Is this a real place? If it is, where is it? All will be revealed. My last post (goodness gracious me!) had me forgetting to tell you the ‘Green Isle of the Great Deep’s authors name. It was Neil M Gunn. Also while I’m here, two of my other beloved authors (both ‘gay’) are: Gavin Maxwell and Hector Hugh Munro (pen name, Saki). Gavin Maxwell is famous for his books on his ‘pet’ otters, the first titled ‘Ring of Bright Water’. His was the inspiration, for me, to move to North Scotland, though, before I travelled there (in a three wheeler van, believe it or not) I knew not where to, exactly. After a few adventures, I settled on Lewis, the largest of the Hebridean Islands. I so taken by his name, I gave my first son the name Gavin, and my second (his middle name) that of Maxwell, which was my late father-in-law’s middle name. So that was OK. I did not know of Saki, ’till my son and daughter-in-law introduced him to me, or rather, his books. They are wonderful. Indeed, his work so impressed Gavin and Alice that they changed their surname from Stevenson to Munro by deed poll, with my blessing. After all, what’s in a name?
A book I read a lifetime ago, ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’, transported me to Muckle Flugger in my imagination. Written by Barry Hines, who was in the same school year as my late brother-in-law (so there!) , the book is about a young lad, Billy Casper, and his love for his trained kestrel, Kes (the film of the book also called ‘Kes’). It’s a heart jerking story, for me, because I experienced a little of it myself. I used to listen, on the radio, to the Met’ Office Shipping Forecast. The coast around the British Isles is divided up into areas, such as Dogger, Viking, and Fair Isle. I used to, like Billy, look them up on an atlas, and discovered Muckle Flugga. Lovely words. Anyway, Muckle Flugga (can’t help typing the name) is the next to the northernmost point in the British Isles, the most northerly being Out Stack.
I loved Geography at school, though I can’t quite remember my teacher’s name. Whitely, that’s it, thank you. Mr. Whitely. It took me off to far away places (with strange sounding names, the words of a song Dusty Springfield sang) I visited in my imagination. One can learn a lot, when one’s interested, really interested. Physical Geography was my ‘speciality’, which put me in good stead for my 4 day/3 night Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award hike I undertook a few years after leaving school. Boast Alert! My log book of the expotition (expedition, the other word’s Winnie the Poo) I was asked to donate to the Youth Club as a ‘good example’ of an excellent log book. Boast over, relax.
When my baking career came to a (temporary) end due to contact dermatitis, I worked for the Youth Hostel Association, where I must say, I met some remarkable people. Crowden YH is the next on from Edale if you were to walk the ‘Pennine Way’. And, many did, including an 82 yr. old retired Oxford professor, who, with a much younger companion, completed the whole 270 odd mile path with ease. The younger companion, I gathered, was ‘knackered’ afterwards and took some time to recover! At about this time, I became interested in the Isles off the western and northern coast of Scotland. I had read the books (including all those of Lillian Beckwith), subscribed to The Orcadian, The Shetland Times and The Stornoway Gazette and made contact with the Island and Highlands Development Board, as was then, to seek out potential jobs. As it turned out, all my research didn’t help me get work. Undismayed, and determined to find a life up there, I loaded up what few belongings I had into my old Reliant 3-wheeler van and headed for Inverness. My first stop was at Findhorn, a few miles out from Inverness. There was a ‘hippy community’ there I wanted to check out. I extracted myself out of the van, and stood shaking for some time. Later, I joined the group in a circle around a large fire, held hands and sang to the Galactic Spirit. Needless to say, the next day, I left, for Broadford on the isle of Skye. I have recently, in a small way, regretted that decision. The Findhorn Foundation is now a world class spiritual community and ecovillage, and not a UFO to be seen.
There was no bridge to Skye at the time, so I ferried across from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin. Further on, at Broadford, I met and talked to a petrol station owner, who wanted a partner to establish a bakery there. He wasn’t ready to start up, but did put me in touch with Stag Bakeries in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. And there I settled, for 3 1/2 yrs. But the adventure hadn’t finished, yet.
I am now 64 next month. The adventure will never end. Even death will only be a diversion, a stop, I believe , to an even greater adventure.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there is a whole world that needs fixing. More on that, another time.
I hear the dinner bell a-ringing. Ta-ra for now.
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