Beautiful sunset over Thurso harbour
Beautiful sunset over Thurso harbour

Wouldn’t you love to sit on your couch while having a view over the sea and some islands in the distance to stare at with a warm cup of coffee?
I must admit, I’m a bit jealous of the people who live here in a house overlooking the sea. They experience the full year of natural changes in landscape and weather. Snow, northern lights, brewing storms, the full spectrum of rain types and directions….
When paddling around in Scotland and have these beautiful views over the sea I always dream about how it will be like living here in this magical landscape with ever-changing weather.

Who are the people who live on the islands of Scotland?
Sometimes we get the opportunity to meet some of the locals. When we pull up the kayak above the tideline, the locals have already spotted us before we spot them. Usually, they don’t immediately run out of their houses to talk to us. But they will be the first to help us when we are in need of some water or when we are trying to get a lift to the shop.

To the locals, the car is an unmissable thing. They use the car for everything and anything. Short, walkable distances? Scottish people don’t walk, why walk when you have a car!
The car is also excellent to transport things in, including kayakers in need of a lift to the shop. One of us will sit in the front seat next to the driver. Usually, that would be me, because that is the polite thing to do. Alexander sits in the back between a bale of hay and the dog or machinery of some sort.

Rackwick bay on Hoy
Wouldn’t you like to live in one of those houses on Rackwick bay.

Usually the local starts a conversation. He/she want to know everything about us. Gives something to talk about in the pub in the evening.
The first topic of conversation is the kayak. They are of the opinion that you can not paddle around Scotland in a small and flimsy thing like a kayak. You need a good strong boat for that, preferably with an engine.
The second topic is where we have been with the kayak. Well, we have been around for nineteen years, so we’ve been everywhere. But we always seem to mispronounce the names of the islands we’ve been to and we are corrected immediately.
The third topic is the life story of the local him/herself. The professional life, the children and family and where they live, where they been to school. And then it becomes a bit tricky because it takes a good ear to listen to any local. It seems they (especially the men) all have the same dentist, meaning no dentist at all. There are just a few teeth left in their mouths which makes talking a bit difficult. Together with a thick Gaelic accent and shortening words of swallowing letters, it makes conversation very challenging to the listener.

This guy took us for a sightseeing tour in his car over the island of Tiree. We stopped halfway to check out his cows.

What do you do when you can not make heads nor tales out of the story?
The best thing you can do is realise that language for the majority exists of non-verbal communication. So we look at body language and gestures. Where is he/she pointing his/her finger to or slowing down the car? We try not to listen to the actual words but to the intention of the words. You have to listen over the actual spoken words. And alway’s have the intention to understand the other. Listen with your heart. We can always pick out a few words, string them together and imagination will do the rest.

Looking out of the Shiants bothy
View out of the house on The Shiants.

And when in need we can always switch to the weather…

Charlotte Gannet

2 Comments

  1. The Cedar Journal on 21st February 2020 at 13:47

    I have read this before? Maybe? Anyway, hope you were able to see my latest post. If not please send email. Thanks!

    • Charlotte on 22nd February 2020 at 19:48

      Yes, you did! I made a mistake by publishing 2 stories in one weekend. That is too much of a good thing so I took one away.

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