It’s an exciting, stimulating, challenging and encouraging two days with ‘followers of Jesus’ from all around Scotland and beyond. The evening celebration is the climax of the time spent together in the Civic Centre in Motherwell. With goodbyes said we take the time to enjoy chat over a cuppa and chips with some friends. Then the journey begins.
Leaving the city behind we travel overnight over familiar but dark roads, ever alert to the danger of wandering deer. It’s autumn and even in our leafy tunnel the autumn colours are picked out by our headlights. In places the are roads covered by a blanket of fallen leaves and in other places flooded. A sleepy Inveraray provides a convenient spot to stretch our limbs. We park in front of the old puffer – the Vital Spark – and wander along deserted streets.
We are in no hurry. Pre-boarding isn’t until 4:45am, the ferry sailing at 5:30am. Oban is quiet when we arrive at the port. The queueing cattle trucks are a reminder of the cattle sale on Tiree today, Saturday. Hence the extra-ordinary early sailing.
The ferry is busy but not completely full. Perhaps other would be travellers have been frightened off by the myth that the ferry would be full and there would be no point in even attempting crossing on standby. Thankfully, although on standby we are on board along with the truckers, auctioneer, buyers, and other sales personnel. Breakfast is before six!
High Tide, Moderate Swell, South Westerly gusting up to 41mph. The skipper decides not to attempt berthing at the Isle of Coll and then sails past the entrance to Gott Bay and Tiree’s pier. It is an attempt to minimise the time spent there and to allow the elements time to moderate.
Soon we are seeing familiar landmarks – the Golf Ball, the BT Tower, the Pier. We roll off the ferry, perhaps a bit weary and bleary eyed, but safe and sound.
We set out in the dark. We arrive to grey skies, but within two hours that patch of blue sky has become 360° sunshine.
It’s good to travel. It’s even better to come home.