North North North West

Van on Lewis


I’m back on the road proper tomorrow! After being holed up on private land over the winter, lately getting the big bus out and about – which always feels daunting after a break – has reminded me of the taste of freedom of movement. Ahem.

Brexit is a subject I haven’t touched on for a while. I never felt black and white about it, but the more I understand about monetary globalisation and the neoliberal drive to transfer power from governments to money centres, the more sympathetic I am to euroskepticism. On balance, I still come down with the Remainers, partly because of the ugliness of so many of the Leave motivations, and partly in optimism that the neoliberal Maastricht Treaty could be superseded to reinvigorate the powers of individual governments. I don’t know. But I do know that I enjoy staying in Brittany, knowing that I would be treated in their hospitals, and that I could easily opt to live in that affordable and pleasant land. (I’m actually lucky enough to be entitled to an Italian passport, so short of an Italexit, I’ve still got options. Thank goodness, because England, for all its wonders, is so damn expensive and crowded and speedy and Wifried and fraught…)

Anyway, so I’ve got my van moving again, AND IT PASSED THE MOT FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW WITHOUT REPAIRS! This is astonishing in my world, and renews my love for it. It was pushing its luck with water ingress and mould over this wettest of winters, I told it. But when the engine purred into life at the merest tiny key touch after five months of hibernation, my whole body melted with gratitude and relief. There’s not much that’s easy in life, so that was a gift from the gods. And tomorrow I head back to the Hebrides…

I’m looking to settle. I need rhythm, routine, security, predictability. Ha.

I’ve been on a serious househunt in Brittany, where even a person with a tiny business and shaky finances has a chance. (I’ve just done my accounts, and though I haven’t built on last year’s ‘profit’ – I think that’s the word for the <£2/hour ‘wage’ that my business has earnt me –  at least I wasn’t down on last year, which I feared from the slowness of late winter trade.) However, in terms of moving to Brittany, nothing has quite come together yet, so I’m taking my househunt way north for a while.

My head is full of memories from my first chapter of life on the road, three years ago, in the Outer Isles: finding the furthest cove, and going back there again and again; the clutch failing on the furthest road, and limping back to town for refuge in a Chinese takeaway car park; weaving the bogs and the hills and the machairs; meeting weavers and millfolk and travellers and island dwellers and St. Kilda swimmers and families I still keep in touch with; joining in folk clubs and enjoying sessions and gigs; walking and cycling in the castle grounds; filling my water tank from the burns; foraging my lunch from the shore; building my website in Stornoway public library; sourcing the wool that has become my signature and staple; finding the best selection of chocolate I’ve ever seen in Stornoway garage; encountering the native Gaelic speaking Pakistani community…

Lewis shore.jpg

I’ll be there on Sunday, and my head is full of plans and possibilities: a derelict croft cottage for sale; a tourist business for sale (which could incorporate both weaving and folk music); croft land for sale; log cabin building; Harris Tweed weaving; social housing schemes; shared equity schemes; debts, taxes, grants, loans, mortgages; slavery or scrabbling about to go it alone… Some of them are harebrained, but sometimes you can pull off even these. Just watch.

And keep an eye out, too, for the rugs I’ll be increasingly weaving, now that I’m stocked up with linen warp and about to stock up anew on Hebridean land- and seascape inspiration. Be there.

4 thoughts on “North North North West

  1. Good to hear you are heading back to the isles. We were on Harris last week – mainly down at Horgabost – and it was wall to wall sunshine. Better than the 48 hours of rain we had at Kyle of Lochalsh. Hard work in a tent when your camper van has died. Enjoy those lovely white and empty beaches.


    • Belated thank you very much for this Jane – and by now I can say that I was on Harris last week too! Accompanied by Hector, so driving carefully and holing up in a campsite for once. I’m sorry your camper has died, but I hope you had a great time anyway on all these incredible beaches. Eloïse


  2. So looking forward to hearing about your travels, your photos, your inspirations, your woves of weavings and words….it’ll be almost like going down the rabbit hole with Alice once more!


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