Just Do It!

‘Bucket lists’ have been around for quite some time and mine (maybe like yours?) was getting longer, with not many “must-dos” being crossed off!

To achieve some of the ‘work/life balance’ thing, It was time to take a leaf or two from my business approach and apply them to personal goals. So, it really was a case of STOP, THINK, PLAN and take ACTION, otherwise the list would just keep growing…..

As a lover of all things Scottish from an early age – competitive Scottish singing, Burns recitation, and from a family of kilt-makers/wearers, pipers, drummers, accordion players & fiddlers, you’d think that over the years I would have travelled Scotland extensively. I have seen a fair bit of the mainland but, sorry to say that my travels of Scotland’s Islands had thus far only reached Millport, Arran and Bute! High on my list was a trip to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (indeed I’m planning to visit many more of my Scottish Islands, and Barra seemed an excellent starting point!)

The decision was made all the easier, since a friend had recently moved temporarily to Barra (calling it her #Barragapyear then, understandably, she fell in love with this magical island, and has now taken up permanent residence!) A mutual friend, Alison, was keen to go too, and so the plan became reality.

We extend our grateful thanks to Eileen & Jackson for their generous hospitality during our stay.



Come Fly With Me

One of the most unique experiences in travelling to Barra is taking the flight in a twin otter plane from Glasgow and landing on the beach at Barra (it’s the only scheduled beach landing in the world!)

It’s not as scary (and the landing not as bumpy) as you’d think, and in a short hour – you’re there!

No overhead lockers, the pilot does the safety demo as well as flying the plane, and the seat configuration is very ‘friendly’. Cabin crew? Nope! Bring your own drinks & snacks…..

The scenery en route is spectacular and has whet my appetite for lots more island adventures!


So Much To See…..So Little Time

Within the first 24 hours of landing, we had toured most of Barra & Vatersay (the neighbouring island over a causeway), courtesy of Jackson – our tour guide, generous host, cook, technician, dog-daddy and games guru.

As we travelled along the most gorgeous shoreline, sharing parts of the road with the local sheep, we were in awe of the vast emerald waters, crashing white waves, then quiet sandy coves and unspoilt stretches of sand that could rival Barbados, Bali or Bermuda!

Braving the very blustery winds and horizontal rain to take some photos, we were rewarded with a magnificent full rainbow as we dried off on our journey. Exfoliation treatments are free on Barra – courtesy of the horizontal sand & 60mph wind combo!

Trudging through mud, coo pats, over styles, dodging a herd of pregnant cows and battling up a very steep hill against the gales were well rewarded with the most magnificent vista of crashing ‘silent’ surf….muted only by the deafening sound of the relentless wind! It was breathtaking (in more ways than one) and a wonderful, raw face-to-face with Mother Nature. The analogy of ‘white horses’ was clearly evident in the powerful aquatic hurdles of the Atlantic waves….see video link below *

The following day was calm – in total contrast – with a leisurely saunter along Craigston beach, collecting shells, identifying otter tracks and pocketing beautifully coloured pieces of sea glass, mischievously glistening in the morning sun.

I have over 150 photos, but haven’t quite mastered the art of getting them onto my blog successfully, so once I’ve figured out how to do that, I’ll post more!

In the meantime, here are a few more pics from our recent Instagram post


Click for ->Video*


Island Life

To say that life on Barra is busy would be an understatement….there are so many activities and events – both outdoors and indoors – taking place. It was refreshing to hear about the younger generation in particular enthusiastically participating along with adults in most of the activities on offer.

On the day we arrived, ‘Women’s Day’ was in full swing with line-dancing instruction and accordion lessons being offered among other taster options, and in the evening we were joined at dinner by Lesley Riddoch then invited along to Northbay Hall to see her presentation of a couple of short documentary films on the Faroes and Norway from her “Nation” series. Her enthusiasm and detailed knowledge were inspirational and it has made a very positive impression on my understanding of how small, remote countries can step up and ‘go it alone’ very successfully indeed!


Alison, Lesley & Me



An abundance of animals is evident on this island. Within a very short time we had met the local sheep (and later got up close to some wee Soays) spotted a golden eagle, oyster-catchers, saw seals at play in Barra bay, highland cattle, wild ponies and not forgetting a very special wee resident dug (not at all ‘wild’) called Thai!



You can just about see the seal’s head!                                                           A friendly Coo!

Thai (aka ‘The Duchess’)



The Downside….

Barra Gin isn’t made on Barra! Shock Horror!!! This learn was quite a disappointment for me, not just because I am partial to a wee drop of the clear stuff, but I had hoped to witness the true organic “botanicals to bottle” process while on the island. Alas, like some other ‘Scottish’ gins this was not to be, but the rainbow in the cloud is that I have a very good reason to plan my next island visit…to Harris. Not only do they make the most fabulous gin, their distillery is one of the best and busiest, and experiencing 3 of my loves, I will no doubt be in Gin, Tweed and Candle heaven! Now, where is my diary and map….




Until next time…..

The Scottish Keepsakes Clan



“Good Luck from Barra”


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