Kilchoman is our base on Islay. We return again and again to Machir Bay and to Saligo Bay, in changing mood and weather. ‘Come in winter,’ says a local man strolling the beach. ‘ It’s wild and wonderful and there’s absolutely no-one.’
Lying in bed at Kilchoman I hear squalls coming in of the Atlantic and the high-pitched call of chough. Out before breakfast, I watch the rising sun dispel the gloom from the cliffs inland, behind our cottage. From somewhere amongst the shadowy clefts in the cliff a peregrine calls. The sun begins to illuminate the cliff-face, but I cannot see the raptor. There are bird feeders, and seeding docks all a-flutter with small birds foraging. I can make out linnet and, I think, twite. There are jackdaw and chough up on the ruins of the church.
There are Commonwealth War Graves in several of the cemeteries about the Inner Hebrides. At Kilchoman, a cemetery commemorates the loss of The Otranto on 6 October 1918, off Machir Bay. The American Monument on the Mull of Oa commemorates the loss of another American troop-ship that same year.