A what? I can hear you think…
I’d never heard of it, either. Poolewe is a small lochside community between Ullapool and Gairloch in the far north-west of Scotland.
If you were to sail due west – which you can’t because the loch points acutely north-west, bordered on both sides – you’d come to the island of Lewis and Harris, the major part of the Outer Hebrides; see map, above.
It’s very northerly, and has a climate to match. This morning, our first after yesterday’s ten-hour journey, we awoke to a combined sea-mist and drizzle, necessitating a hat for the statutory early dog walk. Why just a hat, you rightly ask?
It’s a quiet place with a vibrant community centre and a weekly market. There are also signs for wonderful local events such as this:
The four of us – we’re travelling with another couple – are booky people, so we’ll be visiting Ron’s Book Bothy between rain storms.
I remember from my A-Level geology course that the rocks around here are some of the oldest in the world… the word ‘Pre-Cambrian’ comes to mind. A five with so many zeroes only Donald Trump could make sense of it… Rishi Sunak, possibly…
From this morning’s walk, I can see that my best friend of the trip is going to be my ‘pork pie’ rain hat. It’s one of those (only) slightly floppy ones that mark you out as among the more discerning tourists in Scotland.
The inclusion of the hat is the good news…. The less good is that I’ve left both my waterproof coats (one short, the other long) at home…hanging in the wardrobe where I’d stashed them after the final packing was done…. The following morning, I had only to grab them and drape them over the cases in the car boot… Hmmm.
I’m not confessing… Bernie will only want to put me in a home.
I have one; well two, secret weapons in this obfuscation. The first is my one available outer garment – the one I travelled up in. It’s a top of the range, twenty-year old ‘wind-stopper’, made by Berghaus, and for reasons too complex for this blog, I’ve worn it only twice. I grabbed it from the back of the wardrobe as I ran out of the house – minus coats, of course – and have been wearing it ever since. It’s surprisingly effective for such a thin garment.
Reason 2 is Wim Hof, that monumental Dutch figure of cold weather frolics currently on TV. During the week, while I’m pretending not to shiver on our Poolewe-based outings, I will be professing loyalty to his fortitude and proclaiming myself an acolyte.
That will get me through the next few days – at which point it’s my birthday. This cunning plan sees me receiving a rather tasty outdoor walking jacket that Bernie has already bought me for the occasion.
I will, at that point, be warm again… and not in a home. Cunning, eh? Roll on Lewis and Harris!
All for now… More to follow as we explore.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.