This week brought the sad, but inevitable, news of the first coronavirus cases here in the Outer Hebrides. After weeks of watching its spread across the UK, it was only a matter of time until it reached our shores. Despite this, it still felt like a shock.
Along with Orkney, we were the last part of the country to be affected and our island community is grateful to have been afforded the extra time to prepare and take every precaution.
Here in Harris, we're used to a little adversity, shops being in short supply, and protracted periods of isolation which can be commonplace during long winters and bad weather. But, few of us have faced a situation like this before and we will be sharing many of these new and unique challenges along with you.
But, perhaps we can help with a few simple island truths gleaned from lessons learned over the years?
Community is everything at times like these, and life is much easier when we face our difficulties together. If you don’t know your neighbours, now is the time to get acquainted. Self-reliance is a wonderful thing but we believe that a helping hand is never far away, so don’t be afraid to ask or extend your own.
As all good village gossips will agree, it’s good to talk! These days we might be swapping those vital bits of local news by phone, Facetime and Whatsapp but the fact remains that staying in touch with friends and family every day helps us feel more connected and in control.
With lambing season upon us, every crofter knows that new life takes time, and sometimes the best thing to do is to let things unfold until such time you can take action. Every storm will inevitably pass, so take heed of the experts' advice, stay stoic, stay safe and spend time making plans to pick up the pieces when the clouds finally clear.
We believe nature is a great healer, and many of us here are blessed with the space to walk and wander for our daily dose of physical exercise. But even going out into the garden, feeding wildlife from your window ledge, or just grabbing fresh air from the green heart of a city can all help raise spirits a little higher.
Look after your mental health while in isolation too. While transcendental meditation might not be something we Hearaich tackle every day, it’s certainly a good idea to be more mindful. Many here will turn to their bible and prayers for comfort while others will simply try to breathe a little more deeply. Not every day has to be a success, sometimes it’s enough to just…be.
Finally, there’s always music to lift the soul! We’ve been curating and sharing our favourite tracks and tunes among the distillery team and will be releasing our selections online over the coming weeks in some special cèilidh albums.
You can find the first one here.
As all our lives are put on hold at this unusual time in history, the Isle of Harris stands with you wherever you are in the world. We know you’ll continue to adapt and overcome in true island spirit and we look forward to raising a glass with you again soon.
Until then, we wish you good health, or as we say in our native Gaelic, slàinte mhath!
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Our own online shop remains open and we would be delighted to keep sending our Isle of Harris Gin to all who wish to continue enjoying our island spirit at home.