This was our first trip back to Harris after an absence of four years (the Dafter fell ill with ME/CFS just after we went in August 2011). Prior to that we had been every year since 1996. In the past, when we lived in Aberdeen, we used to leave very early and travel all day in order to reach the cottage by the evening. The Dafter finds car travel very difficult now, so we’d decided to break up our journey into two days each way. As it turned out, Gay has arthritis in her hips, and so this arrangement was far better for her, too.
After a night in the lovely Kintail Lodge Hotel, we took the afternoon ferry from Uig in Skye to Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris:
Michael took this great photo of the lighthouse on Scalpay – which I walked to on my solo trip in April.
The Dafter was deeply happy to return to her old haunts, and immediately reclaimed her usual bed at the cottage. The next day we set out:
We had a wonderful time doing all the things we always enjoyed doing, starting with going to the beach. The Dafter took her art supplies, and Gay and I did some shell-hunting.
The weather was a mix of sun, showers, mist, rainbows – all of it constantly shifting and changing. (As the photos from Monday the 3rd show.) Gay was absolutely entranced by the colours of Harris:
We had a beautiful afternoon at Rodel, where Donnie at the Rodel Hotel recognised us and was happy to see us again. The chef kindly made chips for the Dafter!
Driving back up the West Coast, this viewpoint is the one we are lucky enough to have a Willie Fulton painting of:
After a rest, the Dafter was well enough to come back out to another beloved beach, Luskentyre:
The Dafter has begun using cuff crutches as a mobility aid, and these have been of some help. She had worried she wouldn’t be able to do much on Harris, but although she needed to rest every day, and spent one full day in the cottage painting and resting, she was delighted to have the strength to walk to the beaches and to take other types of excursions with us.
Gay, who is a plantswoman, was astounded at the wildflowers on the machair. Our first evening at the cottage, I mentioned to her that there were wild orchids near the sea, so she went for a little walk, and came back gasping with excitement at seeing three different varieties, “just right there!”
One afternoon we were able to visit Willie Fulton at Ardbuidhe Cottage Gallery. He was sorry that the Dafter has had such a rough four years, but was very encouraging to her about her art and life in general. She was happy to see him (and his wonderful studio) again, and Gay thought his and Moira’s work captured the beauty of Harris very well.
We had quite a social few days at the cottage: friends to tea, other friends to lunch, a friend of the Dafter’s came to stay overnight, and we had visits from and (for Gay and I) to our friend Catriona, whom I have written about before. She’s now 80 and full of wonderful stories. Gay found her absolutely delightful.
I’ll finish showing and telling you about our lovely holiday in Harris in my next post.
It’s been a busy week back in Glasgow, with various appointments, piles of laundry to do of course, and then Friday was the Dafter’s first day back at school. She managed to stay for three hours, which is great. Fingers crossed she can achieve her objective of studying two subjects this year (the rest of Art, plus Photography) – we shall see. We’ve learned by now that health must come first, second and third, before anything else.
For Katharine Stewart fans, I apologise for being about a month behind in following her Garden in the Hills – I will return to that project.
I hope you’re all having a good weekend!