My walk from the flat back to the Colonsay Airfield started before the sun rose. I had booked the 09:00 flight and didn’t want to be late. After all, the plane only comes and goes to and from the island twice a day. Also, I wanted to plan extra walk time because of the heavy pack on my back. Nothing burns calories like 4.2 miles with a heavy pack!
The walk was beautiful! I’ve come to the realization that many of the sheep on this island are pretty much free range sheep- if that’s a thing. Some are in fences but there were so many that just walking down the road or in their owner’s front yard. It was kind of cool to see this.
There were six passengers on the first leg but only two of us on the second leg, myself and a lady named Flora. Every three weeks, Flora takes a train from Inverness, her home, to Oban. From there she takes a ferry down to Colonsay where her aging parents live. Both parents’ are in their ‘90s now and need constant care.
Flora stays with them for three weeks and then goes back home for three weeks. Durning her three weeks at home, her sister, who also lives near Inverness, takes her place and stays with their parents for the next three weeks. She says that often, she sees her sister boarding the ferry in Oban, that Flora just left.
I told her that must be difficult- she said it is, but both of her parents’ grew up on Colonsay and this is where they want to be. She says she is very grateful that both Flora and her sister have loving husbands who understand this need and support them in their constant travels back and forth to Colonsay.
Flora and I shared a cab back to Oban because neither of us fancied waiting very long for the bus to get there. When we got there, we said our goodbyes and then went our separate ways. She had business to do and I wanted to go drop off my heavy pack at the hostel.
Lunch was a really great chippy just down the street. It is incredible how good a fresh fish n’ chips is! Even though it’s fried, it’s part of experiencing Scotland. I’ve only found a couple places in the states that do it right. They throw the fries in the bottom of the box, then put the fried fish on top. That’s it. Drizzle the top of the fish with vinegar and salt… done! EAT!
Tonight I went to see The Finest Hour. Good flick but very, very predictable… I am grateful that Disney didn’t put a whole lot of crap in it. It’s one of those films that you can take the whole family to and you won’t be embarrassed.
Just met one of my roommates. His name is Michael and he is from Switzerland, here looking at a University, deciding if he wants to move to Oban and attend. He plans on going into the field of marine sciences. I wonder what jobs that will yield… working in an aquarium? Or commanding a ferry? Hopefully, he wants to talk a bit later and explain it to me. I find it interesting.
I tried to sleep in this morning. When my body was fully awake, I read a bit in bed. Nope, not being lazy. As much as I want to go wander, I need to make sure I’m wandering in the right direction. My wanderings need to involve food, and I don’t want to take off in the wrong direction. I’ve learned to not rely on Google maps as much as I once had.
Buyer beware: This is a nice little apartment on the third floor (or the second floor if you’re from the UK) which is very clean. The kicker: I have no internet access (!). Also, there is no shower, not that I mind taking a bath. I thought it may be great and relaxing to soak in the tub for a few minutes. The hot water happened to run out before the the tub was even a quarter of the way full. So I did a puddle bath if that’s a thing. That’s where you sit in a puddle naked and slosh the water up on yourself. I may be inventing a new term now.
I’m crossing my fingers that the office here opens at 08:00 and not 09:00 so they can point me in the right direction. I need to pick up some food. Even though I did have hot chocolate and herbal tea for dinner last night, I need something that is going to stick with me a little better. I can’t wait to get out and take some pictures. I’ll head down there in a few minutes, as soon as my breakfast has been sipped.
I walked downstairs to find out about the internet situation. The lady told me that there is a connection but it’s very week in the flats. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m up on the third floor either. I ran back up to grab my laptop. She let me sit at a table in the office so that I could check my email, etc. Next, I set out to find the local shop to get some food. By this point, I was feeling pretty week. Herbal tea doesn’t really provide the needed nutrients energy. I took a few pictures on the walk to prove that Colonsay does indeed have vegetation.
A sheep-selfie or “sheepie” for short.
I wasn’t on the road very long when a nice man pulled up behind me and offered me a ride. He happened to be going to the general store as well. He had to be 85 years old! His name is Walter. I asked him if he was originally from the island and he told that he wasn’t, but so far, he’s been here for 58 years! He used to be a cattle farmer but when his wife passed away 6 years ago, he decided to simplify his life and he got rid off all the cattle. Now it’s just him and his dog. He has two grown kids who come to visit him from time to time.
I spent about 15 pounds at the store. Things are much more expensive here- even for Scotland. I guess you can get away with that when you’re the only store on the entire island! I just ate a couple sandwiches and I think I’m going to nap for a bit.
This is downtown Colonsay. Not really a thriving metropolis.
As you can see, today’s chocolate offering is a bit larger. This is because I have been hiking around so far with so much weight on my back. I deserve this!
Part of me hates to waste the little time I have on Colonsay because it’s so short. On yesterday’s walk I did get a bit of a blister on the back of my foot. Think I’ll have a quick nap. Hopefully this food will give me some energy and I’ll be able to go hike around. Walter told me I should hike to… somewhere north of here. To be honest, I couldn’t really understand most of the words he said with is deep accent. I’ll go for a walk and see what I can see.
I took my nap and I know I was out for at least an hour- maybe and hour-and-a-half. When I awoke, it seems that the power was out. It didn’t matter which switch I would try to turn on, there was no reaction. On my way to go for a walk, I mentioned this to the managers and they told me that they had to limit the power because some people would leave their heaters on all day, with the window open and this would end up costing them so much money.
I get that, but what about those of us who left the heater on on purpose because the apartment is so cold upon arrival that I can see my own breath? So one of the guys had to come up to reset the electricity and now I get to go downstairs and pay them some more money. What would make this work would be if I could see the actual use and know when it was going to run out or expire. So then I could decide for myself if I wanted to leave the heater on, pay the extra money, and not freeze to death in the night.
My walk was only about a half an hour and I was on Kiloran Beach. Beautiful! And beautiful cows too! I stayed on the beach for about 20 minutes and then the rain was starting again. I could tell it was going to pour down, so I started back to the flat.
Today is a rainy day in Oban. I’m pretty sure Oban knows I’m leaving today so it’s weeping. It’s just a theory and I’m no meteorologist, but God is definitely sad about this. I just walked down to Abbie’s Cafe for one more breakfast. This time it was pancakes, bacon and I had the throw on two fried eggs. It was delicious, as I knew it would be.
Last night I had a conversation for a few minutes with my hostel mate. I found out his name is Peter. Peter is in Oban tonight to for a multi-denominational choir that he is asked to sing in each year. I told him I wish I was still in town tonight but sadly I’ll be off at my next destination. That is something I would really love to witness!
He is a very kind man who lives on the Isle of Harris. We chatted about singing and choirs we’ve been a part of. Also about places we have traveled to and places we’d like to see. He told me he envies my coming to a land of my forefathers and wishes that he had a similar drive. He’s in his 60s and tells me that he hasn’t done much of seeking out his family or his people. While I was out, he left a message on my bag:
Since I’m leaving today, the hostel receptionist wanted me to be all checked out by 10:30. I packed all my stuff this morning and came upstairs. They told me I could leave my bags while I ventured out. This is great, since I don’t have to actually leave Oban for another hour to travel to my next destination.
I walked back down to the Oban Chocolate Company one more time for another cup of hot chocolate. This time, the mix was “Ghana” which is about 40% cocoa. I liked the last of this much more than “Cuba”, which was 70% cocoa. Thank goodness I’m doing tons of walking! My constant chocolate intake isn’t the most healthy choice I’ve ever made.
17:20 | Colonsay Flat
My taxi dropped me off at the Oban Airport about two hours before I actually had to be there. The receptionist asked me to put my bag on a large scale and informed me that it was far over the recommended weight. She told me that the only reason she was going to let me take it was because I was the only passenger on the first leg to Islay. This made me feel special as if I had a private pilot or something.
For the next hour-and-a-half, I walked around the airport and took a few pictures. At this point, I was getting extremely excited. The trick is to not let them see your excitement. Try to send out a vibe that reads, “I charter tiny planes and hop over to small British Islands all the time”.
The plane was a cute 10-seater and my pilot was a gal named Julie. She was incredibly nice and told me about living in the states for 6 years where she got her pilot’s license. She remembers flying all around Utah and Arizona. Her favorite airport happens to be St. George, Utah- and she loved to fly over Bryce Canyon.
On the way up, I shot some video and made this little thing. Feel free to take a look… I don’t claim to be a great producer, but this was a fun little montage of flying down the coast of Scotland. Make sure your volume is up, after the first shot of the airport in Oban, then the music starts. Music credit goes to Mary Chapin Carpenter. Enjoy the coastline!
We finally land on Colonsay. I’m laughing to myself because the Colonsay Airport is more like a tool shed, next to a runway. It is pretty spectacular! As I was stepping away, Linda asked me if I knew where I was staying. I told her I did and preceded to make my way down the dirt and rock road that lead from the tool shed.
As I make my way down this dirt road I can’t stop laughing at this situation I’m in. I’m carrying an overstuffed backpack on my back, walking down a road. Mind you, when I asked for directions to the place I’m staying, here’s the reply I receive: Walk away from the airport. Turn left when you get to the road. The key will be in the door.
I’m walking and walking and walking. Picture the moon, but with grass. This is how I would describe Colonsay. This pack on my back makes it seem like I have walked so much further than the 2.5 miles, as it was explained to me. I start to second-guess myself and think that I may have passed the place without realizing it. I decide to take my phone out of airplane mode to see if mobile phone towers have made it to this island yet. I get two bars! Life is good. I pull up google maps and sure enough, it tells me that I’ve gone too far and needed to head back in the direction I’ve just come from.
No big deal until it starts to hail. I’m on a strange island and I’m lost and I’m wandering in a hail storm! Now I have an ice-cream headache. The thick clouds overhead are making it seem a lot darker than it is. I’m starting to worry that soon it will be so dark that I won’t be able to see the road. There are no street lights in this land. I am getting nervous and so I say a few prayers.
I decide to go back and knock on someone’s door of the nearest house. An elderly gentleman opens up and sees me dripping wet, and smiles. I ask him if he knows where The Colonsay House is and he tells me that it’s about 2 miles further up the road. So now I know that I didn’t overshoot my housing and that Google maps is a liar.
I continue my trek. Soon a car pulls up behind me. At first, I think the person is trying to get around me so I move to the side of the road. I’m standing now on a damp grassy bank because they apparently didn’t want to spend the extra money and add shoulders to the road. The car stops next to me and the window is rolled down. Another elderly gentleman asks me if I’m lost. I just ask him if I’m headed in the right direction to The Colonsay House and he tells me that I am, indeed. He then asks me if I’d like a ride. I could kiss him.
I toss my pack in the back seat of his little car and sit down in the front passenger seat next to him. Just then, the next round of hail is starting. I feel very blessed that he happened to pull by when he did. About 2 miles further down the road, I found the place I was in search of. All of a sudden, Colonsay is looking more like the mainland. There are trees and houses and signs of life. It’s very beautiful here! I find the apartment called “Drumclach” and sure enough, the key is in the door. I walk in, drop my big ole pack and run to the restroom. I have to pee like a racehorse.
After “settling in” I see a sign saying that the local general store closes in about half an hour so I head down to the reception office and ask if the man can point me in the right way. He tells me that they close early this time of year and I’d have to walk back in the direction I came from. No problem… I ask him where the restaurant is and he tells me that it’s the off-season so the restaurant doesn’t open up again until the spring.
Tonight I’ll be having water for dinner. I feel bad for those who are less fortunate, like myself for instance. Tomorrow I’ll have to hunt for some food somewhere. Surely these Colonsay residents eat food. For now, I’ll just be grateful that I’ve been eating so much chocolate… I can probably afford to miss a meal or two.