Friday, 8 June 2012

The MacRaes - day 5 and 6

DAY 5 The Saga of the Jacket. Sally: We spent most of the day going from store to store looking for Harris tweeds. John had insisted when we were planning this trip that he was going to come home with a Harris tweed jacket but we were having difficulty finding a jacket that the color was right and it fit. Finally, at Grosbay [Pic above of Grosebay] we found some excellent jackets and some choices in fit. It ended up trying on 5-6 jackets and deciding FINALLY on the first jacket - it is absolutely great. It is a Donald John MacKay tweed. We ended up going to his home/shop and taking a picture with him and John in his jacket.

Scot:  Donald John was very generous with his time - he's a busy man. You'll know his work.  He's the one who Nike commissioned 16000 meters of tweed from a few years back for their shoes.  On a good day, he can make 4 meters.  His tweed is preferred by many tailors, as he has a good eye for colour and his weave is tight, thus good quality. 
Also featured in the day:  the Harris hills that we drove through.  Bleak, stunning, scary, TALL.  The weather has been warm and blue sky sun, so we've seen the fractured coastline, the islands and the beaches at their most vibrant.

DAY 6 - Leaving Loch of the Dogs.
Just for the noise of it we're taking two ferries today and adding 3 islands to the tick-list.  We could have gone by a more direct route to Skye from Harris, but I thought this would be of more interest.  There is a perceptible difference in the feel to Ubhist a Tuath (North Uist) from the islands we have been on up until now.  The low, grassy islets that make up the place are riddled with inlets of the sea, fresh and brackish water.  Hard to describe and to photograph.  You'll just have to come and experience this magical place for yourself.

Sally:  The ferries are fascinating - it is an art form to watch them load & unload vehicles - quickly.  We are on our way to Skye and the sun is breaking out and the weather is warming up.  We have had great weather so far - just some cold north winds on the first days but now is very pleasant.

Scot: It's a story in itself taking the ferries through the islands, each rock and islet we pass has a name on it that hints at a scarce remembered Tale: sgeir a' chapuill - the horse skerry, Caisteal an Fhithich - the Raven castle.  We have just past the Ascrib Islands, mere grass topped rocks off the shore of Skye. The name intrigues me as it doesn't look Gaidhlig. It may be Norse, or perhaps it is "a'sgriob" meaning "writing" in Gaidhlig.  The Writing Islands.  One wonders how a few acres of barren rocky grass could have such a name.
John: Went out to a point of land, do not know its name, but it was very spectacular, huge cliffs into the ocean, lots of rocks, and a light house at the end of the point. I know, I know, this is not so descriptive, but it was all so overwhelming the words fail me. What a sight!!!
Scot: a warm breeze rising up the cliffs; the sea so bright in the sun that it blinds to look at it; gulls far below nesting in the cliffs, echoing arguing about which chick gets this gullet of fish.  The point is Nu-Eist, in the north west of Skye, a new stop for this Journey to the Western Isles tour.

We also, speaking of said tour title, stopped in on Dunbheagan castle and saw a portrait of Dr Johnson, that undereducated, over opinionated sour-faced commentator who visited Scotland in 1774 and upon whom I have loesely based and named this tour.  His portrait showed a man who looked like he was in the process of chewing on a wasp.