Spring is in full swing here in Harris, and we’ve been blessed with beautiful days full of birdsong and big blue skies. The crofts, machair and moors around us abound with new lambs, and those of us who cut peats are already making a start on this year's hard work.
While the land is coming to life, the same can be seen at sea. Our small island community is intimately connected to our surrounding waters, and those who make their living aboard small fishing boats are also enjoying the benefits of the current good weather.
Our friends Finlay Ewen and Donald Macleod (above) at Scalpay Shellfish have been taking advantage of the longer, calmer days to get some much-needed maintenance underway. With their boat out of water, they've tackled the tiring task of cleaning and painting their winter-worn hull.
Further south in the harbour village of Leverburgh, young Donald Maclennan (above left) and his crew at Sound of Harris Shellfish are excused this seasonal job as they set to sea in their shiny new Cygnus Typhoon vessel named ‘Valhalla', heading out daily into the deep waters of 'The Minch' which separates us from neighbouring Skye.
Also working from this harbour are Neil, Stewart and Iain Maclean (above right) from Seas The Catch who operate two small boats to help bring the finest of creel-caught shellfish to restaurants across the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Heavy in every haul right now are langoustines, or prawns as they are more commonly known as here. These delicious creatures are abundant in the spring months, allowing fishermen to take their crab creels ashore to dry out and do repairs.
As May goes on it will soon be time to focus on lobster and brown crab along our western coastline in a small-scale harvest, always in line with the season and with sustainability to the fore.
While much of their catch will be sent to eagerly awaiting customers on the continent, we're pleased to say that there's always plenty left for seafood lovers closer to home. Indeed, their daily catch can even be bought straight from the pier by visitors if asked in advance and supplies allow.
if you aren't able to buy fresh from their boats, there are many other ways to enjoy a delicious dish or two, including North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay, Taste' n' Sea at Bowglass, The Anchorage in Leverburgh and the new Sam's Seafood Shack in Rodel.
All this good weather and island produce proved the perfect way to introduce our new French friends from La Maison Du Whisky to island life as they visited us all the way from Paris earlier this week.
With dusk-red skies over the Sound of Harris, plates piled high with fresh local langoustines and glasses filled with Isle of Harris Gin, it was a pleasure to connect Thierry, Caroline and Eve (below) to our story and spirit at this beautiful time of year.
But, if you can't join us here in Harris look out for events like our recent Fish Supper in London and the upcoming dinner at Glasgow’s excellent Gandolfi Fish. We hope we can share many more moments of sunshine and seafood with you in this way throughout 2019.