Our First Festive Season - Half of the #Barragapyear Completed!!!

This time next week I will have spent SIX months on Barra, it is really strange thinking that one half of the #Barragapyear is over and really hoping the second half is not so quick!! It has been really lovely celebrating both our first Christmas and welcoming in the New Year on the island. Shortly after Christmas we were joined by our friends Robbie and Alison for their first visit to Barra, it was lovely to get back to beaches we hadn’t seen for a few weeks and being tour guides for six days.

Looking across to Castlebay from Vatersay

Looking across to Castlebay from Vatersay

Christmas Day for Jackson, Thai and myself was a wonderfully quiet affair, with none of the extra food we would normally eat at this time of year, in fact we just enjoyed being on the beach walking and chilling. It felt so different after so many years feeding and entertaining our extended family over the past 30 years. Our daughter Emma, eventually caught up with us to wish us Merry Christmas with a Skype call when we were out on Traigh Sgurabhal…… it was fresh but beautiful as always.

Jackson and Thai wrapped up like the proverbial “Wash-hoose spickets”

Jackson and Thai wrapped up like the proverbial “Wash-hoose spickets”

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On the day before our visitors were arriving we headed out in the drizzle to search for different types of sand or stages of the sandmaking process as we had a few of the lovely Fever Tree Tonic bottles (thanks to Jill and Joanne of J J Events xx) no emplty and with their labels removed that I thought they would look lovely filled with out finds! One area in particular just round from the cockle strand that is our Barra aiport you can find a beach full of broken shells. (Traigh Cille Barra) as well as some amazing rusting structures rising up from the sands not to mention the pieces of denim that were wrapped round them!

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So when we got all the collections together, washed out the shells/sand and poured into the tonic bottles, here’s the final display!

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It can be really rewarding when your imagination works overtime and you actually create something from left overs and this was also the case for the secret knitting project. So time to reveal our wool adventures here on Barra, and here we are at work!

Wool Bombing the Castelbay Anchor!

Wool Bombing the Castelbay Anchor!

And here’s a short video of their mission and wool masterpiece. Well done to Sarah and her Buth Bharraidh team for setting this up and for the lovely cup of hot chocolate n mince pies at the end of the evening.

For anyone interested here’s how we set up and filmed the match burning using Jackson’s newly acquired fly tying clamp to give the short film a Mission Impossible type theme:

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I think it looks really cool and wonder where else we could wool bomb on the islands???

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On Friday 28th December Robbie and Alison had a lovely day for their sail over to Castlebay and we also enjoyed the good weather by spending it on Vatersay - Bagh a Deas.

Vatersay - Bagh a Deas

Vatersay - Bagh a Deas

It was great to get back out showing off Barra and Vatersay to our visitors and here’s a selection of the walks we covered over the six days!

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Events we thoroughly enjoyed over the New Year activites was the Annual Community Carol Service at St Barr’s Hall in Northbay on 30th where Alison and I got into the spirit with our version of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer! Hognamay we spent in the house with a meal prepared by our visitors and my favourite champagne, Mumms! We brought the bells in looking out the living room window as Castlebay lit up with fireworks, flares from the lifeboat and blasts of the horn from the CalMac ferry. Our first footer was Mary from across the road she popped in with a beautiful bunch of flowers……totally magical XX

lights, champagne and flowers to welcome in 2019!

lights, champagne and flowers to welcome in 2019!

The following night was a slightly more manic affair!! We headed to the Vatersay Hall in the evening to listen to and watch the dancers take to the floor as the Vatersay Boys played. I had to laugh as the Danny Bhoy sketch that is doing the rounds on Facebook came to mind as I recalled him stating that the ceilidh is something that is the cross between a dance and a fight!! No fights in the hall but very little space on the dance floor. Absolutely wonderful to watch all ages on the the floor from the very first chord struck!

The 2nd of January took us up to the top of Ben Heavel, my third visit to the summit of this hill and it still isn’t getting any easier!! WE did have the honour of two golden eagles flying overhead as we made the acsent. It was really bitterly cold and damp when we got to the top and Thai even though she had her wee jacket on was not a happy dug. So whilst I was having my hot cuppa I slipped her into my backpack and wrapped her in my towel. She look so warm and compfy in it I decided to take her a bit of the way down the hill still inside it!

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Our nights in with Robbie and Alison generally either involved playing board games or watching films and they just happended to mention that they would like to watch the orginal version of Whiskey Galore by Compton MacKenzie. It was the first time since I was a wee lassie that I’ve seen it and I thoroughly enjoyed spotting the various landmarks on the island. So as a thank you we headed to the graveyard at Cille Bharra (now I have previously quickly looked for his gravestone but never found it) to look for CM’s grave. What a lovely place to be buried!

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Being great wildlife spotters, Robbie and Alison managed to see a good variety of birds and animals on their visit and in particular the glimpse of an otter on rocks just off the coast at Traigh Sgurabhal. WE had spotted loads of their footprints all over the islands and I also learnt to spot them! A very distinctive five small pads…

Otter Footprints

Otter Footprints

So whilst the others were looking outwards for wildlife I still kept my head down to admire the stones, seaweed, flora and fauna, so here’s the final photographs for this rather extended Blog! thanks again to everyone who has got this far and for sharing our adventures too. Here’s to 2019 and our #Barragapyear second half…

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Endnote: Robbie has just had a knee replacement and it was great he was able to get up the hills with us and of course a whirl round the dance floor on New Yea’s Day with Alison.

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Finally was rather chuffed with one of the recipes out the Coop December magazines, Pear Poached in Red wine Tart with orange Creme Fraiche! We have eaten like Kings and Queens this week….ooft!

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Safe journey home Robbie and Alison….

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Eileen Frater