We saw in the New Year with a stay in a wigwam. On top of an exposed hill. In the middle of winter. With a storm blowing around us. On the Isle of Skye. Any romantic notions of a idylic stay vanished when we arrived to see our neighbours departing prematurely: ‘the wind got the better of us, the wigwam felt like it was going to take off’. Not a chance we were turning back (telling three kids fed up with three hours travelling, hungry, tired and grumpy that we’re turning around and heading home would be akin to a volcanic eruption) and to be honest with the combination of 2 + 3 kids and enough luggage to sink a container ship, there wasn’t much chance of our wigwam moving in a wee bit of wind. And I’m not joking about the luggage, we packed for a three-week trip instead of the three nights we were staying. I’m usually quite good at packing light. I once went backpacking to Australia with a bag that weighed more than I did, full of ‘just incase’ items. Suffice to say they all got ditched within the first week! But alas, that lesson was long forgotten as we packed spare clothes, spare-spare clothes for when the spare clothes got wet, salopettes for the snow (we had barely a skiffing), board-games, christmas toys, food, drink, pillows, sleeping bags, nerf guns (note to self, not a good idea in small confined spaces), books, colouring pens, wellies, walking boots, inside shoes, party shoes (for the world-renowned Portree Hogmany ceilidh), slippers, slipper socks and anything else that could be squashed in between the car seats or under legs. As I unpacked I realised that we wouldn’t need half of it. And yes, we barely used a quarter of it. And yes, I ended up washing the whole lot when we got home (does anyone ever pack carefully to come home? Does everything, dirty or clean, not get chucked in the nearest open bag. No? Just me then). Rant aside, we had a fabulous stay (if you’re looking for rugged scenery, complete darkness and a wigwam with an ensuite, I can’t recommend Portree Wigwams enough). The ensuite was heaven, anyone who has traipsed to campsite toilet blocks, in the middle of the night, in the cold, wet, winter wind will know exactly what I mean. Kitted out with a wee kitchenette (and most importantly heaters) the wigwams were enough to provide the +3 with touch of wilderness excitement but enough amenities for Mum and Dad to relax. Well as much as you can relax when you’re all sharing the same room, be prepared to make the most of the great outdoors to avoid the inevitable cabin fever.
I was selfishly nostalgic in suggesting the trip, I lived on Skye for a couple of years and this was my first trip back in nearly 11 years. Trekking round some of my old haunts was like reliving some (pre-children) youth, although the +3 were decidedly unimpressed by ‘my old work’, ‘the baker where I used to buy a pie’ and ‘the place my car broke down’. What amused them? The novelty of sleeping bags, the drunk people ‘dancing’ to the pipe band and the nerf guns. And that basically sums up the trip: beautiful landscapes, atmospheric scenery and cultural immersion in island life, trumped by a point-blank range nerf gun battle.