It has been a long time since I’ve made it home to Mullindress, my wee house up the hill on Rathlin Island. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. The light has altered, and continues to do so daily. The sun rises and falls from a new perspective; this morning barely climbing beyond the horizon, whilst yesterday it stretched its knees and stood as tall as Fairhead, the mainland of Ireland that hugs the coast beyond the narrow sea and boasts memories of Grainne and Diarmuid and the Children of Lir, Irish folklore at its beautiful best.
The whin is budding too, little pockets of yellow petals pushing into the jagged gorse, beauty finding a way to nudge away the darkness and echo the sun that never gives up.
It has been an exhausting few months and at times it has been difficult to stretch my knees as high as the cliff edge but knowing that these surroundings are always here, waiting to welcome me, sure makes a difference. The air here is an oxygen that soothes the burning pace of life. It doesn’t just help you to breathe, it races into your soul and challenges it to focus and thrive. It inspires me to create and be creative. That’s magical. What a privilege!
This morning a wagtail hopped about on the patio, its bobbing tail a nod to my return. It was nice to be greeted by such a special guest. For a moment it felt like spring and a burst of excitement welled up. Soon the swallows will return and the sun will hover that little bit longer as it welcomes distant travellers home.
There’s lots to enjoy about the winter first though. The crisp dusting of snow on the hills across the water on the Glens of Antrim; the howling gales that hurl the waves beyond the horizon and then toss them back to the shore, the sizzling froth tickling the basking seals that balance daringly on flesh coloured rocks; and the stampeding hailstones clattering the roof like cattle hooves on the march, a natural music to remind us that the world around us is beautifully alive and present; the peat burning on the stove that fills the room with the scent of a thousand years past, earth that has been walked on by lives that lived and loved and had a million stories to tell. I could go on…
What’s also beautiful about this much anticipated (and needed) visit is that my grandson Ruairí is with me, his awe at the world outside the windows really lovely to see. He’s already hooked and that makes this such an incredible place to be.
I had hoped to find some time to work on my new novel while here but alas I’ve been really busy with work. In saying that, it’s still enjoyable work as it’s a different work when you sit at a desk surrounded by sea and enviable beauty. I’m very lucky indeed.
Speaking of work…I was really chuffed recently to have been named alongside First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Sport Scotland’s Louise Martin as one of a “top ten of women of influence driving the agenda in Scottish Sport”. You can view the whole list in the article by Maureen McGonigle here:
As a woman working in sport, (amongst other things!) it definitely has its challenges. For a long, long time, people found it very difficult to understand that I not only had the authority to make decisions, but I had the capability too. Only partially listening to me they would leer over my shoulder, hoping to see a man edge into frame so they could relax their breathing and find comfort in a male compadre who knew more than I possibly could!
It’s a little better now but I’ve had to work really hard to get close to a level playing field.
However, I won’t be resting on my laurels…