Monday, 29 May 2017

Day 3 ,Island heavy again.

Reloaded onto coach and setting off at 8 am we sat backand enjoyed the scenery, and what a difference a day makes.It was a glorious day and wall to wall sunshine.
On the road to the ferry at Barra to Eriskay.
 This was taken from the coach window.Our arrival at the ferry . Apparently it is a good place for seeing otters but he only ones we saw were carved wooden ones.
We had to sit in the coach while we  were driven aboard then we went up on deck to watch Barra disappearing and Eriksay coming closer.

I almost had another dog as whilst on board there were a couple with 2 long haired dachsunds ,so sweet and I of course asked  if I could speak to their dogs. They were a pair husband and wife and the wife was due puppies in about 10 days. Oh if only. The owners did say I could put my name  down , but too far to go to collect  it. One day maybe . So we said  goodbye to Ruby and joined the rest of the group to disembark.
Eriksay is famous for its  wreck of  the S.S.Politician in 1941 which hit a submerged  rock and was breached in shallow water.The cargo  was about 21,000 cases of malt whisky.Given the wartime rations  and the slow response  of the authorities this was like "manna from heaven"  to the islanders.
Most of the cargo was salvaged and  the customs and excise officials  did eventually arrive,  some people were arrested  and  convicted but without the help of the local police.The film Whisky Galore released in 1949 was based on Compton MacKenzies book who was living on Barra at the time ,Barra was used for most of the filming and Compton MacKenzie is buried  in the churchyard I showed you yesterday. They have just released a new  version of  the film.
Sorry but you get the rushing by effect.We crossed the causeway into South Uist. A ruined croft by the waters edge, we saw lots of these and heard about how the people could not make a  living on the land and sea and  migrated to the mainland.Again though the colour of the sea had  to be seen to be believed.

Another croft but with a trampoline in the garden looks out of place somewhat. We stopped here for a little while to  see the two churches on this site and there were  a few interesting  features.

Originally these 2 churches were on an  island and joined by a causeway. The other one is  in a ruined state but I was looking for Lichen for one of my Scavenger photo hunt pics it was an ideal  site. There have been 4 churches on this site.

The rock nearest the built up wall was covered in lichen and just had to take a picture.

Loved the colour too. The celtic cross caught my eye too.
We then sauntered back to the coach passing a wall which had lots of bones on top.
The cottage we  passed was  next to the youth hostel,to the left of the cottage.
At the bottom you can see the iris which grows wild here ,we saw a few of them in flower and it must so lovely.
Again info about the place.
Make that 5 churches on the site, getting my facts wrong here.We boarded the coach and set off to have lunch and a coffee . A  packed lunch was collected  at the Dark Island  Hotel.
We sat outside and although it was windy it was very pleasant and the orchard next to the picnic area was alive with the singing of birds .
Not sure if they were  starlings  or  blackbirds but there were  a great many of them this one must  have been the lookout.Fed and watered on we  go.
Just loved the colour and textural quality ,it only needed a sheep in the foreground.
There is a sheep in the foreground of this but we were motoring and it was a case of quick take a pic and hope it comes out. We have now travelled through South Uist onto North Uist and onto Berneray onto South Harris ,all lovely landscapes and took far too many photos to show you them all. North Harris surprised us as after all lochs and flatness it became quite hilly and a totally different landscape.Of course the well known  Harris  Tweed  comes from  here.

 Isn't this a fabulous view.The long and winding road ,I am wondering if to get it made into a very large print for the lounge  wall, just need  some wall  space.

We did see these black sheep almost at the ferry over to Lewis.
I  took these little cottages I quite  liked the thatched  one.

I took one of Martin outside but I   think the person that lived  there wasn't too keen and rapped on the window. I had  not  realised   it  was occupied.Oops.
Back  on coach and off on  yet another ferry this time to the Isle of Lewis ,where we would make our way to Stornaway .Although it seemed a short way off by sight, it was  a very strange route as we zig zagged back and forth apparently to avoid rocks and shallow water.So we visited 7 islands in  one day. We arrived in Stornaway very weary and dinner was at 8 so exactly from 8 in  the morning until  8 at night  we were travelling and seeing wonderful scenery. We stayed in a 4 star hotel and by us it is  absolutely the best one we stayed in. I  think  most of us were ready for bed .So for day 3 I will say goodnight  and  it is a breakfast at 8 and  away at 9. I wonder what we  will see tomorrow.Hope you have enjoyed today.
4  more  days to go. Hugs.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Day 2 on Barra

This is me again I have already taken 4 hours on typing this out and have somehow  deleted the lot. Oh woe is me. So I start again on Barra day 2. We had this day free so we booked ahead with a taxi driver  to pick us up at 10.30 and take us on a tour of  Barra. Luckily Martin phoned him the night before ,the call was taken by his wife who said he would phone  and let us know in the morning  if he was still  available . We  asked the receptionist if there had been any word and  she said he could not make  the morning but could take  us at 4.  I asked if we would see Puffins on the island to which she  said no, but two other ladies had booked on a boat to take them out to the island to see some, but we were too late to  go  too.So we thought we would go with some of the others and be dropped at Castlebay.So we go  outside and  wait on the steps,they were  a bit slippy and I  took  a tumble. The hotel owner  was very concerned and asked if I should go the the island  hospital  to get checked  over. You know  how it  is you feel such an idiot and I scrambled  to my feet and  said I was fine as you do.  Jarred the back which was not good news as  it had been behaving ,but apart from a few bruises I was ok. The bus arrived and we duly set off to see the delights of Castlebay. We arrived there at just before 11 and was told we would be  picked up at 2pm. So we had 3 hours to explore .  Hmmmm.  On a nice day it would have been lovely but in the cold and drizzle not so good.We decided we would take the ferry over to the castle we  saw as  we sailed  in  yesterday.

This is  Kisimul Castle.Built in the 15th Century it was  a  stronghold for the Macneils of  Barra.We climbed the steps into the castle and entered a courtyard.  Unfortunately the baronial hall  was closed to the public due to renovation.  One of the  houses you could look into though.
The doorway was  the right height for  me but the sign asked you to  mind your head.  Upstairs the bedroom,it  even had an en suite but it was quite  basic as you can imagine.
To me there was no cosiness about this place.
Back  in the courtyard Martin  wanted to climb up to the ramparts.I stayed on ground level as I wasn't trusting  more steps. I saw this plaque .
I looked   inside to a large empty room ,with a blackened hearth and a ladder to upstairs. Feeling defeated wet and cold I thought I would look  in  the  shop.
I had a quick look round  and then went outside again to look through one of the "windows".
Then  out to catch the ferry boat back.
We arrived back in Castlebay half and hour later and took in the village capital of I bank , I post office which was also the cafe .An indian restaurant (but not as we know it) a tourist information  centre ,shop that sold literally everything you might need. and a church in use and one not.
I went into the tic and  we found out there was a Herring Walk we  could do. Whilst in there I bought some cards and a snood  as  I was so cold.
Lovely and snuggly , we decided to fortify ourselves in the post office come cafe before setting off on our walk.
The clock in the corner was running on Barra time  I think.  We did have a lovely scone and cream and jam though ,along with a welcome  cup of tea.
We set off  to find the Herring Walk  and came across the Hebridean Toffee factory. We entered what looked like a shed.
We were offered a sample of the tablet which resembled Kendal Mint Cake in  texture but brown and very sweet. Decided to pass on that and made  our way outside. We came to the Herring Walk and I won't explain what it is all about the photos can speak for  themselves.
Not many.Quite a few of these oystercatchers about  though.
 More explanation.
The next one was set in the walkway.
I just loved the, is this a word,celticness,of this .More facts about  the industry.
So pleased not to have been a herring  girl aren't you.
The next one shows a picture of  where all  the stations were.
All signs etc are written in Gaelic.We wandered up to the road and passed a neglected building  that a local lady who stopped  while we were looking at it explained it  used to be the  schoolhouse ,the headmaster lived next door and  her children had been educated there. Children would be taught until secondary school when they had to go to the mainland for the week and come home weekends.
We saw this at the roadside a bit further on,  wish we could have asked  the lady what this  was about. The fishermans chapel and rest house has now fallen into disrepair too
The other one mentioned though in the Herring walk info is  still standing ,and  is a Catholic church which most  of the inhabitants were.Martin climbed the steps to see inside and took my camera.
The view from the top.
Inside .

I hope he said a prayer for me whilst there.
We then set off to wait for  the coach,  I think we saw all  that Castlebay had to offer on a damp chilly morning. So back to the hotel to freshen up and await  the taxi.  He arrived at 4,20 see Barra time . We were beginning to think   he was not going  to turn up. We saw 2 ladies from our coach party arriving back the ones that had been to see the Puffins, they were damp to say the least more like  dripping.  I asked if they had seen the puffins ,Oh  yes  we have seen the puffins!!! they replied  tell you later. The taxi driver arrived and we drove  off  for a  tour of the island that is Barra.He was very informative and maybe in league  with the estate agents as he told us if we would like to move to the island  he  would show us some of the property for sale. I don't thinkso. He drove us for about an hour and charged us peanuts.  He stopped at an old church and said go have a look inside. Well this was the outside.
Built in the 1400s inside these norse stones took our breath away.
Martin was thrilled to see these. At the altar end lay the tombs of two chieftans ,both came from the USA.
them. More description  for you here.
Outside the remains of the even older church.
A panoramic view from the churchyard.
He then took us to Barra airport, hmmm you may be thinking airport ,well yes an airport. Here is the airtraffic control tower;
The landing strip.
Yes it is a beach.  Flights are dependent on  the tides and weather. We then drove over to Vatersay where we had a non stopping tour as much as he could as the road only went so far as it was being worked on.   So we got back to the hotel having seen  places that others hadn't.We rrived back at the hotel just in time for dinner and there was much hilarity when the ladies that went to see the Puffins told their story.Are you sitting comfortably then I will begin.They paid £50 each for the trip to Mingulay, remembering  the weather was not good. They climbed  in the smallish boat which set off to the Island. A rather rough journey and although there were two decks one in and one out they sat outside to get the best view. Arrival saw cliffs lots of seabirds and no jetty, bear in mind one of the ladies had a crutch as she had a dodgy hip. They were told they could have some time here to see the wildlife and would have to climb up the rocks and cliffs to get to the top. Cynthia with the crutch said it too 5 men ,yes 5 to haul her to the top. Her friend was the one who wanted to see a puffin.  When they got to the top ,they were so frightened they laid on the grass and did not dare move . They ate their lunch laying down watching the gulls overhead. They said puffins are very small and once they had  seen them they had to await the boat . Never mind having to get down to it, she said they both looked at each other and said Bottoms. In the boat again they just wanted  to get back  ,however the boatman said I will take  you to see  the seals and off they set. They said they thought they were going to meet their maker as the boat lurched from side to side and one of the young men went inside to pray!! They said if it was their time at least it would be quick as the water would be so cold.  When we saw them back at the hotel and asked if they had seen the puffins , as I said their answer was ,Yes we have seen the bl...y puffins., It was how they told it ,and I am so glad we were too late to go.
So my dears before we went to bed after a long day and with a very early start the next day,a last few of Tangasdale beach outside the hotel.See you tomorrow.
much love and hugs.