Wild Storms, Outside Art and a Stranger Encounter....

The crazy wild Barra weather had us storm chasing and searching for waves earlier this week.. This was the day before Jackson headed back to the mainland to film for our company Prancing Jack Productions and also with my daughter, Emma’s company Bat and Eye Productions. A husband’s work is never done…

Catching the wave!

Catching the wave!

It is great to be living within a community where events are really supported both by the lovely Barra folks and in particular local business Padula’s Island Stores. Fireworks with free soup and sausage rolls…… fab! A wet n wild night…

It was really exciting to see Jackson leave Barra because we got to watch him fly off from Barra Airport’s control tower. It was also really lovely to meet Angela and her HIA team. This was all possible because my friend, fellow Ayrshire Businesswoman, Sarah Plant, (she flew in on the earlier Twin Otter) had got permissions for us to go up into the control tower. Before Sarah set up her company Sarah’s Creative Occasions she had worked as an engineer with NATS (National Air Traffic Services) so obviously had the right contacts to organise this for us.

Sarah and Eileen in charge of Control Tower!!

Sarah and Eileen in charge of Control Tower!!

Information gleamed from our visit. Barra has THREE runways, communications between Glasgow and Barra are by phone and communication between pilot and control tower is by radio microphone. They know the plane is about to land when they SEE it. On a good day you can see the mainland from the control tower, however, we could just about see Archie & Irene’s cottage across the beach!! We heard lots of funny stories many of which are not repeatable!!

And in future should you find yourself without internet, electricity or any of modern day gadgets , here’s how you signal the airport using morse code!

Barra airport - Morse Code

Barra airport - Morse Code

It was really lovely to have Sarah on the island, and we had great fun walking, laughing and eating! It was also great that Irene and Archie joined us out on the hills for some of our adventures. Our first day out, we headed out to Vatersay and walked up Beinn Chuidhir where we saw three different beaches and coastlines as well as across to Castelbay. It was breezy…..


Sarah and I also had our storm chasing day as we got up early on Thursday so that we could catch the best of the day, well at least according to BBC weather app which in this instance was relatively accurate.


It has been a few weeks since I’ve walked along to my swim beach at Eilean Carragraigh on Vatersay and it was strange to see how much my beach has changed since my last visit. After the recent heavy rain, rocks have now appeared where a sandy beaches used to be and there was evidence of several river ways having formed heading to the sea.


Art has featured in the past week, Sarah joined me for my pottery class and Sarah & I sat outside Crannog Cottage sketching the ever chancing light and landscapes in front of us. Irene has several canvases now painted of scenes from Barra and Vatersay. Can’t wait to share them #barrartvenure


My attention span is very very short, and after working on only one sketch I spotted the amazing colours of the seaweed at the cottage as well as sea glass and pottery! Firstly here’s the treasure trove, together with a wee sea monster!


And then there was the colours from the shells……. mesmerising!


And as always I got down low and photographed the colours on the rocks on Vatersay, and with the exposure of the more of the rocks after the heavy rain it was great to look at new features on one of my favourite beaches.


Of course the another things I keep mentioning is the amazing light here on the island, together with reflections, cloud formations, waves and getting down low to take photographs! So here’s a selection of my favourite photographs from the week…

Sarah, Archie, Irene and the dug and her lugs!

Sarah, Archie, Irene and the dug and her lugs!

Today was Sarah’s last day and this morning we headed out to the Barra Golf Course. We climbed up alongside Cnoc an Fhithich and spotted a little cottage not that far from the Chain Home Radar Station (no photograph of this but here’s the view across the hill). Thank you to Barra & Vatersay Appreciation FB page member - Dave Smith for the recommendation of this walk. I will return with Jackson soon….


Loved the markers on each of the corners of the cottage plot.


We spent ages looking across the water and from every angle there was magnificient views. We were hoping to see baby seals on the rocks looking over Seal Bay but really we were too high up to distinguish between rocks and pups. That will be another walk on another day!


Now I mentioned that we had an encounter with a stranger, I was so affected by the meeting that I feel it has to be mentioned on my BLOG. We were all on the Bagh Siar on Vatersay enjoying the reflections, waves and good company. We spotted the gentleman coming towards us and as it is on this island you start up a conversion……”Isn’t this just beautiful?” He agreed. We asked if he stayed on the island or was visiting? His reply was “ I’m back to try and re-kindle my love of the Outer Hebrides” - An odd and intriguing reply!

Thai and our stranger in red

Thai and our stranger in red

He then told us his story.

About six years ago he and his wife came to the Outer Hebrides and fell in love with the islands (well who wouldn’t!??!). His wife then suggested wouldn’t it be lovely to live here. So they went back home and were delighted to find a plot of land for sale on Harris. So after many months planning and dealing with builders, the parts came from Norway and builders from SW mainland Scotland.

Finally they moved into their house on Harris and after only 3 weeks his wife had to return to south of England to help her Mum who had fallen ill. As soon as she returned home she Skype called to tell him she wanted a Divorce! His dream was shattered, he had to sell his Harris home and ended up having a breakdown.

We just felt so shocked that someone who came to live in the beautiful Outer Hebrides, had to give it up and it has taken him six years to come back. He was such a lovely man and we just couldn’t get him out of our minds for the rest of the day. He was about to make his way back up the north and is going to visit his house on Harris. Heartbreaking…..

I’m really hoping that he regains his love of these islands and we wish him all the very best xx

Finally bye bye Sarah…. Look out for a quick glimpse of Crannag Cottage as Sarah films her take off. (Irene and Archie's home for November)

Eileen Frater