Since last time, which is six weeks after all, we have been fortunate enough to visit a really fabulous island at the edge of Europe. Lewis, and its co-joined twin Harris, form the largest of the Outer Hebrides at the very North West of Scotland.
A three day journey there, via Bankfoot near Perth and Ullapool ended with the 2 3/4 hour ferry crossing to Stornoway, the capital of the islands and the only sizeable town out there. We were lucky that this little corner of the continent often has completely different weather from the rest of the country – this time it worked in our favour, as after a few days of somewhat mixed weather, it became settled and sunny, with high broken cloud. With the sun setting at around 23:00 and rising at 04:00, it never really gets dark at this time of year, so there is no excuse for not getting out and about.
We were staying in a very pleasant cottage owned by a very friendly couple in a sub-hamlet about 25 minutes from Stornoway, so it was very quiet but not so remote as to make life too complicated. Nearby, at Calanais, were a group of 5,000 year old standing stones which were an excellent place from which to watch the sunset.
With golden eagles flying above the cottage and seals in The Minch, between the island and the mainland, we only lacked for otters this time.
I bought myself a new Harris Tweed jacket while there. We found an excellent shop, The Harris Tweed Company in Grosebay, selling quality jackets, unlike those found in chain stores on the mainland. There are some truly awful quality jackets about these days, so one has to be careful. It is most definitely worth buying from a shop where the provenance of the tweed and tailoring are known. Mine is a deep green tweed. I also discovered via the Harris Tweed Authority, that my Grandfather’s jacket must have been made prior to 1958, as it doesn’t have the reference number to connect it back to a particular weaver. Older than I thought, and older than me, it’s just starting to wear at the cuffs and inexplicably, it doesn’t fit me quite as well as when I inherited it 25 years ago. Oh well…
The tweed for my new one was woven by Donald John MacKay MBE in Luskentyre, not far from Gosebay. It’s quite an interesting concept to know who actually wove the cloth for the jacket you are wearing. He certainly has a magnificent view to ponder over as he makes the cloth