When popping out to the shop turns into a hunt for polar bears (Rousse)

The community shop at Timsgarry was doing a roaring trade, despite its endemic over-pricing. I picked up a pretty pair of purple sheepskin child’s slippers and baulked at the £83 tag. Meanwhile TPR was negotiating on a supply of brown Aran wool with which to knit his own cable jumper. I thought this over-ambitious, but if this was how he wanted to spend his holiday, then that was up to him. Then I remembered that I was running out of black knickers. None were in stock in this small shop, so I’d have to travel up to Stornoway to do my shopping there.

By the time I reached the island’s capital it was blowing a gale. I felt for J and GC who would be coming over on the ferry later in the day. Still, I had purchases to make, so I asked a woman in the street where I would find a draper’s shop, she pointed one out and I headed over. The shop’s layout was a little odd without any goods on display. Nevertheless, I decided to join the other “shoppers” on the grey sofas in the anteroom to the main store and wait patiently just like everyone else. I expected that the shop-keeper would eventually call me through and invite me to make my purchase.

We waited and waited, then waited a little while longer. Then – much to the joy to everyone but me – the whole room suddenly jolted. When a woman in uniform wearing a gas mask came through and placed small bowls of sushi in front of each “passenger” I eventually understood that I was on a flight. This was awkward: I had no ticket, no means of identification, and was due back at the guest house for dinner in a couple of hours.

How long would we be in the air? It couldn’t be too long because Stornoway was not an international airport. I should just hold tight and soon I’d be back where I belonged – or so I thought. Unfortunately for me it turned out that I had accidentally joined a two-week winter safari to the arctic circle to hunt for polar bears.

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