The Western Isles – Or There And Back Again XII

By Bernie Bell

Mostly Uig…

We set off to go to Uig sands.  While driving along Loch Croistean, we saw a sign saying  “FOOD ONE MILE”, thought “Bird in the hand”, and were glad we did.  The Loch Croistean café is in an old schoolhouse, and the original school room has old wooden tables, chairs and sofas, and is immediately welcoming, as is Marianne, the owner.

Uig Tea Room B Bell Western IslesThe stove which heats this space, is a converted metal fishing float. The thing on the top is a small fan, which is driven by, and disperses, the heat – brilliant!

stove on Uig B Bell Western Isles

The food was good  too.  This would be a tempting place to sit on a dreich day, eat Marianne’s home-made cakes and drink strong tea.  Very much recommended if you’re round that way.  As we left the schoolhouse, the weather came on again, so we decided to head for the Uig Museum, where we had a yarn with the lady at the desk, and with a couple from Canada, who were on their way to Orkney. The man was interested in the Orkney/Canada connection, especially the Hudson Bay Company.  He’d never heard of John Rae!  So I gave him a potted history, and he said he’d look him up.

One thing which struck me at the museum, was the Viking display, which includes a loom which is not much different from the one which Leila Thompson uses at Hoxa Tapestry Gallery, on Orkney. All that time, and something which simply, WORKS – still does the job – doesn’t need to change.

I don’t like the Vikings but I do like their clothes!

The other, relatively recent link with the  past, is a photo of a Blackhouse, which was still lived in in 1938, and looks just like the reconstructed Iron Age house at Bosta used to look, before it deteriorated.  Continuity. Some things didn’t really change for thousands of years, then, in the last couple of hundred years or so – Gawd ‘elp us all!

The rain and wind were still relentless, so we drove round a bit, then headed back to the cottage.  Looks like we weren’t destined to find more Viking marvels on Uig Sands!Lewis Chessmen

We did see an unusual bus shelter!  In the Western Isles, some bus shelters are built in the form of a concrete, symmetrical cross, with a roof on.  This is so that, whichever way the wind is blowing, the folk waiting for the bus, can find shelter – would work well in Orkney too!  This is a good idea, akin to some walls built to shelter sheep  in the fields. The difference is, the sheep walls are dry–stone and look good.  Gunnie Moberg took an aerial view of one, which is striking.

Whereas, I have to admit that the bus shelters are a bit grim.  There’s one at Miabhaig, near Uig, where someone has made a virtue of necessity by making a collage of a Saltire in the bus shelter.  This is made up of words and images, and improves the bus shelter, greatly – possibly gives folk something to read while they’re waiting, too!

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