I stayed in my tent, reading, writing my diary and enjoying some thinking time until the afternoon. Then as the mist started to lift a bit I went for a walk to the north end of the island. I stuck to the road, but as I got towards the north the mist cleared enough that I could see the outline of the tops of the hills (hills I should've been walking in) and I did get to see Gaada Stack which is a spectacular looking arch standing on its own in the sea. It looked particularly good with the mist behind it.
|The primary school|
On the way down I'd passed the primary school so I had a peer in through the windows. It was a modern building and looked like it had great facilities. There was a big kitchen too, which I couldn't see the point of. Later I was told that the school also contains the community hall and the kitchen is for community events. There are seven children in the school.
|Keeping the ferry safe from storms|
We did some off-roading to get to the lighthouse and briefly got stuck. He was only going to pick up a toolbox that the maintenance men had left there. They come once a year and are going to Fair Isle next. They're probably the same ones I saw on Fair Isle last year. I was able to go into the lighthouse with him, though there was nothing exciting to see. Going in sets off an alarm in Edinburgh so he had to phone to say it was him. Otherwise they'd be phoning his house to tell him to go and check it out.
Things Brian told me before dropping me back at my tent are:
- He's lived in Foula for 35 years, which is half his life.
- He was captain of the ferry but has now given that up and is an ordinary crew member. He still gets captain's pay but with none of the responsibility.
- The current captain (Kevin?) worked with him for 24 years before getting the captaincy.
- Kevin (?) and some other islanders are the great grandchildren of the former laird Ian B. Stoughton Holbourn, whose book I'm reading at the moment. How horrified he would have been to find his descendands being ordinary crofters and ferrymen.
- The current primary teacher is leaving after 5 years in the job.
- The new teacher is a woman in her 50s and has a grown up family. She was previously working in Dubai.
- Brian is a school governor.
- The nurse is also giving up her job. Although it comes with a salary of £45k and she rarely has to do anything, she's finding it boring as she was used to working in a busy A&E ward before. She and her husband are staying on Foula and have a croft.
- People on Foula are pretty healthy and don't tend to get ill. Instead they have rather dramatic accidents like rolling their vehicles over up on the tops.
- Brian has rolled his 4WD twice. The passenger door had a big gap at the top where it had been bent. It had been his wife's car, but she's made him swap and give her his, after he damaged hers.
- Rent for the croft (and I think for the house) is £8 a year. The landlords tried to put it up recently, but didn't succeed.
- You can buy your croft and house for ten times the annual rent, but if you buy you're not eligible for grants. So people tend to get all the grants, do their place up and then buy it.
- Brian hasn't bought his yet, but is now thinking about it as his son has decided to stay on Foula.
He probably told me more, but that's all I remember.
Once back at my tent I cooked and then spent the rest of the evening reading. Later in the evening a man drew up in his van outside my tent and asked if I wanted any fresh fish. I politely declined. The mist had really drawn in again by this time.
During my walk I took photos of some of the many abandoned cars. As there's no way of scrapping them, when they finally die they are just left to rot. Some of them are used for storage and are filled with bags of animal feed and tins of paint. Most people don't bother with things like MOTs, road tax or insurance.