The landscape of the west coast of Scotland was my first love, where for me there is a joy beyond all others in painting its magnificent changes of mood. I was told once that there is no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing, so here I found there was no such thing as grey skies simply inadequate observation. At some point, every year I make time to bathe in its beauty and fall once again captive to its charms. This is where I spent those informative years and this is where the feelings of attachment run deepest.
Five years ago I made curtains for my car, packed oil paints, my Fathers ashes a trangia stove and headed north. I scattered his ashes on the highest point of Davaar Island in the mouth of Campbeltown harbour and watched the fine powder curtain drift out over the cliff edge heading straight for our old home. My journey from here was a pilgrimage to follow in his footsteps along just one of the many trips he made during his final years returning to the west coast of Scotland. Departing from an extremely damp Oban I took the ferry through the straights of Mull to Barra and the Outer Hebrides. In 1961at the age of eight I left the Mull of Kintyre with an accent thicker than porridge and suffering from pneumonia but never once had I thought to cut the Caledonian umbilical cord. Travelling north out of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris I had to pull over and wipe away the tears, such was the beauty. Two hundred yards further on, I stopped again unable to continue and for an hour walked out over heather peat bog and granite at a pace that I could cope with. I had landed, made that contact and finally I was back.
I now make time each year to return to Scotland and to the Isle of Lewis where I have a traditional croft house that stands high above the beach at New Tolsta. The adjoining barn is in the process of being converted to a bunk house and the two buildings will I hope in 2012 be running as a hostel (link to www.hebrides-cottage –holiday.co.uk)