April 3rd, 2007
I should be packing. Ray and I are off to the island of Canna for two days and I have food to gather and lists to check. It is nearly exactly 28 years since we went there for the first time and I can’t believe how much stuff we had to take: nappies and a carry cot for a start but also everything we needed to eat and drink and read for a week. I planned every meal and made quite a few of them in advance (paté, stew, pies and puddings and none of your Tesco’s finest). Amazingly, we took only one bottle of wine, though admittedly it was a big one.
On that first trip we stayed in the cottage belonging to Mary Ann the postmistress, and cooked on an old Rayburn fuelled with drift wood. When you got a real blaze going you could see flames through cracks in the rusty casing. There was no mains electricity, no fridge and when Mary Ann went to bed the generator was switched off. She never went to bed before 10 pm and sometimes there was an extra hour or two if she had a visitor to entertain with another dram and stories of long ago.
Over the next 14 years we stayed in different cottages and sometimes got invited to dinner or a music recital at Canna House where John Lorne Campbell lived with his wife Margaret Fay Shaw. Now they are both dead and the island belongs to the National Trust and it will be interesting to see how much life has changed.
I exect this time our self catering cottage will have a fridge and lights that can be switched on any time of day and there will be no rusty Rayburn to fire with drift wood from the beach. But there is still no pub, no shop and probably no mobile phone reception. we still have to take everything we need with us. Since there is no refuse collection on the island we will learn once again how much effort it takes to get rid of the waste we produce.
Better go and pack. No nappies or toys this time (well, apart from Ray’s iPod). But lots of wine. Perhaps we won’t drink all of it.