Yesterday, we arrived in Portree, Scotland in tender boats, tossing in the North Sea like fishing floats. There was a question about whether we would be able to visit this port due to the wind and rough seas. Before the day was over, I suspect Captain Jonathan wished we had not. When we were all finally back on the ship, it was over two hours before they could get the tender boats back in place, a dangerous job for the crew in any case but worse in heavy winds. Still, thanks to all of their effort we had a wonderful day.
We met at the pier and boarded a bus for a scenic tour of the island. The Isle of Skye, like many of the islands we visited in the Pacific, was created from a volcanic eruption. The mountain and monoliths in the first photo are made of basalt, the black volcanic rock we saw all over the Pacific. We knew we were not in the Pacific when the bagpipes were played at one stop by a waterfall. In the second photo behind the bagpipe player, you can see patches of brown that covered the fields. It was heather, not yet in bloom. You can also see heather next to the yellow gorse in the first photo. Close your eyes and imagine all of this purple, as it will be in August. The last time I was in Scotland, it was blooming. That time on a bus trip through the highlands, I asked our bus driver if a small purple flower I picked by the side of the road was heather. He said “No, that’s a weed.” Feeling really stupid, I asked him to show me heather if we passed some. We drove all the way to the coast and half way back to Edinburg before he suddenly stopped the bus and got off without saying a word. When he got back on the bus, he walked to my seat in the back, handed me this giant bouquet of purple flowers, and said, “This is heather.” I had wanted to see heather on the hill ever since seeing my first stage play, Brigadoon.
The last photo shows stone buildings with thatched roofs that are all part of the Isle of Skye Museum of Life. When I looked inside these, I was reminded of about every eighteenth century log cabin I have visited in Kentucky. There were the same wrought iron implements, fireplaces, and handmade linens. The difference was that these stone buildings had stone rather than dirt floors and different roofs. As we were leaving this museum it began to hail for about a minute, just enough to remind us how blessed we were with the weather once again. While it was forty degrees and very windy, it was dry as were those curvy, narrow roads.