Well, the thermals are off now and the trousers are rolled up to above the knees – summer’s definitely here, and that’s been confirmed by the arrival of swallows and a house martin! And also a George, the Trust’s archaeologist on the island for the season. A big welcome to him.
The balmy days, with just a gentle south easterly wind, have brought in other visitors too after a very quiet three weeks. The first craft to grace the Bay was a beautiful wooden sailing ship.
This was closely followed by the first cruise ship of the season, The Quest, fresh from plying Antarctic waters – puffins replacing penguins and ice cream icebergs! George and I each led a group on a guided walk. It was my first one so I was a wee bit nervous but it went really well; there is just so much fascinating history to talk about, interspersed with spotting birds and flowers that are just coming out. There’s a lovely patch of scurvy grass growing on the wall of one of the 1860’s houses. An interesting thing to point out as it was an important source of vitamin C for the inhabitants. No citrus trees here! At one point on the walk my voice was nearly drowned out, not by the supply helicopter, but by a wren singing away proclaiming its territory!
Another boat brought in a wedding party, the first one to be held on St. Kilda since 1993, and before that 1929. The civil ceremony was held outside the walled stock exclosures, or fanks, at An Lag.
At one point I thought I saw two bridesmaids striding up the hill hoping they weren’t too late for the champagne, but on closer inspection it was the wedding boat chauffeurs Seumas and Coinneach, dressed in their kilts!
After a great day they all left on the boat, decked out with balloons, to start their honeymoon on Harris.
Honeymoons were not a thing the past inhabitants enjoyed. ‘there is only the choice’, wrote the journalist Robert Connell, ‘of going to a friend’s house ten yards off or one twice the distance.’! And there was certainly no Puff Inn to host the celebrations.