I’ve heard that the sense of smell is more key to the memory than even sight or sound, though those two are thought to be the most used senses. I agree, whether or not it is scientifically proven or even provable.
When I walked into the Flodigarry House the smell of the real fires was the first thing I noticed. It immediately made me feel at home, at ease and welcome.
Since then I have been at home, at ease and welcomed. The last day here, while the wind howls outside, has been a tonic. When I say howls, what I mean is; it rips through the trees, blasts in your face and hits the sea hard enough to cleave the surface into an aerosol.
Robin, the unbelievably octagenarian owner of the Flodigarry, was kind enough to take me up to Duntulm Castle to ‘enjoy’ the wild wind stirring the sea and rasping the grass over the exposed northern reaches of this very remote Scottish island.
I am very glad to be neither camping or paddling in this weather. We clocked the wind at 45 knots on an anemometer. Thats a big fat force 9. I am sure both the tent and the boat could handle it, it’s me that’s the weakest link.
The Flodigarry House was built next to the cottage where none other than Flora MacDonald sheltered the Bonnie Prince on his way into exile after the narrowly failed coup that ended in more than tears at Culloden. This warm Victorian house is a memorial to a period in Scotland’s history that is so easily forgotten in the modern world.
What has this to do with kayaking? Well, nothing at all. But it has everything to do with this project. I started this thing with the romantic notion that I would meet interesting people and discover stories while paddling my way to Stornoway. I have.
This place is a part of the story, being here has helped me remember what I am doing (it’s not just paddling) and why. I hope tomorrow brings a passage that helps me finish. In truth the weather window is looking small and unlikely to yield anything more than an excursion out and back with no result. Like the Bonnie Prince’s Jacobite rebellion I may well end tomorrow hiding on Skye. We shall see what happens early tomorrow morning.
Remember the ’45.