We've Moved.

Well, that time has come. It's come and it's gone. I turned the key in the lock on Saturday. The Builder and the boys had left on Friday; Katie and I cleaned up and left on Saturday.

I was sitting in the car, having locked up when I realised I hadn't taken a photo. That is the ultimate no-no for a blogger - even for a semi-lapsed blogger such as my own self.

And so, of course, I did the necessary thing: I re-ran the whole locking up thing, and this time I clicked my camera phone to capture the moment.

And so, Saturday lunchtime saw Katie and I on the ferry leaving Lewis, not for a holiday, but to go and live elsewhere. It's not as though we're going to be far away. We're still in the North of Scotland, which in American terms, is practically only a block away. 

But this isn't about the number of miles. This is about leaving the island that's been home for most of our lives. This is about leaving the island on which my Mum and Dad live, and have lived all their lives. This is about leaving my sister and her family; my brother and his; the Builder's siblings and their families. My kids are leaving the island on which all their cousins still live.  Quite frankly, it's home. It was for the first twenty-four years of my life. It was still 'home' for the twelve years the Builder and I lived in Glasgow. It's been home for the past dozen years, and in our hearts, it will always be home. Whether we ever actually live there again, we don't know. We honestly don't know. But we do know that it will always be home.

And, at the risk of sounding rather the-king-is-dead-long-live-the-king-like, this was the sunrise on our first morning in our new home. I'll show y'all more photos very soon: suffice to say that the landscape is quite different from what I had, but I am still totally and utterly surrounded by God's beautiful creation.

That means that the Builder and our kids still have to hear an almost endless stream of:

"Oh, guys, have you seen this?"

"Katie, wow ... come and see the sunset."

"Have you seen the moon? Looooook!"

"Wow ... I just love seeing these fields. Look at that!"

Yes, it honestly has sounded rather like that these past few days.

Just one thing: whilst trees are lovely, in moderation, I can't help wondering why folks wanted to plant so MANY of them?? Seriously, they block out so much of the stunningly beautiful countryside. 

Aye, I guess whatever I am, a tree-hugger I am not.


Wedding Day, Part I

I don't have any 'proper' photos, so I've nicked some of the ones my Facebook friends have posted and will give you a wee glimpse into our day.

This was the moment the Builder first saw Catherine in her wedding dress. At this point, all my morning's emotion was bubbling very, very close to the surface. Dangerously close. 

As he moved forward, himself with tears in his eyes, he hugged her in a way that said, 'I am holding you lightly because of your veil and hair and dress. But my desire is actually to hold you so tightly and never let you go.'

At this point, my heart truly felt painful. I had to keep my emotion in check. I cannot do an elegant tear rolling down my cheek. If I allowed my emotion to seep through at all, the floodgates would have burst open. It simply couldn't happen.

The Builder then prayed with us. I am turned away from him and Catherine at this point. I'm sorry, I really don't want to sound dramatic, but this was agony

(Yes, I'm thankful, as is Catherine's dad, that she is marrying in the Lord. What could be better? Yes, we are sharing her joy that she is marrying the man she loves and that God took into her life. Yes, I am thankful that her leaving home is in the best possible way, and for the best possible reason. But I repeat: it was painful. It is painful.)

Okay, I'm going to move on from the Builder and myself, and focus on the beautiful bride ....

...and her beautiful bridesmaid. 

This has got to be Katie's best selfie ever. I simply love it!

Here I am standing outside the church with John's mum. At this point, the day was dull but dry. We were all at the church on time. My emotions were doing just fine. And all was going swimmingly.

I'm not sure who was still around at this point ... whose photo this is ... but here is the Builder, ready to walk into church with his daughter on his arm. Ready to give her away.

And here he is a few seconds from answering the question, 'Who gives this woman away?' with the two simple words, 'I do'.

And that was it. She was then placed in the hands of the man who will take care of her for the rest of his or her life. She is his until separated by death.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


On the Run Up ....

A quick post with a few of Katie's mobile photos from the past couple of days.

Katie took this photo on our last evening as a family in our home in Ness. Although we will be back after the wedding, Catherine will not. We feel very blessed and privileged to have had a whole week together before coming out to Inverness this Monday. It was wonderful for us all to be around our family table again. Precious times.

This photo was taken as we drove onto the ferry on Monday morning. Here we are leaving the island for The Vodding (Father of the Bride reference: y'all know it??)

And here's Katie's ferry selfie. Catherine's slate heart is showing 3 days - three days - to go! I guess it's time I took my head out of the sand, and faced it: she is going to Northern Ireland and is no longer going to be there to join Katie and I for our cuppas and blethers.

Finally, a photo of the three men in my life. My sister, Marina, and I had stuff to get in town on Monday afternoon, and the Builder noticed I'd left my mobile at the house in which we're staying. Instead of ignoring it, he and my other menfolks jumped in the car and searched the highways and byways until they found me.

Oh, okay, they searched Marks and Spencer until they found me, but for guys, that's about the same thing.

Despite them finding themselves in the nightmare-for-guys-department, they still allowed me to take this photo. If I was hashtagging this photo, it'd be something like this:

#myboys   #checkshirts  #getusouttahere  


Heart Issues ....

Catherine gets married next week. Seriously, there ought to be a law against babies getting married.

Okay, so she doesn't look like this now, and apparently she hasn't for quite some time, but in a part of my heart, she will always be this adorable little girl, bald as an egg, in a denim bib-and-brace. 

I am, of course, delighted that Catherine is marrying the man she loves. But she is my girl. I've spent the past twenty years with this beloved daughter under my roof, and her dad and I have adored every minute of these years. And now she's leaving us.

And my heart is awash with mixed feelings. 

I am happy for her. But I want my wee girl in the denim bib-and-brace back. Yes, I love seeing her at this stage of life, and love to see her excitement and joy as she anticipates her forthcoming marriage. But I still have this deep ache in the pit of my heart knowing that this new stage of her life means she is no longer going to be primarily our girl; instead, she will first and foremost be 'John's girl'. 

In the midst of all my emotion, I also realise that everyone else in our family is going to miss Catherine terribly too, and none more than this fella ...

Catherine has been like a second mum to this guy. She has always been Calum's default go-to, and there has been a special bond between them ever since he was born.

 No matter where we all went, Calum always gravitated towards Catherine, and I could have chosen dozens and dozens of photos showing something of that bond.

Catherine never had to be asked to look after Calum. It came naturally. She looked out for him, and was always ready to give a listening ear, always there for him to talk to, always willing to give him time. She was patient when he wanted to learn something; she was kind to him even when the 8-year gap in ages was very apparent; and she was always ready with open arms simply to hug him

And so, as my own heart flips and flops with mixes of feelings, as I keep thinking of (and blanking out) how things are going to be for me - for us - in our new life-without-Catherine phase, I also think of Calum and how he is going to miss his beloved older sister/mammy bheag.

Aye, Calum, I do realise I'm not alone. I'm not alone in the way I feel. Yes, I'm Catherine's mum, but the Builder is her Dad, and you are her adored younger brother.  

This is new territory for us all. Whilst rejoicing at these new providences in our cup, this whole chapter is new territory for us all. 

It is with a fair dollop of trepidation that we walk into this chapter.



Yes, the capitals are necessary. And yes, the exclamation marks are necessary.

Having had the least summery summer I have ever known, the past couple of days have given us a real taste of summer sunshine. In Autumn.

Despite all our busyness, Katie decided to drop tools and head down to the beach to enjoy  the delicious sights and sounds on Tràigh Shanndaigh. I haven't done anything to any of the photos, so the colours do not do justice to the beauty, but I still want to give y'all a glimpse of 'our beach'. Yes, that's the beach that will soon not be on our doorstep. It will, however, be 'our beach' for our kids forever.

What the pictures never show (and yes, I know I've said this time and time again) is the sound of the sea. It really is well named, Ceòl na Mara.

There is something about the sound of the ocean that is inexplicable. At least, I am unable to explain it.

All I can say is that it does something to the deepest parts of my heart.

 And finally, it was time for Katie to come home.

*      *      *

Yesterday, Katie and Calum couldn't resist heading down again. 

Now, normally Katie's selfies look something like this:

(this was from Tuesday's visit to the beach)

....or like this:

(this was from yesterday's trip)

But, believe it or not, she pointed the camera in the proper direction and gave us a proper selfie today.

and even gave us a doubly-fab-selfie:

There's something about the endless rolling of the waves that makes even Calum, at his stage of life, stop and ponder.

Jackson, on the other hand, has little time for such contemplation ...

 This is more his style.

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