• Nadine Almer

A Day In Town: Stornoway and the Castle Grounds

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

13.12. - 19.12.2021

Travel Days: I admit I miscounted (but since I started on the 7th of January, it should be 340 - 346)


Stornoway has a population of approximately 6'900 people, is the only town amongst a lot of small villages and has so far not been thoroughly explored by me. Mostly because 'going to town' usually means doing the chores that need be done and then drive home immediately afterwards. Because there is nothing like the beauty of home.

This time though, I had to shop for arts&crafts supplies (DIY Christmas presents in the making) and I also wanted to prove that I, contrary to my own beliefs, am absolutely able to drive in left sided traffic.

Courageously I drew in a breath of hope and determination- and drove off.

While this was primarily a trip for my personal shopping and pleasure, I wanted to get something off the list for my hosts as well. This is why I went to Crofter's (a shop for everything a farmer, aka crofter, needs) first and brought the dirty linen (of the B'n'B guests) to the laundry afterwards. Then, the whole of the day lay ahead of Marjorie, my ToDo list and I.

The most important thing was to get supplies for my planned Christmas gifts. As I myself do see Christmas less as a religious holiday but an opportunity for reflection, introspection and showering the world with kindness, I usually also do not buy any material goods. What I present my loved ones with is my time that I invest in self-made presents or activities together. Specifically what, I will share with you in next week's post. What I can share though is that I needed to do some arts and crafts shopping to complete my tasks. And because I have not had any real change of outfits since Dublin, which was months ago, I craved something new. 'New' as in buying at a thrift shop. I enjoy finding unique pieces and having a good feeling about giving clothes no one wanted anymore a new home in my wardrobe. What I love about the thrift shops in the UK is that the revenue from it does not solely go to the one who owns the shop but that it is given to certain causes. I mentioned this in an earlier blog post already, still I find it even more encouraging to have a marvellous time shopping and still giving your money to further useful pursuits, eg funding cancer research, helping animals or children. Not to mention the good you do for our Mama Earth. No exploitation, be it of humans or of nature.

I spent a few hours going about the town with its big and smaller harbour, small and hidden side streets, enjoying the glorious, crisp December air. I did get almost all I needed, except my thrift haul was a minor success. Perfect way of needing to do it again at a later point in time, I'd say. As always after some hours within a place crowded with a lot of humans and noise, traffic and hustle, I was aching to get some peace and quiet.

The Castle Grounds are the best place to get exactly that. With Marjorie eager to have a walk anyway, and my preference for natures quiet tranquility, we set off for a long exploration, no time limits except maybe approaching dusk.

And this is what we did. We were extremely fortunate too, for after just a little drizzle the sky was blue again and the setting sunlight bathed the whole of the Grounds around us in golden light. Everything was as magical as it could get. I have been a few times at the Castle grounds before, always they are so very different. This time, the clean and fresh air, mixed with the glittering raindrops on every branch and plant, the warm, fading light from a magnificent sunset- all of it just made the closure of this day wonderfully harmonious. We had quite the adventure in the three hours we spend there too. To begin with we got lost about three times, all because I thought I discovered some hidden paths that turned out to be not forgotten but leading to swamps and moors. Which then caused me to almost sink into one of them. By the time we found our way back to the car it was getting darker and because I had not charged the electric car, I knew it would be a thrilling drive home without warming up. Using the heater would have the result that we might not make all the miles home, you see.

Nonetheless, be sure to visit the Castle Grounds when you are in Stornoway. They truly are breathtaking, have a variety of different paths and walkways, either exploring by foot or with your bicycle, and above all, they are the closest you can get to experiencing trees on this island. There are rarely trees to be found neither on Lewis or Harris because the native forests had been burned down ages ago, apparently by the Vikings. Sometimes, this is all you need: Hearing the soft whispers of the wind through moving branches and trunks of trees, having the explosion of colours and textures within leaves or needles, smelling the scent of resin and bark. Prior to my longest visit here I thought I'd miss trees more. They have always been dearest to my heart and healing for my soul. Yet, I do not miss them as much as I thought I would. And still, whenever I get the chance to walk in the Castle Grounds, they spark so much joy within me and I find that I appreciate them now even more, see the beauty in their existence, feel the calmness in their timelessness.

Anyway- it was getting dark. Which is both a pro and con of this season. Ultimately, it reminds us to live more in alignment with nature, after all, this season of slowing down and reflection truly is beneficial to us. I am aware that for the most part we are absolutely disconnected from that organic rhythm of our Earth, having electricity and light, however long we choose to. A disadvantage comes along with this way of thinking- there is so much to do, and so much less daylight time to use. After spring, summer and autumn of high energy levels and being outside for as long as I possibly can, now in winter I feel the loss of energy, the need to rest more, the need to take it slow. I do not always give in to it, rarely to be truthful. But I strongly believe that there is a purpose to the seasons and since the human race derives from nature and deep in its core is still connected to its innate rhythm, I feel like we ought to be able to honour this by listening to our bodies. If there is less daylight, if there is a need to rest more and do less, then we all should have the environment to give in to that. I am very fortunate to be hosted by generous, lovely, kind and compassionate people, who always remind me to take it slow, look after myself, give myself enough rest and regeneration time.

But, I digress.

It was getting dark and it was therefore time to make our drive home. Trembling on the thought that we might not make it because of not charging the electric vehicle, we boarded and drove off.

We made it.

It was freezing without putting the heat on, but we made it. Which is so much better than standing on the side of the road for hours waiting for rescue, and standing some hours more, while having the car charged. On top of this we also were lucky enough to see the moon rise high on a blue sky that slowly turned into a colour palette of pure bliss. Everything from light blue to purple, pink then orange, yellow and red, until all faded into dark indigo and finally black. With the first of the brightest stars appearing, being complimented by the sickle of the last New Moon in this year of 2021.

Could I have wished myself a more extraordinary, enchanted, eerie, dazzling, graceful close of this day?! No, I could not. See for yourself!

And while you do that, be sure that I sent you all my deepest love and brightest light.

From my heart to yours

Nadine


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