Posts Tagged ‘beach’

November surf and turf


I am now convinced that the tidings of horrendous weather that have become the standard reply to me raving about the Islands are designed to keep the picture perfect landscape here free from tourists. My last trip took me back to Tolsta beach where I have posted about on athomeinthehebrides previously. Once again I had the place to myself for most of the day.


Tolsta is a great place to come as the car park is right on the beach and has facilities that makes sure the dunes and beach are kept pristine.



When I arrived I bought a secondhand surfboard and I am still not convinced by it. That being said, as a beginner the majority of boards I have surfed on so far have been foam meaning that they are really easy to get up on and are less likely to hurt if you wipe out…which still happens a lot!


I also brought my fins and snorkel so that I could have a look sub surface. During this time I managed to get a few of the waves and water…





Despite the fact my wetsuit is only 3mm the water wasn’t unpleasantly cold and every time I go in up here I resolve to do it more often. Another source of inspiration to swim more in the open water comes from my friend Ella the Mermaid who is currently blogging about her preparation for her channel crossing which she is doing in aid of Cancer Research UK.…I’m not sure I could match her hours in the water but I’d sure like to swim in the sea up here a bit more regularly.

After drying off I headed out to the lighthouse at Arnish for a walk round the cliffs.


The walk I go is fairly short (3 miles) but it usually takes me about 2 hours to do because I can’t help but stop to watch the waves crash on to the rocks or the different sea birds that inhabit the steep faces.





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Edinburgh weekend

I’m just back from a weekend in Edinburgh following a conference I attended there on Friday. The conference itself was really good, with keynotes from Sir Henry Burns (Chief Medical Officer for Scotland) and Prof Neil Mercer who worked just down the hall from me in Fac of Ed in Cambridge. I will probably write a separate blog on the best bits as I couldn’t do them justice in the 30 mins I have given myself to put out this blog up!

Ruari and his girlfriend joined me on the Friday night following the conference and we had a great selection of Tapas at Cafe Andaluz on George St. Each dish we got tasted wonderful (although I had to take Hannah’s word for her choices as she didn’t really embrace the ‘share’ aspect of Tapas….until it came to my dessert!) but my favourite was their braised pork cheeks…amazing.

The next day was spent wandering around Edinburgh. Ruari had suggested Leo’s Beanery for brunch and it certainly didn’t let him down.


Although Edinburgh was great I did miss the walks along the beach I have become accustomed to taking almost daily and so within 20 minutes of touching down in Stornoway today I was walking along the beach at Steinish.


Steinish is visible from my bedroom window and if the tides work out it is my number one choice for a run route in the morning.


Along the edge of the beach is a grassy bank with occasional pools of brackish water.


The mineral content of the pools makes for diversity of colourful plant life:


I have accumulated a variety of ‘how to’ books in relation to watercolour, sketch, drawing and the like but what I produce it always so far away from what has inspired me that I always feel a little disappointed. Since the move up here I have dusted off the books and hope to give it another go simply because I see so much around me that is beautiful that regardless of the outcome of the time spent trying to create I love the idea of prolonged engagement with the following:





The pools that form when the tide goes out are supposed to hold a good head of salmon and sea trout but having bought my season on the Creed I have been spending most of my time there…although with views like this I might have to reconsider…


This weekend also saw the start of the Harris Mountain Festival and there are a few events coming up that I am hoping to make including a talk by Doug Scott on big wall climbing (including Sron Ulladail, Shivling and the Ogre) tomorrow night. Should be a great week…

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It has been another busy week which has taken me all round Lewis and Harris.


Beach at Uig

So aiming for a lazy weekend I went down to the Saturday market in Stornoway and picked up some Langoustines from the the fishermen’s cooperative stall with a view to a late lunch on the beach.

To work up a bit of an appetite I took the surfboard and snorkelling gear so that I could have some fun in the sea regardless of the conditions.

On my last swim I was put off a little by the presence of a massive Jellyfish but fortunately the waves were far too big that would allow me to make out any impending danger!

Like last time I was struck by the ferocity of the Gannets diving at fish just a few meters from me. This time I was also joined by seals who seemed delighted to show me how surfing should be done! I tried to get it on video…

…but the best I could manage was a long distance shot of them playing just in front of me.



Needless to say after the pounding I received in the waves I was ready for some grub. The ‘recipe’ itself is really straightforward; the deliciousness comes from fresh ingredients (langoustines, lemon, garlic and parsley) and a good baton of crusty bread.


Langoustines on the beach


10 langoustines tails per person
Enough olive oil to cover the base of a frying pan
The juice from half a lemon
A bunch of flat-leaf parsley
30g Butter
2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
Your favourite crusty baguette

1 Uninterrupted sea view (diving Gannets optional)

The procedure is summarised in the video below but with the following change- let the oil heat up for a bit longer before adding langoustines…I had to rush things a little as my camera was threatening to run out of battery.

It was delicious! The langoustines were melt in your mouth and the lemon and parsley freshened up what could have been an overly rich sauce.

Being up here now you are constantly confronted with aspects of Scottish heritage and tradition and as such I have been reflecting on my own. I remember a Scouts’ trip to Lochgoilhead where amoung the usual rubbish I tended to pick up at the souvenir shop I brought back an Urquhart clan bookmark, which had the following Coat of Arms:


Urquhart Coat of Arms

The clan motto is “Meane weil, speak weil and do weil” or more contemporaneously “Mean well, speak well and do well” and I think it captures quite succinctly how I would aspire to live. But, as I munched down on the buttery langoustines, I thought how traditions move on and how successive generations influence and alter heritage somewhat. Given my own family upbringing and traditions I think it is time a fourth strand was added to our motto…

“eet weil”


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