Saturday, June 06, 2009

from the Isle of Skye: loud the winds howl

You talk! I can’t hear a word. I hand the phone back to Ed. The wind is ripping me apart. There is some protection from the side of a house, here, in the village of Broadford, but it’s not much. We’ve just stepped off the bus and we’re on the Isle of Skye.


It took a while to get here, but we are now utterly brilliant (in the UK meaning) at figuring out the cheapest and best ways to get from point A to B in Scotland (helped tremendously by the best public transportation website I have ever seen – And today, we traveled, for the first time, as seniors, on a rail discount pass that for L15 would get us to any point in the country and back. [Truthfully, nothing has made me feel as old as realizing that I am eligible for an elderly pass!]

First leg – we head east to Inverness, oh lovely town, that always breaks up the clouds for me when I am there!

And then, back to Scotland’s west, past a landscape constantly teased by a threat of rain...



...past villages with fanciful names and lovely spring flowers...

DSC03234_2 the edge of the sea – to the village of Kyle of Lochalsh – where we catch the local Skye bus that takes us over the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Fifteen years ago, you would have had to take a ferry. But now, the ferry service is obsolete.


Images of this island have been with me for a long long time. From history books (on the escape of the bonnie Prince Charlie here in 1746) to children’s books (we had a beautiful one on island life here that I would always pick to read to my girls), to photos of the rugged hills and barren coast – I’ve painted a canvas in my mind of what it's like to live on the Isle of Skye.

And even before, in my youngest school years, this was my most favorite music class song (listen to it here):

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that's born to be king,
over the sea to Skye…

You could say that Skye has been in my lullaby dreams from childhood onwards.

And now, here I am, trying ineffectively to put a call through to our b&b.

Loud the winds howl,
loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air,
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.


So far, in the short time that we’ve been here, I can say that Skye is as dreadfully rugged and beautiful as I imagined it to be.

Our b&b host tells Ed – walk up the road a bit and I’ll come out to meet you!
And from Ed -- Could you repeat that please? Can’t hear you over the wind…
He does. And within minutes we see him. As I zip my fleece to the top and brace against the wind coming in from the water, I note that Tony Breen (our host) is in short sleeves. You’re not cold?
I was playing with our boy in the sun five minutes ago! Then the clouds came, the wind picked up – that’s Skye for you.

In the bright light of the northern evening, we set out for dinner just up the road to Creelers of Skye.


Oh, new Scotland, you! You show up when I least expect you!

We eat scallops and mussels and shellfish, all served with a promise that it’s locally sourced. With great care and respect for the ingredients. Fresh and honest.

We sit by a window and look out to catch the play of wind, rain and sea.


Outside, the skies are clearing. I know, only for a minute. Enough to give us a safe passage home.


Though the waves leap,
soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rock'd in the deep,
Flora will keep watch o'er your weary head.

Yep. Just as I had imagined.