Category Archives: Outer Hebrides

Working while on holiday (revisited)

With thanks to my friend AF for the link, here is an interesting article about the wisdom of keeping up with office work while on holiday.

Staff holiday – why it could be bad for business

I have posted about this before, while I was on leave, and it is interesting that professionals in the insurance and HR industries are thinking about the effect that this has on people.

Still deciding about two weeks next year, but I will take soundings from those colleagues who have been taking split weeks as well as those who have completely left the office behind for two (or more). What I have noticed is that some of the more senior staff within the organisation do tend to go completely off radar while on holiday as do those who read The Guardian. Maybe I need to reconsider the Blackberry in the bag next time, or at least have the email function switched off.

On the other hand there are others with whom I work who refuse to check emails while on leave, then complain that it takes two weeks on their return to catch up with themselves, while in the meantime, decisions get undecided and progress on projects slows. And their stress levels get turned up to 11.

What I did notice myself, having been keeping up with emails, is that I didn’t really feel that I got the best out of my holiday.

I don’t think that there is any easy answer and I don’t think that there is a right answer. But keeping the balance right is the important thing.

Lewis, Harris and a general catchup

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

All in all, despite being a long way away, Harris and Lewis are fascinating beautiful places and I can see us returning in the future.
Got an interesting couple of months coming up now. After my birthday this week (thanks!) I have a trip to Photokina in Köln to look forward to in September, with a very busy time at the office in the meantime. Then it’s Copenhagen in October, then it’s the wedding, then it’s Christmas and another year over.
My last maintenance is now less than two weeks away. I’ve written in the past about what this might mean, so I won’t repeat myself more than I usually do, but it’s going to be interesting. We were discussing this with the Lymphoma Association Group on Wednesday.
Now, what can I do to avoid the Olympics..?