Every year around this time I pack the van and get stuck into a 6 hour road trip to Oban. I get up there in good time and sleep in the back of the van on the dock so I’m ready to roll on the ferry at stupid o’ clock the next morning. I’ve been making the journey to Tiree for nearly twenty years and it never gets easier. It’s a beautiful voyage up through the Sound of Mull, stopping at the isle of Coll  before taking a right and heading across the water to Tiree. Tiree is a small island with a population of about 650 and I come here every year mainly to see my folks who live here but also get some windsurfing and surfing done and go to Tiree Music Festival with them. Quite often the weather will be against TMF but they persevere and make sure everyone has a great time anyway.

It’s still quite a novelty to go to a music festival with my mum and dad and I certainly don’t take it for granted. In my time I’ve played quite a few festivals up and down the place and it’s good but it doesn’t beat just going to watch with your folks. TMF is different to others in that there’s a good chunk of Scottish ceilidh bands. These guys are the rock stars of events like this and while they’ve had some big names play like Toploader, The Frattellis, The Hoosiers, Martyn Joseph and many more, the headline acts are nearly always Tiree bands like Skipinish, Trail West and Skerryvore and they really get the big top jumping! 

Even though I always take my work with me and manage to get stuff done and keep in touch with the team most days I still managed to fit in some great sessions on the water when the wind got up at Crossapol and enjoyed a few days surfing at Balevullin. The beaches are something else here, you wouldn’t believe it was Scotland some days!

When there’s a lack of wind or surf it’s always good to get together with some friends on the island including my mum on squeeze box and have a bit of a jam through some ceilidh tunes. (every day’s a school day for someone like me) 

My folks moved up here about 10 years ago and I don’t blame them..it’s a really great place and a great community too. A while ago we set up Bottomleys on Tiree and Dad has been testing eyes here for quite some time now. It saves the islanders at least a day out of their lives going to Oban and also keeps my dad out of mischief. The clients get a superior eye exam and better service too (but then I would say that). I asked him a few questions about their new life up here and how it’s going.

I guess it’s an obvious one but what made you leave sunny Halifax to come and live on an idyllic Hebridean island?

We holidayed on Tiree with all our family in 2002, and Sue and I visited again in 2003. It was then that the idea of semi-retiring on Tiree came about, and by the end of 2003 we had bought a house on the Island.  My intention was to carry on working as an Optometrist but at a slower pace.

Tiree is a beautiful place to live, and often one of the sunniest places in the UK. It’s lovely to walk on one of the many beaches of silvery sand.

How has your life changed and what if anything do you miss about the mainland and Halifax?

Being part of a small but scattered rural community of just 650 full time residents means that a year or two, you know almost everybody, and there’s lots to get involved in. I’m a director of two charitable companies and a church secretary, together with volunteering at lunch clubs and delivering Meals on wheels.    Oh, and I also fit in a bit of Optometry as well.

Tiree has very few trees, so when we do return to the mainland we always appreciate seeing trees, especially the Autumn colours.

I do miss seeing the Halifax and Huddersfield people whose eyes I had been looking at for around 38 years. It’s been good to meet up with some of them on our trips back to the West Riding.

I see you’re wearing quite a funky Theo these days…. How is that working for you and do you still enjoy your Lindbergs?

Wearing my Theo frame initially led to quite a lot of comments, even from a leading Ophthalmologist who has a house on the Island. I appreciate the design and engineering behind the Theo frame, but the same could be said for my Lindbergs.

Theo and Lindberg represent two differing idioms of eyewear. In effect, you make a statement  with your choice of spectacle frame. Theo is bold and “in your face” whereas the Lindbergs are more subtle yet still exuding quality and comfort.

My current Lindberg is fiited with Zeiss DriveSafe lenses,  designed specifically for behind the wheel, and I find they give excellent vision of dashboard and controls. They have an especially good anti-reflection coating, which reduces glare and helps with night driving.

I know I find it difficult to switch off but we met a lady at the festival who was wearing Theo as sunglasses and I noticed she had another one as her regular glasses. How do you feel about offering Theo and Lindberg up here for the good people of Tiree?

Our Tiree branch should have a small collection of both Theo and Lindberg frames – they represent some of the best eyewear the world has to offer, and thanks for bringing them to the attention of all our clients.

Ok .. is there anything else you’d like to say to our great clients in West Yorkshire?

Just thank you to all our clients old and new – thank you for supporting our independent family run business, now in its 72nd year.