Just a Wee Bit of Scotland - The List Begins…
It is one of the downsides of travel. Jet lag: that feeling that creeps over your shoulder before the sun is down and insists you turn in for the night, or bounces on your bed at three am, intent on waking you up. (Clarification: Wilmont is just tired from a hike in the photo above. He’s never been a victim of jet lag in his life.) Since returning from Scotland I have been held captive by this gremlin; I actually went to bed the other night at eight-thirty, something I’ve not done since I was six. But the fog is beginning to lift and I’m slowly returning to the land of the living. Although I hasten to add, it is a reluctant re-entry. This journey to Scotland, with a little icing of London to make it even sweeter, was so perfect, I find I’m frequently still there in my head. And so much so in my soul.
I know I probably prattle on about Scotland too much for some of you,
but I’m going to risk it one more time by sharing a few special places
I discovered this time out.
Please indulge me.
We’ll do London next!
Skye Pie Cafe
There’s a lot of what’s termed “social media” that I don’t participate in. I don’t have a Facebook page. Snapchat doesn’t interest me, and I consider a “selfie-stick” to be tangible evidence of the end times. But boy, have I enjoyed Instagram. Just pretty, inspiring photographs from people with fascinating viewpoints and eyes for beauty. I’ve loved sharing some of the crystalline moments of my journeys that would otherwise be lost in the course of an ordinary day. I particularly loved sharing my latest expedition to Scotland and London. One of the special people on Instagram commented on a post I left before leaving for Scotland, telling me that I must visit a place called Skye Pie Cafe. (Thank you so much, Christi. Find her page HERE. She’s a wonderful photographer.) So, I filed that tidbit away in my head and on a brilliantly bright morning as The Songwriter and I made our way up the Isle of Skye on the way to the Quirang, we found Skye Pie Cafe waiting for us on the Staffin Road. Pulling in, I was immediately charmed by the whitewashed cottage with flowers blooming beneath the blue, blue sky.
But when I entered, I was tickled beyond belief.
All my favorite things gathered under one roof.
A fascinating art gallery.
Delightful rooms with bowls of yarn and knitting needles sitting on each table so you can knit whilst waiting for your pie. You can also embroider your name and hang it from the ceiling. When I was there the collective knitting project was blankets for the refugees, so as The Songwriter placed our order for lunch, I snooped around a bit and then sat down to knit my contribution.
All is light and beauty and friendliness. Just look at the dye/creative stuff room above!
I was in heaven. The Songwriter practically had to pull me out of there. A little later, when we arrived atop the Quirang, we found it to be the perfect spot for a picnic of Skye Pie....
And that pie? Absolutely transcendent.
I also found out, you can actually stay there, too!
Next time, guys!
Find the Skye Pie Cafe, HERE.
Okay, so I’ve mentioned Shilasdair Yarns before. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. The setting is unsurpassed, sitting as it does on the tip on the Waternish peninsula with views that stop my breath cold and make my heart sing symphonies. It’s also the tiny building that made me learn to knit. I first entered it on a bright, quiet morning about a dozen years ago and felt as though I had walked into a magical box of colour.
All over the walls, on tables and tucked into cubbyholes, were the most glorious colours of yarn I’d ever seen. I was speechless and horrified at my massive ineptitude. I didn’t know how to knit, so couldn’t do a blessed thing with the treasures I saw before me. Right then and there, I made a vow to myself. I would learn to knit, and knit well, and I would return to Shilasdair to purchase some of this gorgeous yarn. I did, and I have, several times.
But this time was special.
Shilasdair was created by a woman named Eva Lambert. Eva arrived on Waternish in the late sixties after attending university in Scotland and spending time in Turkey where she became obsessed with textiles and colours. I can only imagine how remote Waternish must have felt back then. She moved into a tiny cottage ( that I’d give my shoes for) and set up shop. She had her own sheep and soon created a dye garden from which she would extract the marvelous colors for her yarns.
Today, many years later, she is known as a wizard of colour, still dyeing all the yarn herself using natural dyes from all the growing things around her. This gives the yarn such individuality and depth, you cannot imagine how amazing the colours are. When the Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned new linens for The Great Bed of Ware, it was to Eva they turned for the dyeing. She is brilliant, and a treasure.
This time when I was there the sun was shining as it rarely does in this part of the world. There was a soft breeze and the air smelled of salt and heather. As I poked blissfully around inside the shop I heard The Songwriter (who’d been taking photos of the magnificent sea just below) talking to someone outside. When I finally pulled myself away, swinging a bagful of lilac-coloured yarn on my arm, he said, “I think I just met your lady.”
“What?!”, I sputtered. “That’s like me meeting Paul McCartney and you knowing nothing about it!”.
Yes, dear reader, I became a fan and marched up to the dyeing shed where I met Eva’s handsome husband and asked as sweetly as I could if it would be possible to say hello to her. He smiled and took me to her. We had a lovely conversation. I told her it was because of her that I learned to knit. We laughed. We talked about colour, about Turkey, about Skye. I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet. You can see from my big ole' goofy grin exactly how tickled I was.
If you’re a knitter, or a lover of colour, or just an admirer of someone who created a marvelous, inventive life on the edge of the world, you must visit Shilasdair Yarns on the Waternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye. You simply must.
If you cannot visit in person, but would like some of the glorious yarn,
the website is HERE.
Oh and to prove I did what I vowed to do... yes, I knitted the shawl I'm wearing above and also... so proud... this scarf to wear in the Scottish landscape.
It matched perfectly!
For years The Songwriter and I have tried to hike into the edge of the Black Cuillin Mountains to reach Loch Coruisk. We’ve never managed it. You see, you have to take a boat there. The boat drops you off and you hike and hike till you reach an isolated spot that has captured the imagination of countless artists and composers for centuries.
But on every trip we’ve taken to Skye, the changeable weather has held up a blue hand to stop us from sailing. Either it was too bad to leave, or forecasted to be too bad to get back. But, ever optimistic, we have continued to try. This time was the charm however, and we spent one of the most incredible days of our lives there. We felt like the only two people alive as we reached the loch and sat beside it, stunned at the view in front of us.
Needless to say, we were pooped, with wind-chapped cheeks
and sun-bleached hair, when we arrived back at the dock.
Fortunately, we had an evening at Coruisk House awaiting us.
We discovered Coruisk House a couple of years ago and are so happy to have done so. It’s run by a charmingly talented couple, Clare and Iain, who chucked successful London lives to pursue their dreams in Scotland. I already loved them as soon as I heard this.
Coruisk House is known as a restaurant with rooms, but I’d say both experiences - the dining and the staying - are equally delightful. The old cottage has been lovingly restored by Clare and Iain, and it’s just the perfect storybook place. The staircase we climb to our room is small and atmospheric and when we enter our room, with its four-poster bed and dark sheepskin rugs, we feel utterly comfortable and cosseted.
There are tiny details of delight everywhere you look.
A bowl of fresh, crisp apples to tide us over till dinner.
Scottish books on the windowsill. Hot cocoa makings in the corner.
A gorgeous mohair throw across the fat bed that I was sorely tempted
to “mistakenly” stick in my suitcase.
Dinner is the most delicious event of the day. Iain does the cooking (though I hasten to add that Clare makes some of the most mouth-watering bread I have ever eaten) and The Songwriter said as we climbed up the stairs to sleep… “That was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my whole life”.
Coruisk House is one of those rare finds along the way
that make a perfect trip even better.
You can find it HERE
The Fairy Glen
You may have noticed in some of these photos how brilliantly blue the sky is. This remarkable weather condition was a constant throughout our entire trip to Scotland. It was jaw-dropping, both in beauty and in rarity. Though I’m one of those people who adore the cold and misty Scotland, I have to say that this perfectly salubrious weather allowed us to experience things we’ve never been able to indulge in before. One of such halcyon moments was our afternoon in The Fairy Glen on Skye.
The Fairy Glen is a unique and bewitching place. An unusual formation of land that captivates the imagination like no other. We’ve admired it before from the roadside; the weather being too prohibitive for a climb up. But this time…. oh boy, did we love it. I highly recommend this if you’re ever on this spectacular Scottish island.
Inside are circles of “fairy” stones that snare the senses.
I climbed to the top and sat for a long while.
Imagining and wondering.
A gift indeed.
Hopefully, you can see a bit of why I love Scotland so very much.
Would you like to see some special bits of London next?