Sotto Voice


It is the Easter holidays and since we work at home we are all having a lovely big happy family time.  That’s what Mrs L365 says anyway. I sometimes see it like this…

A voice calls out in the gloom. I snap open my eyes. Light floods in scalding my brain. I close my eyes again in shock. The voice calls out again insistently and piercing.

“Mummy! Daddy! It’s morning time! We have to get up!

“Eeeuuurrrgh… uuhh” I say and blunder through to referee breakfast.

Breakfast is served at top volume.


                             My idea of the perfect breakfast. It never happens.

I don’t like cheerios! I want golden nuggets!” says our daughter in a voice that could be heard over a jumbo jet setting off down a runway at the other end of the room

I don’t like cheerios or golden nuggets or rice crispies! I want weetabix! With warm milk!” says our son in a slightly quieter but much huffier voice.

“Good,” I say, “Well done. A healthy option.”

“And golden syrup! Tons of golden syrup! Use the big spoon!” He adds


The morning is spent being dragged away from the computer where we are meant to be editing, socializing on social media or writing my almost mythical book to bring the wisdom of Solomon to such disputes as;

“It’s my cushion!”

“No. It’s not you had it yesterday! It’s mine today!”


“Daa-aa-aad! She touched my DS!”

“Daddeeeee! He’s watching his TV! Make him stop!”

I usually give up when it gets to

“Dad! He/She is looking at me!

Lunch is a repeat of breakfast but with lashings of tomato sauce.

The afternoon is a repeat of the morning.

“Dad! Make her stop!

“Stop what?”


Dad! I hate my bruwwer!”

Dinner is a repeat of lunch with even more tomato sauce and the threat of no pudding if they don’t eat whatever is under all the tomato sauce.

Bedtime is avoided by going out for a photo.

          This is what greets you at the bottom of the path to the shore at Badicaul

Last night I escaped to a little village on the mainland called Badicaul. Down a path from the main road is a small inlet on the rocky coast. I love it there. I can sit on the rocks and look back across the sea to Skye. I can see Broadford with Beinn na Caillich towering over it. Behind them I can see the Cuillins. Closer, there are small islets off shore. To my left is Eilean a’ Mhal and to the right the Black Isles. Scattered between are some islets too small to have names. On these islands seals live. These seals seem to have terrible gastric problems.


                                             A Badicaul sunset. Pretty colourful

There is usually a stillness and calm here even though it is near the Skye bridge and Kyle of Lochalsh. You can hear the lapping and burbling of the sea on the rocks and the gurgling groaning and strange farty sounds of the seals but not much else. Clouds affect the acoustics. If there are low and heavy clouds they can create an oppressed deadness to the sound. Like being in a long corridor with the walls lined with heavy curtains. The sound rushes in from the distant sea. You can hear seabirds far off shore and the not so distant flatulent, gurgly and colicky sound of the seals. It is all far away and basey sounding. The slap of water on the hulls of moored boats is deep, rumbling and ominous.


Taken just before the heavens opened in a summer storm. A fantastically strange atmosphere.

When the sky is clear there is a lightness to the air and to the sounds. Everything is near and immediate and a bit tinny. I hear seagulls and oyster catchers(I probably hear other birds too but those are the only two I can put a name to). The slap of the waves on the boats is a sharp report like a handclap. The seals still sound bellicose and gassy though.


                         When the sky is clear the light is so bright and golden.

It is refreshing and peaceful here. Nobody is shouting, except the Senior Assistant and she is shouting at seals that have become so gaseous and noxious that their mates have sent them for a swim. They like to come in close to shore and have a look at the odd looking black hairy thing bouncing about on the shore getting all agitated.


I like taking long exposure shots here. While the camera does its thing I can take time to sit on a rock with Junior Assistant leaning against me enjoying having his ridiculous curly ears scritched and watch the clouds slowly move across the sky or a ship heading for Kyle of Lochalsh. I can keep an eye on an otter skirting the shore or cormorants diving.

Everything slows down. I measure time by the sinking of the sun behind Skye or Raasay. I admire the changing colours in the sky as the sun disappears. First, the light shrinks and is dragged down with the sun like water down the plughole. Wouldn’t it be great if it revolved faster and faster like water does? As the light goes the colours become richer and darker until there is just a remnant of the fire that once was. It becomes a hint of red which is overwhelmed by the deepening blue until it is almost black. Then I remember the wind up torch I stole from the children. I carry it because I have dallied so many times watching the colours and light fade and then had a terrible time feeling my way through the pitch dark to the car.


I have to admit that what keeps me here is the quiet. Everything I hear is a whisper. Except the seals, that’s a gurgle but it is not too loud gurgle. It is all sotto voice.

Once I have stumbled over the rocks and up the path in the dim light to the car all the while frantically winding my torch. I wend my way back home. I am ready for the welcome when I open the door. It is instantly obvious that Mrs L365 has not let me away with sneaking off instead of bathing and bedding children.

“Dad! Did you go to the Co-Op? Did you get sweets? I want Coke Zero too! Mum said we didn’t have to go to bed till you came home! What sweets did you get? Mum says my bruwwer isn’t to get sweets cos he ripped the head off one of my Barbies again! Mums says you’ve not to get sweets cos you touched my DS! No she didn’t! Yes she did! Daa-aa-aad! He’s not being nice! Daa-aaaa-aad! Sure we can make her live in the shed!

This continues in baths and showers, while teeth are being cleaned (which means we get covered in a fine spray of toothpaste). It is muffled briefly while jammy’s go over heads and is only stilled when stories are read. Until we are told the next morning that

“It’s morning time!”


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