I always find holidays exhausting, the week before you work like a lunatic to leave everything shipshape and the week after is spent catching up – oh, and ironing.  Very cleverly our week away on Lewis and Harris was just before Yarndale, I must just enjoy the stress!  It wasn’t an ideal start.  The plane at Heathrow had a puncture so we missed our connecting flight but we did get to see Ullapool which is in a beautiful setting, and the evening ferry service to Stornoway was first class, the closest thing I’ll get to a cruise.  Looking around fish and chips was the meal of choice and it looked pretty good but I was being cautious.  I’m not a good sailor.

Fishing boats in Ullapool harbour

Fishing boats in Ullapool harbour

We’d booked Port Carnish Cottage for the week and Richard our very genial host was at the door to greet us even though we were ten hours late.

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We woke to this stunning view of Uig Sands, smoked salmon and a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge which we’d missed the evening before.

Lewis beaches are beautiful, white sand and so many shells you could have shovelled them up.  I re-purposed a Tunnocks Wafer tub as a suitably Scottish beach combing bucket.

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Alan became fixated with the Uig Chessmen, 12th century chess pieces made from walrus ivory and found in the sand dunes in 1831.  There are several giant carved replicas along the roadside and a ‘Berserker’ outside the community centre.  All endearingly glum with a “don’t talk to me about life” expression.

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A depressed king – it was raining!

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The Berserker, chewing on his shield

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All the more atmospheric because of the poor weather was Gearrannan Blackhouse village, it made you appreciate just how tough life was, even as recently as 1974 when the last resident left.  Also how many possessions most of us now have and don’t always appreciate.  A local weaver was demonstrating on a Hattersley loom in a side room of the museum house.  Authentic conditions meant very little natural light, noise from the loom and smoke from the peat fire. Life was hard.

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Naturally I did sneak several yards of Harris Tweed into my suitcase, including this vintage piece, quite narrow and more loosely woven than the modern tweeds. Apparently it is a test piece for the weaver to try  out colour combinations.  I took my life in my hands when we got home and gave it a wash.  It softened up nicely with no shrinkage at all – phew.  I lined it with some soft jumbo cord and tied the layers together with tufts of red wool.  It will make a cosy throw to hibernate under this winter.

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Two other pieces are destined for a straight skirt and Top 64 from Merchant and Mills when I’ve found suitable linings.  I’ve yet to learn that yards of fabric does not constitute clothes.

Sadly our trip home wasn’t straight forward either.  A puncture on the car this time when we picked it up from the meet and greet.  We like to have balance in our travel arrangements!

 

 

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