It was all I could do to avoid choking half-digested mouthfuls of breakfast cereal all over the kitchen table. If I’d realized that I’d switched the radio on in the middle of Thought for the Day I would have acted sooner, but by the time the penny had dropped the damage had already been done. A man called Oliver was using the Feast of St Patrick as an excuse to trot out all the tired old hippy nonsense about ‘Celtic Christianity’; it was hogwash, balderdash and piffle and I can only give thanks that he refrained from depicting the Celtic Saints as enthusiastic advocates of free love and marijuana for all.
It is not my intention that anything that follows should be taken to imply that my life has been anything but desolate and dark since Susie returned to London at the weekend... however one of the real pleasures of the past few days has been to go on some cracking walks whose distance and duration is not constrained by You Know Whose conviction that no day is complete without a distillery tour.
On Monday I trained with the SAS. In truth, that last sentence is a trifle misleading. Towards the east of Islay there are some good big hills, and I've been yearning to get up amongst them from the moment I arrived here. So on Monday I went for a nineteen mile walk to Ardbeg which took me up towards Beinn Bheigier (which at a little under 1500ft is the highest peak on the island), down through Gleann Leòra and then round to Loch Uigeadail which supplies the water used at the distillery at my destination. The very nice bus driver who picked me up at Ardbeg (all the bus drivers on Islay are nice) told me that the SAS used to train up among the hills I’d been walking through, and that’s good enough for me. They could well have been up there as I slipped and slopped my way through the marshes, and of course I’d have been none the wiser - that’s why they’re the SAS.
Yesterday I walked out to the Mull of Oa, at the south-west tip of Islay. Right at the beginning of our stay here Susie and I thought we saw a golden eagle, and so when I’m walking along I spend a lot of time looking up to the skies, hoping for another glimpse of their majesty. Perhaps our journeys of faith are the same. At some point in our life we saw something which filled us with awe, and although much of the time the heavens might appear empty, the memory of that vision we once had keeps us walking forwards and looking upwards. And there will be more glimpses.
Today’s picture is intended as a special treat for all those of you whose sole interest in this blog has been with my unfortunate choices of headwear. However, before you start posting any comments, be warned that my newest and loveliest hat was a gift from The Long Suffering One, and she will be watching what you say, ever so closely.