Let me just say what a wonderful holiday I’ve just had - probably the best I’ve had in a long time.
Chris booked a self catering cottage for two weeks on the Isle of Vatersay in the Outer Hebrides back in March. I’d never heard of Vatersay (Bhatarsaigh in Scots Gaelic) until this point. It is the southernmost and westernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Our cottage was within the settlement of Caolas on the north coast of the island just beyond the causeway that was built off the Isle of Barra.
I have never, ever been somewhere so beautiful! Think Caribbean without the tourists, white sandy beaches with barely a soul on them, crystal clear turquoise waters with teaming bird life, fish and sea mammals, an abundance of wild flowers on the machair, albeit not the best season to see them. Yes, the water was cold but I simply couldn’t resist getting my shoes off and my feet wet. Yes, the weather was mixed, but being the Hebrides on the edge of the Atlantic, the rain soon blew the bad weather through and we had sunshine at some point on all but one day.
I was in heaven! Normally me on holiday, on any day truth be told, I’m not an early riser. On Vatersay I was up with the dawn to watch the sun come up over the water. There is just something that really does it for me being so close to the sea. I just love it.
The place was so peaceful. The current horrors of Brexit were pushed out of focus and I was able to relax and be inspired. There was just so much by which to be inspired. Here’s just a smattering of what got me so excited.
The colours, oh the colours! Those rich golden ochres, burnt sienna raw umber colours of the seaweed, the deep grey black and silver greys and greens of the rocks and lichens, the skies and seas, from slate grey blue to deep turquoise scattered with diamonds, I could go on …
Then there’s the history and archaeology, remnants of Neolithic and Iron Age settlements everywhere, blackhouses, standing stones, monuments to terrible disasters at sea, including the pieces of aircraft that crashed on the island killing three on board.
Our first evening walk we couldn’t help noticing the wild flowers on the machair where the island cattle were peaceful grazing between two back to back spectacular beaches. Climb a hill and the sea was all around us; the islanders are so friendly and hospitable; the bird life, we became avid bird watchers, spotted a rare blow-in - an Icelandic seagull and all manner of other seagulls, cormorants, oyster catchers, fulmars, curlew, sand pipers and twites creating a racket as they lined themselves on the fence outside the cottage; seals were common place, we saw basking shark on the ferry crossing over from Oban along with pods of dolphin, porpoise and minky whale.
I came away with sketches, hundreds of photos and lots of ideas, more of which later.