Friday, 7 May 2010

Barra - day 7 - Eoligarry

the jetty at Eoligarry, Barra
Softening wind, sunny day - walk to the ferry terminal and then the Cockle Strand airport - cars congregate for the plane landing - resting on a low dune, a buzzing sound approaches - the plane seems slow, then incredibly quick as it swoops over our heads like North by Northwest to land - five people spill out - lapwings try to keep the cows off their nests - beautiful Eoligarry, if only the water was warmer - the little caravan is here - successive curves of white sand - a half submerged scrap heap in the dunes - not wanting this perfection to end we walk to where the road stops and look at Fiaraigh - a green Jesus at St Barr's Church reminds us of Guatemala - long walk back with aching feet, knees and shoulders

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Barra - day 6 - East Barra

looking down from Sheabhal to Mingulay
On the 9:40 bus to Castlebay an elderly couple sit in front us, both with hearing aids, holding hands - visit the public library, which resides in the local school - internet access! - we depart the one room Heritage Centre museum without shelling out the £3 entry fee - the owner of Kisimul Cafe sits outside sipping a coffee and eating a lorne sausage bap while waving to passers-by - ascend Sheabhal - superlative views to Mingulay - descend, and follow the east road northwards - pass inlets like a rocky Maldives - horn spoons and painted stones from the craft shop

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Barra - day 5 - Castlebay

lunch at Hebridean Toffee, Barra
Lowering cloud - a working morning for T - puzzled by the buses - haphazardly document the islands of Bagh Thiarabhagh - a sombre afternoon bus into Castlebay - a visit to Hebridean Toffee - a boat over to Kisimul Castle - Spurs v Man City on the radio - attempt to send the island journal from outside but get no signal, only a passing police officer

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Barra - day 4 - Vatersay

Vatersay caravan
Alarm start - grey with limited visibility - 9:40 bus to Castlebay - at the bus stop T talks to a local who sounds like he hasn't spoken for a week - "It's always like this in May" he manages - on the bus four local women share two seats, cheerfully gossiping - three local men sit separately in silence - stop at the Kisimul for coffee, served by one of the ladies on the bus - our second bus picks up a dishevelled chap with a bag of drink, his day sorted - across the causeway to hilly, empty Vatersay - the perfect, sheltered beach at Vatersay Bay - the misty, heavy lumps of the southerly islands - pass the crashed plane of '44 on the road to Uidh and another double-backed beach - the drizzle slowly soaks us through - return home and it's mild and wet - darkness falls just before 10

Monday, 3 May 2010

Barra - day 3 - West Barra

whale bone
Bank holiday buses run as normal - sunny but cold on the ears - discovery of a whale vertebrae - white, wind-blown sandy beach at Allathasdal - eider duck synchronised swimming - bare foot over coarse sand and machair - red river - a scene from Brokeback Beach - houses jostle in the flat plains beneath Sheabhal - bus confusion and a double-paced march to Castlebay - rescued by our taxi driver from yesterday (free of charge!) - a rickety red bus - smoke fills the valley from the burning of the heather - "Jeez Ian you're keen today" as the bus hurtles past a stop - bath and radio - stoke fire, write journal, sit

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Barra - day 2 - North Barra

dunes of Traigh Eais, Barra
A cuckoo calls as we walk the back road - families scatter from the church - mounds of cockle shells among rusting vehicles at the fish factory - couples sun themselves in garden chairs backed against their houses - the huge, wet, crunchy cockle beach that doubles as an airport - lunch in the dunes of Traigh Eais - sand is delicately lifted on to me by the wind as I snooze - dark clouds build in the distance - shelter from the rain in the baggage handling depot (similar to a bus stop) - aborted walk to Orasaigh over the endless beach -

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Barra - day 1 - Oban to Castlebay

Ferry from Oban to Castlebay, Barra

Anaemic B&B sausage - a morning taster of the Double Distilled malt at the Oban Distillery - creme brulee chocolates in the choc shop before the ferry crossing - a Co-Op dash - an unbeatable smoked salmon sandwich from the seafood hut - the ultimate Hebridean route passing Kerrera, Mull, Coll, The Small Isles and Skye - freezing wind, lonely waters - at Castlebay our fellow passengers disappear and we're left alone - our taxi driver has a sing-song voice - the road rolls us up and down, skimming the many inlets - houses crash land anywhere - islands hover on the horizon - dropped at Breurnish to our own private paradise - the tallest bed we've ever seen - the wind whistles around the cottage