From Island to Island, Part 1.

This land is your land

This land is my land

From the northern highlands

To the western islands

That’s how the Scots sing it. I don’t know if that version was sanctioned by Woody Guthrie. I doubt the Scots care. A pub full of them sang it this way most enthusiastically on Sunday afternoon at the the Craigard Hotel’s bar while the rain and mist and wind combined to make outside inhispitable. (Remember, think small. Hotel = tiny lodging, 5 rooms above pub/restaurant. Pub full = 30 people jammed into a bar the size of my living room.) They all sang together, loudly, and I’d even say lustily! Then went on to sing many more.

However, let me back waaaaaaaay up.

I just looked back to check where I left off. I see that I already told you about Sunday afternoon. I suppose it made such a big impression on me because it was exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to be doing in Scotland on a blustery day. And there I was, knitting away, nursing a whiskey (Oban this time), listening to a group of locals play music and sing. I didn’t think that kind of thing really would happen. It’s such a cliche! But I guess cliches surface for a reason.

Our Saturday started with a drive back to Glasgow from the shores of Loch Lomond. Just a half hour gets you from water and mountains right back into the thick of things. The Glasgow airport is not much bigger than the Abq Sunport. However, the international routing of more than half of its flights mean a constant flow of people, languages, luggage, clothing from tweed and sweater sets (Brits) to fluorescent Goretex (Germans). We got into line at the Loganair counter. The airline serves the population flying to smaller airports within Scotland — just how much smaller you will see…

Our flight had a max number of 13 passengers. Heather and group left on the 11:30 am flight. I waited for the one going two hours later. Here’s what they looked like on landing.

I got to hang out in the airport. Things are a bit different in the UK in regard to transportation. Generally you stay in a central waiting area until just before boarding, at which time you go to your gate or train platform. (Yes, still want to say Platform 9 3/4 every single time.) It’s unnerving at first. As Americans, we’re anxious about getting checked in early, to our gate early, to get our carryons overhead and stored early. No one here seems particularly pressed for time. They walk at a leisurely pace. They queue up with polite smiles in their faces and small talk. Don’t think I saw a grumpy traveler in the lot. I watched people and knitted quite happily until my gate was announced (just twenty minutes prior to departure).

Once at the gate, my backpack was checked for size and given a tag. Even handbags and such get put in the luggage compartment for this flight, an elderly and diminutive Scotsman informed me. “But you can take yer wee knitting bag wi’ ya.” He also said my sock was quite “lovely”.

Did you notice I’m back in the land of lovely? Reminder: loov- LEE. Up on the lee. There, you’ve got it.

I’ve never flown in a small plane. It was small. Very small. And add another measure of tiny for being in Europe. Size o’ my bathroom small. (Okay, that might be a wee exaggeration.) I think pictures will do the flight better justice than words. In fact, here was the trip from tarmac to the village of Castlebay, Isle of Barra, the southernmost point of our journey through the Outer Hebrides.

Completely cloudy until about twenty minutes before landing, then suddenly the clouds broke and FANTASTIC!!!
The color of the water was outrageously turquoise, then deep indigo, then whale grey in great swaths.
Oh! We’re landing ON THE BEACH!

Pretty cool, huh?
The multitudes of Barra, awaiting their passengers.
Heather, my partner and our fearless leader, counting heads. All here?
Every one of our transport vans hired on the islands also doubles as a school bus.

The town of Castlebay.

And the castle in the bay, Kismul Castle, which guarded the town until the mid 14th century. Also seen here: my happy toes in hand-knit socks.

8 comments

  1. Actually, that’s a rather nice sized plane…. I fly a 4 seater. Me, then 3 passengers. But rarely is there more than one other with me in the plane.
    Looks like you’re having a wonderful trip. Nice wee socks

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  2. OMG, travel there seems so absolutely sane! Imagine using school busses for tourist transport! The “town” of Castlebay appears to be more of a village. Beautiful, just beautiful.

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  3. Hey Susie,

    I am reading with great interest each post. Do you get my comments back? I’m such a novice about all this. I’m sure someone told you there were no photos with this post. It’s 10 pm and 84 degrees. I so wish I was in cool misty Scotland nursing a whiskey and watching you knit…keep writing! Maria

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    • No! I didn’t know there had been no photos. Thanks for the info. We’re headed back to Glasgow from the islands today, so I will be able to get writing and posting.

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