History and Culture on the Isle of Eigg

back of cross at Kildonan

Carved cross at Kildonan. Where Saint Donan and his monks were murdered possibly by a clan of giant women!

shiela ne gig

Shiela Ne gig on the wall of Kildonan Church. No one quite knows the meaning of these figures. Possibly they were used to worship a female cult.

kildonan church

Ruins of Kildonan Church

At the bothy

Homes of Desire. Deciding whether to move into the Cleadale Croft museum

a bed under the eaves

Who’s been sleeping in my bed? Unfortunately no one for about 60 years.

bothy kitchen

Where’s my porridge?

Homes of Desire – Part 5


This week I visited Dr Vish, in the woodland home shared with his partner and experienced home envy once again.

I was envious at the woodland turning to autumn and the deer coming to visit. Envious at the pattern on the canvas sides as I sat on the bed made of pallets and foam and Vish obligingly danced around outside showering the tent with handfuls of leaves and a kaleidoscope of woodland life played across the walls and made me laugh. Envious that that they had found a spot to live this life and I had not.

I was envious of their youth and energy. That they could hack three months in a tent, chop wood, cycle miles to work, survive on a diet of foraged apples and, in Vish’s own words, “crotch washes.”

Mostly I was envious that they were doing it, living a life close to nature in the woods. That he had dreamed it up one weekend on a camping trip in Devon, had a partner who wanted it too, had asked around, taken the risk, made it a reality.

Over green tea and satsumas we dreamed some more, of owning land, of creating a place of peace where others could connect back with the earth. Our own personal dreams feeding off each other.

Vish said my life in the caravan had inspired them, that he and his girlfriend Prag had hope in the fact that someone almost 20 years older than them had not succumbed to expectations but still attempted to live a life true to their values but really the admiration was all mine.

Their youth, their energy, their ideals, their dreams made mine a bit closer to being fulfilled.

Yurt Building

yurt-thingsSpent the weekend on a yurt building course with Canterbury based organisation, Sacred Energy

Amid a lovely coppice woodland we learnt the delights of green woodworking.the joy of peeling bark.jpg

After the tree was felled. I enjoyed the delight of peeling the bark using a sharp, two handled knife that slipped beneath the bark like butter and ripped the strips off with a noise like peeling sellotape. I think peeling bark has got to be up there with the joys of life and would be the ideal therapy for stressed out office workers.


Carl splitting tree.jpg

Carl splitting timbers

following this the tree was split into half, quarters and eights. Each division a little more tricky than the last as you had to carefully watch that the split stayed central and compensate for what the tree wanted to do, working the split around knots and little abrasions called by rabbit damage when it was young.


Doing the work by hand gives you a real appreciation of these old skills and also helps you see each tree as an individual, worthy of your time and attention. You work with the tree to turn it into something not impose your will upon it as is the way with modern power tools.

Following the splitting we all headed for our shave horses and spent a few hours turning the stakes into rounded poles which will be used to make up the trellis work of the yurt.deeply-into-our-shave-horses

The highlight of the workshop was the chance to steam bend wood. Something even the instructor Mark had never tried with chestnut before. The veneers for the roof circle were easy but the roof beams were a different matter.steam-bending-veneers-for-roof-circle

After an hour in a long steam box we quickly pulled each beam out and bent it round a slightly heath robinson contraption of an oil drum and a piece of Perspex. We all expected to hear splitting and cracking, but no, the plans of wood, each at least half an inch thick, bent easily into shape.

Carl's face says it all..jpg

I look forward to seeing how the yurt takes shape and visiting it once it is finished next year.


yurt roof timbers.jpg

Yurt roof timbers bent into shape