'Do your palms ever itch?'
It's been a while since I've written a post like this. Inspired by this great gift from my Mother, I've decided to this week focus on perhaps the greatest thing to happen to television, and my wardrobe, ever. Welcome, dear readers, to the strange and beguiling town of Twin Peaks.
Now this is tricky, because I don't want to give the story away in case some of you haven't watched Twin Peaks. Although, if you haven't ... go now, and rectify this HUGE error in your ways. And then thank me later for introducing you to something that will actually enrich your existence. For reals, it's that good.
Twin Peaks is plucked from the imagination of David Lynch, and if you've ever watched any of his films, you'll have some idea of what you're in store for. The show follows the aftermath of the horrific murder of Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer, as FBI Agent Dale Cooper arrives to investigate alongside the town's police force. As the police pick apart Laura's character and discover her double life, Lynch strips back the town and its people, until you realise that nothing is as it seems in Twin peaks. Everybody has something to hide.
Twin Peaks managed to achieve something quite rare when it was first screened in the early 90's, becoming both a ratings hit and a cult classic, it's strange mix of drama and the surreal ( and it is very, very surreal) attracting a diverse audience, and inspiring imaginative Halloween costumes for decades to come. I didn't see it until a few years later, I think I was in my early teens, when my parents insisted I stay up late (cool parents), and watch it. Readers, it changed me. It also scared the absolute bejeebas out of me, and I would crawl into bed after an episode too scared to look out of the window in case there should be an owl sitting in the apple tree outside. Which is odd, as you don't tend to get too many owls hanging out in suburban Leicester.
In my last job before baby, there was a guy who looked just like Bob, and I mean just like him. Well, every time I saw him I shuddered. I couldn't look at him, because every time I did I thought of this - one of the most terrifying scenes in the entire programme (*spoiler alert*).
On a slightly more superficial level, this is a tv programme with a serious sense of style. From Agent Cooper, to Nadine, to the Log Lady, every single character has a very distinct aesthetic presence in the story.
Agent Dale Cooper. Don't all swoon at once.
Nadine, her eye-patch, and those silent curtain runners.
The Log Lady, inspiring endless Halloween imitations for decades to come.
But it was the High School characters of Laura (RIP), Audrey, and Donna who, unsurprisingly, made the biggest impact on me. With their knee socks, cashmere sweaters, tartan pencil skirts, and chunky cardies, these characters have provided perhaps the most consistent reference point in my wardrobe for the last decade and a bit. Come Winter and I'm all over this look - particularly when I worked in an office, and I needed to be work-wear appropriate but at the same time feel like me (I think I mainly veered more towards 'me' than 'work-wear appropriate, but whatever, no one ever said anything to me).
Come see me as the nights draw in and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be wearing some combination of the knit sweater/cardie/pleated skirt/button-down shirt variety. Not only is it easy - a must when you've got a kid - but there's something timeless about the looks represented in Twin Peaks, which manage to be both very 90's but also hark back to the first decade of true teen style, the 1950's.
I wanted to be Audrey Horne when I was younger (without the messed up daddy issues though, obvs). And if you want to see one of the weirdest but coolest dancing scenes on TV, well there's no need to look any further than this...
With that, I bid you adieu. Pretty confident that my evenings are going to be taken up re-watching this wonder, and I hope I've inspired you to do the same. Just remember folks, THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM.
The warm weather seems to be clinging on by the skin of its teeth. Celebrate the last days of summer, with the Lori and the Caravan shop.
1960's floral dress, 6-9 months, £12
1960's dress, 18-24 months, £12
1960's dress, 0-6 months, £12
*All sizes are approximate. Please check the measurements in the item listing.
Loyal readers, it is now seventeen days since I last used shampoo, and what a wild ride its been (*coughs*). I have a feeling I'm in for a nasty surprise somewhere down the line, because so far it's not been too bad. The greasy stage was ... well, greasy, but it didn't last too long, so I fear it'll make an unwelcome return in the not-too-distant future. I'm still using the bicarbonate of soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar quite frequently - every other day at the moment - I think I'll try and add another 'water only' day in there by the end of this week.
To be honest, while my hair looks ok, it feels pretty greasy - particularly towards the roots. I do find the apple cider vinegar conditioner makes it feel softer than any commercial conditioner I've ever used. Frequent brushing with a natural fibre brush has definitely helped too (you can pick them up in any good high-street chemist).
So on I go. I'm experimenting with with lot's of natural/organic/vegan products at the moment. Special thumbs up to Green People's Rosemary deodorant, although their Fennel toothpaste is taking some getting used to...
So I'm late in writing in this. I suppose you've been sitting in front of your laptops all day, continually refreshing the page and twiddling your thumbs, wondering 'where is she?', and as the hours ticked on by, 'Is she ok?' Right guys, right? Well fret not, for here I am. Today has been taken up with a family christening, and a lovely catch-up with friends in the afternoon. So I've basically skived off from my blog. Bad blogger Lori, bad blogger. I'm also feeling a bit stuck. It's not like nothing is happening right now. I feel as if my feet have barely touched the ground recently. It's just hard to feel inspired when we're essentially living between two houses - packing up one, while piecing the other back together. I feel a bit rootless, like I'm never settled at the moment. Nowhere feels like home, although I know its just a temporary phase. Everything is in flux, everything is changing. I just need to hold onto my hat, and wait for the ride to slow down, and it will. Patience, I never was very good at that.
So between the endless, endless DIY (this is the week I learnt how to put up a plaster-board wall! A sentence I never dreamed I'd be able to write), it's been a pretty lovely week. I took a trip to London to catch-up with a good friend and see the Virginia Woolf exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I thought it was interesting but lacking in depth. It's curated by Woolf's biographer and all-round Bloomsbury expert Francis Spalding, and the exhibition comes off as a sort of pictorial biography - a nice overview of a life and an artistic standpoint, without ever really delving too deep.
I also thought it was a mistake to not transcribe the letters and diaries on display. Woolf's letters are beautifully written and often viciously funny - but written in such tiny handwriting that large portions were illegible no matter how hard I squinted.
After the exhibition we had a slightly squiffy lunch at the deco-heaven that is Brasserie Zidel, and I ate a crème brûlée the size of my head. Just look at it...
....it's THE SIZE OF MY HEAD.
My mum's been visiting this week, and she gave me a pretty great gift. I might have mentioned this before, and I might have to write about it soon, but I love Twin Peaks. I think it's one of the greatest things to ever happen to television, my teenage years and, consequently, my wardrobe.
If you've watched it - brilliant. Talk to me about it. I love to talk to about Twin Peaks. If you haven't watched it - why not? Do it! Giants, murder, owls, whiney 1980's soft rock - what more could you want? Stop reading this blog and go and watch it right now. You won't regret it.
And so I leave you with this - my child peeking out of one of the many many boxes currently stacked up in my house. Stick around this week for blog hopping, and plenty of vintage. If you're on instagram, come say hi!
See, it was worth reading to the end.
We've been busy worker bees this week, ripping apart the house so we can slowly put it back together again. And step by step, stumble by stumble, I'm beginning to be able to see how our little home will come to be. We're trying to use as much reclaimed/recycled material as possible, so our local reclamation yard, and ebay are proving to be invaluable resources. Putting in the time to search for those real ebay bargains is a great way to save on your budget, and find beautiful bits and bobs for your home. We stumbled upon this amazing parquet flooring for an absolute steal - and there's enough for the entire downstairs of the house.
Hubby spent an entire day demolishing the hideous 1980's fire place. We managed to find part of an Edwardian fireplace for just £25 at a local auction house, and now we're searching for a wood-burner good enough to heat the entire house. Plan is to use the central heating as little as possible. So come winter, you'll find me swaddled in as much knitwear as my small frame can handle.
We've also started working on the walls upstairs. It's really important for us to have a third bedroom, and in fact its one of the main reasons for moving. Much as we love our little house in our little town, with two adults, a toddler, and two dogs, we're already really squished, and we'd like to be able to grow our family further in the future.
And finally, we ripped up the red linoleum floor from the bathroom. I think I've got popeye style muscles from that one job. Boy, was that floor stuck down! When hubby stood on a particularly glue-laden section, it pulled his shoe apart. So in short, we're not sorry to see it go.
I think the next job will be laying the flooring. Good job its so pretty!
Vintage item of the week! And how amazing are these dungarees? Dating from the early 1960's, and yet completely unworn, the dungarees are approx. 6-12 months, and are available to buy in the shop for the bargain price of £15. A dream.
All sizes are approximate. Please check the item's listing for accurate measurements.
I've spent the last few days at the new house with no internet connection and barely any phone signal. Life in a bubble. I won't lie, I've enjoyed the peace and quiet! There's something very calming about shutting out the world for a short while. It allows you to take a breath, to gather, to really have a good think. Of course we weren't cut off completely. Occasionally we'd leave the farm and my phone would spring into life, the world knocking at my door. Sometimes we'd put the radio on and the news would intrude with its tales of disease, despair, and atrocities, some rather too close to home, and remind me of the perilous and sometimes terrifying world we live in. I don't want to live in a cocoon, and it won't last forever - the internet should be connected next week - but just for a moment, it was nice to be in that bubble.
We've spent most of this week working on the new house, ripping up linoleum floors (and can I just say, I loathe person who invented them), and putting up walls. As you can see, the boy was more than happy to lend a hand.
I spent quite a while browsing in our local reclamation yard. Our half of the farmhouse is a 1980's extension, but we're going to try and make it look older, so it blends better with the rest of the house. Now as a lover of vintage goods, a reclamation yard is a dangerous place to be, in terms of my bank balance at least. Take these tiles for instance. I fell in love with these tiles, I lusted after them, and then I discovered they were £10 per tile. Reader, I did not buy those tiles.
I took a trip up to London, draped head to toe in Autumnal shades, rather prematurely as it turned out, for it turned out to be rather toasty this week. But hey, I just can't say no to mustard and teal. Roll on Autumn, I say.
I visited a friend who is mere weeks from the arrival of her first baby. Sitting across from her mixture of excitement, nerves and apprehension, I couldn't help but think back to the arrival of the boy. And even though the birth definitely didn't go quite as I'd hoped (a very long labour, an emergency c-section, and a ton of drugs), I'm so eager to go through it all again, excited even. Hormones, you are a wondrous thing.
Towards the end of the week we attended a rather splendid family party in celebration of a two year old's birthday. Now this is one lucky toddler, blessed by birth to grow up on an actual country estate. Look at that garden! Look at that lawn! I spent most of the party trying to pick my jaw up from the floor, while simultaneously attempting to shrug the working class chip off my shoulder. I felt just like Mrs Crawley when she was first invited to dinner at Downton with Matthew*. Nice though, innit?
*Embarrassing naff TV viewing habit disclosure.
This week my top pick in this beautiful 1960's cotton dress, approx. age 0-6 months, available in the shop for just £12! Name label is still stitched inside - this lovely dress used to belong to a little miss called Josephine.
*All sizes are approximate. Please check the measurements in the listing.
When I had my son, I suddenly felt very aware of the way I treat my body. Perhaps, it was because I was breastfeeding, perhaps it's because I baby-wear a lot, but I suddenly felt much more conscious of the chemicals I was coming into contact with, because they were also coming into contact my precious wee boy.
There's been a lot in the press recently about the 'no poo' movement, with the publication of blogger Lucy Aitken Read's book Happy Hair: The definitive guide to giving up shampoo (The Ultimate NoPoo book). Now there's nothing new about this movement, in fact as a huge Take That fan of a tweenager I remember Mark Own extolling the virtues of 'water only' washing (this was during Take That's grungy dreadlock phase), and even then, I was intrigued. But since the boy was born I've taken slightly more heed in those who claim to live 'chemical free', so as a starter, I've decided to see if I can live without shampoo.
The reasoning behind the 'no poo' movement is a reaction to two aspects of modern shampooing. Firstly, the detergents in shampoo are terrible for your hair. Only when I read up on the subject did I realise that I was guilty of the cardinal sin of hair-washing, by scrubbing my scalp dry every single day. Shampoo was never designed for such regular use, and in days of yore (erm, a hundred years ago or less), it was the norm to wash your hair once a week, if that. The detergents in shampoo clean your hair by stripping it of not just dirt, but natural oils too. This causes your scalp to overcompensate and produce more oil, which leaves you with greasy hair ... which makes you wash your hair more regularly ... do you see where I'm going with this?
There's also a lot of chat about SLS - Sodium Laureth Sulphate - the foaming agent in most commercial shampoos. Now google SLS and you will find a ton of scary blog posts linking SLS to illnesses like Alzheimers and liver toxicity. I'm a little wary about reading too much into this. Sure, if you sat in a bath full of the stuff every single day it probably wouldn't do you much good, but shampoo (and soap, and tooth-paste, etc...) contain such a tiny amount of SLS that you'll probably be ok. If you are particularly worried, there are lots of SLS-free shampoos available on the High Street
There is however evidence to suggest that when SLS gets into rivers and pond it can have a serious effect on ducks and other birds by 'cleaning' the natural water-proofing oils from the their feathers.
So, back to 'no poo'. The reasoning is that by cutting out shampoo, your scalp will begin to regulate its production of oil, leading to naturally healthy hair. I have quite long thin hair, and I find shampooing leaves it a bit lank (although yes, my over-use of shampoo hasn't helped). I'm eager to see if the no-poo approach will leave me with a thicker more luscious mane.
Now there are several different approaches to 'no poo'. Firstly, there's 'water only' - which is just as simple as it sounds - you drop the shampoo and instead wash your hair thoroughly with hot water, only when required. Now this is only for the very brave amongst you. It's a given that whatever approach you choose, you'll have to live through a stage in which your hair will resemble the grime in a chip-shop fryer. I'm living it right now. It's not fun. But if you go 'water only', you're essentially running head first into the greasy haired wilderness. It passes, so I'm told, but it's not pleasant for anyone.
The second approach involves washing the hair frequently in just conditioner. This is recommended for dry or frizzy hair. The third approach, the one I'm currently exploring (with some trepidation), involves washing hair with a bicarbonate of soda shampoo, followed by an apple cider conditioner rinse. It's really easy to make up both potions - essentially its just one cup of water (250ml) to one tablespoon of bicarb. The other conditioner uses the same ratio. Apply the bicarb mixture to your roots, leave for about a minute, and then rinse thoroughly. Rinse your hair through with the conditioner, avoiding the roots, and then rinse once more with warm water. It takes a bit of getting used to. I'm only on day six and my hair is a greasy mess, so I need to play around with my mixtures a bit. Regular brushing with a natural fibre brush is also supposed to help.
So I'm in the trial and error stage, and wondering if I can really do this. Stay tuned to see if I can push through the grease in my search for naturally healthy hair!
We're embracing the change in the season here at Lori and the Caravan! Fret not though, there are plenty of summer dresses still available in case the weather does pick up next week. But for now, let's say hello to Autumn, my very favourite time of year.
1960's green denim dungarees, 6-12 months, £15
1960's green floral print dress, 6-9 months, £12
1970's red denim dungarees, 6-12 months, £15
1960's dress, 0-6 months, £12
1970's blue dungarees, 18-24 months, £12
1960's blue floral patterned dress, 6-9 months, £12
*These items are genuine vintage. All sizes are approximate. Please check the item listing for detailed measurements.
Soon, I will have a garden, a garden stretching as far as the eye can see. Ok, that might be a *slight* exaggeration. But still, it's a pretty big garden. Now here's the issue - I do not know anything about gardening. Not a jot. I grew up with a garden, but also parents who weren't massively into anything other than maintaining what was there. I think I grew sunflowers, maybe a few broad beans. Monty Don eat your heart out.
Since I left home and moved from one deplorable student house to another, and then to the expensive Victorian terraces of South London, and an extremely dusty warehouse to the North-east of the city, before landing squarely on my feet here in my little house with it's yard barely bigger than a man-hole cover. Safe to say, my skills in the world of plants have not developed. So, I've got a lot to learn. Big reader that I am, or used to be, when I had the time to be such a thing, I'll probably turn to books to guide me though what I envisage will be a steep learning curve. I'm also lucky enough to work somewhere with a beautiful and flourishing garden. Sometimes I return home laden with bounty from the vegetable garden. Sometimes, if I find myself in the unusual position of being able to take a break, I wander around the garden and breathe it all in. If I'm ever in need of inspiration, I won't have to search too hard to find it.
It's been a quiet week really in terms of the blog and the shop. Thank you to everyone who bought vintage goodies in my sale! I'll be adding new stock over the next week and thinking a lot about the change in seasons. I love Autumn. Oh, how I love Autumn. On a rare day off this week - I might not have been around here, but I've been variously driving my car on an epic voyage back from Leicestershire (five hours it took! In heavy rain!), DIY-ing at the new house, and working (and mooching around the garden at work, obvs).
On a rare day off I spent a few hard earned pennies, in light of the impending arrival of my favourite season. I bought mustard and teal coloured tights, knee socks (ahem, never too old ... *coughs*), and a few vintage pieces to complement by Autumn wardrobe. I think my absolute favourite has to be this 1970's floaty dress. Could someone please invite me to a fancy party so I can wear it, cheers.
I also can't wait to wear this 1970's paisley mini-dress. It's perhaps a little shorter than I would have liked, but I'm sure I'll cope.
So stick around and see what's coming up in the Lori and the Caravan shop next week!
I drove for five hours in heavy rain today. It was not fun. So, I'm putting my foot down. I'm making a formal protest. I demand that summer returns! I'm not ready to say goodbye for another year, not yet, not when things were just getting fun.
While we wait for that elusive sunshine ... here's a treat! 10% of EVERYTHING in the Lori and the Caravan shop until midnight Friday. Just enter the code COMEBACKSUMMER.
I'm partway through a blink-and-you'll-miss-it visit to see my dad for a family celebration. It's made me think a little about the idea of 'home', and what it means to me, because it's been a bit of a running theme this week in many ways. We've spent a little time in the place we've called home for the last few years, the first place we've ever really thought of as 'ours' (although the bank own much more of it than we do, believe me), our very first family home. We've also spent a lot of time ripping out walls, and carpets, and making big plans in our soon-to-be-home. We've explored the land and the surrounding countryside, and let our imaginations run away with us, in that way you do before you start thinking about practicalities and rapidly depleting bank accounts.
And now here I am, sitting in the house I called home for the first nineteen years of my life, and even though I haven't lived here in a decade, it's still home, and it always will be. It's really odd to think that the boy will probably one day feel the same way about the home we're working so hard to create right now. He'll leave one day, but when he comes back he'll feel as if he never left. There's just something about the family home you grow up in, like a part of you never really leaves.
My family live a few hundred miles away from me, so they really notice how much the boy has grown whenever we visit, and in a weird way I think it only really becomes apparent to me when it's pointed out by other people. My dad and his partner care for a nearly eight month old girl, and when I look at her it feels like only five minutes have passed since Arthur was at a similar stage, and yet there he is, trundling around the park in his first pair of wellies, chatting to everyone who passes by. He's not a baby anymore, he's a boy.
I didn't pick just one vintage item of the week, but several! It feels like Autumn is most definitely in the air at the moment, so it's time to start thinking about warming up those wardrobes (although my fingers are crossed for an Indian summer). Luckily, the Lori and the Caravan shop is well prepared for the change in season. Take a peek at my new items for sale!
This amazing 1960's dress, approx. age 2-3 years, is available for just £12.
I'm not going to take up much more of your time - it's the bank holiday weekend after all, and I'm sure you've all got better things to do. Stay tuned this week for more vintage loveliness!
Is it just me, or is Autumn in the air? But ... it's still August! I'm not ready to dig out my cardies and tights yet, and I've barely put a dent into my Factor 50. Summer, you were a scorcher, please don't disappear just yet...
As ever, the Lori and the Caravan shop is well-stocked to meet your little vintage lover's needs as the weather begins to turn. Just take a look at these beauties...
1960's dress, approx. age 2-3 years, £12
1960's smock, approx. age 1-2 years, £12
1960's jacket, approx. age 12-18 months, £18
1970's denim jacket, approx. age 5-6 years, £18
1960's playsuit, approx. age 6-18 months, £12
Warmer, but stylish. It's the future.
*All sizes are approximate. Please check the item listing for accurate measurements.
It's probably the biggest project we ever contemplated, and it's actually happening. Over the next few months we'll be moving into one side of a traditional Sussex farmhouse. On the other side live my in-laws ... and no, I'm not crazy (in case you were wondering). It'll be FINE. We're going to rent our house from my husband's parents and work the nine acres of land to earn our keep. I'm finally going to learn how to garden - it's easy right? Right?
The first step is going to be scraping the house back to it's bones to see what sort of a state it's in under all those layers of cigarette-yellowed paint. I've got half an ear on that. I'm paying attention. I'll help where I can. But anyone who follows me on Pinterest can surely tell that this lady's all about the decor. This house, loyal blog readers, is my Everest.
I give you, the house that style forgot...
Even Maynard's depressed about the state of his new abode.
So I've spent the morning scouring Pinterest in search of inspiration. Actually that's a big fat lie, because I've spent the last few months glued to Pinterest with this house in mind. I'm really lucky that I get to spend my working days surrounded by beautiful decorative art in a house with exudes a particularly creative approach to the domestic interior. I'm very into colour, as you had perchance noticed, and this is especially true when it comes to my taste in furnishings. The trick, I have learned, when it comes a bright or enthusiastic use of colour (I'm being kind on myself here), is to use a muted base colour which reigns in the other colours and prevents them from overwhelming the entire palette. At both Charleston Farmhouse and Monk's House, the occupants used a very pale grey whitewash or a soft green to tie the vibrancy of the interiors together.
Now, obviously I'm no Bloomsbury creative, and my house is never ever in a million years going to look like that, but I think there is a way to apply this clever use of colour in a contemporary setting. Again, I've turned to Pinterest for inspiration.
So join me if you will, as I take on the 1980's house of horror and try to create a warm and welcoming family home in the countryside. And if you have any tips or advice, speak now! My ears are well and truly open.
This week I've been thinking a lot about space - mine, my families, and how important it is. I've been thinking about personal space, and how it's something to really be cherished, and the spaces we create for ourselves, the way we live, and the we priorities we apply to this space.
We'll be moving soon into a new house, and a new way of life. The house is of a similar size to our current abode, and yet the way we're viewing the space has changed. When we moved to our little town a few years ago we were two, but we knew that one day we would be three, and we were driven by this thought as we searched for a home. Now we are three, but the decisions we are taking include a fourth person, a person who doesn't yet exist, but might one day join our family.
It's been a wee bit stressful this week. I hate confrontation, can't bear it in fact, and find it impossible to have a constructive conversation with anyone when tensions are raised. When it comes to fight or flight, I'll pretty much pick flight every time (unless it involves my child, then you'd better watch out). I started to think about Raasay, the Scottish Island on which we honeymooned a few years ago. It's hardly uninhabited, about 1000 people live there (although probably not all year around), but there are parts of the island in which nature has been left to it's own devices, and you can easily go a whole day without seeing another soul. When we were there, we had many conversations about whether we could live in almost-isolation. Perhaps not all year round, but then again, perhaps I could. Wherever I find myself I seem to feel crowded. The other day I met a friend for dinner in London, and leaving the station at rush-hour, fighting against the solid wall of commuters bearing down on me, I wondered how I could ever have been part of the crowd. And yet I was, for a long time. I never felt at home in London, and I think the lack of space, the fact i always felt lost in the swarms of commuters, and tourists, and people just trying to get on with their lives, had a lot to do with that.
When you have a child, time on your own, and time in your own space, becomes precious. When I'm at work, although it can be exhausting in it's own way, it's still my time, a moment of calm. Now we're off to our little piece of semi-rural life, I hope we can retain and build upon the foundations we've laid - space to grow as a family, but also space to be ourselves. And also, as much wardrobe space as we can manage.
In other news this week, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by green parenting magazine Inhabitots, about vintage and ethical clothing. It was really fun to do - let me know what you think!
My vintage item of the week is this delightful 1960's cotton dress, age approx. 1-2 years, and is available to buy for just £12! I've also added lot's more items to the Lori and the Caravan shop, so don't forget to check it out!
Ahoy there, vintage item of the week! My favourite find from Firle Vintage Fair is this 1960's cotton dress with maritime signal flag motifs, approx. age 1-2 years, and it could be yours for just £12. This is perfect for those of you hopping off on a late summer hol. You lucky things.
Have a lovely weekend!
*All sizings are approximate. Please check the item listing for detailed measurements.
Two years ago, almost to the very day, I discovered one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. It was our honeymoon, and we had journeyed to the Isle of Raasay, off the West Coast of Scotland. I’m not sure I can convey the wonder of such a place, suffice to say the experience wanders often into my thoughts and when I daydream about a life with less people and cars and chaos, my mind tends to stray to this small Island.
We travelled the length of the country by sleeper train, and continued our journey from Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash, where we (and many other tourists) hopped aboard the bus to take us over the bridge to Skye. We were the only ones to jump off the bus at Sconser, where we boarded the ferry to Raasay.
The Isle of Raasay is sandwiched between Skye and the Applecross Peninsular of the mainland, with the cool water of the Sound of Raasay on one side and the Inner Sound on the other. These fresh and unpolluted waters are home to a diverse array of marine life, including seals, dolphins, porpoises, and whales.
Raasay, which in old Norse translates as ‘Roe-deer’, is the family home of the Macleod clan and the influence of this ancient clan is imprinted across the island. The family’s grand house is now an Outdoor Activity Centre, but stands proud and tall as a relic of the family’s dominance over Island life. These days tourism forms the basis of Raasay’s economy, but don’t let that put you off – we saw very few visitors during our week there but found the community very welcoming.
In 1912 the company Baird & Co purchased the Island and began to mine for Iron. During the First World War a section of the village was requisitioned for use as a Prisoner of War Camp (our cottage had been used to house prisoners), and German prisoners were used to keep the mine running during wartime. The mine closed just a few years later, but it’s ruins dot this peaceful landscape like strange industrial skeletons, and serve as a reminder that although a large portion of the Island appears untouched, man has left his mark.
The East Coast of the Island is a draw for fossil collectors. We explored the shores of the old crofting community of Hallaig, destroyed during the clearances. Although accessible, a good level of fitness is required to reach the coastline and it’s definitely a journey to set a day aside for. We hired bikes from the Island’s hotel and although we were not quite prepared to give our legs such a workout, the views made our aches and pains the next morning more than worth it, and we repeated our visit the next day (gluttons for punishment). On the first day we followed the dusty road along the South East coast until it began to trace a zig-zag shape as it climbed towards the Jurassic cliff tops. Upon reaching a grassy path, we locked up the bikes and continued on foot, following sheep-trails as golden eagles swooped overhead. On the second day, we cut down to the shore by following the river on it’s path, past waterfalls and the ruins of crofter’s cottages until we reached the beach. Embedded into the rocky coast are ammonites and belemnites, and a vast variety of large Pleinsbachian bivalves.
The most magical aspect of the Island is it’s ancient forests, with floors of deep and spongy moss. We followed the well-marked miners trail, as well as exploring the forest near the main village of Invervarish.
There’s so much more to this Island than I can possibly convey in a simple blog post. I haven’t even mentioned the incredible Calum’s road or the story of the Macleod Clan’s financial downfall (it has a lot to do with the stone mermaids, pictured above). It is quite simply one of the most magical and ethereal places I have visited and I long to return. If you plan to visit the Western Isles, don’t limit yourself to the tourist hub of Skye. Raasay might be just a fifteen minute ferry ride across the sound, but it’s a whole other world.
(It's also a bit wet sometimes!)
*A version of this post appeared on an old blog of mine called 'Before her wandering feet'.