SOME people smell the seasons change. Others swear the light alters.

For me, the township down the road is the harbinger of the seasons. Doing the washing up one night, I’ll suddenly realise that there is a row of twinkling lights. Spring has sprung, bringing with it our fair-weather ­second-homers, here to dust off the cobwebs and wash the bedding.

The extroverts and tourist ­businesses love the start of the ­season. The first boat of the summer timetable arrives, disgorging the excited and those desperate for a break. It heralds the opening of cafés, and of restaurants ­starting to take bookings, of the fast food trucks springing into action and generally extended opening times.

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Much as the joy of the first lamb turns into an exhausted blur, the shine quickly wears off the new season, and within a few weeks – sometimes days, frankly – we’re complaining. There are usually two main topics – the weather, and the visitors. If you are visiting, there is very little you can do to affect the weather – but there is much you can do to annoy islanders.

Is it possible to get through an island holiday without annoying an islander, I hear you ask.

Honestly, no. We annoy each other on a horribly regular basis and you are ­unlikely to fare any better. However, it is possible to do things which significantly reduce the chances of upsetting people.

Let’s start with wheels

The single ­biggest irritation for islanders is that from Easter to October, they have to add a minimum of 20 minutes to every journey because as sure as a cat is a hairy beast, someone will be doing a steady 23 miles per hour and adding insult to injury by braking for cattle grids.

Rather than decide to ignore the pick-up behind you – the driver turning ­steadily more puce – simply indicate left and pull into the next available passing place. Wave them on. You will usually be ­rewarded with a cheerful toot. Pass more than three passing places in a row, and the toots become markedly less cheerful.

Note that I said left. The Highway Code has not changed since you passed your test. In the UK, you pull over on the left. Never on the right. If you chance upon a passing place on your right, ­simply stop opposite it. If necessary, brush up on the rules of the road before your ­holiday. Knowing who has right of way on a ­single track going up a hill, or who has right of way as double track meets single track could make your holiday much less ­hair-raising.

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It should go without saying ... but if someone behind you is lit up like ­Blackpool Illuminations with hazards g­oing – let them pass. They will be a ­volunteer ­heading to save a life or put out a fire. Your ego is the least of their ­concerns.

Whilst we are on vehicles, remember that your Scottish right to roam is related only to your feet – not your wheels. You cannot simply drive wherever you choose. If car parks are available, please use them. If they are not, have a quick look around before you wander off. If you have parked in front of a gate or across a track, I ­respectfully suggest you move. You might come back to find that the moving has been done for you …

Wild camping doesn’t involve wheels. Parking a four-tonne motorhome on a verge and announcing that you are “wild camping” is ridiculous. Find a pitch for the night and pay your dues.

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After the last few paragraphs, it should be clear that island roads are not quiet.

Some however, think they are the ­perfect place to remove stabilisers or conduct a family cycle with a pair of excited ­collies tied to the handlebars and a trail of ­wobbly toddlers bringing up the rear. Don’t do that.

If you are cycling into the wind, there is an excellent chance you will not hear things behind you. A mirror or a head swivel can save you from a lot of bad karma.

Your dog shouldn't be loose. Yes, really

Now, you probably won’t see much growing in the way of classic “crops”. The weather patterns long since put paid to that. But what you will see is a lot of grass. That’s because grass is our crop. We use it to feed animals through the winter. ­Driving over it is as much a sin as ­running through a field of wheat.

So, if you are tempted to freewheel across someone’s land, ask yourself: “Would I do this across my neighbour’s lawn, or through a field of barley?”

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If things on wheels take the top spot for irritations, dogs come a close second. Every year you get people who are surprised to hear that their dog should not be loose. The dog might be “having fun”, but if you are told that the sheep are not, you would do well to listen.

Crofters are within their rights to shoot dogs found among sheep – and by the time we are all two-thirds of the way through lambing, we are generally on our last nerve. No-one wants to do it, but it could happen. Put your perfect pooch on a lead.

Moan somewhere else

Wheels and animals aside, every ­ medical surgery will be eternally ­grateful if you could remember to take your ­medication on holiday with you. They have lots to do and will happily ­attend to you in an emergency - ­but your ­regular ­medication is not their ­responsibility. The same, believe it or not, applies to your pet. If it is on regular ­medication, bring it!

In addition to the practicalities, it’s worth noting that it’s not just island ­residents who enjoy a good moan. ­Everyone loves a good moan. I get to do it for 1200 words every weekend – it’s marvellous.

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However, if you are a visitor to an ­island, there are times and places for moaning – and the place is usually not in public.

For example, if you are complaining about the ferry or other transport-related issues, take that up with an MP or an MSP. Don’t bend the ear of those who live it daily. A similar principle applies to complaining about a lack of anything. The Co-op might not have your usual range. That’s just tough. Announcing your ­displeasure about the Prosecco options to the entire queue isn’t going to endear you to anyone who has recently resorted to UHT.

And yes, everything costs more in the islands. It’s eye-watering. We know all about it.

Shop local and direct

Speaking of money, remember that ­unless you are staying in a property owned by an island resident, the only economic benefit you bring is what you spend here. So please buy local.

Support the community shop, go to the cafes, eat at the hotels, buy from honesty boxes, buy direct from fishermen, hunt down local meat. Buy gifts and products made or sold by island residents.

Take their card and buy from them when you get home. Try watersports, horse riding or take a tour. These are just some of the ­businesses that need their summer earnings to get through the winter.

The National:

I appreciate that when it comes to not upsetting the locals, there’s quite a lot to bear in mind and it might seem as though I am trying to put you off an ­island ­holiday. Quite the opposite! Please do visit – we want to share our home and we know we live in beautiful places.

The key thing is to remember that the beautiful place is indeed someone’s home. It’s not your playground. It’s not some empty idyll to drive over. It’s ­probably not secret or unexplored. It probably has a Gaelic name you should try to use.

All you need to do is imagine a coach-load of tourists wandering through your garden with an opinion on ­everything and a sense of enormous ­entitlement, and then do the opposite. You’ll be just fine!