So she went for a visit to the Islands,
bought a ticket
and rattled through great scenery.
A friend picked her up at the station.

The sky was blue
the journey pleasant
and by the time they reached Broadford
the sun was scorching hot.

In need of a drink and a break
they strolled by a window, and there,
the most beautiful thing to wear
romantically enlaced with corn stems
called our heroine’s eye.

A straw hat. Two pounds.
And off she went
joyfully wearing
what is not often seen in these abouts.
Maybe dreaming of lazy hours on a shore,
sketching, dozing and what more…..

Twenty minutes later, in Portree,
a humid foggy blanket lay
heavy and grey
over land and sea.

No getting better. It got wetter.

No need to say
that all her stay
on that small hebridean island
evolved without the need
of the most beautiful sun hat
romantically enlaced with corn stems.

Posted in Outer Hebrides, Poetry, seasons, Weather | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday morning

‘Will you come with me to the beach?’
‘No,’ she said, ‘I have to make myself ready for church.’
So, I walk alone, only me and my dog and God.
It is a sunny late September Sunday,
mild and beautiful. 
A late Skylark praises it with her song.

Sheltered by a wisp of marram grass, 
the pure shining yellow of buttercups,
trembles gently in the wind’s breath.

Far away, on Sandhill,
a long chain of sheep is lining slowly along the slope
and above them geese fly by,  calling excitedly.

The Minch gently splashes on white sand, 
while a flock of nervous Turnstones chatter away 
further up on the rocks.

A happy dog runs before me, along the tideline, 
chasing for seaweed ‘branches’ to play with,  
inviting me to throw them onto the water. 

I bend to find a group of Cowries, freshly brought in last night by the sea,  and wonder                                                                      about the reds, oranges, purples and wine colours  and almost geometric patterns on some broken bits of urchin shell. 

The Light this morning has an uplifting, transparent, almost otherworldly quality,
like the tune of a violin played on higher, unknown key, by the hands of a master. 
It fills my soul with joy.

The Harris mountain lie silent, their music the accompanying drone.
By the beach’s end a curlew calls, repeatedly, 
and I have not the words to tell the beauty                                      of this haunting, pure sound.

It is my Sunday morning church bell.

(Sadly, the grey church building on my island doesn’t sing).

Posted in Fauna, Flora, Isle of Berneray, Land- and seascapes, Nature, Outer Hebrides, Personal, Poetry, seasons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Programmes in French about music and Gaelic culture in the Hebrides


Duncan MacKinnon, great Gaelic singer in Berneray


Jean-Luc Rieder and Isabelle Watson from Radio Suisse Romande have created a beautiful image of today’s traditional music culture on the Hebrides.  You will hear the voices of some well known musicians and singer (as of a passionate ‘outsider’ like myself).

Posted in Gaelic, Music, Outer Hebrides, People of the Uists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Interview with Gloria MacKillop in Berneray


Gloria MacKillop arrived 46 years ago to Berneray, the ‘island of bachelors’, to be a relief district nurse.  Her plan to stay for three months and then go back to Australia fell apart when she met ‘Splash’, her husband to be.  In this lively account Gloria tells us  how she found unexpected family members in Scotland. She speaks  about her first years on the island, how she learned to cope with boats, with crofting life, how life was before the causeway connected the island to North Uist, how Berneray became  ‘home’ (even without ‘cotton bushes’ to hide).

Her love for sheep helped her over the loss of her late husband.  Here we see her on an early April day sorrounded by ewes and lambs.


It is a pleasure to witness Gloria’s lively energy, to listen to her refreshing laughter, to her interesting life story. Who would believe she has lived such a long life!


To listen to the interview click below.  The quality of the recording could be better! This is my  mistake.


Posted in Berneray people, community, crofting, Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean, Isle of Berneray, Nature, Outer Hebrides, People of the Uists, seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Impressions from a walk to Bustara Beach 21.3.13

While the mainland of Scotland and many parts of the UK are experiencing a hard winter with cold and snow into late March, we here in the Outer Hebrides get dry and often sunny spells and no snow.

Today the colours were beautiful, inviting me and my dog out into the light of this first day of Spring.


Nature’s sculpture


Tiny tracks in the sand….probably a beetle


These were today’s colours. We are looking towards the snow covered hills of Harris.


Another view in the same direction



Foamy waves

Posted in Isle of Berneray, Land- and seascapes, Nature, Outer Hebrides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Telegraphic poles

along the roads on our isles                           
they really should stand straight
and in one line
but as your eye travels the pattern         
it finds that ‘upright’ 
is not the matter
on wind battered plains
some bend this way
and some the other
it may be just a hint but it affords
delightful sights:
here’s that old burdened man
lost in the moors
there the young dancer 
taking off with outstretched hands
some join to tell the stories of the gales,
of the preferred channel of the winds…
(and yet, despite and still, 
we miraculously get wired connections
to our sitting rooms)
…..except the ones
who left the lines
to dream alone on some forgotten hill
Posted in Outer Hebrides, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Valentine day’s choice of colours


with a poem by Peter Kerr

there is
a softness
in the late-afternoon sky
the pale pastel palette suffused
with a subtle chalkiness that merges
the lightest of blues with lemon-highlights
left behind by the departing sun these lying between
the hinted gentle greys that grow in depth within the dusting of the clouds…

Valentine day's choice of colours

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