Friday, 4 February 2011

Barra revisited - "An Island Parish"

Having recently blogged about my trip to the Isle of Barra - the most southerly inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides - you can imagine my delight when I discovered that the BBC have made this programme - An Island Parish - a 12-part series about this wonderful little island.

On last week's programme I was surprised and delighted to see someone we had met when travelling on the local bus during our trip, which I always think is a great way to get talking to the locals. We got involved in conversation with "Scraggie Aggie" who was clearly a bit of a character on the island. "Scraggie Aggie" is how she introduced herself - in fact the full title she gave was "Scraggie Aggie from the Eiffel Tower" - and now she can add "TV personality" to her title! Aggie told us a bit about herself and how she combs Barra's beaches every day, weather permitting, for scallops and cockles - and judging by the bagful she had with her it was clear that she was a bit of an expert - as the second programme in the series portrays - and that she'd had a very good day!

Aggie was a bit of a star on the programme and what I loved about her appearance in it was that she was as natural in front of the camera as she had been when we she spoke to us on the bus. Clearly not at all phased by 'the BBC' - superb!

Here are a couple of pics of Aggie - before I knew I was in the presence of a TV personality!

Every day during our visit the same two divers would pass the windows of our house, which was right on the edge of the famous Barra Airport Beach, and they would head for the exact spots where they knew they could successfully dive for bags and bags of cockles, which they would gather up and leave along the shoreline to be picked up later by jeep.

The cockles they were picking were not for consumption on the island but for selling on to very lucrative markets in Spain.

I did try to pick up this enormous bag of cockles but it was impossibly heavy.

I'm looking forward to next week's programme as I am now on the look out for another of the very helpful locals that befriended us when travelling around the island on the local bus. He had a bit of a story to tell - apparently in a past life he had been an extremely successful restaurateur who, back in the sixties, owned the restaurant which is today known as "The Ivy" in London. It's surprising who you might sit next to on a bus....!


  1. That's so interesting about the cockles! I like all of your pictures, sounds like lots of adventures :)

  2. A brilliant series about an ethereal island. How I would love to visit Barra.....especially armed with all the fascinating information gathered from the programme. How fortunate are the people who live there!

  3. Fab though visiting Barra is Shirley - and I feel very lucky to have done so - quite another matter to live there permanently. It is said that one should spend a winter on a small Scottish island island before making any decisions...!

  4. Very interesting! How many bags of the cockles would the diver get in one tide?

  5. R.I.P scraggie aggie