Family holidays at Treshnish
It was lovely to be sent this essay by Nina who has been having family holidays at Treshnish all her life. She wrote this for her exams last year and has kindly allowed me to share it on the blog.
Thank you Nina for sharing this lovely piece of writing – you write beautifully, and we look forward to seeing you all later in the year!
The Isle of Mull
16 years in a row
The smell of seafood and wet dog lingered in the car from the rainy trip to the stand near the ferry. The car bounced over the ferry doors and we were back in Mull, for the 16th year in a row. It was a bitter-sweet moment, as that was to be our last trip to Mull as a family of five before the eldest was shipped off to university. One last trip to the island where we had learned to love the outdoors and to appreciate the basics of life. Thanks to this, where most teenagers would moan and complain about having to spend time with family, me and my siblings looked forward to this week. We played old-fashioned board games, football in the garden, we climbed trees. Did anyone care? No. Away from the busyness of life, an escape from the stressful build up to exams, we could relax.
Arriving at Treshnish
Now, driving across the island to the cottage, we passed some of our favourite places. Emerging out of the woods and down the rolling hills of Treshnish, all of a sudden, we were gazing across Calgary Bay. Most of my memories from Mull were made on this long scenic beach, hidden by the mountains either side. I remember the sting of a flat football on bare feet, the taste of salt that would stay on your lips for days after kayaking and swimming.
Even at 15, I would run around in the water like a carefree child. This place has allowed me to be free, away from the stress of rainy Glasgow, and instead happy in rainy Mull. We would pack up the car; throwing in spades, buckets, the repaired inflatable kayak, the dog’s leash and lastly the five of us, piling in amongst the sand and dirt left on the car floor. Along the bumpy track, round the winding coastline, until the beach opened up, a stretch of pale sand, interrupted by the lines of seaweed washed up.
Some days we were tired and we would sit and read books in the sand, some we had all the energy in the world and we would run lengths of the beach. Others we would park at the beach and run through the woods with nerf guns, like something out of an action movie. In reality, it was a small patchy woodland that had a path to lead up to the tea house. But we made it our own movie, leaping over logs and dodging foam bullets. We were untroubled kids, and still are when we go back to these places on Mull.
After the view across Calgary Bay, the coastline road took us around to the farm that the cottage was situated on. Just before the uneven track reaches the house, we get a sneak peak of our precious beach. We had originally named it “Rocky Beach” years ago, and it had stuck. We would all pile out of the cottage, the fire still glowing. Down the short track, through the farmland, over the gate and down the bracken covered hill.
Over the boggy hillock, through the towering arch – that’s where you would find me and my family on the windiest day of the week. Three children would run across the outstretching rocks. A small pale blob of a fast dog would be jumping circles around them. With spray raining down on them every 20 seconds from the thundering waves crashing against the rocks, the smiles on their faces could not be any brighter.
Two adults sitting above the arch, rucksacks and jackets piled around them, watching the sea on the horizon. Our parents would watch over us, like two cautious lions watching their cubs playfight and being worried as one of us always ended up soaking wet from getting too close to the monstrous waves. This small, secret opening on the sea cliff is a special place. One we will always see as ours.
No one else has ever been seen there, except from the occasional sheep. It was a tradition, a sacred day. One dedicated to this beach. I love the sense of adventure it gives, clambering over huge boulders, ripped from the cliffs by the weather. Its complete freedom. That’s how it feels to be able to get muddy, get sodden with sea water, and with no one around to care, be able to laugh and mess around with your family. The adrenaline from watching waves break against rocks and being lost in the cloud of spray will never get old. Just like we will never get too old for Mull.
The crackling of the fire
After an eventful day, we would always end up playing football in the garden. The whole family, rolling about in the grass and running into mole hills. When we got too tired everyone would pile inside, filling the porch with the fresh scent of wet, muddy boots and the living room with the smell of wet socks by the fire.
It created such an atmosphere, the smell of drying clothes, the crackling of the fire, the background music of the CD. No phones, no Wi-Fi, no TV. Just basic entertainment; the outdoors, books and board games. Whatever was going on at home, it didn’t matter here. It was closed off from the world, our little secret, where nothing could bother us. Even now, I look back on those memories and am glad that I got to experience that kind of atmosphere with my family. It makes us more connected, better friends.
Year after year, we would arrive a little taller, a little older. Maybe we changed, but Mull never did. That’s the beauty of it. It has always been the same, apart from some new trees or a new fence to replace a collapsed cobble wall. It was always the same, and it puts everything into perspective. No matter what, no matter how much had changed in my life, I knew that Mull hadn’t. So for me, this will always be the place that I can go to get away from it all. Sometimes we all need an escape from real life, right? Well, for me, that place is Toechtahmor Cottage on the Isle of Mull.