin past crapped all over me cardigan. So ah said to him. That does it - we’re going to stay in blooody Yorkshire.’
On such random events do life choices sometimes turn, at least if you’re from Yorkshire. And please excuse the phonetic spelling of an altogether charming accent. Finally, make sure you pay a visit to the Broadford Co-op when you are on the island of Skye. Enjoy the cadences from all parts of the old kingdom and buy a picnic for your lunch.