lemons, and string

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

first grass 3


8 thoughts on “lemons, and string

  1. The side-effects of watching too much Nordic noir is giving me pictures of a dark detective series set way up there, possibly a body is found in a bog, and there’s some mysterious outsider (Anna Corbett) parked up by the stones, and what is she doing, looks like rope! The lad forgets his change from the teabags, heads off not to return, all eyes turn to the campervan when they find rope on the body in the bog. TBC…


  2. there was a Scottish girl on the telly the other night from Dundee, I think. Had to turn on the subtitles. Mind i’m the same with Geordies. At least with Nordic noir you get the subtitles included. So this person in the campervan is escaping a troubled recent past which unfolds as the disappearance of tea bog boy becomes more of a thing. The tractor he drove to the store is found parked by the islands ancient druidic sacrifice stone, but no sign. After a while a detective arrives from the mainland with a handleable drug habit. However apart from the islands only pharmacy there are no legal drugs available. And that’s episode one for you.


    1. I know we are going off topic (string and all) but I like the sound of the detective from the main land, he could be a burnt out city boy, from Golan or similar, (I thought big bro Dave aka agent met) but I doubt he’d survive the rustic quisine let alone the service, not brooding enough either. Anyway the casting can come later. I think he may discover that mysterious string woman may be able to source some herbal . Only problem would be entanglement with a suspect.


      1. Now then, the next episode of the Nordic thriller: a bit of entanglement is fine, as long as String Woman remains enigmatic, elusive and powerful please. And ultimately saves the day. And definitely no getting caught in anyone’s net. The detective blokey needs to be a bit like Jackson Brodie.


  3. I must say that I’m surprised and a little disappointed that when the van door broke you weren’t able to improvise a repair with string, but apart from that a very impressive and intrepid mission so far, Stringmaker. Map needs updating though, or is that a deliberate covert tactical strategy?


    1. deliberate tactics. I am actually in darkest Peru. Or am I??
      will update soon – it’s a bit of a palaver, what with Google changing the terms f engagement every time I log on. what works one time just doesn’t the next… easier by far just to let a ball of string unwind behind…


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