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An Ambition Fulfilled

August 10, 2015

 


Last week I fulfilled an ambition I have had for a long time - to visit the Outer Hebrides and in particular, Harris.  Whilst the journey was a long one (12 hours), it was worth it to see with my own eyes the most beautiful pale sandy beaches and the water, a vivid green blue with white crashing waves.  Totally spectacular and practically deserted, there are many beaches along the west coast of Harris, the road aptly named The Golden Road.  The most well known of these beaches is Luskentyre which seems to stretch for miles at low tide, and this is where I met one of my hero's.  Donald John Mackay is a local weaver who famously took a phone call from Nike around 10 years ago requesting 20,000 metres of Harris Tweed for their new line of trainers.  He was kind enough to show is his loom shed (and it is a shed!) where he works away most days, although never on a Sunday which is still respected as a day of complete rest.  This for me was magical, seeing where the tweed I buy starts its life before it's sent to the mill for finishing and inspection and stamped with the all important Orb mark.  He has a little shop at the front of the shed where he sells his tweed from, and when I asked if he has a website he told me, "No, I don't have anything like that.  I don't even have a sign outside, but people still find me!"  I must admit there was a degree of detective work involved finding his house and sure enough there wasn't a sign to be seen, but I was determined to find him myself and so must others be too.  He told me that he's currently working on tweed for Chanel, so I guess I'm in good company!

I will never forget my trip to Harris.  It's truely a remarkable place with remarkable people, producing a world renound product in really the most remote place I've ever been. 

It made me somewhat sad last night when on Dragon's Den, the 2 chaps who had a chocolate company based in the north of Scotland were berated for choosing lifestyle in a fairly remote location over commercial opportunity and pushing ever forward.  They only have to look over the water to the Outer Hebrides to see that you can maintain a traditional life with traditional values and still produce a world leading product.

 

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