On ‘National sleep-in day’ it would have been rude not to. In fact as the weather had closed in, just like the nice Co-op lady had promised, we decided to go the full hog and have a largely stay at home rest day. The wind howled all through the night, the village was shrouded in mist, and waves ran across the harbour.
After our version of a Scottish breakfast, complete with toffee apple flavour sausages, we braved the 60mph gusts together one last time to buy dinner supplies in Castlebay, loving the fact that even going to the local shop felt like a proper expedition. Leaving Rich to recover I then attempted to visit the archaeological site on the hill above the road to Vatersay, but had to turn back after 20 mins because the wind was literally tearing my woolly hat off and making it very difficult to stay upright – not ideal conditions for walking up a hill in the mist. So I came home to a cup of tea and a chocolate brownie instead.
The following day the mist cleared, but the wind didn’t. Did this stop the twin otter plane taking off from the beach for Glasgow though? Did it bugger! Sorry Air Iceland, but this flybe (Logan Air) return flight trumped yours from Isafjordur to Reykavik in Winter for scariness! Rich’s leg still has the claw marks in from where I held on so tightly out of fear. For the whole 45 minutes the wind buffeted the plane, causing it to shuffle and shake, fall and climb. No one spoke, and I just looked down at the floor rather than at anyone else’s face for their reaction. When we landed in Glasgow, despite being an atheist, I prayed. And the whole plane drew a collective breath. Exciting? I’d say so. Rich is desperate to do it again!
As anticipated, the week on Barra did us the world of good. Walking in wild places helps keep us sane whilst living with chemo and NF2 tumours. I don’t want to moan, as I know that life can be stressful for all of us. But, and yes there is a but, major health issues do change your perspective. They have to really. I’m not the same person I was before I met Rich, and for that I am grateful. Being a part of his life whilst he contends with pain and discomfort is always a humbling experience. And I know that it humbles other people whom we meet on our travels. Travel allows us to forget hospitals and whatnot for a little while, and in many respects seems to make pain more bearable. It also makes us more rounded people, and we never fail to learn from the people we meet and the places we visit. We’ve always had a soft spot for Scotland, and are already planning at least one return trip this year. In the meantime, bi sàbhailte – be safe.