After the music is over
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GIDGEGANNUP, WA WEtravelled by ferry from Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, off Scotland’s west coast, south to Barra the morning after the 2011 Barra music festival, having missed the event as all accommodation and ferries had been booked.
We drove from Ardmhor to Castlebay in pouring rain — and yes, there’s a castle in the middle of the bay. It seemed that every spare patch of land around the tiny settlement had abandoned camping equipment strewn about the sodden grass. We couldn’t imagine what it must have been like trying to sleep in such damp conditions.
We later discovered that it’s common for cheaply purchased camping gear to be left behind. We were told charitable organisations collect some of the tents for recycling, but most gear goes into landfill.
Entering one of the pubs for morning tea (no such thing as a cafe, let alone a restaurant, on many of the smaller Hebridean islands), we were told festival-goers had ‘‘wrecked the joint’’ the night before. But we were directed to the lounge, where we enjoyed our coffee and watched as a storm continued to hamper clean-up efforts.
After driving to another pub some distance away for our staple travelling lunch of soup and sandwiches, my 65-year-old Scottish partner (who doesn’t even sing in the shower) was astonished to be asked by another diner, in reverent terms, whether he was the lead singer in one of the previous night’s bands. He replied that if he had been, he would have cleared the tent before the end of the first song. Later, enjoying a pint back in the first pub, now cleaned up, we were treated to a long and fabulous jam session by visiting and local musicians, who played fiddles, flutes, banjos, keyboards and, of course, bagpipes.
For several days we enjoyed mild and balmy summer weather (soaring to 18C) and revelled in the historical connections, such as Compton Mackenzie’s grave (he wrote Whisky Galore here), and the scenery of wildflowers, pristine beaches, beautiful Barra and neighbouring Vatersay. Send your 400-word contribution to our Follow the Reader column. Published columnists will receive a Lemnis Pharox Solar Kit. Ideal for outdoor adventures, this nifty device is both an energy-efficient portable light and a charger for devices such as phones and iPods. Charge via electricity before you leave home or on the road with the included mini solar panel. $49.95. More: 1300 LEMNIS; lemnislighting.com.au.