& Ulva

" We found tea here, as in every other place, but our spoons were of horn "

Johnson on Coll

8/4/96 - Had to get up at the crack of dawn in order to try a second dash for the Coll ferry - our B&B host insisted on still getting up and preparing breakfast for us. Then also abused the ferry staff who phoned ahead to the Coll ferry to ask them to wait on us while we drove the stretch from Fishnish to Tobermory - sure enough they were there in a row waiting by the gang plank for us as we screeched onto the jetty. Calmed down on board and wondered what to do with our inadequate 2 and a half hour stretch on the island.

It's pretty barren and not many people about, after wandering about for a while we found Kip Poulsen's studio and after asking in the hotel managed to interview Kip himself.

Found a strange deserted caravan on the way back to the ferry - with Mike Nelson style dog bowl and bones left lying on the stripy seats around the little table.

Arrived back in Mull rather shell shocked, but quickly found a tea room and tips for the B&B bookings. Went to the Mull museum - fantastic - Isobel Bird - next obscure expedition retracing? Our B&B on Mull had been booked via the net - an AHJ first - our host John Porter turned out to BE Mull on-line - we spent a good part of the evening looking at his site and chatting about info/art sites, mull high spots and weird email contacts. He even greeted us at breakfast with details of and Boswell pages - full electronic B&B service with home baking!

9/4/96 - Amazing full day today - unfortunately the amount we have to see and do seems to be increasing in direct proportion to the amount of work we'd also like to get done. It's almost impossible to see anywhere in the amount of time we have. We planned to spend this morning on Ulva but ended up not leaving until 4.00 after an amazing day of just chatting to people and wandering about.

The Island is fairly small and currently only 29 people live there. You can go over on a ferry (driven by Donald who's family make up about a third of the Islands inhabitants). We stepped off this into the cafe where we were immediately introduced to the owner of the Island. She told us that she'd previously lived on Gometra which she'd been given as a wedding present but then when her mother died they had sold this Island and moved to Ulva in order to keep it going. She declined an interview but we learnt later that we'd actually had what would normally be regarded as a long chat with her. Whilst she encourages visitors to the Island she is pretty private.

We were then introduced to Anne Jones - an American by birth who'd lived on Mull for 10 years where her husband was a GP and then 'retired' to Ulva. She invited us to call round at her cottage. First we went for a short walk around the island and took in the house that B&J had stayed in - now a byre! Amazing views out to sea and over to the smaller islands. We called in on Anne who asked us about the internet which made a nice change from constantly grilling other people. We had a cup of tea and a long talk about Ulva and her story of how they came to be living there.

"M'Quarrie told us a strong instance of second sight. He had gone to Edinburgh, and taken a man-servant along with him. An old woman, who was in the house, said one day, 'M'Quarrie will be at home tomorrow and will bring two gentlemen with him'; and she said, she saw his servant returning in red and green. He did come home the next day. He had two gentlemen with him; and his servant had a new red and green livery, which M'Quarrie had bought for him in Edinburgh , upon a sudden thought, not having the least intention when he left home to put his servant in livery, so that the old woman could not have heard any previous mention of it. This he assured us, was a true story."

Boswell recounts a story heard on Ulva
After this we headed back to the cafe to talk to Chrissy MacDonald who was born on Mull (where she still lives) and comes over to run the cafe in the boat house. She's very knowledgeable about both islands. Gaelic is her first language, and we spoke about how when she was at school they were not allowed to use Gaelic even in the play ground and how now the situation is reversed and speaking Gaelic is something to be proud of rather than to cover up. As normal the minute our tape ran out she told us some really interesting second sight stories about 'Granny Tiree'(Lots of people have refereed to Tiree as the 'second sight hub') - and the ringing she'd get in her ear before the news that someone had died. She also recalled a vision her Grandmother had of fish all along the sea shore and people picking them up in baskets - this happened the day before a fishing boat was wrecked and the whole catch was indeed washed up on to the shore.

We arrived back in Mull and tried for the laundrette in Tobermory - shut as my jumper on Horizon will show - managed no work in the evening as we met up with so many folk in Tobermory - Alex in the bar, who bought us a drink and was actually rather charming - despite his apologetic phone call to our next meeting at the home of Jean Whittaker - local B&J expert - who put us to shame. Here we were joined by the two women who've set up the Mull 'magazine' and finally these were combined with the arrival of the film crew. Hello Horizon & project angst attack - good-bye evening upload!

us on Ulva

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