I had long planned my trip to Iona, and had in fact cut short my tour of the Hebrides in order to be at Oban in early June to take The Waverley over and visit the abbey and island.
Having arrived in Oban I realised that I would be able to visit Fingal’s Cave, a memory of my childhood, as although my father had never visited it, or even travelled that much he often mentioned it and was particularly fond of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. I booked as soon as I could and when booking on a trip to Fingal’s Cave the Isle of Iona was included.
Since travelling a little in Scotland I have learned to take the weather as it comes so to speak, and not think that if it is a poor day it may be better tomorrow, and even though I was due to visit the island again on the morrow I still thought to see what I could of it, and in fact the day had brightened a little since the morning even though it was still very dull, overcast and raining at times.
The morning had seen us embark on a large ferry boat over to Mull, then a bus trip across the island to the harbour at the far end where small boat had taken us over the choppy seas to Staffa. This then sailed on to Iona, from where we would be able take the regular ferry boat back to Oban.
Iona is one of those places which live in the imagination, and I was looking forward to seeing as much as I could of it. I knew the Abbey was quite a distance up from the harbour, and had thought to get a taxi, but didn’t see any when I arrived.
Everyone who had taken the boat trip with me to see Fingal’s Cave immediately headed for the cafe close to the harbour, for a ‘comfort break’ and refreshements. It was lovely to be somewhere warm but I didn’t want to stay too long, as I knew there was limited time before the ferry and it would leave whether you were there or not, and was the last one of the day. So after a quick hot drink I headed straight on up to the Abbey. There were quite a few tourist shops on the way which is to be expected with such a well know place and a largish modern building for admissions. The lady there was very helpful, and knowing I would have limited time suggested I head straight for the new museum which was not to be missed.
It was one of those very dark museums, which surprised me as most of the exhibits were stone, so hardly likely to fade in the daylight, but I think the curators imagine it makes it all more atmospheric. Somehow it didn't quite hit the spot for me, but looking forward to the wonderful Abbey I hastened on.
I have to say though I wanted to love it and had heard so many wonderful reports it just did not ‘do it’ for me. Quite why I am not sure, though it wasn’t until after visiting I realised that the entire place has been rebuilt during the 20th C. It is certainly well done, and I think functions as intended by its modern day founder George Govern who started his project in 1938 to serve as a sign of the rebuilding of community in urban Scotland and beyond.
It is now - an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Church engaged together, and with people of goodwill across the world, in acting, reflecting and praying for justice, peace and the integrity of creation
So having looked round I headed back to the harbour, worried I might be late, but all was well and I had about a twenty minute wait in the light rain for the ferry to come in.
Collecting some fish and chips I headed back to Thebus where Phoebe was heartily pleased to see me Ithink it is the longest she has been left since we started our travels. What a good girl she is :)