Way back in the 1990s I lived on a small island off Skye. It was a quiet spot known for its serenity - when the tour buses weren't rolling in. But a lot has changed.
For starters the controversial bridge that everyone reckoned was bankrupting the blokes who ran the ferry, no longer has a toll, so it's open slather. I sail across it feeling a little like I'm sending those poor bridge-building guys broke.
The other big change comes every June, in the form of The Skye Music Festival . This festival is huge, drawing massive crowds from all over Scotland to see acts like Fun Lovin' Criminals, Cuban Brothers, Sparks and KT Tunstall, as well as local heroes like Mylo, Peat Bog Faeries and Injuns. You might remember I mentioned Injuns in a previous blog about T Break. Well my status as a groupie should now be upgraded to full-blown stalker as I decide to sneak backstage to ask them how it feels to be accepted to play at T in the Park. Then I sneak front-stage to ask their mums how they feel about being accepted.
I spend a bit of time grazing in the green room trying to get an interview with a bloke from local folksters, the Peat Bog Faeries. Unfortunately they're closing the festival so they're on last and the only way to keep warm is to drink. More. I find Innes - an effusive bloke resplendent in a bold kilt and a fairly decent skinful - but we're both more than a little distracted. The interview is interrupted by the lads from Injuns coming over to tell Innes he's looking like a scene from Basic Instinct. He primly crosses his legs for the rest of the interview.
Which leads me on to A Word About Fashion. At Australian music festivals it generally consists of factor-15 and a rockin' bare minimum. But the first thing you notice about the look being sported at UK festivals is the footwear. In Australia, they're called gumboots, but over here they're Wellington boots (I guess it makes more sense to name them after a duke than a tree). Either way they're the serious must-have fashion item for this festival, as the crowd gets lashed with rain and the ground turns to mud. But nothing stops a Skye audience from enjoying the music. As KT Tunstall told Glasgow's Daily Record, "It's Scotland. If you don't bring a waterproof jacket, you're an idiot."
The Fun Lovin' Criminals are the big act on the bill and while the crowd are loving them, it doesn't feel quite right to be singing about being the king of New York at the base of the Cuillin Hills. So it's left to the Peat Bog Faeries to bring it home. Even the sound of them tuning up their bagpipes elicits an excited cheer. The local heroes resurrect traditional instruments like bagpipes and fiddles and set them to a dance rhythm, making it okay to shake your arse at a ceilidh again. When their set gets going there's a lot of highland flinging going on - not least from a couple in front of me who kiss for three full songs without coming up for air.
Dazed, muddy and exhilarated the crowd finally disperses around four, just as the sun is beginning to dawn on the Cuillins.
Och-o-meter: 22 - with a touch-and-go ferry crossing in the Orkneys, there was a lot 'Och, the seas are high today.'
Shop Ice Cream Shop Name: Vanilla Skye
Not Quite What We're Looking For: If your idea of restored period features includes black tape holding down the carpet and a pool table with original cigarette burns, then the Badger and Ampersand is a spot you'll want to have World Heritage listed. The impressive display of cleaning chemicals on the loo window is a nod to the hygienic history (when this place used to be cleaned) and encourages interactivity in most patrons (if you don't clean it, who will?).