Works in progress. Iona, October series.

Iona is a very different island in October – the bars and restaurants shut down as tourists slow to a trickle, everything feels wilder – more what you’d expect from a Hebridean island.

The wind is so strong you can lean against it. It’s not really cold, yet, but you have to wear a hat and hood as the sand blasts you in the eyes at times. Hair is a problem, as it can also whip you in the eyes so has to be tightly managed!

The birds appear to love the wind, they swirl above the waves in flocks, if you’re a bit short- sighted they look like wave splashes.

It all adds to the tumultuous Octobery weather and energy, it feels like everything is being cleared and scoured, not just the landscape but the very atmosphere and memories of summer. Despite the gritty eyes, the annoying hair, the noise etc, I love it!

This time I’m staying in Iona Hostel, not a tent, you’d have to be quite tough to survive a tent in this weather. I’ve camped in sub zero temperatures before, but again it’s the wind that’s the issue.

So my accommodation experience in a hostel is completely different – much easier. You immediately get friendly with people and it’s great to share stories. I’m full of admiration for the women I’ve been chatting with here – Mary, Jan and Dorothy from various parts of America, Jane from France and Rachel from the north of England – all of whom have been involved in humanitarian or aid projects around the world.

Our evenings around the kitchen table have involved a bit of wine, whisky, and much political debate, you can imagine the theme – the world appears to have gone to shit in many ways basically! – But these good humoured compassionate people don’t let that kill their optimism and effort.

Tomorrow is a full moon (in Pisces, hostel worker Mark tells me) so we all plan a night walk, I suggested this since I like the idea of a night painting. Of course the reality of painting in the dark in howling wind hurling sand in your eyes till you feel you’re being blinded is hilariously unpleasant to a city-bred person such as myself, however I can at least walk around a bit on the beach on tomorrow’s (hopefully cloudless) moonlit night, then attempt to paint my experience later in the studio…

It’s a lovely studio – a perfect set up with numerous intriguing sea- related objects, plenty light, I can make a mess within reason, and even light a stove if I get cold. So, thank you to John (owner of the hostel) and staff – Chris, Mark and Maria for providing such a friendly and excelient oasis for artists and creative people here on the north end of the island.

Hope to post moon pics after tomorrow eve …

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