Tuesday, 22 June 2010


The nights are drawing in - but as its light until about midnight here at the moment that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a while yet.

This photo taken at 10.30 last night – still very light!

Today was our last full day at Seacroft, Aird Uig, on the far west coast of Lewis and tomorrow we’ll be back on the mainland with a few days spare before we begin our last WWOOF in Scotland.

The work here has been entirely crofting related;

peat cutting

Some weeding and planting, and a hair raising ride on a quad bike followed by a bit of fencing with Steve from next door.

The peat cutting was a surprisingly satisfying task; especially when you hit a patch of peat with a nice moist yet firm consistency. We were amazed at the range of different textures and smells that could come from different peats cut within a small area. We now consider ourselves quite proficient in the use of a peat iron or ‘tarasgeir’ but were disappointed not to have discovered the new Tollum man though!

Peat cutting is a tradition that not a lot of crofters around here on Lewis still continue, some crofters being too old now to work as they used to or the peat having been replaced by other fossil fuels – wood is not that available here due to the lack of trees. Cutting peat has always been seen as a community activity, but as fewer people do it that element has to an extent been lost. Burning peat is quite obviously not a green or sustainable way of providing energy for a home however, and we were quite conscious of this as we worked. But having reasoned it out, the fact that its now done on such a small scale, and is done in such a basic, traditional manner goes someway to balancing out the negative side of it. It can in no way be worse than using other fossil fuels (gas, oil or coal) that are sourced in a much more brutal and intensive not to mention environmentally damaging manner. It’s been nice to have the opportunity to work on the moor above the croft, working in the same way that people have worked here for centuries before us.

Other than working we have been enjoying our hosts’ very generous hospitality. Andrew and Sarah used to own and run the local hotel and restaurant, and Andrew continues to be a very fine chef - we have been eating as if at a five star restaurant at pretty much EVERY mealtime! Some highlights include: Haggis in crepes with sweet chilli sauce ; homegrown roast pork (on two occasions!); the best fish pie I’ve ever tasted; numerous delicious cooked breakfasts and yesterday we also gathered a selection of mussels and cockles from Uig sands which we enjoyed in a garlic and white wine sauce tonight.

We have also enjoyed evening walks on the beach (and seeing a few more Basking Sharks and a couple of Golden Eagles too.)

And watching the piggly wigglies and the duckiliwucklies!

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