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Published: October 24th 2019
First and foremost this vacation ended on Na h-Eileanan Siar, the Western Isles in the Outer Hebrides, on the Isle of Barra not South Uist, I couldn't work out how to add that to the list of options under Outer Hebrides so there we are. I also can't speak Gaelic so forgive me if I make mistakes in any names I type of this stunning place.
This holiday, a year after our amazing vacation in Florida, couldn't have been more different, rugged off grid with no cell service or WiFi, battered by the elements we had an equally, albeit totally different trip this year.
Things have been hectic, I gave most of the update in the last blog I just published but I've taken on a new role in my company that involves a lot more travel, and also we're in the process of emigrating to Texas so I'm there most months for a week or two as well as other work trips to Canada, Australia, Greece and Belgium in the last few months.
We weren't planning on a holiday this year, Florida blew three years holiday budget in one last year but we ended up in a
last minute trip here as I had five weeks of holiday to use since last October and only a few months to use them in and we got some great last minute deals on two cottages, the first on a farm and the second week on a beach.
The kids absolutely loved the outdoors life, we're out a lot at home - we've a great beach in our town and they all love going out on their bikes but one thing we don't do, and are determined to keep up after this holiday, is remote walking, up hills (or mountains as they would call them....) where you see no-one else all day and feel like you're the first person to stand on that piece of ground, and you don't have to go far to get that feeling living in Scotland.
In our first week we were staying on Aird Farm on the Craignish Peninsula. It was a stunning location, rugged and battered by the elements, we seen all four seasons in one day there but absolutely loved it. We had grand plans to base ourselves here and drive to different sites every day but we only left the
16,000 acre farm once in the week and it was the most disappointing day of the trip.
The cottage was brilliant, it had absolutely everything we needed and more, the comfiest beds I've slept on and a lovely log burner and old school board games for night time, we were also provided homemade fruit loaf, wine and eggs from the farm, it was excellent in every way. Even the novelty of the unclear but double filtered tap water was a nice realisation.
We walked miles in a different direction each day, I was amazed by the kids stamina, we scaled some pretty big hills and the wind threatened to blow us back down at some points but the scenery, animals, islands and whisky was just incredible.
The farmer, Malcolm, took them all out on his Polaris farm buggy and they all got the chance to drive it, Lois loved our daily drive to the local village store (about 3 miles away) as she got to stand on the steps on the outside of my car holding onto the rails as I drove along because she had to keep hopping on and off to open and close the
farm gates or to shoo sheep or baby dear from the road so I could get past.
The second week was on Tangasdale Beach on the West Coast of Barra. This stunning location on the Atlantic Ocean was breathtaking, the white sand beach and turquoise water reminded us of our trip to the Maldives rather than Scotland in October. The weather was brilliant too, we only had one wet day and on one afternoon the kids were in shorts and t-shirts - we were not prepared for that! We had more layers than a wedding cake and most of our clothes never got worn as it was too warm for all the cosy jumpers and base layers we had brought.
The Ferry from Oban to Castlebay was a unique experience for us, 5 hours to travel 88 miles and I think Fiona and I were both dreading it, her because she feared she would be sick - and she was, and me because I thought I'd have to entertain the kids on a dull bus on the water. I was wrong. The ferry was great, there was a play room for the kids, bars, and a restaurant that
kept us all entertained as well as the stunning view from the top deck.
Barra itself is an island with a 14 mile single track road all the way around, with loads of wee areas with their own groups of four or five houses and farm land. Castlebay is the town, if you can call it that, and it had a couple of bars/hotels with a tea room, restaurant and a well stocked supermarket with a few nice local stores dotted around. Amazingly there are five Catholic churches on this wee island, I went to mass in two of them and they were well attended by the 1000 or so island population.
Our cottage was right on the beach, with amazing sunsets every night, we visited the beach at least twice a day and walked miles along the Hebridean Way up some high hills with spectacular views.
A brilliant fortnight was had by all and it's hopefully going to give us some ideas for weekend trips for the near future.
Until the next time, Mudpies out.
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