I’m a procrastinator. I married a procrastinator. We aren’t worriers and we seldom get our knickers in a twist. And much to my mother’s chagrin, this has often served us well. I think she would have preferred that life would have taught us a lesson by now on the benefits of careful planning but so far our ‘don’t worry, things usually work out’ mentality has been confirmed. Over and over.
Well Mom, you’ll be happy to know that our time on the Isle of Skye was an exception to that. I booked our accommodation in Edinburgh quite early (early for me) because of the Fringe Festival, but our reservations on Skye, regrettably, for some reason, just didn’t happen. When we finally did sit down at the computer to find a hotel or a B&B there was one left. That’s right…one! And unfortunately it was actually 50 minutes drive from Skye. So each and every day, we started and ended with a drive. I tell you this because if you’re ever going in the summer, book early!
On the bright side, what a drive that 50 minutes was! Wow! There was almost always water on at least one side of the road.
Rolling hills, little white stucco houses, sheep, horses and green. So much green. Since we were headed back to the desert soon I knew to absorb every last ounce of the green. We commented many times that the landscape was very Cape Breton like, Newfoundland-ish. If you’ve ever been to either of those places you’ll know the beauty I speak of. (By the way, almost every little white stucco house is a B&B and they ALL had “no vacancy” signs out front…it’s true, book early).
Skye was also teeming with tourists. However, nothing was ever crowded and nothing is spoiled by commercialism. I kept marvelling that in spite of all the tourists there weren’t any waterslides or tourist attractions of that kind. Disney had not moved in. You didn’t have to pay for any of the natural sites and sometimes there weren’t signs for what you were looking for, you just all of a sudden realized you were there, where someone had sent you, to see something amazing.
In pondering the wonderful lack of commercialism I realized this: Of our three days on the Isle of Skye we enjoyed 2.75 days of sun. Apparently that 2.75 days of sun was probably ½ of the days of sun they get in a year. And even with all the sun, you can see that in the middle of August with the sun shining down on us, I was often wearing a jacket and scarf. Yes, it would take a hearty person to live here. No wonder pubs are ubiquitous and happy celtic music is required on a daily basis. Good people these.
Our first stop was Dunvegan Castle, which included a boat trip to see the seals. Often you only see a few seals but because it was a sunny day we saw tons of them sun bathing on the rocks. We took way too many pictures of them, but they were so cute, and we were so close! Pictures were irresistible.
We walked through the castle and imagined what it was like to live in there during the different events of history. The master bedroom was smaller than most modern builds today (in Canada anyhow), how spoiled we’ve become. The dining room was grand with its high ceilings and big windows that looked out over the water and seals.
Check out the night potty….
The walls were decked with huge portraits of the previous Chiefs of the clan MacLeod. Among the portraits hung one lone portrait of a woman. In all the centuries of Chiefs, Dame Flora MacLeod was the only woman ever to assume this role. Isn’t she magnificent? I can feel her strength and her no nonsense practicality.
What was it like for her to walk these quiet halls, stand in the window of the dining room or her office and look out over the water pondering a right course of action for the whole clan?
I want to know more about her. She was ambitious. I read of her many accomplishments. She was smart. She was also one of the longest living MacLeods. Many of the wives’ portraits were on the walls as well. Most of them seemed to live into their mid 40’s. Dame Flora lived to 98 years old. She lived at Dundern Castle until she was 95.
The dungeon was impressive, in a bad kind of way. Thirteen feet down a 4X6’ room. It was said that one of the Chiefs put his wife down there. This castle has so many stories to tell.
Down the road we took a lovely walk at Coral Beach. We enjoyed the sun and the fresh air. As always, I had my eye on the flowers and noticed that so many of the flowers on Skye are purple and yellow. I wonder why that is. Of course there was heather and thistle everywhere, something that looks like bluebells, clover, chives, dandelion, mustard, buttercups, several kinds of daisies and the beautiful wild roses! The smell of wild roses is way beyond the cultivated varieties that we’re used to. In our hybridizing we’ve sacrificed smell for larger deeper coloured flowers. The smell of the wild rose is absolutely intoxicating. I almost hyperventilated trying to breath it all in.
That takes us until noon on the first day. Maybe I’ll have all my memoirs of Skye written by the time we start travelling again next summer…at this rate! (Good thing I took notes and pictures!)