When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, the saying goes. When life gives you intermittent heavy rain and a broken campervan door? Make string!
The day had started with me opening the curtains onto the standing stones at Callanish. This time I had parked up in full view of them; it felt a bit like sleeping in a cathedral. Early start and off to Leverburgh to catch the ferry to Berneray, North Uist, was the plan. But the best laid plans and so on. Stopping to turn the fridge on, the sliding door got stuck and refused to budge in either direction.
This is not my van, I remembered, and phoned Annie Campervan to say HELP! And settled down to make coffee, and string.(Experimenting with dried then rewetted marram grass, more on that later) I could feel myself on the edge of getting very grumpy; bloody doors, bloody old unreliable VWs, bloody everything, but then I thought, what’s the point? I will have to wait whatever, so may as well NOT be grumpy while I’m at it.
Annie Campervan was at the dentist, but eventually turned up with allan keys and between us we managed a temporary fix, then phoned ahead to Shonny, a mechanic in Leverburgh to provide a more durable solution. She said you will know him by the limp, the strong south Harris accent and the shock of bright red hair. Two out of the three were recognisable, but maybe she hasn’t seen him for a while, because the red hair had gone, replaced by the white we older (wiser??) ones display. The accent was very strong, so much so that I had trouble following him, and got about half the words and filled in the gaps as best I could. And took myself off to the café at the end of the pier for consolation, in the form of chocolate, pear and date cake. Yum.
An hour later the van was undergoing surgery, and as the rain had now stopped I went for a walk along the coast. Black sheep, one late primrose, orchids, the only blue irises among all the yellow I have seen (garden escapes most likely), sticky butterwort in the wet patches, rushes rustling, water lapping. Back to the garage: Shonny is half under the van, fixing the door sill amid lots of sparks. One of the others asks where I’m from, we get chatting about Northumberland and the pipes (“Oh much preferable to the Scottish bagpipes” in his opinion) and he tells me he travels from Lewis every day to work, about an hour and a half in each direction. He’s anxious about the lad who has gone for tea bags, as he’s driving on a provisional licence and is taking a long time getting back. But the lad returns safely and it’s tea time. I am included, and offered ‘the mastermind chair’ in their wee shed of an office. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon