Well, we enjoyed that short spell of great weather, giving us a taste of the summer! It made us reminisce on summers gone by, seasonal traditions and gatherings. A fantastic season to be on Barra for and one that we can only hope to return to in the very near future.
The smell of freshly cut grass, vibrant flowers, long stretching daylight and warmer temperatures all coincide to one thought – summer!
Day trips to Mingulay, fishing ventures, swimming in the ocean, wild camping, BBQ’s, weddings, hill walking, beach day’s and well…you get the picture!
I’m sure we can all agree that everyone’s happier in the summer, the land is vibrant green, the sea is turquois and the population is jolly. Of course, there’s another association with summer that we can’t miss out…Gin! The summer months and warmer temperature just cry out for a G&T, there’s nothing more refreshing to enjoy in the sunshine, lifting your spirits and keeping you cool.
For us personally, summertime on Barra, you cannot beat! Years gone by, there was many a shindig on the island. Varying from beach parties, marquees, ceilidhs and even shed parties, we had it all. In fact, we were often spoilt for choice, with numerous live music options in the bars and dances at the plenty. I’m sure you’re catching onto the theme here…us Barra folk love a party!
One of our favourites has to be ‘Barra Live’. Picture this – A large white marquee on Tangasdale Machair, bunting, neon lights, the smell of burgers in the air and last but certainly not least, live traditional music! Oh, those were the days, a very good time would be had by all over Barra Live weekend. Between the dancing, the conversations flowing and not to forget, the odd dram or 2 or 3 or 4…It really was a fantastic gathering and one that was loved and built up to all year round by both locals and visitors. The best part of it all, the safety, familiarity and overall happiness from each person who were all there for the same purpose – fun!
Now, before you think it’s all about the parties and alcohol, I can assure you it’s not. Let’s move onto another summer tradition - The Heaval Race – taking place every July for at least the last 40 years, this is quite the challenge. With the start and finish point at ‘the square’ in Castlebay, participants race up toward Ben Heaval (Barra’s highest hill) and upon reaching the peak, return back to ‘the square’ as fast as possible in order to be named champion. We’re aware this all sounds very simple and easy, however if you have ever climbed Heaval, you’ll know that it’s no walk in the park. With 383 meters above sea level, it looks like your average hill from the roadside, upon your departure your misled by a slow and easy gradient which later turns into a very steep climb. To run from ‘the square’ to the top of Heaval and back is quite the challenge, in fact the astounding record made in 1983 of 26 minutes, 25 seconds is still held to this day by local Calum MacLean.
Summer traditions here on the Island really bring us all together, inject joy and laughter and cause the perfect excuse to catch up with one another.
We’re longing for the return of our traditions and gatherings but until then, we shall raise a glass of Barra Atlantic Gin!