curiosity about the ways of the world

Life on the edge

View of cloud-fringed Cuillins of Skye, from Soay, photograph by Jemma Cholawo

Soay bay: photograph by Jemma Cholawo

Because it’s Friday…a trip to another world, not so very far away as the seagull flies. Anne Cholawo’s   YouTube film about her life on Soay which led to a top-selling book Island on the Edge: a life on Soay

The images, moving and still, describe scenes which become familiar as you read her book.  From the moment Anne set foot on the island it had her in thrall. Here is an extract from the first chapter describing her first visit to see Glenfield House. The property advertised in the window of a Portree Estate Agency  had caught her eye as she made her way home from Skye to Bedfordshire.

There were little copses of trees surrounding the property and no sounds except the murmur of running water and a quiet clamour of seabirds in the distance. John showed me around and answered my questions, which weren’t many. When I looked in at the bathroom, I noticed that the bath enamel had been stained brown by the peaty water. ‘I’ll have to get a new bath when I move here,’ I thought. This was the first time I had been aware of my own thought processes. This seemed to be more than ‘just a look’ then. I wished I’d told myself before.

I shall never forget leaving the island and watching the house grow smaller and smaller until it merged into the green-grey of the low hill behind it. The idea of never coming back was already unbearable, unthinkable. From that first visit, once I had set foot on Soay the house no longer became my primary obsession, but merely a means to an end. I had never experienced a place like it in my life. After only ten minutes on the island I had fallen under its unfathomable, magical and enthralling spell. Unbelievably, I had found my longed for childhood ‘middle of nowhere’ and apparently, completely by accident.

Now read on…Island on the Edge: a life on Soay published by Birlinn, is  a captivating story though the backbreaking, sometimes heart-breaking, reality of island life is no mere Friday night fantasy.  Yet it casts a haunting spell (as I had the great privilege of editing the book I speak from personal experience!).

And tune in to these scenes from Soay, which is on the edge of Skye, on the edge of the Scottish mainland, on the edge of Europe…


1 Comment

  1. Andy

    I am trying to find out more about living on the island of Soay , especially finding a house .
    Hope you can help.

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