|On the beach, Colonsay
It was absolutely fantastic. First there was the opportunity to experience life in a community that was probably 50 years behind the mainland. Though this wasn't in any sense a religious trip, we attended church each week (once each in the two island churches), because that's what people on the island did. Once a week we attended a caley in the island's hall - Scottish dancing compulsory, but still somehow fun.
As I've discovered on other islands, you couldn't walk down a road without the next passing car stopping and offering you a lift. Most exciting (if terrifying) was getting a lift with the island's doctor. He generally drove his landrover off road, and twice I witnessed him driving with one hand while using a shotgun to take potshots at rabbits with the other. (And they say mobile phones are dangerous.)
It was remarkable. I'm generally not a great fan of the bagpipes, but one evening, as we were sitting on the white sand beach, a bagpipe was heard faintly in the distance - the piper came over the dunes and passed by us: quite magical.
|Mist rising as we emerge from the cave
Our team of three decided to bivouac in one of the caves that was reputed to be haunted. (Well, sort of. A Victorian dog had allegedly gone through a small aperture in the back of the cave. It re-emerged yelping about an hour later with its tail singed after an encounter with Old Nick.) I have to confess we went to sleep with the Tilley lamp alight - but it was an experience I wouldn't have missed for anything.
Now, first of all, they probably wouldn't allow 12 year-olds to go off on an all-male camp. They certainly wouldn't let us do the kind of activities we did. And as for three of us camping overnight in a cave... I understand why people are so protective of children, but there are times when a tiny risk could be repaid by a huge adventure.