Hi – Hello! Greetings from the Outer Hebrides!
After visiting Stroma and Eilean nan Roan on the north coast of Scotland, Mara and I returned to Glasgow briefly and then hit the motorway to Hull, where the Sound+Environment conference was happening. The University of Hull was a really amazing space for the brief talks, sound installations, and concerts of soundscapes and electroacoustic compositions, played over the HEARO system (really high-quality speakers capable of reproducing well-spatialized eight channels, I believe. You could almost see the money coming into that place, everything so fresh and new and high-tech. Hull is the UK’s city of culture this year so I guess it’s the best time to make all those renovations on campus, while the boosted support is there.
Anyway, that little side trip lasted just a few days and then we were back in Glasgow organizing ourselves again before heading up to the Isle of Skye to board the ferry from Uig to Tarbert (An Tairbeart). After a wonderfully stormy ferry-trip across the ‘Minch’ in between Skye and the outer Hebrides we immediately drove to our campsite which we were graciously offered by John at the Lickisto campground. It was a great place to begin our island research-trip, and our tent even managed to keep us both dry (a bonus!). With Lickisto as our first ‘base’, we had the island of Taransay in our sights, but it proved not so easy to reach. This wasn’t due to weather because we actually had some nice sunny days and a short distance to cross to the island. Rather, it was difficult to get in touch with the right person at the right time for transportation – and we had a ferry to catch! Nevertheless, we really met a lot of interesting and friendly people on the isle of Harris, and we now know whom to contact when we return for our second attempt at crossing to Taransay. Harris was full of characters and many people you wouldn’t expect to find there. We even had tea with an English / Austrian couple that moved to the island from Baden, Austria.
On Saturday, the 15th of July, We boarded a ferry from the isle of Harris to Berneray, the island at the northern tip of the chain making up the Uists. Berneray was a place to lay our heads until headed south for the ferry to Barra (where we stay now – waiting to get to Mingulay!). On Berneray we were extremely fortunate to meet the wonderful Loriana, a swiss woman who has lived in the Hebrides for about 7 years. She shared a lot of great stories with us and loaned a book about Mingulay – in the book the author describes an almost identical situation to our current one: he was stuck on Barra waiting for the ‘good weather go ahead’ too! After fixing her audio recorder for her, sharing dinner and breakfast, we continued south through the Uists to Eriskay, boarding the ferry to Barra. And here we are, at the mercy of the elements, waiting for an experienced boatman to come to our tent tomorrow morning and give us the hopefully good news about our reaching Mingulay.
One prominent feature in our experience of the Hebrides thus far is the impressive lack of internet. This is a blessing but also a little painful sometimes, because as you know this blog is ultimately here to be a log of our progress with the Island project. As I type this I am sitting with Mara in the car, taking advantage of the golden mobile internet zone in the Co-op parking lot. Our windows are fogging up heavily and the rain is coming down outside. Now it’s about 7:30pm and we’re off to our campsite where our cozy tent awaits.
Maybe I can manage a photo with this blog post?! Let’s see….. More to come (soon-ish) !!!
-Tyler & Mara