Thursday, 17 December 2009
Notes From Here And There
We have had an attack of the gremlins lately. There was the wheel falling off, someone drove into us, Pete's laptop went all dark and mysterious. Not letting any of it get us down though. We're keeping warm and dry and staying on top of the 'moisture management'. That's mopping up condensation for all you non-trailer dwellers.
The rain has abated and our view of the Somerset levels which so far looked like a lake has revealed itself to be fields. It is proper cold though, dead wintry.
I spent last weekend in London visiting my bestest friend. We talked for two whole days. Life makes a bit more sense now. Life also makes more sense because I was able to travel by bus from Ilchester to Hammersmith for £20.00 return with a local coach company. Maybe mankind isn't doomed after all.
We are still prolonging our memories of the Hebrides. The idea is that, since we're taking things slow over the winter we could tell about our summer travels when there's not much to report around here.
To that end....
Back in June we took a small ferry from Eriskay to Barra. The Airstream grounded on the way onto the ferry so the crew were ready with the chocks to get us off at the other side. We took it slowly but unfortunately one of the guys put a chock in upside down so that as we drove over it, it tipped up and got caught in the spare wheel carrier underneath. Oh dear, we thought, or more expletive words to that effect. Many heart palpitations and miniscule manoeuvrings later we were free and headed for the beach where Andrew had bagsied us a spot next to him.
Now I would really like to tell you absolutely nothing about Barra because it is beautiful and special and very small, so I don't really want to encourage anyone to go there and make it all busy and stuff, like everywhere else. Have I said it before? probably, that Britain is small and populated areas are close together and there aren't enough empty spaces. Well Barra in June was lovely and empty.
The sky was clear, the sun shone, the sea was the cleanest, crystal-like I have ever seen and there were empty white beaches.
We parked up next to Andrew on the beach. This is really what we had wanted to do since buying the Airstream. Wild camping with a trailer is not permitted in England. On Barra it's the only kind of camping. The airport is a few hundred yards from where you can camp and tiny planes land on the sand a couple of times a day when the tides permit. There is a fresh water tap outside the 'terminal' and a neighbour told us where there were boat docking facilities where we could take our waste.
So that covered all the necessities. We set up, sat and admired the best view ever and waited for our friend Helen to arrive by plane from London. She had a few days off from her busy metropolitan life and the prospect of landing on the beach was the enticement she succumbed to. About five minutes before her plane was due we started strolling along the beach to meet her.
The next few days were a perfect mix of paddling, sitting around Andrew's fire-pit, watching sunsets, a boat-trip to Mingulay to get up close to the puffins, sandcastle building, castle visiting.
The sun went down very late at that time of year. It was light until eleven, eleven-thirty, which is great for nocturnal types like us.
A note on the weather, which was brilliant for those few days even if breezy at times. It can get very wild and windy up there and I suspect those white beaches and turquoise seas might be a little less inviting.
Having said that, our neighbour, Christine, has been going back and staying for two months every year for over a decade. Her caravan was anchored down. She said that when it gets stormy she thinks to herself, never again. And yet there she was. We met quite a few people who go back regularly. We all had big smiles on our faces. You would too, but of course I'm begging you not to go.