Last night most of my family and I were watching the TV and a programme that came on to ITV turned out to be fascinating and is clearly well worth watching. However for us it was even more amazing than for most people. It was part 2 of a 3 part event called Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home: Travels in My Own Land and there is some more information here. However the part that made the significant impact was her visit to the Isle of Harris which is on the outer Hebrides of North West Scotland. The Isle of Harris is linked to the Isle of Lewis which is at the North end of the two Islands. Joanna Lumley’s visit to the Isle of Harris involved an interview with a person who I had the privilege to meet nearly 7 years ago and then again nearly 2 years ago when I and my family went to the Isle’s of Lewis and Harris again.
Our visit in 2014 was set out to help a member of my family who was studying a Textiles Degree who wanted to write a dissertation on the theme of Harris Tweed. So we booked to visit the Isle of Harris and stay in a Bed and Breakfast setting in a village called of Northton. As we enjoyed our first Breakfast Arabella asked us what we were planning to do during the week and so my relative explained that we had seen a series of TV programmes on the subject of Harris Tweed which was coordinated with Patrick Grant who visited the Island to help make Harris Tweed a new success business for the Island. We explained to Arabella that we hoped to explore the Islands and find out a bit more about the Tweed. She explained that in fact during the films, that Patrick Grant had stayed with her and David as we were now doing and that she could introduce us to some of the people and direct us to some of the businesses. She went out and phoned Donald John Mackay and within half an hour he had agreed for us to meet him and we had a series of places to visit for our week ahead.
The dissertation led to a First Class Degree and so in 2019 we returned to thank Donald for his assistance and to revisit the two Islands. So last night we saw our friend Donald being visited by Joanna Lumley and it brought back the pleasure of visiting the Island. He is a fantastic person and deserves the MBE he has already had and he deserved the visit by Joanna Lumley. Indeed he is a man who deserves a knighthood.
One of the other amazing elements of our visit was the opportunity to eat meals in the Temple Cafe in Northton which we have visited again and the new owner is someone who amazingly has a business in Lewes in East Sussex, a few miles from our home. We also had the opportunity to discuss Scottish Referenda with the people who were living in the Island and indeed across Scotland as a whole as we travelled by car through the nation on our way to and return from the Islands which included Skye as that is where we got the Ferry from to visit the Islands. When we were in the Isle of Lewis we also had the opportunity to find out about the death of around 217 men who died when the naval yacht Iolaire was wrecked on a reef called the Beasts of Holm, less than a mile from the Port of Stornoway in the early hours of 1 January 1919 as they returned from World War 1. It was fantastic when we visited Stornaway in 2019 to see the setting for the 100 year Memorial near the Council Chamber.