Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Harris Tweed Blankets and a Beautiful Beach.
Try moving your body or a wee pair of legs with as many as as six Harris Tweed blankets on top of you. That was the norm in the "black house bed",no sheets or fancy bed cover, but thankfully we had pillows with pillow cases as the feathers from long departed hens would have been too much to bear. Whatever position you finally adopted under the blankets(and that wasn't easy),that was you for the duration.The formula used in calculating the number of blankets was conceived over many years and reflected the ambient temperatures. This was summer, so God knows how one survived the weight of the winter issue. Still,it was cosy,even though you were immobilised for up to eight hours. When you managed to extricate yourself from the bed in the morning,you were not entirely free from the rough feel of the "Harris". There was the Harris guernsey and the Harris stockings,standard issue with wellies on the occasional rainy day(occasional? - am using a bit of licence here). A quick cup of tea and a scone and butter and we were "out with the cows",which consisted of two milking cows and a heifer. Taking them up and over two hills to the best pastures,they were watered at the allt(stream) and led through two gated fences and down to the Gearraidh. "Fancy",our collie,was good at keeping the cattle on the move. With the cows contentedly grazing,we would leave them to roam freely and would not see them again until the evening hours. For us(my older brother Donald would be with me) and of course our "faithful tyke" Fancy,it was over the cliff paths to the beautiful beach at Dalmore Bay. This was the most special place on earth for two little city lads like us. Here was half a mile of golden sand,an azure blue sea and white rollers crashing against the beach. It was so wonderful here with not another soul in sight. Fancy loved to circle us at speed,and finally to head straight at us,but always evading our grasp by inches .She could keep this up "for ever",or until we started hectically digging for imaginary rabbits on the beach with our hands. Fancy would join in,this being an acknowledged skill of coastal collies. Within a short time,she would disappear into a deep hole from which sand was being furiously expelled.At times,her wee face would appear above the parapet,totally covered in sand,to check if we had caught a rabbit. At last,it was time for breakfast. After all, it was two hours since I had that scone.