Thursday 25th July
This Scottish island mum is getting excited. I have managed to do some packing and I am little better organised. I leave Arran tomorrow afternoon and get as far as Glasgow for an overnight stay. On Saturday I take the train to Mallaig and then the ferry to Eigg. If the wind is in the right direction Molly will be at the pier waiting with my food shopping. Tis easy.
I did wonder how much you guys know about the Isle of Eigg. Assuming nothing might be simpler at this stage so apologies if you know lots. Part of the small isles Eigg is located off the west coast of Scotland and is close to the much larger Isle of Skye and the wildlife sanctuary that is the Isle of Muck. It is approximately 5 miles long and 3 miles wide so I hope to see most of it in the time I am there. In the late 1990s Eigg was the subject of a community buy out ending a long period of instability. The islanders are self sufficient in energy and apparently they has internet. Let us hope so!
There are only about 100 people resident on the island and the main settlement of Cleadale is in the north west and that is where I am staying. Molly is also in that part of the island currently working as an assistant warden for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Cars are only allowed on under special licence so walking and cycling are the preferred modes of transport. During my time on the island I am staying in a wooden cocoon which is kind of posh camping. I am near the singing sands which is a truly special place and I expect to spend quite a bit of time writing there.
Why am I going?
Tempted to answer that with 'because I want to' but that would be only half the story and I don't do half stories. I am going because I have been fascinated with what the islanders have achieved since I first heard of the buy out. I have two writing projects to do while on the island. The first is an open ended piece about my take of the island so I am not sure what the specific focus will be. The second piece is about their Eiggbox scheme which is an arts project that involves building an arts resource centre with studio space for islanders and additional space for residencies. Due to be completed in 2015 I am keen to learn about the vision for the project and how they are bringing that vision to life. I am meeting a member of the project team on Sunday so that will be a critical time to make sense of this project.
I also hope to do some creative nature writing while on the island but have no idea where that will take me as I sit here. I hope to spend some time with Molly although she will probably be working through the days. My final reason for going is a new one. I have seriously dipped my toe into contemplative photography and I can't think of a better venue. I want to try and capture the essence of the island through carefully crafted photographs that offer up their own questions and observations.
This project is the start, I think, of a plan to visit as many Scottish islands as possible in order to tap into what makes each one unique. Regular readers will know that I am off to the Isle of Lewis next May and I have some other potential island projects brewing under the surface. Although these first two projects are solo I am hoping to do some visits with other people. The lovely Di is in my sights for at least one visit but I have a few other people that I know that might be interested. This is really a long term project and integrally linked with my new site One soul many hearts as I aim to get behind the headlines offered up by an island and tap into the essence through contemplative photography, well chosen articles and creative writing. If you can connect with any of this do let me know and we might end up on a Scottish island together. What fun! There might seem a slightly random feel to all of this but I think that is partly the point. I am resisting any temptation to have a view on Eigg until I am actually on the island as that is what will make this project work. It has to be a true response to a unique place and that is my intention for each and every one of the islands I manage to visit over the next few years.
So, today has all been about getting organised and that is mainly because of my limitations with carrying luggage. It makes the whole packing thing a bit more strategic. I might have enough knickers for the entire trip but most of the rest of my clothes have come out of the bag so that I can fit in my watercolour painting set, journal, sewing stuff and ipad. I think this is a good thing.
I will blog earlier tomorrow as I introduce you to the lovely Di with her maiden piece. Di is a complete and utter joy and our reconnection has been life changing. You will all get to know her really well over the coming months and once the new site is up she will joining me as a writer but also, I hope, helping with some editorial work. Did I mention I have an idea for an online magazine linked to the site? Best leave that for another day.
Until tomorrow. xx