The day after our wedding, Alex’s parents kindly threw a big brunch at their house. Dozens and dozens of people were there.
People kept asking me what married life felt like. My reply: a lot like a hangover.
However, it was a complete joy to be able to speak to more people in a slightly more relaxed environment. In fact, I can say that these delightful chats helped shake off that hangover.
After all that, we went back to the cottages in Crail and had a chilled out day with the handful of friends who would be staying one extra night.
We took a walk on nearby Kingsbarns beach, one of our favourites, and one of the names of our wedding tables (which were all beaches).
We opened cards and gifts — and we were truly overwhelmed by everyone’s extraordinary generosity.
On Monday, we took a short detour to Cupar to collect our marriage certificate, before going on the long drive to Skye.
Not before coming across what the road signs told us are “feral goats”.
This was our mini honeymoon — a chilled out week to be by ourselves and reflect on an amazing wedding.
February is a sort of in-between time for Skye. While the popular perception is that Skye is heaving with tourists, that appears only to apply to summer. And even then, ‘heaving’ may be in the eye of the beholder. In winter, things are supposed to quiet enough for the island to more or less shut down completely.
In February, many places in Skye are open. But many are not. It is wise to do a lot of Googling before setting off on a long journey to somewhere that might be closed.
It was windy or rainy more or less all week. But then again, you don’t go to Skye expecting it not to rain.
When we arrived it was already pitch black outside. We were really tired after all the madness of the wedding and the long drive. So we got in, lit the stove, opened a bottle of fizzy something-or-other… and fell asleep on the sofa.
This was Alex’s 30th birthday, and she was treated to this amazing sunrise.
Claigan Coral beach
Our first activity was to visit the nearby Claigan Coral beach.
From a distance, it looks like any other beach.
But when you get there, you find that this incredible beach is made out of fossilised seaweed that looks a little like coral, hence the name.
On the way back, we stopped off for lunch at Dunvegan Bakery, billed as Skye’s oldest bakery. Alex told the woman behind the counter — a real-life Bet Lynch figure — that we had just got married. She went to the back of the shop for a few seconds, and re-emerged with a bottle of fizzy booze. She said she doesn’t drink, so we could have it. How kind!
In the evening we celebrated as it was Alex’s 30th birthday. I took Alex to the Three Chimneys restaurant, which is really close to the Black Shed where we were staying.
We had a tasting menu with matching drinks. One of the wines tasted very much like Robinsons squash. Alex told this to the waiter. She meant it as a compliment, but the waiter seemed very offended.
Dunvegan Castle and Gardens
The next day we visited Dunvegan Castle and Gardens. The castle itself was not open, and truth be told it’s a little drab (or perhaps I’m spoiled by seeing Edinburgh Castle every day).
But we did enjoy walking around the gardens, despite the rainy weather.
I particularly liked this sundial.
We visited Skyeskins, where we got a little demonstration of its tannery. It basically seems to involve lots of washing. This room smelled a lot like sheep.
Then we went to Portree to make some gin. The Isle of Skye Distillers Gin School can host 12 people.
But thanks to the time of year, we were the only two people there. So we had a private session with the firm’s entertainingly talkative director.
We had a brilliant time making gin and shooting the breeze about all things Skye.
We even created our own wedding-themed label.
The gin will remain sealed until next year, when we’ll open it to celebrate our first anniversary.
One of our highlights was our visit to Skye Weavers.
Their loom has been adapted to work with old bicycle parts, thereby driven not by electricity but by pedal power. It’s an extraordinary contraption, genuinely worthy of Wallace and Gromit.
The weaver gave us a fantastic demonstration, and even let us have a go on the machine.
We loved the concept and the products so much that we bought one of their blankets. I also got a scarf that resembles the tweed of my wedding suit.
From there, we drove the hour or so to the Fairy Pools.
It was a slightly bleak day, and not one for a swim.
It was however a great walk outdoors, which is one of my favourite things to do.
Despite the fact it was February, the place was still surprisingly busy. Not too many people, but enough to know it’s a major attraction. Makes me wonder what it must be like as I publish this post in August.
We also witnessed the staggering sight of someone who was dressed up for a photoshoot trying desperately not to stain her outfit while crossing the burn, while her photographer juggled his equipment.
On our way back, it was just a short detour to Carbost, home of the Talisker Distillery. We dropped in for a quick wander in the shop.
We’d hoped to eat at the Oyster Shed, which many people seemed to be recommending. Unfortunately it was closed.
So the day was rounded off by dinner at the Stein Inn, apparently the oldest inn in Skye.
The next day we took a road trip around the north east coast of Skye.
After a brief stop-off at Edinbane Pottery, where we bought some plates, we started off at Uig.
Uig itself wasn’t much to write home about. We visited the Isle of Skye Brewing Company, and we collected one bottle of everything we hadn’t had before.
Then it was lunch at the Uig Hotel. The waiter there told us they had just re-opened for the season, but that they had only closed in late December. This made it their shortest winter closure in history.
Onwards round the coast we went. Alex enjoyed these Rural Design houses, one of which is a holiday let called the Hen House.
An Corran beach
We stopped off at An Corran beach, near Staffin.
Apparently there are dinosaur footprints here at low tide, although we didn’t see them.
We nevertheless enjoyed the silvery sand of the beach.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
A bit further along the coast, we arrived at Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls.
Kilt Rock is so called because it looks like a kilt, and I think Mealt Falls is so called because the water looks like it’s mealting.
Then it was a quick stop-off to look at the Storr. If we had more time we would have walked, but perhaps we’ll have to visit Skye again another time.
Dinner from Orbost Farm
Just a few miles away from where we were staying is Orbost Farm, a seemingly well-regarded farm that also supplies some of the food to the Three Chimneys. We had some venison and followed it up with some cheese.
Saturday — one more day
After one more sleep, it was time to say goodbye to the Black Shed. But we were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to extend our time on Skye by one more day.
I tried out Alex’s Strong Girls Club t-shirt, but found I couldn’t pull it off as well as her bridesmaids.
Before heading for our bonus destination, we visited Talisker Bay.
We witnessed the phenomenon whereby the waterfall appears to be going backwards due to the high winds.
I was most fascinated by the rusty buoy that was beached.
A previous visitor had kindly left us this message.
Going back via Carbost, this time we caught the Oyster Shed while it was still open. We had a good chat with the owner, who staggeringly is now a vegan, but says he used to eat dozens of oysters a day!
We wound our way towards the south west of the island, where we would spend one final night.
But not before a quick trip to An Crùbh for coffee. An Crùbh is Gaelic for “the hub”, and was built to meet the community’s demands for a shop, an activity hall and a gathering place.
Alex was keen to visit it for its architecture, designed by WT Architecture. It is a nice modern space, and the coffee shop was surprisingly busy.
Our bonus night was spent at Kinloch Lodge.
This is a rather more traditional accommodation than the Black Shed. It is a tranquil place.
When we arrived at reception, there was a man in plus fours. I’m not convinced he was actually an experienced hunter.
I made full use of all our room’s facilities.
We had a lovely dinner. One last excuse to treat ourselves at the end of an amazing week following our wedding.
Sunday — back home
Until our proper honeymoon, in September…