Heb Celt 2017 (& adventures before!)

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My 12 days away in the Outer Hebrides were absolutely awesome!!  The first week travelling up and down the islands, the second week at Heb Celt 2017  The last 8 days were super hot with sunshine everyday!  Check out the amazing photos on social media for Heb Celt.  Here is a few of my experiences…


Arriving in Barra (taken by Andrew Huggan)

Myself and my friend Brian, caught the Ullapool to Stornoway ferry on Thursday (13th July).  I dropped off my magic at Stornoway and we headed southward on the Friday morning.  We started with the bus to Harris to get us on the way and then started hitching the rest of the way.  Those we met talked of “a coming storm!”, which worried us – we didn’t want to be out in that!  We got stuck in Lochmaddy for about 90 minutes trying to get a lift and could feel the storm building in the air.  With the rain starting there was an uncertainty if we would manage to get south.  Thankfully we got a couple of lifts a few miles up the road and then a longer lift, right down to Lochboisdale in South Uist.  We put up our tents behind Lochboisdale Hotel as the storm began to arrive.  It was a windy and wet Friday night, but our tents survived – they have survived a lot worse!!  Still raining, on Friday, we headed to Barra and met our friends Drew and Kirsten, who had a car with them!  We were soaking wet (see photo)!


We had two amazing days camping in Castlebay, Isle of Barra.  Going to the infamous Cafe Kisimuil, a ceilidh/dance in the Castlebay Community Hall, meeting Barra folk we knew and lots of new people.along.the way and seeing Lets Circus who were on tour round the islands!  The weather was pretty cold and windy and we wondered if this was Barra in the summer what it would be like in the winter!  But by the Sunday there was talk of a coming “Heat Wave”…!

West Beach, Berneray

We left Barra on Monday and the sun had come out.  We headed north to Berneray, by now it was glorious sunshine.  We put our tents up and went swimming in the sea!  It was Berneray Week – so lots going on!  We went to a dance/ceilidh on the Monday night.  Between us – our group won 3 raffle prizes!  On the Tuesday we went to a Craft Sale and Sports Day on the Machair, taking part in lots of races and coming 3rd in the Relay race and getting a medal for the Fun Run!  The Heat Wave was now in full swing!  In the evening we made a music video for Drew Huggan, who had written a song about his stay at Berneray Hostel called In the Reek of the Smouldering Peat – the making of the video was amazingly fun with lots of laughter!  I cannot wait to see the final video and all the Outtakes..!


Wednesday morning we packed up our tents and continued to head north – stopping off at the beach (Isle of Harris) and then Tarbert for lunch.  Then on to Stornoway for the beginning of Heb Celt.  The sun was still shining!  Tents were put back up as we set up camp in Laxdale Campsite.  We reunited with lots of friends and people we see every year who are part of (what I call) the ‘Celtic Gang’.  And enjoyed the opening festival ceilidh in An Lanntair.

Thursday was the first day of Jim the Magician performing. All my magic was at The Bridge Centre – thanks to Teenann and Scott for all your support with this!.  This allowed me to keep my professional element of my magic separate to the maverick antics I got up to as a Festival Punter..!! So Thursday afternoon I entertained people queuing to collect their tickets at the ticket office. I also got filmed by BBC Alba performing my newest magic trick.

Performing on Friday (McGinley – Hebridean Photography)

Thursday’s line up of music that I saw was awesome! Dougie MacLean, Tide Lines and the Peatbog Faeries.  Friday I was performing in the Festival site – sun shining and super hot!  I met some lovely people and entertained lots of folk.  I saw less of the bands but still enjoyed some of my favouites – Ryan Young and Skerryvore.  Saturday was another scorching day and performing in the festival site was super hot – I decided to ditch the bow tie, which was a wise move!  Had a great dance to Elephant Sessions and The Waterboys.

Sunday we all headed to the beach for a Bar-BQ, sunbathing and swimming in the sea.  And a final final photo in An Lanntair, before heading back to the mainland on the ferry on Monday (24 July) afternoon.


The Final Final Photo (c/o Jennie Duncan)

I met some fantastic people at Heb Celt 2017 (& adventures before!), made some new awesome friends, connected with lots of people I already knew and loved amazing so many people with my magic – the most common phrases were “How do you do that?” and “That is beyond belief”.

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who made it such a great year!