A Fresh Start

I moved to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides about 6 years ago with my partner. We had been regular visitors to these islands for about 20 years – walking, cycling, and watching wildlife. We are both lowland Scots and don’t have cultural connections with the Gàidhealtachd. As two thirty somethings, we had reached a new phase of our lives with no commitments to stop us from deciding to move here during one particular visit when, somewhat on a whim, we started looking at houses for sale. We found a traditional croft house with potential but in need of serious TLC and decided we had more to gain than lose by buying it and moving into its somewhat mouldy, dark interior.

We also arrived here having been committed (though not militant) vegetarians for a decade. Being a veggie in central Scotland was a breeze, particularly since we lived a 2 minute walk from our local Sainsbury’s store. This choice and convenience somehow naively slipped our minds when we moved here. Cue the step from the safety of our suburban cottage garden with only herbaceous borders to manage to a full-on vegetable growing assault in challenging conditions. I optimistically thought these were no barrier to doing something as simple as growing veg (bearing in mind I hadn’t grown more than a lettuce before).

The often unrelenting weather systems (wind!), challenging soil conditions and short growing season in combination take their toll on the capacity to grow what you really want to eat and there have been moments of delight and frustration along the way (see Growing and Gardening for a resume).

Couple this with the notable bounty of land and sea. On the apparently inhospitable terrestrial side, there is so much fine quality local produce – reared and wild: local beef, lamb/wedder/mutton, pork, game – venison, goose, duck, rabbit. The marine environment is rich in forage with undoubtedly the finest seafood in Europe, and fish – both sea and migratory in abundance. One stat often cited about North Uist is the fact that over 50% area of the island is water – freshwater and brackish lochs. Brown trout abound here, and the occasional Arctic Charr.

You have probably sussed where this is going. Food provenance, the principal reason for our vegetarianism is irrelevant here (almost – see Ethos). That combined with an enduring love of meat and fish. A decade of meat-free living did nothing to dispel this and we have both resorted back to The Dark Side.

19 thoughts on “A Fresh Start

  1. I am so glad you visited my blog because I now will be visiting yours on a regular basis. I love it. I look forward to reading how you adapt to your life in the Hebrides.

  2. Followed you from my blog (thanks for following). The Hebrides? Really? Even after working in the UK for years and then living there for two, I must say I never met anyone from the Hebrides. It looks to be a beautiful place — at least in the summer when your days are so long 🙂

    Funny, I just did a post on the western coast of Ireland. I imagine the weather in the Hebrides is similar?

    • Thanks for following, and commenting, yes, it is beautiful here in spring and summer, winter best described as variable 🙂 Not only is the weather similar to the west coast of Ireland, much of the landscape shares similarities too, although I have not visited W. Ireland, unfortunately. Look forward to reading more of your posts, Tracey

  3. Popped over out of curiosity after I saw you had visited my blog. So very glad I did, what a fantastic life you lead – sound svery similar to our life in Spain (just at a different temperature). Have never been to the Hebrides, I really should..one day, one day!

    • Thank you, it’s great here, but envy your climate – and food! I lived in Portugal for a bit, but have only visited Spain once or twice, I aim to change that, time permitting. Look forward to reading more about your parallel life! Tracey

  4. I just discovered your LOVELY blog through a comment you made on The Garden Deli (Sarah) blog and I am so please to have found you! Off to have a peruse now……Karen (Lavender and Lovage)

    • Thank you so much Karen, as I mentioned to Sarah, I need to make an entry to Herbs on Saturday, I have no excuse given the amount of herbs available in the garden just now, great concept. Thanks for visiting, Tracey

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