Why as a West Yorkshire woman have I returned to remote Scottish islands as a solo traveller, for twenty years? Because there’s a surprise round every bend of path and track!
Recent surprises and delights include discovering a lighthouse optic in Colonsay House gardens; making the connection between barnacle geese and goose barnacles in an Islay bird hide; and being invited to join a group of knitters on Tiree.
Wherever possible, I stay in hostels and bunkhouses and self-cater. This cuts down costs of long trips; also there’s never a dull moment in a hostel.
Several islanders have been willing to chat to me about their lives. These include Ian who was a ‘boarded out’ child, one of many fostered in Tiree in the 30s and 40s; and Donald who told me about the North Uist great storm of 2005 when he ducked under a flying shed.
I’ve been able to repay islanders’ trust and generosity in a small way. I ran a project, based at the Muck school in 2009-10, which encouraged children and adults to make music. I have particularly fond memories of the island choir which we set up. More recently I’ve written songs based on legends or geographical features of four islands.
Having had some island pieces and poems published, I’ve collected so much material that I’ve recently started thinking bigger. So the idea of a book has emerged.
The book will include accounts of my adventures told in prose, poems, and photos. Themes include walks, voices of people I’ve met, topography, wildlife, hostels, schools, and the odd dodgy travel moment.
My blog will be a space for samples from the book, extra material such as the musical score to my songs, and even recordings. It will contain a few ‘behind the scenes’ personal stories. I hope to post once or twice a month.
If you would like to learn more about island topography and history, the natural world and island people past and present, or you’re interested to know what it is like to be a senior woman travelling alone, then you should find much to pique your interest here.