For years we came up to the cottage in Jura for our summer holidays. No mod cons. No electricity, no running water and no heating other than from the fireplace. Cooking on an old Calor Gas stove, and candlelight in the evenings. Although a romantic picture, the stone building itself required continuous attention.
Today the wee ferry is off. The last weeks have been stormy and the combination of high winds and winter tides quite regularly suspend our one physical link with the outside world. No journeys, no post or deliveries, no milk or papers, no way off the island should that ever be necessary – unless in emergencies when they send the helicopter from the mainland.
Since the very beginning of the I'Anson music, an important element has been the inclusion of orchestral string arrangements. Whilst there are moments of intimacy in the music, it also calls for big and expressive backdrops – and to my knowledge no other instrument or combination of instruments can manage to convey what a bunch of string players can create together.
Barnhill is a remote farmhouse at the north end of Jura – defined by it's most famous tenant, George Orwell, who stayed there to write 1984. Much has been made of whether it was Orwell's self-imposed exile to a remote island and detachment from modern society (he was in convalescence from illness) that led to his inspired vision of a future society governed by a police state.
Radio reception in Jura is terrible. When we came up to Jura as a family, we would always want to listen to the news and took a keen interest in the BBC shipping forecast. It's true that the weather takes on far more importance here as it's more directly connected with everything that goes on. The shipping forecast is sometimes the most accurate way of predicting what is about to hit you!
My lovely dog Minnow died in the Summer. She was getting old and had been bravely coping with a serious illness for a few months. I'd never imagined that I'd know for myself the truth of the expression 'a man's best friend', but the two of us arriving here in Jura and roughing it together for a year or two certainly proved it to be the very best of friendships.
I've been getting out to sea on a small yacht named Morag. Morag belongs to the Darroch family who have old family ties to the island. Alasdair Darroch arrived on Jura with family earlier in the summer in order to compete in the hotly contested Jura Regatta. (Alasdair, Archie and Jeanie can be seen in the photo sailing Morag on a balmy summers day).
We've just had a very royal visitor to Jura. Princess Anne arrived by helicopter last night - using our Cricket Pitch by the beach as a helipad. She was here to officially open a new Care Centre for the elderly in Craighouse. It was always sad that people who had lived their whole lives on Jura (rarely or never leaving the island) were forced to leave in their last years.
OK, perhaps it was a little hopeful to expect to make huge progress during July and August. You may find it hard to believe but Scottish islands magically become very busy around this time with the influx of visitors and lots of local events. This year has been no exception – with the Ardlussa Sports, Regatta and Cricket Festival to name but a few of the very enjoyable distractions available.
I've been living on Jura for three years. It's been a challenging and enormously satisfying time - full of completely new experiences. The original idea was to spend a year renovating and extending the cottage - a place where I could write and record my music. Inevitably, the house building succumbed to what is known locally as 'Argyll Time'