"Barra is now Home"; how good does that sound?

It is has been a whirlwind few weeks, with the complications of buying a house that was previously a crofter’s house to the day to day life of living the dream on a Hebridean island. We really do have to keep pinching ourselves to make sure we are not dreaming!! We actually met someone from Ayrshire recently in the cafe on Vatersay and they asked us “Why Barra?”, well my dears if you have to ask that question you just don’t get it!!

Well for starters there’s this!


and of course there’s also this!


Enough about today’s walk in the sunshine, what has been happening since my last Blog? Flippin’ loads! There was of course the offical handing over our keys on Friday 28th June by John Thomas (our key guardian, well not that great a guardian as he has on several occasions lost them!) together with Mairi Ceit our Barra angel (sister of Niel whose house we have bought).


I will come back to our new house later in the Blog, there’s a fair few things to cover before you get to have a wee peek into our house on the Glen. We had the annual Barrathon (Half Marathon) and Jackson & I volunteered to man one of the water stations at Northbay. Now the forecast was for overcast which would have been great for the runners but we had a glorious day instead so by the time they got to us at the halfway stage, the Northbay Hotel round the Corner was seeming the better option rather than the road that runs up towards Ben Heaval!


Even Thai had her high vis jacket on!


There was a great buzz around the island when this event is on and we had nearly 300 runners taking part. There is no way I will ever be taking part but great to watch and hand out the water, sweeties and bananas. One of the best organised half marathon events you can take part in according to many of the runners! Well done to the organisers! After the Barrathon, if that wasn’t enough exercise, there was a ceilidh!


It hasn’t all been adventures on Barra as we had two trips to the Uists over the past few weeks, one was to the hospital with Jackson/vet with Thai (didn’t get them mixed up), Jackson to get a scan of his kidneys (all is well no stones) and for anti inflammatories for Thai. Both were pleased with themselves on the sall home!


The second trip over the following week was to film for Support in Mind Scotland, Highlands & Island connections project. Phew that was a long day, we interviewd loads of people from a variety of charities who support people with mental health issues and what great work is being done. We also had great fund filming cutaways to create a sense of place, from beaches to community gardens.


So in between filming, decorating the house and working at the Garadh we have found some time to chill, in fact we put ‘chill time’ in the diary and try and stick to it! Although I did end up heading out for an Adult Protection workshop for 90 minutes one morning, to be picked up from the Learning Centre by Jackson, picnic/towels at the ready and we headed over to Vatersay to do NOTHING! and that’s exactly what we did.


Jackson also headed out one night after painting and decorating, to his favourite spot on the island and caught a couple of wee wild trout! Released them back in and they will live to give another fiesty fight again in the future!


I am loving my work at the Garadh a Bhagh A Tuath (Northbay Gardens) and learning loads about gardening too. Next week will see us harvesting the huge array of varities of lettuce and I can’t wait for the tomatoes next week as well. I was removing the dead leaves from the tomato plants in the polytunnel and the smell was intoxicating. It took me back to my days when my grampa grew them in his greenhouse.


The flowers growing in the rockier are ever changing and I can’t help niping out into the sunshine to photograph the colours.


In the next few weeks will see the demolution of our old potting shed to make way for the new build. This will include a cafe, meeting/workshop spaces, offices and excellent facilities for disabled access to toilets etc. It will be sad to see the old shed go….


It is not just at the Garadh that you can see the changing colours of Barra and I often think of my good friend Michael Hitchen, horticulturist from my days working at the Scottish Agricultural College at Auchincruive. He would be able to name all of the plants I come across in my walks. Here’s a wee selection of what I have spotted over the past couple of weeks:


and not forgetting the creepy crawlies….


Last week we had the beautiful tall sailing ship, Lady of Avenel, at our new marina and we were delighted to get a chance last Tuesday to sail on her in the evening. What a stunning night we had, it was magical when the engine was turned off and we set sail! Great company with many local Barra folks coming along too, although for some maybe a bit of a busman’s trip!


So on the subject of boats, today in Castlebay was the Fisherman’s Mass and the Blessing of the Boats. This was a lovely community event with pipers, gathering of decorated fishing boats and cooked herring! And it was a glorious day for it and lovely to see the boats coming across the bay from all the different harbours across Barra and Vatersay.


Fun and games as the fishing boats headed off …..


Today after the Fisherman’s Mass, it was time to head first to a beach for a quiet walk ……”busy beach”!! Eoligarry never disappoints.


After a couple of hours chilling on the beach, time to head back and get the barbie out at the new house in Glen!!


We plan to stay for our first night on Friday 12th July (provided we finish painting the final room - the hall), this will be one year to the date when we came to Barra for the start of our Gap Year! Who would have guessed that our journey would end up in our lovely wee house in the Glen on Barra? But it is truly amazing and we can’t believe how lucky we have been. So here’s some pictures from our new house. The garden will be a work in progress for many years to come but fortunately we have had many offers of advice and help, so as they say watch this space! The inside has really just been adding our colour and little touches to make it our own, Jackson has been very busy and thankfully he is a jack of all trades, literally a handy man to have around. Huge thanks to Dougie who came along and connected and fitted our gas hob! So we’re now cooking with gas as they say! They did get some time to chill…..

Back garden leanding to gate into croft land

Back garden leanding to gate into croft land

The view from the living room

The view from the living room

We just got our bed in!!

We just got our bed in!!

Outside area is two sections of grassland which has a lovely woodland area over a small burn which is mainly full of willow, then through the gate takes you into two small sections of croft land which we plan to put up a poly tunnel and maybe even keep chickens. oooofttt!

Gateway to croft land

Gateway to croft land

Still to be strimmed and we’ll discover what’s below later this year!

Still to be strimmed and we’ll discover what’s below later this year!

Wonky clothes line, due to panorama picture, but you get the idea! Ben Heaval in the background.

Wonky clothes line, due to panorama picture, but you get the idea! Ben Heaval in the background.

So thanks to everyone who has come with us on this amazing #Barragapyear journey with us, huge thanks to people who have introduce themsleves to us after reading our Blog, it was an honour to meet you and to all the people of Barra who we now call friends, thanks for your love and support. Here’s to our #Barralife. hugs Jackson, Eileen and Thai xxx

Our final #Barragapyear video… enjoy xx music composed and played by the lovely Meredith McCrindle

Our Barra flag!

Our Barra flag!

One very happy Barra wummin’!!!