Being Guided Part 2: Guts and Curiosity

I was on a small island in the Scottish inner hebrides looking for a holy well.  It was a combination of a small pilgrimage and a mystical spiritual quest.  Most of all, it was curiosity and a sense of being guided.  One of the things I had been learning was how important it is to have a sense of prayerful curiosity.  In order to be guided—in order to find your true purpose, you have to follow your curiosity.  When you have a surprising thought pop in your head, be curious about it, take time to consider it prayerfully.  You may then want to try it out, even if it is a bit tentatively at first. Anyway…

So there I was…looking for  the Well of the Holy Women or Tobar nan Ban Naoimh.

After my first failed attempt at finding this well, I did a bit of research online and found some helpful information although there wasn’t a lot of it. In fact in some places, the name is given as singular ‘Woman’ rather than ‘Women’.   I knew that the well was somewhere in Gruilin where an old abandoned village lied.  There is a website that gives suggested walks with pictures where I found directions to Grulin.  From this website I could tell that I had been going in the right direction.  I had also found a blog post of a woman who found it and gave some landmarks to look out for. I found another blogger who couldn’t find it at all but I wasn’t going to let that discouraged me.

I headed back down the path from Cleadale stopping occassional to wonder and take photos.

Path from Cleadale

Path from Cleadale

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I found this concrete stairs on a woodsy verge and wondered what the story was. I allowed what faeries there might be about to take control of my imagination.  Where would I find myself, if I climbed the stairs?  Would I be transported back in time like in Outlander?  Or to a mystical world?  Would I find there is a house that it leads to after all but one that is not visible unless you climb the stairs? Etc. etc.

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I also took a photo of this ruined building and then discovered a rather sad story behind it on the Isle of Eigg Facebook page.  ‘The story goes….
A boulder rolled down the cliff through the back of this in the 1950’s and as the couple weren’t married at the time (living in sin) it was thought the place was jinxed and has never been lived in since.’

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After an hour, I reached the pier where the small shop and cafe and toilets were (which was a good thing as I still had far to go).

Pier on Eigg

Then it was up the alternate path and through the forest …

 

Forest in Eigg

and accross the field and behind the farmhouse …

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and then a long, scenic walk to Grulin with the Sgurr keeping me company most of the way on my right and the sea on my left.

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Eventually, I saw a huge boulder in the distance.  I knew that one of the landmarks I had to look out for were two boulders so I knew I was getting close.

Boulders at Gruilin

Only problem was, there were more than one pair of boulders.

Gruilin Boulders

I spent the next couple of hours searching and searching for the well…and could’t find it.  In desperation I prayed and asked God to show me the way and at that very instant a fighter plane (or at least I think that’s what it was) flew toward the direction of the two biggest boulders.  I walked partly in that direction but as it appeared to be at the edge of the cliff,  I walked no further. If you read my last post, you know about me and my fear of cliffs and this looked like a sheer drop to me.

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I walked painfully back to my cabin.  I had been walking for about six hours and by my calculations just over 20 miles and the first time I have ever walked as long as that in my life.

Feeling somewhere between defeated and determined, I asked about the well on the Isle of Eigg facebook page:

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Arrgghhh! So close!

I decided to take a day of rest while I ponder whether it was worth spending another day on the same walk and try again.  Decision made, I headed back up the following day. I made it up to Gruilin and began to walk toward the boulders from the left side …extremely cautiously.  I was still worried about falling off that cliff.

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I came around the back of the boulders and discovered there was a gentle slope of several feet before you meet the cliff edge.

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I looked toward the right and spied a patch of watercress surrounded by rocks…

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…and there was the well.  The watercress was growing straight out of it! It was wonderfully quiet there.  The only sounds were the gurgling of the well, the distant waves crashing on the sea, the wind and the sheep nearby bleating.  I thought about the people who lived here long ago and the possibility that there was a ‘holy woman’ or nun or more than one.  I also pondered about its more ancient history as many holy wells have pagan origins before becoming ‘sainted’.  Perhaps, the holy woman was a deeply wise woman who planted the watercress nearby..

I read somewhere that when one finds a holy well, an offering should be left.  Usually, it’s something like a bouquet of flowers.  I had forgotten to bring something so I offered up a song of thanksgiving.  I then ate a raw food bar (and some watercress!) and drank from the well.

Curiosity, determination, guidance and some guts brought me to this place.  However, the purpose was in the journey itself.  I had my fears to face and I had to learn some lessons along the way.

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Being Guided Part 1: Trust Over Fear

While on the Isle of Eigg, I had an eye-opening lesson on the rewards of faith.  Although many of us might profess a faith in God or a higher power, how many of us would be willing to act on it?  How many of us would truly pray, ‘Guide me Lord and I will follow’ and then do just that?

The Isle of Eigg is my personal choice as a place of restoration.  It is sublimely beautiful. It offers within nature what is most popular about Scotland.  You get thistle, heather, ferns and foliage which changes to beautiful autumnal colours in the fall.  You get the crags and huge rocks and lots of wild scenery.  There is hardly any light pollution so you get an abundance of stars at night and beautiful sunrises and sunsets and sometimes (if you’re lucky) the aroura borealis.  You also get migratory birds of various breeds and many sea animals.  You get all that and the sea as well with majestic views of other islands. It is truly paradise….

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sunset on Eigg

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Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong like the time a hiker broke her ankle while she was on the Sgurr and they had to get a helicopter to rescue her.  I can’t help thinking that it could have been worse.  I don’t know the full story but she was lucky.  Somehow, someone knew where she was and that she was hurt.  When I was there nearly three weeks ago, I was on my own during off-peak season.  Kids were in school so there were very few vacationers on the island.  Therefore, when I chose to do some hiking and broke my ankle, no one would know.  If I got lost, I would pretty much stay lost for some time…maybe having to spend the night on an area of grazing land…with cows and well…cow pats.  Not a pleasant thought but even more unpleasant is the possibility of falling off a cliff.  I don’t like heights much so it’s no surprise I guess that thoughts would run through my head such as, ‘If I fell off the cliff, how long would it take before they found my body?’  I am a bit embarass to admit this but I confess I thought of this a wee bit too much.  So much so, that even in the midsts of beautiful scenery, I felt a bit of tightness in my chest and I walked very very carefully in some places.  I didn’t want to fall knee deep in cow manure and break my ankle.  I especially did not want to fall off a cliff.

BUT…

I was on on a quest.  Ever since my first visit to Eigg, I had known about this Holy well.  It was on a map of Eigg which I saw on the wall in Tigh Eilidh.  Not many people on Eigg seem to know much about it or cared.  I had vowed that one day I would find it.

So one my second day on Eigg which was a Sunday, I thought it would be a good day to look for the well.  I knew which direction to head towards but didn’t have a route planned.  After about 5 or 6 miles walk, I lost confidence and assumed that I was going in the wrong direction so I decided to postpone looking for the well and just do some exploring.  My anxious thoughts were agitating just below the surface so I asked God to guide my steps.  All I meant was, ‘Please don’t let me get lost, hurt or step in any boggy, sh**-y mess.’ I just wanted to be safe and not have any mishaps.  The weather was beautiful and I was happy just to walk and explore a bit….safely.

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I came out from the woods, and down the path and had an instinct to go through a gate into an open safer looking area.  The weather app on my phone said I was at Galmisdale.  After walking only a short way, this was the view that met my eyes:

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I realized that God had something better in store than just keeping me safe.  He wanted to calm my spirit, to teach me to trust him more and simply to bless me with a gift of staggering beauty and wonder. He wanted to awe me.  I was.  His love never ceases to awe me.

Is Inner Peace Actually Boring?

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I returned to the Isle of Eigg once more on my own. It is a place I now love to escape to away from the rat race and the noise.  I find it very difficult to get days of silence otherwise.  More and more I am becoming aware of the importance of having periods of silence even though I think our natural inclination is towards chaos and busy-ness.  I think perhaps as a whole in this modern age, we have become too busy and too noisy.  We are a generation that eats in front of the television or plays games on our phones while waiting for the bus.  Buddha said, “When you are hungry eat and when you are tired sleep.”  How often do we just do one thing mindfully without having our minds focused on so many other things?

A friend of mine recently went on a weekend retreat to a Buddhist monastery without knowing that she would be asked to give up her cell phone, books, writing material and the need to speak.  She spent the weekend with about fifty people who didn’t speak to one another.  She came back declaring it was “Life-changing!” I was intrigued by the idea of no books to read.  Well…actually at first I was horrified but then intrigued.  Could I do it?  No speaking was fairly easy but no reading or internet?  I decided to try it for a day while I was on Eigg.  Most of the time, I wouldn’t be speaking anyway but giving up reading was another story.  I crave reading time so often that I really struggled against the emotion of feeling like I was waisting my time not reading.

So I arrived Saturday afternoon at my log cabin at Tigh An Sithean where I would be staying for a week.  Tigh An Sithean is Gaelic for “The house on the fairies hill”.

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The cabin was cosy and surprisingly warm.  Mick and Jacky who own it had provided me with lots of blankets, duvets, towels and even hot water bottles.  I didn’t need all that as there was also a gas heater and an electric heater inside. They were a lovely couple who checked in on me nearly every day to make sure I had all I needed and if I would like anything from the shop.

View outside my front window

View outside my front window

On that Saturday, since most of the day was gone when I arrived.  I settled in and then took a stroll to Laig Bay feeling more peaceful by the minute  The waves seem to be moving ever so fast as to make it appear as if they were scampering.  This made the sea foam appear more solid.

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On my second day, I decided to try the experiment of no brain stimulus and silence.

So was it life-changing for me?  Not quite. What I discovered was that I found it difficult not turning on the TV, internet or opening a book.  At first, I was bored.  When I observed that, I thought how insane it was to equate peace with boredom! However, I do feel the experiment was valuable.  I have learned that it is good to give your brain a break from over-stimulation from time to time.  We need time to observe our thoughts and we need to give time to God to speak to us.  How can we hear him if our brains are engaged in other thoughts or distractions?

If inner peace seems boring, it’s probably because we need time to break the habit of over-stuimulating our brains.  What’s happened is that we became use to the chaos and need to slow down a bit.  Do one thing at a time, the way our grandparents probably did. The difference is that we also need to have a daily practice of prayer and meditation.  What I suggest is to look really hard at what you are doing every moment.  Do you need to be on the computer while having your lunch? Is what you are about to do necessary or can you put it down or put it off long enough to spend say 20 minutes in contemplation?

 

Cliff Walk on Eigg

We stood at the top of the cliff by Kildonnan overlooking the bay.  It was with near breathless exhiliration that I found myself repeating the words several times, “It’s so beautiful!” I now can’t remember whether I simply spoke the words or shouted them.  What I do remember was feasting my eyes over the landscape and the sensation that I can only describe as my spirit singing.

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Jim and I had followed the suggested walk from the Walk Highlands website starting instead from MacQuarries Cottage where we were staying in Cleadale.

It was a warm sunny April day and also ‘lambing season’. Below you can see An Sgurr, the highest hill on the island  which is exposed pitchstone formed as a result of one of the last volcano eruptions a long long time ago.

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We also came accross the standing stone which had been erected by the citizens to memorialize the buyout of the island.  I think I remember being told a tale in which this stone was knocked down one jolly night and re-erected and then dubbed by some of the locals as “….’s erection” to commemorate this person’s re-standing the stone after it’s close miss with destruction. If I remember correctly it was a friend of the locals but not one of the locals themselves!

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We walked along the sandy coast….

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…and then made our way up with cliff.

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…where now the guide was telling us it was a steep decline.  I am usually not good with heights and my husband has two artificial knees but I decided to descend part of the way to see how steep it was.  I ultimately decided it was not worth the risk but that was after seeing even more of the spectacular view and spying a couple of wild seals swimming in the water!  Afterwards Jim and I decided to continue the walk on another day by making our way to the bottom of the cliff from a path on the otherside but on this day continued our walk by making our way to the cafe at the pier for a drink and a snack…

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…and another gorgeous view.

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Saying Goodbye (for now) to Eigg

Yes, I have written more than a few posts about the enchanting Isle of Eigg and maybe I am a wee bit obsessed with Eigg in a honest-to-goodness healthy sort of way.  Can I try and explain why?  Do I even need to?  Some may understand, some will not.  Although I am not a decent photographer by a long way, I think my pictures show that Eigg is a beautiful place.

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My photos don’t do it justice and funny enough, no one else’s photographs do either. I have seen some photographs taken by amazing photographers and those reveal only a bit of the beauty of Eigg. The reason I think is this: Eigg is a place of more than just visual beauty.  Eigg is a place of experiential beauty.  It may not be for everyone.  One reason, I suppose is that when you are there, you bring yourself there too.

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There is a sense of freedom on the Isle of Eigg.  I got the distinct impression from my conversation with Charlie that the human residents also enjoy this sense of freedom.  Yes, they are still Scottish but when I asked Charlie about it he said they feel a bit separate too from the rest of Scotland.  Some rules don’t seem to apply on Eigg such as wearing your seat-belt in the car and dogs being on leads.  On the other hand, there are no police on Eigg as there never seems to be any crime.  People who live on Eigg, live here because they love the place.  They don’t need much because there is natural beauty all around them.  Life is slower here.  Charlie talked about being able to sleep late most mornings.  People seem to have more time to breathe, live and create.  There are several creative individuals on the island, like Charlie’s wife Libby who makes beautiful felt artworks, All About Willow who supplied willow baskets for the TV series Outlander and A’Nead Hand Knitwear makers of beautiful cobweb lace products.  Obviously, this slow-paced life is balanced with lots of hard work as well.  Many of the locals are farmers or simply keep a few chickens and grow their own produce.  I am attracted to the idea of living here.  It isn’t for everyone and it has its own difficulties what with having only one shop and often having to do without if the shop has run out of something.  However, I sense people simply go with the flow and live life with less care and more child-like freedom than those on the main land.  I think I certainly would if I lived here.  As an outsider, I am not privy to any other acts of rebellion the islanders get up to but I get the feeling they have some (though I am sure quite innocent) good times here.

My last day on Eigg came after several days of non-stop rain.  I looked out through my bothy window DSCN1966_peand saw the Isle of Rum once more after not  being able to see it because of mist and rain.  I quickly got on my shoes and went outside breathing in what felt like freshly washed clean air.  I was relieved that the rain had stopped because that would mean my ferry wouldn’t be cancelled (or so I thought).  I went to Laig Bay and was met by Faolan.  It was a joy to spend time with my favorite dog on Eigg. As usual for Faolan, he left me first and went back home.  I saw him again when I was passing his house.  He was behind his fence and I went over and stroked his face and looked into his beautiful amber eyes and said goodbye.

On my way back from the beach, I looked over at Rum to see a rainbow rising from the sea right in front of it.  I remembered that a rainbow is a symbol of promise and I stopped and admired the rainbow and vowed that I would return to Eigg.

While on Eigg, I had some adventures and mishaps and joys and surprisingly many teachable moments.  I followed where I was led and learned when I was taught and on my last day thought this was the end of such adventures.  I think now, it was only the beginning…

 

Urban Highlander (Or a Former New York Yank in Rural Scotland)

The Isle of Eigg is home of the famous ‘Singing Sands’ beach.  Basically, the sand is made of quartz crystals and when you shuffle along it makes a chirping sound.  The drier the sand, the better the sound.  This is Scotland however and though I heard the sand sing in August when the sand was still rather damp, this time around in October I could procure no sound at all.  Still, the beach with its rough and wild paradisal beauty is well worth visiting. That is why one morning I left the bothy at 8:30 and made my way there again.

It is simply breath-taking.

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I cannot describe the elation I felt when I spotted the familiar Welly-boot Bridge DSCN1830and the sheer joy of being back on that shore even if the sand didn’t sing for me this time. I spent a good hour gazing through my binoculars and taking photos in total bliss.  DSCN2088

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I visited Singing Sands beach several times in the past and found my way there easily enough again. Which makes what happened a bit strange I guess for I managed to get lost coming back. Perhaps the beauty of the scenery played against my usual directional impairment.

Sheep?  Did I pass sheep coming here?

Didn’t I pass these ferns?  I am sure I passed these ferns.

Wait!  I am sure I went over this stone wall…or did I go over this stone wall?

The trouble I had with finding my way back wasn’t because I didn’t know which direction to walk. The Isle of Eigg is small and the bothy was not that long of a distance away from Singing Sands. However, there was more than one route I could take.  The route I ended up on seemed to want to take me through somebody’s farm.  Perhaps it is because I was brought up a city girl but I just thought it would be rude of me to trespass…and I dunno maybe dangerous?  I kept envisioning old-time American movies I had seen of men with rifles protecting their land from trespassers (and Charlie had made a few comments about wanting to shoot things and I never knew if it was in jest or not).  The way I had always taken had been less cumbersome and had less boggy areas.   I didn’t want to go by just any route, I wanted to go via the same route I had previously taken which didn’t bother anyone and was less of a hassle.

After trying different directions, I decided to go back toward Singing Sands to get my bearings.  Only yet again I was coming at it from a slightly different direction and managed to fall going over some slippery rocks…into a cow pat.

Luckily, it was just one of my water-proof hiking shoes which went into the cow pat. I decided I was going to have to go back to the beach to clean my shoe.  Maybe that decision made me further careless as I then managed to get both my feet ankle-deep in boggy mud while beginning to lose my balance and caused me to instinctively reach out a hand for support… on a barbed wire fence.  My fingers were now bleeding and I was muddy and embarrassed and hoping that after cleaning my water-proof hiking shoes I’ll be able to find my way back to the bothy without passing anyone.

I washed my shoes by the shore as best as I could but as luck would have it (and I was having none that day) I misjudged the tide and managed to get my water-proof hiking shoes completely submerged.

After cleaning my shoes, I made my way back to the bothy with the help of some volunteers who I happened to come across.  It was now about 1:30 and I hadn’t had breakfast and I looked a state but I was glad to be back and not stranded in a land full of cow manure!

My state of mind at that point was one of practicality.  My shoes had gotten muddy again on my way back and my jeans and socks were muddy as well.  So I washed them and laid them out to dry.  I started a fire in the stove, made some lunch as there was no point having breakfast at this time and because I intended to have a much-earned glass of wine.  I think I had two.

After a conversation with a fellow blogger (dhammafootsteps) who is Buddhist about many paths which possibly lead to the same direction, I was able to reflect upon the day’s mishap in a more thoughtful light.  Why do we choose a particular spiritual path? Do we avoid other paths because of fears we may have?  Are we afraid a different choice might offend or lead us down boggy paths?  Did I choose my path because I thought it was ‘cow pat’ free?

Actually, I think I chose my path in spite of the cow pats I expected to find.  After a while, I learned to dance around the cow pats.  After more time, I realize there were never any cow pats to begin with. I wish that had been true on the Isle of Eigg that day though.

A Faolan Islander

Wow, to be a dog living on the Isle of Eigg!  They really have it good here.  These canine residents enjoy a sense of freedom.  I have not seen a single dog on a lead.  One often sees them playing by the sea bounding about with a lot of energy which I can testify is part due to the cleaner, fresher air on Eigg.  These lovable creatures are very trusting of everyone and are super friendly. Comically enough, they appear to be always smiling much like many of the human residents on the island!

We made friends with many dogs here when our family visited last August, but two dogs in particular stood out for me. First there was Moss.  Moss belongs to the owner of Eigg’s only shop and luxury restaurant.  Moss is a sweet small collie who never got tired of playing fetch or tug-of-war…or rather she got tired but refused to give up. She followed us to the house we stayed in and played with us for hours in the garden.

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Then there is Faolan (pronounced Foo-lan and is Gaelic for Little Wolf).  Faolan would meet us at the top of the path leading to Laig Beach and accompany us down to the beach to play fetch.

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However, he didn’t do this with just us.  He seemed to play with every visitor who went to the beach.  Faolan is an interesting dog.  He wasn’t affectionate, he just wanted to play.  I guess he was used to people coming and going that he didn’t allow himself to get too attached.  There was a look of intelligence about him. His beautiful amber eyes would gaze deeply into my eyes as if he was trying to communicate telepathically. He and I would play for quite a while on the beach until he would suddenly decide he had enough and then quickly leave me.  He’s a sort of independent dog who seems to make his own decisions and everyone else just has to work around him.  I love dogs in general but as crazy as this may sound, he almost seemed like an evolved dog or even a dog who chose to be a dog but on his own terms. I found him quite fascinating.  So you could imagine how I felt on my first day back on Eigg, when I saw Faolan again by the road near the Laig Beach path.

This time however, it was a whole different story.  When he saw me, his tail began wagging and he walked over to me with a grin (I am not kidding!) and greeted me with a nuzzle.  I like to think he actually remembered me and because I came back, I no longer had ‘stranger’ status. We were now old friends.  After meeting again for the first time in two months, I was now permitted to pet him.

I had the privilege of playing on the beach with Faolan a few times last week.  However, a couple of times, I would find him already engaged in play with some other visitor.  Which leads me to the reason why I see something a bit more in Faolan than other dogs.   On one particular day, I went down to the beach and Faolan was playing with a man and his little girl.  When Faolan saw me, he bounded up to me smiling (again dogs do smile!) and stood in front of me looking me in the face for a few seconds and then turned around and bounded off to play with the little girl and her father.  I understood what Faolan was saying to me.  It was so well communicated that I am sure he said something like this:

‘Hi there!  I just came over to make sure I greet you so you don’t feel I am ignoring you or anything, but I have a promise to keep to these other people.  You see I have already started playing with them and it would go against my sense of loyalty to abandon these nice people.  However, I see you and acknowledge you and maybe we can play later if we’re both free.’

I understood of course and I caught up with him on another day.

Having a Bothy Time, Wish You Were Here!

Staying at Cuagach Bothy felt like a leap back in time.  When I thought about it, I have always had a sense of attraction to long ago rural living.  I have read enough books in my life time which took place during time periods where people’s lives were lived a bit more simply and yet a lot more vigorously.  The characters in the books I read included those real live men and women in history and the fictional characters often written by people living within that time period themselves.  These people were born into their lives.  They were taught their way of living by their parents or care-givers.  They were physically strong and mentally obstinate and persistent.  They lived their lives with the conviction that it was a thing of merit to always get their jobs done.  Life was harsh compared to the lives we normally live in our present Western society but though they were aware of that fact, they knew it was just life the way they had it and they had to go on with things and survive.

After Charlie dropped me off at the bothy and made sure I was settled (thanks Charlie!), I looked around and actually chortled.  It reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie only made of stone instead of wood.  Actually, the bothy is probably bigger than the Ingalls’ home and it does have electricity, a calor cooker and a stove and an adjacent room with a shower and toilet which is more in keeping with 20th century than 19th.  Still…I was elated!

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This was going to be fun!

This is an adventure!

However, unlike the Ingalls family or other people in history, I was born in 20st century New York City.  I was also used to certain luxuries which leads to this one rather humbling fact: I am a bit of a soft wuss.

One challenge I had was keeping the fire going in the stove so that the water for my shower was heated.DSCN2016 (2)  I didn’t quite get the knack until the day before I left.  I think this was because I was for the first few days trying to conserve wood and coal. DSCN2017 There was a generous supply of this left in the bothy but I didn’t know how much I was allowed to use or what the added expense would be until Maggie (the owner) assured me I could use as much as I wanted to keep warm and that the charge would be minimal.

 

The other small challenge was the notice hanging in the cottage stating that as a precaution, water should be boiled.  I boiled it the first feDSCN1761w days but then the water started to come out of the tap in a not very pretty yellow. (I found out later this is the norm on Eigg when it rains). In the end I did what men and women did for hundreds of years, I fetched water from the well, St Columba’s well to be exact which was a short walk away.  From my last trip here I remembered the water being clear, drinkable, delicious and above all safe to drink.  I loved going to the well each day and filling my water bottles up.    It offered another feeling of oneness with the island…and well it gave me some work to do.

Bothy living was certainly different than what I was used to having been raised a city girl.  One week was probably not long enough for me to get the full experience of it all.  Yet, it stretched me and it was where I feel I was meant to stay.  Cuagach bothy is rather charming and considered one of the best bothies on the island (from what I gathered from both locals and visitors).  I enjoyed my stay there. It beats camping for me and at least the loo was within the bothy unlike other bothies which have the use of an outhouse.  The views from my window were gorgeous.

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I was prepared for the colder temperature with a warm sleeping bag, hot water bottle and thermal clothing so I was warm and comfortable. Best of all, I had days of quiet stillness and no interruptions which was what I had been craving.  I had brought with me Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic which gave me lots of inspiration and offered me a sense of freedom and purpose.

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I got hours of writing done which I wouldn’t have had if I had been staying at a place with a TV, strong wifi signal and mobile network.  I had a nice welcome too, as Maggie had left a vase of hand-picked flowers on the windowsill.

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Return to Eigg

Simply put, if my spirit says GO, I must go. That isn’t the only way to explain why I went back to Eigg but it is the best way.  I could go into long narratives as to what I was thinking and what I had hoped to gain by re-visiting Eigg but in the end I went for no reason at all except that I felt I should.

As I was travelling alone this time, I decided to economize as much as possible.  The payoff is beautiful natural scenery so where I stayed or how I got there had only nominal importance. Here’s a tip I learned if you’re travelling from England to Scotland by train: book each train separately to save on costs.  Why?  I don’t know, but doing it that way saved me hundreds.

I caught the 6:20 Virgin train from Milton Keynes and arrived at Glasgow about 6 hours later.  How cool is that?  Much quicker than driving.  I did have a two hour wait in Glasgow between trains but I managed to get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season from Starbucks (Yum!)- one of life’s little pleasures which I look forward to every year.

The journey by train was super.  I saw beautiful scenery through my window including Ben Nevis and Lock Eil and we went over the Glenfinnan viaduct, otherwise known as the ‘Harry Potter’ viaduct.

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At one point, the train was zooming by a lake with trees in front of it and bright sunshine bursting through at intervals. The effect was simply dazzling.

I arrived at Mallaig about 5:30 and checked in for an overnight stay.

I boarded the ferry the next day just after 2 and decided to stay on the top deck to see the views. It was warm enough that I didn’t mind the wind whipping through my hair.  I had been hoping to see dolphins and I wasn’t disappointed.  I saw several in the distance diving in and out of the water.

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As we neared Eigg, it was so exciting to see the familiar shape of An Sgurr.

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When I arrived on Eigg, I gathered my bags, disembarked and began to walk quickly down the pier avoiding the temptation to skip…which would have been difficult to do with a backpack on my back and a duffle in one hand and a bag for life in the other. In no time at all, I spotted Charlie (y’all remember Charlie from my previous Isle of Eigg post right?) coming to meet me.  It was at that point that I should have reminded myself that besides refraining from skipping, I should have also tried not grinning quite so boldly! Seeing Charlie the local taxi driver, was like seeing an old friend as he had made our family feel so welcomed when we were last here.

He drove me to the shop where I picked up the goods I ordered ahead of time.  Afterwards we drove to Cuagach Bothy, my home for the week.

Views from Eigg look quite different in Autumn and I couldn’t get over how beautiful it still is and how the Isle of Rum seemed closer than I remembered.

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The Best In Whole Food

Sometimes I am very aware of the fact that I exist as a body, soul and spirit.  Logically, I know I am one person operating in each of these forms in unity.  Yet I know as well that each part of me can be reached distinctly and that each can affect the other.  Last week, I went for a walk in an unusually sunny day for late September in England and I realized that all parts of me were being fed at once.  The sunshine. The trees.  The clouds.  The little King Charles Spaniel which walked past me all served in nourishing my soul, my spirit and my body.  Tension melted away when I hadn’t realized I was tense.  I was reminded that joy, peace and love were within…and yet fed from without.  Suddenly, I had a spring to my step.  Food for the body.

What is it about nature that feeds us so completely?  It is like the best whole food in the world.  We crave it even when we don’t realize it.  When we are in it, we are nourished and refreshed.  Food for the soul.

Spend time in nature longer and the joy grows deeper.  The love expands.  People are drawn to us and we are drawn to love them.  It is like having a spring which is overflowing within us which we feel compel to share with others.  Food for the spirit.

When I visited the Isle of Eigg two months ago I felt connected to the place and thought perhaps I am meant to live there.  A few weeks later I watched an interview with time-lapse photography expert Louie Schwartzberg.  In the interview LS stated that when we are in a beautiful place of nature, we feel ‘connected’.  So I guess it wasn’t ‘meant to be’ per se but how all human beings truly are.  With each of us, it may be a different place of beauty where we feel this connection.  I don’t fully understand why in an intellectual way, but I know that from time to time we all need it…to be immersed in natural beauty.  Anyway, in less than two weeks time, I am returning to Eigg for a one week stay.

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