'Always use a filter on your lens' screams the advice from photography magazines. So I do. Having just spent a small fortune on a lovely f2.8 zoom lens for my camera, I went the extra £40 for the UV filter to screw onto the front of it.
About four weeks after purchasing said lens, my hastily-stashed camera fell out of the car onto the ground, and the front of the lens smashed.
It turns out that the £40 filter took the brunt of the fall and smashed, thereby saving the lens that had cost well over ten times that amount.
I thank the wonderful contributors to the photography magazines.
It did mean that I needed a little longer in Oban when changing from the ferry from Mull to the ferry to Lochboisdale, but the local camera shop near the terminal came up with the goods and once again my new, super-expensive lens was protected.
The weather continued to be hot, dry, and sunny. Most of the five hour ferry trip to South Uist was spent outside, and Dougal was wonderfully well behaved for the duration. It's great that CalMac allow dogs into parts of the accommodation on board, but pooches are not welcome in the bars and cafe. That's fine if you're a couple, but what if you're a solo traveller with a dog?
Forewarned is forearmed, so I had made sandwiches and a flask of tea to enjoy on board. All I needed was a tartan rug.
We enjoyed the most amazing week on the 'Uist Chain' of islands.
On the Sunday, the Airstream was abandoned on Eriskay while Dougal and I went as foot passengers (or paw passengers in his case) to the island of Barra to see our caravanning friend Christine.
Goodness me, it was hot. Hot hot HOT. 28 degrees hot. That is hot by any standards, but in the Hebrides it's stupidly hot. As ever, I tried to take a picture of Dougal outside on the ferry but he looked really distressed. Then I worked out what the problem was… the scorching deck was burning the pads of his feet! Poor puppy… he was promptly picked up and whisked into the shade.
A lovely day was spent catching up with Barra friends. The next few days were spent at the usual secret wild-camping spots before giving the Moorcroft Campsite on North Uist a go. What a lovely campsite! It was a little bit spendy for a single caravanner without a mains hook-up, but such a lovely location, and such lovely owners. Highly recommended.
On from Moorcroft, I tried a couple of new wild camping spots as well as a couple of established haunts. For more detailed info on where to caravan in the Outer Hebrides check out this blog entry here.
At one area, on the island of Berneray, I pitched up about 100 metres from the nearest other unit and enjoyed this wonderful unadulterated view of the island of Harris across the water:
After the stresses of actually having to move, I had an afternoon nap. When I woke, this was my view:
Yup, some numpty camper van had decided to park just a few metres away, right in my line of sight. Is it me? I mean, really, is it me?
I'd enjoyed some wonderful kitesurfing at North Uist, both off Moorcroft and also at Clachan Sands. And some lovely cycle rides around Benbecula. What next?
A little voice in my head told me to go to Harris, so the rig was loaded onto a ferry. Harris offers more in the way of art, and cake opportunities than the Uist chain. But it offers far fewer camping options to the caravanner. Wild camping spots are non-existent on Harris, and the only accessible campsite is Horgabost (see earlier entry about the caravanning in the Hebrides). But I still had an urge to go.
I was so glad that I went. I'm starting to get seriously fond of Harris.
The previous entry details the art and cake opportunities presented on this gorgeous island. I enjoyed some magical experiences, met some amazing people, but above all achieved an intense feeling of belonging. It was a wonderful few days, and despite the ceaseless rain that was falling in England, in the Hebrides the sun continued to shine.
Suffice to say that I totally and utterly love this place.