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More rain last night – as if the heavens could possibly have more after the last 36 hours or so.  Dry so far this morning but the skies are pretty grey.  Nevertheless, we are off to Castlebay to have some lunch and renew our acquaintance with the Castlebay Hotel – where we stayed in 1971 with a two-year old Sally.  And, of course, to use their wifi!

Driving along we suddenly encountered an open top Bentley with two muffled figures.


Now, there aren’t many stretches of road on Barra where you can get two cars abreast so you get very used to stopping in the nearest passing place and letting the other car go past.  (Sometimes both of you stop and then one has to give in – it’s a good system!)  This time the Bentley was actually at the junction to the Jetty (where we were going to on the way) and the driver called out to us, asking how to get to Castlebay..  There is basically only one circular route round the island with a northern offshoot to Eoligarry, which is where we were so we explained that he needed to go back to where the road divided (well signposted!) and then he could go either right or left (west or east) and he would end up in Castlebay.  So, with a cheery wave, they drove off the way they had come and we turned left for the Jetty.


Imagine our surprise when we drove 500 yards or so on and saw the Bentley coming in from a side road in front of us!  We met up at the jetty and had a chat.  They were part of the Bentley rally that was coming down through the islands from Stornaway and were staying at the Isle of Barra Hotel (the posh one on the west coast).  In spite of our excellent instructions they had taken the first turning left instead of waiting for the T junction!  We sent them on their way again and had a look to see if there were any birds around – there weren’t so we headed off for Castlebay ourselves, half expecting to see them bowling towards us again.

DSC_1424At the hotel the friendly girl behind the bar took our lunch order (jacket potatoes – one with tuna and one with prawns).  It wasn’t long before she came back with my diet coke but said there was bad news – there was no Appletiser for Peter and no prawns for me.  Pete ordered an apple juice and I said, ok, tuna for me then.  A couple of minutes passed while we got out the two laptops ready for blogging and podcast downloading and she was back again with a rueful smile.  There were no potatoes!  Now, when you think that it was only 1.15pm, that seemed odd, even for Barra.  I did frivolously suggest that someone ran to the Co-op down the road but we both settled for tuna sandwiches.

There was an English couple having coffee and moaning about the tour bus they were on.  They were there for the day and didn’t think much of the island.  They did have some sympathy from us – Barra on a chilly misty day is not the joy that Barra on a chilly sunny day most definitely is.  This is why we are staying for so long this time.  You stick it out and hope that the sunny days will eventually outnumber the wet/cloudy ones which, I am pleased to say, they have so far.

They left and we moved up to our favourite table in the window.  I love the view from here, even when it’s misty.


Blogging and podcasting were established quite quickly with the faster connection and we even managed to plug my laptop in to the mains so beat the fast depleting battery for a change!  After dessert (my bread and butter pudding was great) we popped into the Barra Shop next door, which sells local products, and were amazed to see, working there, the barmaid from the Hotel.  Apparently she has lots of part-time jobs and we wondered where we might find her next!

We carried on down to the harbour where we found more Bentleys filling up at the island’s only petrol pumps.

DSC_1444Peter got chatting and found out they were from the Bentley Drivers Club (Eastern Region).  This one is a 1929 supercharged model that does a paltry 8 miles to the gallon.  You’ve got to have serious money to run one of these!



They were impressed when I mentioned my friend was the grand-daughter of W.O. Bentley himself (hope I got that right Margaret) and said the Club would love to make her acquaintance and they would make a real fuss of her!

We have got quite attached to the island of Vatersay this trip and the causeway makes for an easy visit while in Castlebay.  Besides that, I wanted to see how my Shelduck family were progressing!

We found them on his and hers rocks today.

DSC_1456 Look closely and you will see the babies sheltering under Mum’s skirts!

DSC_1461When the water level rose to virtually engulf Dad’s rock, he stretched his legs and indicated it was time for a family swim.

DSC_1493 The babies came out from their cosy hug and, following Mum’s example, they took off from their rock one by one.


Shall we shan’t we?



Last one off’s a big girl’s blouse!

Last one off’s a big girl’s blouse!

Here goes!

Here goes!

Once everyone was safely launched it was time for a bit of foraging amongst the seaweed on the rocky shore.  This blog post is long already so, sadly I can’t show you ALL the photos I took, but safe to say it was a lot!  I find it interesting that Mum has such a sweet loving face while Dad’s the proud alpha male.


Who can resist this chirpy Wheatear?

DSC_1553Tearing ourselves away from this piece of Shelduck heaven, we took the “main” road towards Vatersay Bay and spotted one of the Great Northern Divers again – this time a little closer and the intricate patterning of the neck and feathers is revealed.

DSC_1608Leaving the island, we saw the ‘Boy James’ come steaming in – I believe it does trips to the neighbouring uninhabited island of Mingulay, which has lots of seabirds, and notably Puffins.


Travelling back to the campsite on our favourite east coast, we saw this little family of Eider Ducks – the brown ones, of course, being the females.


In one of the fields where we saw Golden Plovers last year, this rabbit was playing Grandmother’s Footsteps with a spaced-out looking Lapwing.


So ended another interest-packed day on this lovely island.