Having absconded some 9 weeks earlier, I head back over to Tiree on Monday to re-open Yellow Hare for three days, one evening of which is being marketed as a Mini Winter Market. It’s to have a Christmassy theme that will include carols, fairy lights and outdoor tables accompanied by hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies served courtesy of the hosts - that's us and Carrie at Tiree Car Hire next door. No purchase necessary for a glass of wine.
It evokes images of laughter and chatter, and warmly-wrapped up bodies gathering in droves,
pouring into the shops and mingling without thought as they enjoy meeting up for the first time
in several months, and just when we all need it. I worked to create this image deliberately, intentionally and transparently.
The truth is somewhat removed from that, although not entirely. In reality, it is two shops opening a couple of hours later than usual plus a trestle table wedged in a porch for soap and candle-makers to sell their wares. But, with three shopping opportunities in close proximity and no car journey or lengthy trek required between them, this is the closest Tiree has come to having its very own shopping complex and by having it in the evening in what could prove a lovely atmospheric scene, weather permitting, it really will be something of a winter-market and I am more than happy to promote that. We do need it, we’ve earned it, and we can do it safely and happily and without risk of infection if everyone does their bit.
There’s irony in acknowledging that I present the highest risk in this scenario. I’m the one coming from a Phase 3 area to a Phase 2 area. When I left the island in late September, I was cock-a-hoop to have returned to Edinburgh after almost 7 months of non-stop baking and making and clinging to the business in this toughest of years. I was more than ready and happy to turn the key in that door and walk away. I think it would be fair to say that those in search of hospitality this year have, in the main, enjoyed it, whilst those bestowing it have, in the main, not. Moving back to the city returned to me considerable freedom and recuperation but, in the fearful eyes of those living prudently, safely and cautiously on the island, it also put me back in to the lion’s disease-ridden den. Fortunately, that’s how most of us sensibles in the city see it too, and behave accordingly.
I can count on one hand the number of people I have enjoyed the company of in those intervening weeks. Three friends, two children and one husband. I’ve had coffee twice with one of the friends, and once with the other. Neither my children nor husband are home with me; I
am in solitude with Billy the Beautiful Cockapoo. I’ve been home alone for two weeks. Apart from a visit to my local hairdressers ten days ago – empty at the time - there has been no shopping sprees, no visits, no visitors and no gadding about. I don’t use public transport or have anyone in my car. There have been zooms, emails, messages, texts, FaceTimes and phone calls a-plenty, but no face-to-face. I visit two local post offices frequently, both of which are considerably larger than Scarinish PO and provide lots of social distancing space. We all adhere fastidiously. No touching things, no leaning, no removal of face masks and contactless payment. In, out, all done and home. (My god, I am scheduling in SOOOOOO many parties when that vaccine is done doing its rounds!!!)
As for the stock I’m taking up; it has lain in my workshop for several months, waiting to be turned into something sellable. The most recent material was delivered three weeks ago. Everything I’m taking has been made by me (the Ceitmor label), piece by piece, apart from jewellery that I received a month ago and bags of Christmas Stocking dog treats which were delivered today and will sit outside until Sunday. They are made by a small business which supported me more than once during the early days of lockdown and this is payback time. I’m travelling to Oban by car from door to door, no stopping. And so. Me – tick. Stock – tick. Travel plans – tick.
Which brings me neatly to the shopping set up and the list of dos and don’ts. These should not need to be advertised. It all ought to be blatantly obvious to anyone occupying this planet over the past year. Nothing has changed. The following rules apply to all three days that Yellow Hare is open, including the late night shopping night on Wednesday 9th December.
THE DO NOTS (not to be confused with donuts, which we aren’t doing and if we were it would be spelled properly)
· Do not remove your mask unless drinking or eating.
· Do not return for a refill of the same cup.
· Do not re-use skewers at the chocolate fountain. Bin it as soon as you have used it.
· Do not share or leave half-eaten mince pies on the table – they should be binned when I am not looking.
· Do not feel you need to buy anything for a glass of mulled wine – it’s free.
· Do not return for a top up of wine, we’re not allowed (well okay, you are, but I am putting a cap on it to limit the chance of y’all getting cosy).
AND THE DOS:
1. Do use sanitizer at the tables, use it before coming in to the shop, and use it before touching stock. Use it again on exit.
2. Do register for Track and Trace – you can do this at the door of Yellow Hare by Q-Reader or in writing (a contact number and name of one person in your group)
3. Do keep a 2m distance between you and others, both outside and in the shops. Yellow Hare will take a maximum of six people in the shop but that is made up of EITHER 3 groups of 2; 2 groups of 3; or 3 individuals. There isn’t space to accommodate 6 individuals from different households. I wrap fast. Very, very.
4. Do enjoy the company of familiar faces you haven’t seen for a while – just keep your distance whilst doing it.
5. Do indulge in the chocolate and wine and mince pies; they are all free and terribly hygienically prepared. Plus I will have spent an eternity in the kitchen making them.
6. Do browse all areas – there’s lots to be had.
7. Do remember that Yellow Hare is open for three days and is serving all of the above throughout; Monday afternoon from 4-8pm, Tuesday 10am – 4pm and Wednesday from 10am until 8pm.
8. Do wait in your car if you think there are too many people mulling around
9. Do order online for in-store pick up OR delivery nearer Christmas.
10. Do use Yellow Hare toilet facilities if you need to.
Tables will be sprayed, wiped and then sprayed again. The final spray does not get wiped off; please bear this in mind if laying down food, use a napkin.
Finally; if in doubt, DO NOT COME OUT.
For that week – Monday to Thursday – there will be no online sales mailed. Orders may still be taken but they won’t be despatched until Saturday 12th at the earliest. Our last mailing day for orders is Saturday 19th December.
I very much look forward to seeing you all, it’s been the oddest year and I’m quite sure many of us will not be sorry to see it go. Enjoy what you can of Christmas – it may still be a merry time of peace and joy, even if the number round your table is to be reduced this year. Being here, living it, enjoying it – whatever ‘it’ may be – that’s the important bit.