A first report from First Lighter Tristan Sanders

With Tristan in Scotland.

A first report from First Lighter Tristan Sanders

I left New Zealand with a farewell committee made up of my Family and Clan members. It was a long flight, a lot of sleeping and a few movies helped pass the time along with 1.5 hr break in Hong Kong and a further 3.5hrs in Heathrow. I finally arrived in Glasgow where I was met by previous First Lighter Robert Nairn.

We left Glasgow and headed up to. Robert's family home in Acharacle, arriving at
11:00 pm, and after a quick introduction to Robert's family I finally headed for bed... Jet lag had me awake with the birds, but was easily in time for the half seven breakfast. After breakfast Robert had me out on the croft to help with some fencing before the vet arrived to de-horn the calves.

Robert was heading off to Shetland to play a gig, so after the vet left he gave me a lift up to Astie and Tracy's house in Achnacarry. Astie was at work when I got there, so I met up with Tracy and the kids - Alex (16), Nina (5) and Alan (2). After a quick yarn and a cup of tea with Tracy, I headed up to my room to unpack and get organised.

Most of my first week was taken up with a tiki tour af Lochaber, a walk along the Dark Mile to the Cia-aig Falls and back through Achnacarry, a drive out to.
Aviemore, and another up Glen Nevis. I also met Lochiel, who dropped by to say hi to Tracy.
Week2, Astie & Tracy were away on holiday, so I was left to. house sit and relax. As well as climbing Ben Nevis with Bill; Margaret and Shona Cameron, another First Lighter, called and invited me round for dinner. They also took me far a drive up to. Inverness and a visit to Culloden. It was a good trip and I learnt a lot about the Jacobites and clan history, pretty bleak place an the moor.

On my birthday, turning the big two 0, Astie & Tracy got up early (half past fIve-ish) to make me a birthday breakfast before I left for work. Alex even got up and said happy birthday, but didn't hang around and went back to bed for a bit more shuteye before school. When I knocked off from work, Tracy had laid out Alex's kilt, a sporran - Alex's from when he was younger - and a shirt, we were all to get dressed up far my birthday tea. Tracy made a Fillet steak dinner washed down with same not bad wine and champagne and followed by the Lochaber, so I am told, favourite dessert sticky toffee pudding _'Tracy was relieved l didn't ask far a pavlova, they gat me a pressie too, something far the colder days playing rugby, a sort of base layer top to. go under my rugby shirt, I was stoked about this as they have been saying haw cold last winter was, but I came prepared with my possum fur hat

Astie and Tracy's house is the original kennels for the estate, as part off the work to make it a home they have made the original building open plan and extended the house to form a courtyard. It is heated by two wood burning stoves so keeping the wood shed full is a full time jab so amongst other things we've been out cutting wood quite a bit. Tracy's in charge of painting the house, so I've timed it right with my trip to be lending a hand. We also did a bit of work getting the courtyard ready far laying slabs, Astie had dug the majority of the material out with a digger but there was some material closer to the building that needed to be dug by hand, so we had a day of digging the courtyard, and levelling the ground ready far the next stage. Alan was desperate to get in on the action and got his digger out to help...Astie is building a drystane wall along the roadside in front of their house so we have been working together on this, pretty hard with some of the big stones taking two of us to move them.

After a delayed start and same initial enquiries, Tracy managed to score me a few days work with their friend Paulo Berardelli, mustering sheep, bringing in the silage using a real bone shaker tractor and repairing same fencing. Paula would phone the house and ask far the "Kiwi Boy". The Berardelli family have been farming in Scotland far a very lang time, Paulo's family are really nice and I had same great family meals with Paulo, his wife Elsbeth and their five kids and Paulo's folks.

One day I told Tracy I would be repairing same fencing in Brackletter, and Astie knows the area so they took a chance to find me and turned up with some McFlurries for morning smoko, great on a really hot day!!!. Paulo's family also have some land dawn in Glen Coe, so he's promised me a week of stalking in October, which will be excellent!

Paula put me in touch with one of his friends, Paul who owns Gillies fencing, and I’ve been working for him fencing on a hillside near Lochaline for the last few weeks. It's an early start and hard work, and typically, John who. I'm working with, calls me-the Tourist!

I've signed up with the Lochaber Rugby Club, who's home ground is just down the road in Banavie. We've played 4 league games and a few pre-season games. With
two out of the four matches as convincing wins, Lochaber have had a good start to the season are currently sitting third in the league. The away games will take me all over the Highlands and Islands, a great way to see the country!

Astie cycles to work in Fort William every day - a round trip of 23 miles. A few weeks ago on his way to work, he fell off his bike just round the corner from the house and broke his collar bane. Not long after that I hurt my ankle at rugby, so yet another trip to. Accident & Emergency for Tracy….I think Tracy was worried about having two guys to. look after as Astie was pretty knackered with his collar bane. But the ankle is fine now after some impressive bruising and Guinness Astie is now back to work after 4 weeks off.

Since I arrived we've been doing quite a bit of fishing on Loch Lochy in front of the house. Mostly spinning but Astie recently bought a fly rod so we've also been getting to grips with that. Form has not been good but we did eventually have same luck with same real tasty trout. The midges have sent me crazy and have been partly to blame far no. fish!, no. one told me about them before I left!!!!

Donald Andrew, Sarah and their new baby Donald Fergus dropped in for a coffee and a chat one day. We talked about the exchange and my plans and then Donald introduced me to the Estate Ghillie, Mark, and asked him to keep me right with the fishing in the area. There's only a few weeks left of the season so Astie and I are going to go out and give it a good bash on the weekends, and fingers crossed we've got the right flies on the line.

That more or less brings us up to date with some the adventures so far, others I might tell... one day.....


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Comment by Terrence J. Quandt on October 13, 2010 at 21:24
GREAT report, Tristan! Really enjoyed it!
Thank you.

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