“You anything to do with the sea kayaking?” the grumpy looking chap said… it clearly had not escaped his notice that I was faffing about with sea kayaks on a trailer here in Castlebay. “Yup” was my one word reply… failing to warm to him and his equally grumpy looking wife. Gruff words followed… “Well, what about it then?“. “Are you interested in just getting out for a half day paddling or one of our longer adventures?” I asked. “We just want to go paddling” he says.. It was late Saturday afternoon so I said “Ok then, well Monday is the next likely half day trip, the forecast for tomorrow is for high winds so I can’t take anyone out“. “What use is that to us, we’re going home on Monday and need to go paddling tomorrow” he complained. I apologised and blamed the weather forecast. “This place is rubbish, there’s nothing to do” he grumbled. I pointed out that there were plenty of empty beaches to explore and some terrific walking to be enjoyed amongst other things. “We don’t do walking” was the retort… I said no more.. well, not out loud anyway. I have no idea what they expected to find in the Outer Hebrides.. a theme park perhaps? I cannot imagine how meaningless life must seem for a pair cursed with such a profound lack of imagination… not that they would notice.
I love the place.
My kayak guiding is just about done for the season but I am in no rush to head south back to Cornwall just yet. I love the simplicity of life up here. I love the fact that the vulgar displays of materialistic greed and arrogance that blight much of the mainland are completely absent. I love the friendly, down to earth folk. I love that I can go and surf and share the waves with no-one but a couple of friends. I love that I can always find a beach on which the only footprints are mine. I love that when I want to go for a hike there are no marked trails littered with people and the odd discarded crisp packet… I can just pick a mountain and go, any which way I like, knee deep in heather and wildflowers or scrambling over weathered rock patchworked with lichens, and chances are I won’t meet a soul.
For the next week or two.. or however long it takes I have got a bunch of kayak repairs to take care of. The glass boats are in need of some repairs before being put away for the winter. It is something I am good at and glad to do in return for a place to sleep while I enjoy this small but perfectly formed mountainous little island called Barra :-)
Oh dear, as I write I seem to have chomped my way through an entire fruitcake… I’ve been out in the wind on top of some mountains again today, by way of a break from paddling.
a few other random recent photos follow..