• Nadine Almer

Coming Home to Scotland: Aird Uig, Isle of Lewis

Travel days 295 - 308

11th - 24th of October 2021

We truly came home on the 9th of October 2021.

Truly as in heart terms, unfortunately not in legal terms.

From that day on it felt like we never had left, although in some ways it was apparent that we indeed did leave and came back.


For example helping out on the croft with the animals and walking my beloved pack of six dogs felt exactly like it did before. When Marjorie did not come back immediately upon me calling her, I knew she was immersed in hunting rabbits by the cliff side and she would be some time before coming out of the depths of her intrinsic hounding instincts. This felt differently than before. Instead of frantically calling and going back and forth in search of a sign of her, I gave my attention to Freyja and Bolt and their most favourite game instead.

In many other regards it struck me how exciting and new it felt, although I had been and seen all of it before. Every little facet of texture, colour, pattern, all of it, made my eyes widen in wonder. The vibrancy was at times so overwhelming that it made me cry, humbled by the gratitude in being able to be back here again.

The first three weeks flew by. They literally felt like a few days, even though the days tended to be very long, filled with the pleasures of the most homely things, to me anyway. Like Andrew’s humour, Sarah’s laughs, Kenny’s waves out from his window, Rocky’s barks, Wisp’s whimpers of hardly being able to contain excitement, Glen’s shy approaches for appreciation, Bolt’s loving and loyal looks, Freyja’s swimming and stamping on the spot to have thrown some stones into water to dive after, the howling of the winds around the house while reading a book cuddled up in the bed, the thunderous crashing of waves in Aird Bay, the bellowing of cows and sheep to be fed, chickens following one around, and so, so, so many other things that make me smile and feel warmth and make this place feel like home.

So, what were Marjorie and I up to these past weeks, you wonder?

I am glad you asked, for this is what this blog post is all about, you see.


The main thing I was trusted to do was taking care of the animals as this would be the main task for me throughout the time I will spend on the island. In the mornings I would pack up the pack, pun intended, of dogs and drive to the animals on the grazing fields, the croft lands. At the moment we have three different areas, one where the cattle and two rams are grazing, one sheltered area for the new ram to acclimate and one grazing ground for two of the smaller cows and the younger sheep.

This is also the place where the polytunnel for growing vegetables and herbs, as well as where the chickens can be found. Upon my arrival I would collect the eggs, clean out the chicken house, top them up with water and food, and make sure that all of their needs are met. After that it is time to tend to the two young cows, called Noona and Beaufort, and the younger sheep. They receive their portion of food, afterwards it is the pig’s turn, Flora and Laura. Then it is time to prepare the food for the cattle and Byron, the young separated ram, and load it into the car for the short drive over there. I love doing all of it, including sinking knee- deep into a mixture of mud and feces, as peculiar as it may sound. First and foremost because the very first thing in the morning is taking care of living beings, tending to their needs, making sure they have everything their heart desires. Secondly because no matter the weather, it always invigorates me to get my metabolism going, have fresh air in my lungs and feel it on my skin. Thirdly, there is no greater joy than being able to open your eyes to the magic of the Isle of Lewis and find something new and inspiring every single day.

My heart goes out for the pack of dogs. I missed them profoundly while I was away. Having all of them like little satellites orbiting around me during our walks, sparks true joy in my soul. They are simply darlings and all of them have their distinct characteristics.

Let me introduce you to:

Bolt, the Golden Retriever Gentleman, always eager for cuddles and play, at heart still a puppy, lumbering and joyful. His younger wife, Freyja, a Golden Retriever though most certainly born in the wrong body for she might as well be a sea dog, swimming rather than walking whenever some form of water is near, be it a pond of mud, a loch or the sea.

Self proclaimed head of the working dog alliance is Wisp, a Border Collie through and through, eager to work and please and be loved. He is rather jealous when it comes to being given attention and cuddles, nonetheless he is a sweetheart and just needs reminding that he is not an only dog. Rocky, the New Zealand Huntaway Kelpie cross, still in training, runs miles and miles without exhaustion, and simply put, has a heart of pure gold. Glen, also Border Collie, joined the working force in April and is still settling in, getting used to the dynamics of the pack and slowly, gradually opens his heart and trust up to the family. I adore him and his shy, slow way of warming up to me, his kind eyes always on the lookout for work or getting cuddles when Wisp is not watching.

Mostly I walk with Marjorie and all four of them, leaving Bolt at home as he is an elderly gentleman but would try to keep up with the youngsters. He would not slow down or take it easy and he would therefore exhaust himself too much. After the animal feed and an extensive walk with the youngsters, it is Bolt’s turn in the afternoon, again with Marjorie, and sometimes one or two of the others, just so he would not feel excluded from the pack.


Obviously I am no hermit. I enjoy my alone time, still it would not feel like coming home without the people that I came to know here. There are my exceptionally generous and kind hosts, Sarah and Andrew and their son Elliot. It is beyond words how grateful I am to them in a variety of ways. Not only have they given me a home prior to this second time inviting me back again, they have been firm as a rock in my life ever since, being my first to call in an emergency, my role models in how I want my relationships to look like and how I aspire to lead a business. They have shown me the beauty and grace of this island, passing on their passion and love for it to me. Growing as a person, making me see my own worth, believing in myself and my abilities, encouraging me to dream big and work accordingly to achieve those ambitions. All the warmth, consideration and goodness they practice towards each person that is in need of support of any kind, gives me hope for humanity. I owe them more than I can ever give back.

On the other side of the island in Leurbost, Liz and Brendon invited me to stay over night. Brendon is a tree whisperer and Liz a fairy for gardening and growing vegetables. Their plot of land has been transformed into a wonderland of gardens, paths, woods and two poly tunnels. It is also the home of the black Labrador lady Meg, the newest addition to the family, puppy Snoopy and their peacocks and chickens roaming freely around. Currently they have focused their efforts on building a second accommodation beside their Tipi tent, a so-called Sherperd’s hut. In a combined effort from Brendon, Liz, their current WWOOFer Cameron and myself, we finished the roof of the hut just in time before heavy rains arrived.

It was intriguing to get my hands on doing some building again and I was very honoured to be a part of this project, let alone being able to experience how to install a roof. Liz had the fantastic idea of lighting a bonfire and eat our meal outside that night, it was truly enchanting!

Nicola, the inspiring artist from next door, and her dog, Wilfred, have been on two walks with Marjorie and I so far, both times have been on a beach, very charming and stirring up a longing to paint again. Learning to see surroundings through the eyes of an artist, that being Nicola, felt infectious and at the same time inspiring. The depths of colour and texture, the possibilities and the ways of composing have been eye opening and somehow awakened in me the wish to take out the brush and try it once more. After doubting my skillset for a long time, having someone who is able to translate their vision of the world and their approach to capture its awe, is refreshing and makes my hands yearn to give it a go.

Then there are Ken and Anna, a lovely couple from up the hill, Kenny, an amiable, elderly man who often helps out if Andrew needs any help, and a lot of other nice people and their dogs that are always delighted to have a chat whenever.

At times it felt like a daze being back. A state between dreaming and awake. The days have gone so fast, been filled with so much exhilaration and joy and tasks and work and laughter and everything.

I sincerely hope my sense of time will come to slow down soon. Just so that I am able to take all of it in with my mind’s eye, soak it all up, imprint it to my very soul. Not that I do not live in the present moment, I do, an awful lot of the time. Especially when I am outside with the dogs on walks. I could not be less aware of the grace around me even if I intended to be. But I guess, knowing that I have to leave at some point, forces the perception of time to race rather than abate. My videos help me a lot with this. Whenever I sit down to go through my footage and try to compose something that remotely comes close to the everyday fascination I am lucky enough to observe here, I can reflect on what has happened, what has taken my breath away, what I feel an urge to share with all of you. This is my first Vlog about the Isle of Lewis and tries to explain why I call it 'coming home' to Scotland.

Anyway, I am back, I am where I feel I want to live, I am where I feel I want to grow some sort of roots. This is the place I had in my mind whenever I thought about an intentional, self-sufficient, off-grid community project. So, I will do whatever I can to make this vision a reality.

First step, writing it out on paper, make it accessible to the one’s that want to create it with me, the one’s that are able to give me permission to do so and the one’s that are empowered to grant me a visa to stay here. One step at a time.

Thank you all so very much for your kind support. It means a lot to me that you take time out of your busy days to read this and I genuinely, wholeheartedly thank you.

With this said, I hope all of you are healthy and in good spirits.

Love and light, beloved souls

Nadine



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