How far is far away?
There is a saying in England, definitely in England but maybe as well in Scotland or maybe in the whole of Great Britain (which comprises England, Scotland and Wales), or maybe it is a common saying even in the whole of the United Kingdom (that is Great Britain plus Northern Ireland).
Never mind the definitions but the saying goes like this: If you happen to go really far away and want to explain how far away you would say that you'd be going to the Outer Hebrides.
The thing is then there are those funny people who go "Oh, I did not know they do actually exist" the Outer Hebrides. Or so would tell me Ben who I would meet on Lewis later.
Storms rage for days
Coming from Skye it seemed the bad weather was getting worse. So it is reading-the-book time while waiting for the ferry in Uig (still on Skye) and while on the ferry for 43km.
On 26th of August I drive away from Tarbert, the point of disembarkation. Partly via flooded roads I set out driving south and everything around me seems rather flooded.
The moors seem to become lochs and waterfalls threaten to wash away the very road I am driving on. As most roads are pretty new, built fairly recently with EU-money, the drainage works well and there never is any real danger. I head south via the western coast of Harris which is not an island by itself but part of Lewis, the northern most and largest island of the Outer Hebrides.
The weather is really bad with high speed winds blowing all night for several nights, shaking my truck heavily. I don't mind.
Nadine's book, "The Dead of Winter" by Dominic Cooper is a great read. By now I have stored enough food and tea and sugar (no milk yet) and 10 year old Talisker, single malt whisky. All is perfect for keeping me warm.
And at least my intellect tells me that the truck is much to heavy to get overthrown by such winds, although my feelings are trying to tell me otherwise. Usually the weather is much better in the morning, it seems the wind manages to blow the clouds away during nighttime.
It turns worse at night and I have the Talisker and my book and lots of music (some 500 CDs) to listen to. I have started spending considerable time keeping a diary. So there is stuff to do when I crawl into the back of the van. For a number of times I camp on the most beautiful beaches sometimes all alone.
I go south via Leverburgh (Ferry) to Berneray an isle in the north of North Uist. Uist is the second big island of the Outer Hebrides just south of Lewis.
When disembarking the ferry in Berneray, actually she made an impression on me long before we actually got onto the ferry in a little cafe in Leverburgh, I meet Fayre Cossar a robust women in her 60s from New Zealand. I give her a lift to the youth hostel in Berneray.
She is a writer and Maori story teller and is about to get her book "East of Ra" published in Europe. Running a backpackers place herself home in NZ, she currently travels through Scotland for 10 weeks, carrying her backpack with a tent and the rest she needs.
She makes a deep impression, an admirable woman. She keeps pushing her long gray hair back under the hood when the wind blows it, pushes it the other direction across her still very attractive face.
She must have been an extremely attractive woman. For more then an hour we talk sitting outside the youth hostel facing the sun and sea. Later in my trip I would come across quite a few people who would have met her or at least seen her. I wish I had taken her picture. But I have her email and coordinates in NZ.
Barra, the Castlebay Bar and Vatersay.
My journey leeds me from North Uist to South Uist and further to Eriskay, an isle just south of South Uist.
As nights are bad and days not much better I keep going south and take yet another ferry from Eriskay to the Isle of Barr, The most southern island of any significance. It is Saturday the 28th of August. Barra seems beautiful landscape-wise but rather uninspiring and unpleasant villages-wise. The weather is still rather mixed with horizontal showers dominating the short instances of sunny patches.
And there seem to be no pubs. Absolutely NO Pubs it seems. And it is Saturday. Knowing about the islanders' religious habits I still think that there is, would be a pub somewhere, maybe hidden ... Saturday night and no pub? Just cannot be.
Driving south around Barra's west coast I eventually find the confirmed only bar in the most southern village of Castlebay: The Castlebay Bar established 1911. Open till 1.00 a.m. Sounds and looks exactly what I was searching for. I check in at around 6 p.m. and have some food.
The whole thing starts out quietly, but gets wilder the longer the evening lasts with life music of the worst kind from 10.30 onwards. Not even the locals like it. The poor man is filling in for a well known local traditional band called the Vatersay Boys who happen to be touring elsewhere. I speak to a half a dozen people, fishermen, carpenters, ... "We are poor all week, but rich on Saturdays."
The next morning I drive down a few kilometres to Vatersay an island, but these days connected to Barra by a causeway.
I had a look round Vatersay the previous day and found it ideal for a walk. I walk around the island for 4 hours.
Once I get pretty wet when I misjudge a big wave sending its spray about 10 to 15 meters high up to the top of the cliff where I have settle to watch the ocean. The Atlantic is a powerful, wild, raging monster. I think I was lucky not having been washed into the sea, the amount of water that came splashing up was considerable .....
It was a great day with lots of excitement. Back at the truck, after a bath in the ocean, which was necessary for cleaning purposes, but cold around 12°, I enjoy tea and some peaches.
I leave Barra Monday 30th and drive north around its east coast take the ferry back to Uist and along Uist's east coast all the way to Berneray youth hostel in the hope to meet Fayre there.
But unlucky, she has had left the day before to go back to the mainland. The weather has calmed considerably and I witness the nicest sunset in a week followed by a great sunrise over the sound of Berneray. Next morning, after taking those and other pictures (will be published asap, still shooting film) I take the early ferry to Harris, move north to Tarbert, where after weeks I can finally upload the Hamburg to London pages.
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