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a very special day

august 29, 2017

the reason why we had gone on this particular trip on this particular week of the year was to be somewhere beautiful when we celebrated one of the big milestones of our lives. on the 16th of june 2017 we woke up in a camper van in the outer hebrides and congratulated one another with 10 years of marriage. on that same day 10 years ago i had been up since 7am, making my own bridal bouquet, doing my hair and putting on a jenny packham bridal gown with the help of my maid of honor kristin. i was walked down the aisle in the 12th century maria church by my father to the sound of gabriel’s oboe and saw him standing there waiting for me at the altar. i know i know – this is a travel blog so let’s not get too cheesy here, but this was the best day of my life and i treasure it in my heart, so that’s why this particular day on our hebridean tour was more special than the rest of them.

we started the day with breakfast in the motorhome, nothing fancy about that, same ol» all bran and filter coffee (we’d brought our moccamaster with us cause we’re hopeless coffee addicts) as every other morning. but untypical for all the other mornings, we both had a gift for the other one, and coincidentally we had both gotten the other one a watch. oh yes and i should add: the husband had gone for a bike ride before i was up, he’d brought his bike and therefore got to see much more of the islands then i did – he did good. we said goodbye to the campsite eileen fraoich and headed up north on a windy and rather grey day. on our way we passed the small village of bragar where the main attraction must be said to be the gigantic arch made of a whale’s jawbone.  the story behind it is as phenomenal as the structure itself and happened back in 1920 when a large blue whale with a harpoon in its head stranded on the shores of lewis. because no one seemed to be interested in the whale and therefore it kept laying on the shore – stinking, the villagers had to get rid of it somehow. after a year the body had been used to all different things and only the skeleton was left. the local man murdo morrison showed interest in the bones and thought they would make the perfect entrance to his property. unfortunately he also claimed the harpoon, which detonated in his garage and made a whole in the wall (without harming morrison luckily). it’s of course part of the story that thousands of tourists stop by the arch every year, and so we were two of them.

blackhouses lays scattered around the outer hebrides and shows evidence of ancient ways of living. but in one of these houses there weren’t traces of ancient people rather than what we would call modern people living in a very modest way. in the visitor center at arnol black house, we met a very nice and knowledgeable man who could tell us about the blackhouse way of living. i was interested in the way they still use peat in the western isles, as we had seen piles of it laying around to dry all over the islands. it was interesting to listen to the guide explaining how every village would be supplied by their own parcel of peat land to dig out for themselves. the guide himself dug out the peat for the museum.  i also learned that the very top of the peat (were the grass roots hold the soil together) is called turf, which probably derives from our own «torv» in norwegian which is what my father’s generation would call peat and dig out squares not far from where i’m from. but back to the blackhouse, it was inhabited until the 1960s when the people living there asked to be dislocated and agreed to have their house owned by the state instead. by walking in to the house we felt like walking into another era. everything was preserved and intact as they were some 60 years ago. i can still recall the smell of the open peat fireplace with the big kettel on top of it, and we even met a hen strutting around in the barn that was attached to the house -as it would’ve in the days of the house’s inhabitance. the bed was made up, the cups were ready to be filled with tea or coffee and it was much more warm and cozy inside than what you would guess from the outside. a really good and interesting place to visit and well worth the stop!  

on our way from arnol up to the top end of the outer hebrides we passed norwegian-sounding place names like «brue», «borve», «melbost» and finally on the northern-most tip of the hebrides we found «port of ness» with the little village eòrapaidh (or eoropie) and finally the butt of lewis lighthouse that rose majestic over the high breathtaking and staggering tall cliffs. by the time we got there the weather had gone from bad to worse so we decided to have lunch inside the motorhome while we looked out on the wild seascape. we couldn’t tick it off our list without walking around on the site though and take in the huge natural forces (although a bit scary) that surrounded us. the lighthouse is quite unusual since it’s made in red brick, unpainted and was one of the last ones to be automated in 1998. the designer of it david stevenson is a well known scottish lighthouse designer who got over thirty lighthouses in his portfolio. his father robert stevenson is possibly more famous than him, although he’s only got about half the amount of lighthouses on his merit list. we’ve crossed his path on shetland were we visited his lighthouse at sumburgh head.

once again we defied the weather when we decided to have another stop in siadar (or shader) to have a look at loch an dúin and steinacleit. the broch at loch an dúin is one of many stone buildings in the hebrides built on a small island in a small lake. there’s a 46 meter long causeway leading out to it but other than that there’s hard to see evidence of anyone living there in the past. some hundred meters behind the loch is steinacleit which again makes sense to us norwegian, a stein being a stone, and contains ten large stones surrounding the central mound. legend says there was probably a battlefield close to the location, but there hasn’t been consensus about dating of the site. 

after four days «in the wilde» we were now ready to head in to civilization, and so we drove to the eastern part of lewis and the largest town in the hebrides stornoway. although it has several restaurants and shops to choose from it’s by far a city with its 8000 inhabitants. we were lucky to get a spot for our motorhome in laxdale holiday park, cause it is as far as we know the closest place to park your van to stornoway. they had excellent facilities and even got a vanity room in addition to several shower rooms. but who needs that when you’ve got everything you need in your bailey motorhome hey? from the camp site it was only a 16 minute walk to the restaurant we had booked for the very special evening. i had in advance of the trip written to visit outer hebrides to help me find the perfect location for our night out, just to make it as good as we possibly could, without hearing back from them. but restaurant solas at cabarfeidh hotel didn’t need any assistance to show off their skills. we got seated in the nice patio and got very well cared for by the lovely staff. luckily we’d booked in advance cause the place was very busy and by the time we got our food we understood why. solas served up excellent food on a night to remember. i was so tired after dinner that all i wanted to do was to get back home to my ol» campervan, have a cuddle with the cat while ww watched graham norton show.
cause this is how we roll. you and me. heres to the next (1)10 years together!

2 kommentarar leave one →
  1. Alexander permalink
    september 7, 2017 6:22 pm

    Cozy ❤

    Men hva er et vanity room?

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