Sunday, 7 May 2017

I Rave About The Hebrides

You can find my review of the Station CafĂ© in Crianlarich on TripAdvisor.  It's entitled: "I haven't eaten a sandwich like that since 1991".

As far as Berneray in the Outer Hebrides is concerned, I haven't been on a Scottish Island like that since 1986 when, filled with post-finals joie de not having to revise any more, my longest-serving friend Helen, her brother Richard, Dave, Sebastian and I filled up a Ford Cortina and headed for Mull, in the Inner Hebrides.  We spent a few carefree days in full sunshine on white beaches and plunging (yelling with cold) into the turquoise sea. 

Here are the pages from my photo album of those days.  Allow for fading:

The others are all now quite respectable.  Helen usually sits the right way up, for example.

I don't think Dave drops pudding on people's heads these days:

Or leaps at such an angle:

I had had no idea Mull existed before I went there.  I saw Tobermory, puffins and otters for the first time.  We went on a trip to Staffa and saw hexagonal rocks.  We bunked up in a Youth Hostel in the days when you were put on a toilet cleaning rota.  It was glorious.  We were the Famous Five on an island adventure, though none of us was a dog and we didn't drink ginger beer.

I had no idea Bernaray existed before Anna and Hilary started talking about it, and about their home there. But Ted, another longest-serving friend, and I have just got back from seven days of sunshine on white beaches, paddling in clear seas, walking around breezy headlands, collecting exquisite shells: and all this in near solitude.  I was reminded of my 1986 Mull-happiness.

This is the West Beach of Berneray on Bank Holiday Monday:

This is what I had to buy in the island's small but perfectly stocked shop (an excuse for ginger beer in the Lobster Pot tearoom next door):

This is the access to the beach on North Uist where poet and artist Pauline Prior-Pitt took us after an excellent lunch, which included the best salmon I can remember eating, peat-smoked from the island's smokerie

This is the sea, and a token gesture of clouds, it being Scotland:

This is the sea, the sky and a glimpse of the machair, a rare natural habitat for which the Uists, Barra and Berneray are renowned, and which will be flowering soon:

This is Ted, questing for cowries, a theme of the week.  He found seventy:

These are my shells.  There are eleven:

This is me, camouflaged in white and blue:

This is sun on the water on the return from our day trip to rock-tastic Harris:

This is my Trangia stove, a transitional object and all I need (plus Lady Grey teabags, a thermal mug and matches) for a really good brew:

We sat in the garden drinking Prosecco in the evenings, feeling slim, smug and lithe as we watched the seals lumbering on the rocks.  Rocks a bit like this:

And apart from that, this is why I didn't want to leave.  The last day.  West Beach.  Just look at it!

And this was the sandwich at Crianlarich, which gravitated me with a doughy flump.  The tea was okay:


  1. Loved reading this - made me smile so much x

  2. Ah beautiful. Wish I was there as the old TV series used to say. Such fantastic weather!!!

  3. Heaven on Earth, and well clear of Ryanair..