Harris Tweed diary – week two

Harris (Friday 23rd July)

I have just learnt that the Queen arrived at Stornway today on the ‘Hebredean Princess’ with her family  whilst on a 10 day cruise with her family.

This news is a perfect end to a perfect start. Today the sun shone on me with glorious aplomb. I drove down to Harris to meet three weavers and the Harris Tweed shop in Tarbert. I stopped many a time to snap away. It is the first time I have been able to actually stop the car and take photos on the hoof. The Hasselblad worked wonders and the light meter on the side winder is a godsend when you have walked up a hill to find that you left the light meter in the car way… way back down the road.

I grabbed the moment as I could see the sky was not going to stay this way. Being early for my first appointment I made a few U-turns and revisited the ‘beauty spots’ to take my shots.

Drinishader, Skalpay and Hushinish, all dramatically beautiful places in Harris. This truly is a spiritual place, especially as I gave a ride to a Shaman hitching along a road.  Apparently there are black and white witches here. well, I am not sure what colour they are, I do know that there is some extraordinary history here and perhaps some souls are still gravitating.

With my Jura whisky I am going to zip my tent up tight tonight. It’s just Barney and me in my tent thanks!

Loch Erisort (Thursday 22nd July)

Today as promised we were blessed with sun and a northerly wind. So, with an added enthusiasm I made my way back down to South Lochs area and photographed my youngest weaver yet and two chaps who have moved into the area fairly recently and one chap who has lived on his family’s croft all his life. The house being over 100 years in the village of Cromer. Something of a special place along with Orinsay and Lemreway. They are small harbours on the south East coast of Lewis. I will write something about this in the book. Cromer is a place with tremendous magic and I really felt sad to leave it. I think I will be returning as there is a croft up for sale in Lemreway and I started to look quite nosily at it.

Decided to stay at the Loch Erisort Inn where, I have had the most delicious fish pie and fruit desert. I am camping on their lawn as all of a sudden the Lochs festival on Saturday has started to attract many from far and wide. I hope to win the Renault Clio. You never know. So I camp here to enjoy the Lochs. The proprietor caught Mackeral today and served 9 tables with it.

Today was quite a struggle to keep moving when I really wanted to celebrate the first real day of sunshine and enjoy the lochs that I was passing. I made a i-video and hope to be able to put this on the blog somehow.

Tomorrow I see two weavers in Harris, perhaps more if I get a move on, but there are many places to visit in between. We shall see.

Friday to Monday will involve camping so I will probably update this on Monday night.

Odd Socks (Tuesday 20th July)

After a Little gap from the diary (because I was actually out in dry weather taking photos and meeting people.  Something that not only lifts my spirits, but is actually the purpose of this visit) I am feeling rather bemused;

1. Having edited a number of digital images this evening I went to place my Polaroids in order, whilst on the back they are each labelled each with the name of the portrait on the front.   It goes a bit like this: Macleod, Mackenzie, Macleod, Maclean, Macleod, MacDonnell, Maclean… dare I go on…not sure why I did not think to write their first names too.

2. Received my laundry back from the hotel laundry lady this evening all clean, dry and fresh. The laundry lady with a terribly worried expression explains that she may have lost some socks of mine and has taken the time to look and re look in the drying machine and the laundry room.

Laundry lady said this,”I am so sorry I really am, I have one pink sock and one brown one but I think I have mislaid the other socks I have looked everywhere, I am so sorry.” to which I directed her to my feet where indeed, the other half of the pairs of socks were placed. In silence and bewilderment she wondered off. I sort of apologised with a shriek of laughter.

Today was a delightful day, sun meant that the sheep shearers could set to work on the village of Carloway, they are three brothers, Macleod, Macleod and Macleod, who live in Harris, near Leverburgh, who travel throughout June and July to shear sheep on the Isles of Harris and Lewis.

First question to me by a Macleod, ”Are you married?”

Second question to me by another Macleod, “How old are you?”

Third question by the first Macleod, “Where are you staying?”

Almost telling them any of the answers I politely thank them for allowing me to photograph there with them today and the Catchers, Pullers and Shearers all set to work with me snapping away.

I wanted to add this evening about the Norse Mill and the Iron Age Black House, but I am afraid the sheering (looking at sheering) and the sun (advising me that my iphone needed to cool down before use) has quite put me to near exhaustion.  I hope to write about these fantastic historical dwellings next time. Until then.