Thursday, 1 November 2007
Lorenzo the Lama in Scotland
Hoots mon and all that.
Apologies for the lateness of this posting. The little Fairtrader has been messing with the computer and I am only just unravelling where she sent my photos. Thanks Raelha for the help. Much appreciated ... and it worked!!
Met up with my naughty friend Wils in Preswick and next morning we left at the crack of 9.00 o'clock to catch the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Bussed across the Island and then caught the ferry to Holy Island. We were met by the fluttering of prayer flags and a row of stupas. It was good to be back.
Wils had been worrying needlessly about missing our lunch as the ferry was late, but oh joy and rapture, it was waiting for us. That evening we were introduced to The Blanket. One of the inmates had decided it would be a nice idea to knit a blanket and asked everyone who had come to stay on the Island to knit a square. Wils and I took up the challenge joyfully as it had been a long time since we had knitted.
Next morning we didn't feel like doing any chores around the centre so we sneaked off for a walk and disappeared up the mountain. This is quite a good haul and some bits are exciting as you have to scramble up rocky cliff bits. It was a misty sort of day, but every now and then the sun came out.
We were especially taken with the little pool of sunlight on the sea. The trig point was reached and we buggered around a bit, showing off our yoga prowess.
The next day we thought we had better knuckle down and do a bit of work. After all, it was supposed to be a working holiday. It was a lovely day so we decided to help in the garden. This involved taking a wheelbarrow each and spending the morning shovelling horse shit.
This manure is so good it can be put fresh onto the garden. All the animals on Holy Island are wild and get their food directly from the land (except for the seagulls who get any left over food that can't be composted). If you use ordinary horse shit you have to leave it for six months to go off a bit, but as the Holy Island horses only eat the local grass, bracken and any other bits of greenery, it is totally organic.
The ever hungry seagulls. Lamlash on Arran is in the background.
By the end of the morning in was pouring and we were both wet to the skin, but after another good lunch we were off for the afternoon gathering seaweed for the garden. They only wanted the large flat brown ribbon type seaweed. Not interested in the lovely Bladderwrack variety that makes very pleasing popping sounds.
Next day we were up on the mountain again. On the way we met Malcom the ex-monk. He had been banished to the far end of the Island to live with the nuns 'in retreat' because he had slapped a visitor. He was pushing his motorized wheelbarrow around. We love Malcom.
Bad Malcom. Isn't he lovely?
We were beginning to get a few black looks from some of the other volunteers so we thought we had better behave ourselves. We gathered driftwood for the fire.
We collected many wheelbarrows full of drift wood. There was a rather bad tempered bloke staying for the weekend and he had been comandeered to saw wood. We called him Basher. Good, we thought. This will keep Basher busy for a few hours. He glowered at us as we dumped yet more and more wood for him.
As I mentioned, all the animals on Holy Island are wild, although they are used to people. Buddhists are very gentle people with a policy of non-harm to any living creature (except Malcom when a visitor upsets him). One of the horses even let me stroke him. There are delightful little brown sheep who look like goats and white goats that look like alpaca.
Most of the Island is a nature reserve. There are red squirrels, ravens, peregrine falcons, the odd eagle and best of all, we saw an otter. This was a first for both of us. About a mile from the Buddhist Centre is a holy spring. Every day we walked to the spring and filled our bottles with the water. Of course, I couldn't help pretending I was a dog (not allowed on the island) and lapped straight from the spring.
Every evening we got out the knitting and crochet. Wils got quite carried away and knitted the Scottish flag. Can you see it?
Lorenzo getting engrossed with the crochet. Does it show I haven't combed my hair for a week?
At breakfast on the last day I openly declared that from now on I would be carrying on the Holy Island lifestyle. No drinking alcohol, caffeine and strictly vegetarian food (no sneaking fish in). When the ferry dumped us back in Lamlash we found we had an hour and a half to wait for the bus. Straight into the pub and David bought us a Whisky.
Kind and generous David.
Eventually we arrived back in Brodick. We decided to look around the town and catch a later ferry back to the mainland. We had fish and chips and two triple glasses of red wine. We got so pissed we missed the ferry back. What do you do? Back to the pub where Wils told me a very rude Australian expression. We eventually caught the last ferry of the day by the skin of our teeth. We then had a drunken evening back at her house. What a fantastic week we had had. We are already planning to do the West Highland Way, go to Fairisle, have a week in Italy doing yoga and back to Holy Island next year. Mmm .. better start saving up.
P.S. In answer to Tut's question, Holy Island is a Buddist Island. About ten years ago the old lady who lived on the island dreamed that the Virgin Mary told her to sell the island to the Buddists. She got in touch with Lama Yeshe of Samye Ling near Lockerbie, and he jumped at the opportunity to acquire the island. Property developers heard about the island's sale and immediately put in huge offers but she wasn't interested.
It is now a centre for world peace and health. Any religion is welcomed. Many Catholics go there for the meditation and the general atmosphere which is amazingly peaceful, unless you are around Bad Malcom.
Wils, Lorenzo and Lama Yeshe at Samye Ling last year. He is such a poppet and everyone who meets him loves him.