To any penguins stuck in a sauna

One of the problems with experiencing the Outer Hebrides is for the rest of your life trying to describe the place to anyone who hasn’t seen it. If you were to take yourself and stand upon a point looking out across the Atlantic and see nothing – then you would be right – the Hebrides will have nothing for you. If all you see is rock, water and limitations to keep you occupied in terms of manmade attraction then that in turn is what you’ll find here. If however, you look out and see an expanse of glittering unlimited freedom, a child’s playground of undisturbed wildlife and peace so dense you could apply it as a balm, then that in turn is what you’ll see. In my first week here I was told ‘The islands are what you make of them’ and like most things the islanders say it’s a rather solid observation. Those who seek the magic of the place will undoubtable find it. For when the winter sun hits, the waters sparkle with a thousand glinting sun pennies and so clear, it could be swapped for the Mediterranean without immediate notice. You can see way beneath the surface down into rocky beds, teaming with creatures all willing to create tiny communities and homes for just a few hours before the tide changes its mind again. You can pick out the waving shades of fresh Hebridean seaweeds and pick up the tiniest pink shells smaller than a child’s fingernail, smooth and streaked pale as jersey cream. The power of the ocean thrashes upon the edging rocks and the sound is so engulfing you could be inside one of those huge shells you lift to you ear, that I always associate with the magic of childhood imagination. Yet some days a stillness descends and in the crisp air water sits as clear as glass mirroring the mountain above, deep and with absolute precision that you’re compelled to get out of your car just to see if you can still break the water. The wind will touch every cell on your skin and comb every hair on your head. The magic of the Hebrides is yours – those who seek will find. 

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Pools of Hebridean sun pennies

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Tarbert

That in essence is the best way that I can describe my first handful of weeks here – magical. Of course, there have been times of overwhelming emotion as the children have cried endlessly and the terrible twos have set root. Or when, as we stepped into our new house, the final leg of our journey, the daunting task of settling two children – and myself – into yet another new place was upon us and being so weary I wanted to cry. So please do not think that when I use the word magic it’s because daily life has been elevated to some high ledge where only the gods can see me. But more that the physical landscape shines so brightly that if I could bottle it, and I mean truly bottle it, you’d have something that would touch the realms of the true beauty on this earth. I don’t mean how beautiful someone may appear to look or how awe inspiring a landscape may be. I mean deep beauty. The kind you feel well up inside of you till you’re not sure what to do with your hands but you know you need to smile and hug tightly.IMG-20180214-WA0055IMG-20180214-WA0036

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Catching the morning sun

IMG-20180214-WA0050The final stretch in our journey finally came and moving into our new house was upon us. From October to January as Chris left us in the dark early mornings, with newborn and toddler in tow I stole every single moment to pack, sell or discard the items of our life. I very literally mean that. My life became about putting things away. We all lived out of bags for weeks on end and to a degree we became rather good at it. But now I was being asked to put things on shelves, store things and unwrap much loved pictures – it was daunting. I was also painfully aware that I hadn’t really seen the inside house. Apart from a couple of images taken on a phone and then a quick dazed visit the day after we arrived when the house had yet to have its work done. Where was the staircase? – I couldn’t remember – but there was that little window at the back – where was that again? What did the kitchen look like again Chris? – and so it went. Family and friends would enquire what the house was like and deep down I honestly didn’t know. It dawned on me that I may have bitten off more than I could chew in terms of hoping for a good outcome and that I did in fact have two small children to raise in this house. Being a full time stay at home mum means that my work place is through my front door. If the house wasn’t right it was going to make ‘working’ in it tough and most daunting of all I knew that if that was the case it was in fact tough.IMG-20180214-WA0032

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Noah and Daddy

IMG-20180214-WA0031Nestled deep into the side of the mountain, cocooned by wild heathers clinging to the rocks, is Fasgadh. Fasgadh meaning shelter and protection in Gaelic, is one of the first houses you will come to as you clink off the ferry and is the reason I said yes to the house without even having seen it. To me, a home is where you wait out the pouring rain. Keeping your children warm and safe, but fundamentally its somewhere to hide away from the world when you need too. Fasgadh in my mind represented that. It’s what I needed, it’s what I craved and most of all when we stepped into the hall it’s what it was. Many people when we moved asked me why, they still do, and my answers always consist of Chris and the children. Which is true. What I fail to mention, is that actually I moved for me, because over the last few years on mainland I had come to feel like that of a penguin stuck in a sauna. Knowingly in the wrong place, although unable to move for fear of getting hotter and ending up in a huge flap anyway due to standing still for too long. This wasn’t because I was unhappy but more because it just wasn’t truly right for me.

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Fasgadh

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A few homely touches @Lythamcandles

IMG-20180214-WA0019As we opened the front door – each clutching a child in hand – I took a deep breath and realised as it slowly filtered out, that in fact what I’d bitten off was manageable. In fact it was more than edible and although the giant task of getting beds ready, lunches made, cots built, children washed and put to bed all whilst trying to clamber over bags of washing, boxes of books and most of all an abundance of children’s toys loomed, it was going to be ok. The house, beautiful and warmed with the heating already on, invited us in from the door, and called itself home. But now with the door shut, nappies to change and lunch to make it really was all hands on deck to which we only had four but could probably have done with eight. “Where do we start?” Containing Bea was a good place – so with the highchair assembled a bag of milky buttons and crisps opened we got to work with moving bags out from the living room and set to work on assembling our donated couch into the middle of it. By evening we’d put up one tv, one couch, two cots and one king size bed into which we all happily nested. We were here, we were home but most importantly, we were asleep.

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Two kids and two cats – the first ten minutes
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Making ourselves at home

IMG-20180214-WA0041Fasgadh is unlike any house I have ever lived in. It is truly Scottish. To which I mean, solid, wholesomely practical but undeniably beautiful. Spread width ways, the majority of the windows line the front of the house catching the light for most of the day. The living room consists of two bay windows – deep enough to sit in and watch the weather change- and a large fuel burner set into the thick stone. 

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Watching the world go by

 

 

IMG-20180214-WA0022A large entrance, breakfast room and kitchen run along the other side with two masters and one smaller bedroom upstairs. With three bathrooms, two pantry’s and one very large airing cupboard both with shelves up to the ceiling – a housewife’s dream – making up the rest. The stairs climb up the back of the house with another large bay window to greet you as you do. So tucked into the rock is the house that from here I can count the pin pricked buds of the varying heather and each mossy strand of fern which grows upon it. Echoing the nearby Atlantic the windows are dressed in varying hues of blues, throughout the day into which myself and Bea climb to witness the drama of the weather – much to the amusement of passers by but more over to the delight of Bea.20180214_180818IMG-20180214-WA0048IMG-20180214-WA0027IMG-20180214-WA0039

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Bella

There were of course moments of teething. Mentally making notes of all the things you should have asked when asked ‘Do you have any questions’, like how does the shower work and what do we burn on the fire? Our fuel burner, of which now befriended we have now christened Monty, regardless of the locals advice, was like a stubborn all be it happy dog on a beach refusing to answer your call. It would light and then diminish, we got cold, I got cross, from the shop keeper to the bar man – advice was given – chris like any man refused to confess that he could not light a fire but I had no pride on the matter, I wanted heat and I didn’t care from who it arrived. However we did laugh at feeling rather metropolitan and thought the locals were probably finding our constant lack of ability with the thing rather amusing. I unpacked much loved paper backs, took out my grandmothers biscuit tin and the tiny painting my mum gifted me on a birthday past, put up a calendar, plugged in a few lamps, lit a couple of candles and felt as if we had always been here.

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Lighting the fire
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March to the beat of your own tune. For that one is the best.

IMG-20180214-WA0049It is truly a home to live, grow and raise children in. An undemanding shelter of stone to love, laugh and create in. If you do find yourself lucky enough to be rolling off the ferry here at Tarbert you will undoubtable see us and I do urge you to wave at the children in the window. Most likely chocolate covered and franticly waving in all but pampers nappies. It’s hard to believe only six weeks has passed since we started the car – Harris bound. When so much change takes place in such a short time frame it’s very easy to under estimate what you have in fact achieved as the days whirl and the small triumphs get lost in the everyday energy needed to put tiny people to bed. Lots of people say to me that we were very brave to make such a move – I don’t however, necessarily agree with this – more sensible – more that I didn’t think too far in advance really. It has however been a demanding one, both on us as parents and as individuals. But, above all the shimmering sun pennies and all the tiny shells you can fit into your palm of your toddlers hand, I’m not standing still in a sauna anymore so the journey starts here.

To any penguins stuck in a sauna and those who help them out.

 

You can now find me over on Instagram @islandwife_hebrides for daily uploads of life in the Hebrides as well as live videos of our adventures in this beautiful part of the world.

Lucy x 

 

24 thoughts on “To any penguins stuck in a sauna

  1. Hi Lucy. We’ve been following your story with interest. We are staying 2 houses away from you currently in Tobar Mairi in a friend’s flat as we are here til Fri house hunting as we are planning to relocate from Nottinghamshire in the summer. Have just sold our house so it’s becoming very real. Hope we will connect with you at some point! Ruth

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  2. such a fab record of your journey, shall be sure to wave at the children when we roll off the ferry end june, all the best, it”s all sounds exciting and idylkic, wish it was me!

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  3. I love this too. You have captured some of my secret pleasures about Harris. A place you now call home and a place that you have embraced. Thank you for your elegant, open and engaging words. 😊

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  4. Absolutely loved reading your lovely blog post, as always. Planning on visiting Lewis and Harris in July (and blogging about it) so you’re providing much inspiration.

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  5. When I read your firs couple of blogs I thought you have set a high standard but you have just raised the bar again I look forward to the next chapter keep up the good work xx

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  6. Beautifully written Lucy, it is lovely to read how well you are setting into your new home and great to hear you are all well and happy as the season changes into spring and summer so will your surroundings and experiences it sounds a magical place to bring up your lovely family and I have enjoyed reading all about it I look forward to reading your next instalment. Take care my beautiful God daughter and continue to make happy memories you will look back on and treasure. XX

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  7. Thank you for sharing your new life and adventure. I wish you as a family the best, with happy days and years ahead. I love the islands, I haven’t been to Harris but I will one day. So beautifully written Lucy, thanks xx

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  8. 😊 loved this Lucy…think everyone should step out of their lives for a while and stop look around them and breathe ….if it’s not working move your not a tree….life is for living ….so glad your living yours in such a beautiful place …your children are glowing already and will continue to do so as they grow.
    Peace happiness love and laughter for your new home 😊

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  9. Fantastic to read about how you’re settling in all the way from here in Burnley! Oh how I wish We could gain employment there, we have been 3 times now and I swear I leave a little of my heart there each time!

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  10. Wow Lucy, your writings about Island life have once again filled my heart with an overwhelming peacefulness. Your words are beautifully written and in turn they each create a wonderful harmony in my mind as I read each line of your blog.
    Thank you Lucy, you’re a true inspiration. Xx

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  11. Another inspiring post that just makes me want to take off and do as you have done. The Hebrides are so beautiful and you capture that beauty with such eloquence I long to be back. I look forward very much to reading future posts. Thank you Lucy, from a frustrated penguin x

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  12. I loved your new instalment. It is always beautifully written with real feeling from the heart. I’m glad you’re settling in, the house looks wonderful, I love the window seat options, perfect for watching the world go by.
    I’m missing Skye, we were only there for a week over half term and now I’m counting down the days till April for our next visit.
    Looking forward to your next instalment ❤️

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  13. Oh Lucy I so enjoyed this! Late at night and feeling frazzled myself by the constant demands of children and busy lives it was a lovely tonic.. off to climb into bed with a hot water bottle and a book.. keep blogging Lucy and so glad to hear more about your beautiful new home and area xxxx Carly

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