We had a small boat that was one of Dad’s passions when we were on Barra. On the first morning, we’d all go to where the boat had been mored over the winter – often at Moira Baird’s house in Skallary and carry her down to the sea – never very far away on Barra.
Dad would then spend the next few days going over every inch of the boat, repairing bits here and there. Varnishing wood and generally cleaning her up.
Once she was sea worthy and if the weather was kind, we’d go off on trips. Either to the near by surrounding islands, or just to bob up and down on the choppy sea a little while out, and fish.
Here we are on one such trip with Dad’s cousin, Donald Stewart.
And later celebrating, after a massive haul! We went round knocking on peoples’ doors saying ‘Free, fresh fish!’. My cousin Rory is wearing my Mum’s rather gorgeous trousers as his had got soaked on the trip.
We all adored the boat.
Me looking rather stylish in this one with Mum, Dad and my brother Tom.
Aunt Eileen tying my Mum’s scarf for her. Perfectly normal Hebredian beachwear!
Notice that jumper my brother is wearing?
Well, here I am in it. I have four older brothers so hand me downs for me were sometimes third -hand, via them! I did think these jumpers were great though. 1970s M&S at their best. So clever, it looks like you are wearing a polo neck under a V neck, but guess what? It’s only one jumper! We had them in several colours in our house. Brown and green are captured in some of these pictures, I definitely remember friends having a purple variant and being in little jealous.
These are the two cottages at Horve, just outside Castlebay on Barra. When we stayed here it was always fantastic as cousins would take the other cottage so we were in and out of each others houses and there would be many parties. The parties were amazing. My Dad had grown up on the island and still knew lots of the islanders. My Dad’s cousins were regular visitors to Barra since their early childhood days and also had lots of friends there. The parties were always very lively; music and stories filled the air. Whiskey was flowing, the bagpipes playing. My Dad was a piper and would always be delighted if some of the pipers from the island would come and play too. These men took on a near mythical status for me, the respect with which Dad spoke of them. I was always slightly nervous round them but very happy as the parties got wilder as the night wore on. They’d be a gang of us cousins. About 10 of us still young enough to not be through with the adults. In 1972 that was the Nikitiks, the Stewarts and the Bartletts.
My Mum with cousins Aunt Eileen and Dolina. My brothers Calum-Iain and Tom.