An abandoned croft house...
But not an abandoned croft. There's a difference. And it's sheep. If the sheep are grazing on the land then the Croft is still active and it's only the house that's been left behind.
Driving around Lewis and Harris we can't help but notice the number of abandoned Croft Houses. Each one fascinating and haunting in their own way. Some just starting to fall into disrepair and others just a pile of stones giving any clue that a family once lived out their lives there.
I have to admit that as our week has gone one, I have become more than a little obsessed with these little ruins and, like pregnant ladies, as soon as you spot one, you begin to see them everywhere you look!
I have resisted getting onto the land and inside one, although the temptation has been strong. But something has stopped me (other than boggy wet ground and the danger of having them collapse on me) It just feels wrong.
As I look at the houses I imagine who might have lived there and the joys and tragedies that have taken place inside these modest little dwellings. How hard life must have been working the land in all weathers, tending the sheep and being largely dependant on your own hand for survival.
There is no doubt these little houses could tell many stories and offer amazing photo opportunities from the inside, but I really do have a strong sense of it not being my place to go in. To enter someone's home without invitation, even if all that's left of the owner is their spiritual presence seems sacrilegious.
So I have taken many photos of abandoned Croft Houses, but all from the road side without setting foot on their land, actually mostly shot from the car passing by at speed as I only spot them at the last minute!
The one I have blipped is on the main road from Stornoway to Tarbert and I have photographed it every time we have passed (so far) as it's the one that has emotionally affected me the most, having me contemplating for hours over who might have lived there, what kind of lives they led, and what became of them.
I also love the fact this little house sits with its front windows aimed straight at the stunning view. Lots of the Croft houses sit side on to the sea forfeiting the best view, I assume to allow their gable ends to afford them a much protection from the elements as possible, but I may be wrong.
So...today we spent the afternoon in Tarbert with a very lovely lady called Annie.
Annie was born, brought up in and has lived her whole life on Scalpay, a tiny Harris Island joined to Harris by a bridge. Annie is Christine's mum (Christine being Alan's support worker whose holiday house we are staying in in Stornoway :-)
Annie has heard a lot about us (well mainly Alan :-) from Christine and we've heard all about Annie, and Christine's upbringing on Scalpay (when she was a primary school the bridge wasn't there so Christine had to get a ferry to the main island to get to school! How cool! :-)
We picked Annie up just outside the Harris Distillery in Tarbert as she'd just finished work (not in the distillery but it's a good spot to meet people as everyone knows where it is! :-) and we went to The Harris Hotel for lunch (delicious haggis bon bons) and had a lovely time getting to know Annie better.
Afterwards she took us on a tour of Scalpay and we saw the wonderful North Harbour Bistro (one of Scotland's top 100 restaurants) where we will hopefully have our lunch tomorrow, as it was closed today.
Once our tour was complete we went back to Annie's for a cuppa and some of her homemade malteser slice. Delicious. And she gave us the rest of it away!
It was so lovely to meet her at last and talk to someone who has lived their whole life here. She bumped into a friend in the Harris Hotel and it was so lovely to hear them chattering together in Gaelic. Such a beautiful language and such beautiful accent.
All too soon it was time for us to leave and head back up to Stornoway.
The weather has turned chilly and wet do we didn't deviate from our route and headed straight home for a cosy night in.
Hopefully better wether will return tomorrow.
NB Having edited this shot I now realise that the house doesn't in fact face the main view to the sea, which is to the left so it's gable end is facing the elements.