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Lovely Lewis And Chilled Chums

By Rev. Mick!

Day 6

There was that noise in my dream. A kind of sharp rattle that seemed to come and go in waves. Still in my pre mugs of tea phase I could not identify it. I Looked out of the bothy window at the rising sun and it struck me that each rattle coincided with a squall of rain. Oh yes I remember - Gary has put a new tin roof on and it resonates loudly with each squall. Suffice to say it's a wet morning. I pray Drew lies in while I do the same. 

We rise late, make tea and porridge slowly, we pack slowly, we load the bikes slowly and clear up the house slowly. All this sloth pays off for by the time we are pulling the gate shut it has cleared up. The ride back the way we came is great fun rather than the slightly cold "let’s get this done" feeling at the end of yesterday's long day. Back to the A858 but turn for Carloway and North Lewis. The road passes the Calanish standing stones, The Hebridean version of Stonehenge. Worth a look however Drew and have both been before.

With a southerly wind on our backs we follow the A858 and then the A857 all the way up the remote west coast of Lewis. Right up to the tiny parish of Port of Ness which seems to punch far above it’s weight. Just look at the soccer stadium - now that is class.

Now as ever you get lost in 200 metres. We had some Molly Google reassurance sessions and finally can see it over the hill. A little remote single track brings us round the headland and there we are at David Stevenson's brick built Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

The Innova is towered over by the tall brick lighthouse
Mick's scooter riding friend looks out over the land a sea at the Butt of Lewis

This amazing structure is unusual amongst Scottish lighthouses in that it was brick built in 1862. We spent a while looking about both at the lighthouse and the many rock climbs on the cliff faces here. I note with interest that The Scottish Mountaineering Club have released a new Outer Hebrides climbing guide. 

Steep cliffs, a towing outcrop and broiling seas create a dramatic scene

That is a lot of climbs to fill a book that thick.

We then whizz back the road we came and are feeling peckish. We stop at the Port of Ness museum, gallery and cafe. It is just such a nice stop. Welcomed at the door by an elderly knitting lady, she greets us and enquires after us all in that lovely singing island accent. We learn she has lived on the Outer Hebrides her whole life. The cafe is lovely and we settle for the toasty and soup offer. It could have easily been a cake fest they had so many home baked cakes.

While waiting I look at the works in the gallery where there is an exhibition focusing on the war dead of Port of Ness. For such a tiny place there's a lot of young men and women. I reflect as we have passed up through the island we have seen tiny places with big war memorials covered in names. With a population now of only 22,000 across the whole archipelago these people seem to have given a huge percentage of young lives. It must have ripped holes in those small communities. Similarly on the way across to Barra I got talking to a young lad working for CalMac, both were born and grew up on Barra. They acknowledged how devastating the loss of 2 Barra teenage girls in the Manchester bombing of pop singer Ariana Grande was for a small island of 1500 people.

When we arrived we were the only customers, by the time we were leaving the place was heaving. "That’s how it goes some days" said our very jolly waitress. We had to go if we were to get beer, get to Gary’s, break in, get ready and be in place to go for this meal. So back down the road we came with the now blustery southern wind in our faces. We follow the 857 across the wind swept moors enjoying the renowned constantly changing light. We whizz round the ring road and meet traffic lights, 2 sets. We are not used to these signs of urban congestion. Over the hills past the wind turbines and back once again to Clare and Gary’s in the little hamlet of Grimshader. We case the joint then make our entry through the front door. Thanks Clare for leaving it open and for taking very springery Springer Spaniel in the car with you.

A short time afterwards the three arrive and it is hugs, kisses, licks and tail wagging. Then with mugs of tea we catch up, relive old adventures, shower, put on best bib and tucker and go fine dinning in Stornoway.

Polished floors, neatly laid table in white and cream, large cream room and chandeliers, very posh

This photo is in Stornoway. This is the Dining room at Lewis Castle in Stornoway, where Gary happens to work. Clare agreed to drive home and would have a glass or two when we got back (thank you Clare). The lad’s meanwhile packed cans, bottles and bags for this BYO restaurant. "The Spice Kitchen" in Stornoway is a lovely home cooked style Thai restaurant and very reasonable for a fantastic meal.

Then we go home to the other great bit about Gary’s "The Fallen Oar". This is Gary’s own pub he has built in a shipping container. Wood lined and insulated, wood burning stove, sofas, bar with pumps and optics, beer fridge, pull down screen and projector for rugby and finally a hammock which is strung across for guests. In this case me.

If you have not yet tried modern camping hammocks do they are so good. DD hammocks - a UK firm - do brilliant ones. In fact the hammock tonight is a DD one I bought Gary. Camped a week in one in Spain climbing as it was a wooded campsite. Use with the van tie one end to tree, pole, fence, wall etc and then to mount in van just inch forward to get the tension right luxury night’s sleep and never wet or damp.

Anyway as the night wears on the lads leave me, possibly snoring in my hammock!

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Holy Water On Departure It's Rev. Mick!'s day of departure, in spite of his wife's misgivings. He's crossing Ireland and he's already lost in his own country.
Countryside, Culture And Carlingford Lough Rev. Mick! is finding a ferry and fascinating sights as he makes his way northbound towards Belfast. A good day all in all but there may be just one small hiccup ahead.
Police, Passages, Pals, and Pints Rev. Mick! is escorted by the police, hangs out with Scooter types and catches TWO ferries. It seems he can't have an "ordinary" day.
Ferries And Fun But No Food It's all ferries and frolics for Rev. Mick! as he gets deep into The Highlands and islands. The riding and crossings are good but there's a problem with acquiring sustenance.
Motorcycle Meditation In The Wild And Wet Rev. Mick! is having one hell of a day. The Hebridean weather is throwing it's worst at them as they make their way northbound to their raison d'etre.
Lovely Lewis And Chilled Chums Rev. Mick! finds today to be much calmer and enjoyable rather than endurable. A tour of the northern half of Lewis and some good company sees Mick swinging and snoring.
A Laid Back, Easy Day On Lewis While their hosts are working Rev. Mick! and Drew enjoy and easy mooch around. There's just that one place Rev. Mick! still hasn't managed to reach.
Homeward Bound From Lewis To Mallaig It's way too early for Rev. Mick! this morning but needs must. Sadly it's time to head homeward but that won't spoil a good day looking around Skye.
Veggie Brekkie, Bikes And A Blast Rev. Mick!'s enjoying a day through some classic Highland scenery then pondering the past, present and a future yet to come.
The End of the Fellowship With the parting of the pals comes a tinge of remorse yet Rev. Mick! still has many more miles to cover before his heroic return to home. Did anyone notice he'd even left?

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady¹ said :-
Sounds like a great trip.
15/01/2023 10:16:33 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Turas math for sure.
15/01/2023 13:02:04 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's surely a ride I'd like to make and the more I see of Rev. Mick!'s images the more I want to do it. If it's all the same though I'll give the alcohol consumption a miss. My body is a temple. Abandoned and ruined, but a temple.
17/01/2023 08:21:31 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
As George Bernard Shaw once said (badly paraphrased I’m sure), “Not drinking and not smoking does not make you live longer. It just seems like that”.
17/01/2023 14:36:16 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
As George Bernard Shaw once said (badly paraphrased I’m sure), “Not drinking and not smoking does not make you live longer. It just seems like that”.

Actually alcohol is pretty frowned on in Lewis and Harris. They are “Wee Free” dominated. The pubs do not open on Sunday and pubs are not really a feature of life other than a couple in Stornoway, the others tend to be hotel bars. When Clare and Gary first moved up there the swings in kids playgrounds were chained up on a Sunday. They fought against having ferries or planes on that day. The Norwegian garage owner who started opening on Sunday’s, initial got a lot of abuse. To this day Clare would not put her washing out on a Sunday out of respect for her neighbours.
If you want a great time up there you should go for the festival HebCelt which fantastic fun.
17/01/2023 14:57:46 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
About 20 years ago we took Electra's mother, who was Greek, for a Highlands and Islands tour. We arrived in Stornoway on a Sunday afternoon. We'd just been staying in B&Bs that we came across on our travels and had had no problems till then. However, after trying several guest houses and being turned away - no' on the sabbath - we were facing the prospect of sleeping in the car. In desperation I popped into the tiny police station and asked the cop on duty if he could help - almost expecting to be offered a night in the cells. However, he rang round and after what must have been more than half a dozen refusals eventually found us somewhere for the night.

I can't say the landlady was hospitable and it was as far from luxurious as it was from being cheap. But it served its purpose and I learned something....

One thing that amazed Electra's mum was that it stayed light enough to read until nearly midninght as it was close to the solstice. Of course they never get that in Greece as it is so much further south.

Interesting that you say not putting washing out on Sundays is "respecting neighbours". As far as I'm concerned people are entitled to do what they want with their own lives including subscribing to any superstition going but they have no right to impose those prejudices on others.
17/01/2023 16:19:45 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
ps where's my edit gone???

Cancel that it's reappeared....
17/01/2023 16:20:08 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
I do hope Ian that you are being “Devils Advocate” there. The important word is respect.

I do not cook pork for my Jewish friends, I think carefully about offering Muslim friends alcohol. My Muslim friends at my house respect my right to drink alcohol. I have Greek friends who slaughter a lamb at Easter that is their desire while I could not do so, it tastes divine.

My wife is profoundly Catholic and felt unable to buy one of our good friends a wedding present for his second marriage. I respect her view. I have practised as a Zen Buddhist for over forty years, I am unable to fly fish, to cause pain to another creature for my fun, I however have walked the banks of Patagonian rivers as my oldest friend enjoyed his fly fishing.
I think people who work in Saudi Arabia who brew alcohol, knowing the penalties, who complain when convicted are lacking in respect.

Clare does not put out her washing on a Sunday because she knows and loves her neighbours who’s children grew up with hers. Her neighbours who respect her would never say a word to her about her having done so. They would respect her in her actions.

The important word is respect. Sorry to sound a bit preachy.
22/01/2023 01:08:58 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Not quite Mick. For most of the last 50 years I have lived in multicultural areas and for most of the time have had at least one Muslim family living next door, or even on both sides. I have always got on very well with them.

I would not criticise them directly for their views - even though my personal opinion of Islam and other Abrahamic religions is that they are often misogynistic and used to perpetuate patriarchal power structures - it is up to them what they believe and practise provided they are within the law.

The corollary of this is what I do in my own house (and back garden) is up to me and I do not expect to have to conform to other people's views of what is seemly.
22/01/2023 10:16:13 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Now that's got me thinking cap on.
What does Ian get up to in his back garden, and should we be grateful he's not doing it in our back garden.
I think it's getting milder boys and girls, the ice and snow is finally melting at this level at least. Still white above 1500ft.
For those who prefer metric that would be exactly 1500ft.
You're welcome.
22/01/2023 13:02:33 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Yes, the frost has finally left us as well in the lowlands of the Redditch basin. How many of the plants in the garden will have survived is the next question.

As to what else I get up to there well you'll just have to use your imaginations. But don't get too excited.

BTW Ren - once I've posted a comment and go back to the main site the edit button has disappeared. But if I return to the specific topic (eg here) it reappears. Odd.....
22/01/2023 15:41:37 UTC

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