We first visited Harris in the summer of 1991. It wasn’t very summery but we fell in love with it. Got a B n B in Tarbert and an introduction to the Hearachs. “Can we get a double room for tonight?”. “Well let’s see” said the old lady (cailleach)” we have a double room and a twin room… but the twin is taken…so you can have a double room” she concluded. Now she could have said yes, but theres not a word for yes in the Gaelic.
You could never book a room on Harris like that now, especially in summer. Its hoaching. Tourists and campervans everywhere. My mate used to go camping to Arisaig but then it got busy. Camping on Skye, at Sligachan between the bridges : too busy. Now he goes to Harris…and complains it’s too busy. ” You’ll be going to St Kilda next” I say. He doesn’t appreciate my offbeat sense of humour. Smart arse.
My mates to blame though, for our Harris adventure. He gave me the estate agents brief, a croft for sale, well a sheep fank really. We walked up the track to view it that day in July 2009 and six sheep ran out the door. It was crazy really. Why did you do it, people asked initially. Well, Elaine never said no, was my reply. She never said no.
Two months later and we’ve bought the croft but we’re keeping quiet. Alot of money for a ruin. Are we mad? Its possible, I mutter to myself in a dark moment.
Off to Dunkeld for a “fishing” weekend and, in the pub my father in law comes out with it. “Yes that was daft…but not as daft as paying £##$ for a ruin on a fuckin island in the middle of nowhere”. Ah shite I’ve been rumbled. And then the grilling starts, they’re like a tag team. “So theres no water supply?” … “eh not yet”…. “and theres no electricity”….” em not yet”…”how you going to get there it’s almost in Iceland!”…
But as the beers went down the mood mellowed. “So you can walk to the pub?”…”yes”…”and the fishings good”…”definately”. I seized the initiative : with wifi nowheres really remote anymore, the ferries are very good, the locals are brilliant you’ll love the craic. I was on fire! “Kings may be blest” to quote Burns “but Tam was glorious, o’er all the ills of life victorious”. By closing time I had, in my addled mind, won them over. Eric leaned over “follow your dreams son”. I really appreciated that.
This is dedicated to my Elaine, who never said no.
Seo mo bhean,Elaine!