Saturday, January 14, 2012


We've just booked our holiday on the island of Arran. It's possible that we won't be seeing the mountains from quite this high up.
But the view's good from lower down, too.
My grandmother's mother came from Arran. Judging from photos, she was very pretty. She left the island as a young woman to work in Glasgow. On the ferry one day, when she was coming back to visit her family, she met a young man who was going to visit his sister, married to an Arran man. They fell in love and got married. Her family didn't approve because this meant that she settled in Glasgow (and I think they thought that she was marrying somewhat beneath her station). The young couple had one child, a boy, and then another two, my grandmother and her little sister. Sadly, though, the wife, my great-grandmother, fell ill with TB (caught, her family always felt, in the Big City). The youngest child was also infected.
When my granny was five, her mother died; the little sister lingered on, always unwell, till the age of fourteen.
Granny used to spend many happy holidays in Arran with her aunts and always talked of retiring there (but never did). She used to say with a smile that people always said when they met her, "Ah, you're a bonny lassie but you're no' near as bonny as your mother." (But in an Arran accent: "Ah, yir a pohny lassie but yir no near as pohny as yir mither.")
The churchyards there are full of gravestones with this family's name, going way back in time.
I love islands and, if many things were different, would live on one. Indeed, I'd live on Arran, surrounded by this particular set of ghosts.
This post illustrates various of the reasons that I can't imagine emigrating.
(Don't know what we're doing about the cats when we're there, though. Hmm.)
(And I don't know what Blogger's doing with my paragraph spaces.)


  1. What a lovely place.....when do you go? Looking forward to the pictures!

  2. My mother's family , generations ago , came from somewhere unimaginably far north and Smitonius has been up a few times to wander about , finding graves and the odd croft wall .
    But I don't think any of us would ever move back , even were it possible . The thought of winter there is too daunting .

  3. This sense of belonging to, and longing for a place where our roots are has a word in Welsh. It's called hiraeth. Pronounced he-rithe, with the he being he as in him, and the rithe bit being said the way you would say rye with a forecful th on the end.

    The Welsh and the Scots seem to have a very strong sense of this, which is why there are societies all over the world devoted to their homeland. There's even a London-Welsh choir. My husband, a Londoner with a Welsh surname, is the great-grandson of a man from West Wales. Having quite a strong London accent, he was pleased as anything the other day to be told that he looked like a Welshman!!

  4. How lovely. I love Arran - my husband and I had our first holiday together there back in 1987. We stayed in a creaky old B&B in Blackwaterfoot where we scared ourselves to death reading a book about Scottish ghosts called "Ravens and Black Rain" in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. Keep meaning to go back and introduce the boys to Glenashdale Falls.

  5. Beautiful pictures Isabelle! I'm thinking Arran will have to be on the list for my next visit to Scotland. I desperately wish I could be your cat sitter this time!

  6. I love you sense of belonging to a place, we're such Gypsies that long ago I decided that as long as we were together that would be home. I have relatives in 4 different states.