Otters crossing

Ride Scotland, Day 4: the truth about otters

Day 4: Eriskay, South Uist and Benbecula

Maslow would be proud of the ferry terminal at Barra, which clearly catered to ferry travellers’ hierarchy of needs:

  1. Hot & cold drinks
  2. Snacks
  3. Toilets
  4. Wifi

We were proud too, having made the 10-mile journey from the BnB to ferry in good time.

Ardmhor ferry terminal hierarchy of needs
Ardmhor ferry terminal hierarchy of needs

Mum, busying herself packing and unpacking her bags, declined my generous offer of a vending machine coffee: you can lead a Melburnian to coffee, but you can’t make her drink it from a machine.

The spy was also lurking around, but I stayed away from conversation beyond the obligatory “Hello” and small-talk about the fine weather.

Meanwhile, I read the signboard on otters, which lived around the pier. It was good timing, as World Otter Day was only a few days from now, and I knew next to nothing about them. In short, they are a cross between a weasel and a seal, live in the salt-water, and eat fish.

Otters crossing
Don’t cross an otter…

Only later did I learn the terrible truth about otters, and it certainly wasn’t from this generic tourist information sign.

In fact, otters routinely hold the heads of their mates under water while having sex, causing them to drown; have been known to rape baby harbor seals to death, and even make love with deceased mates.

Clearly this type of behavior had been deemed too commonplace in the outer-reaches of Britain to have been considered of any interest for tourists to read on the signboard.

Welcome to Eriskay
Getting frisky in Eriskay

The ferry on the horizon was making good speed towards us, and would in fact be docked within a matter of minutes.

Yet a commotion was breaking out. My mum rushed to where I was sitting in a small panic. “The pump! The pump! My tire’s got a flat.”

Someone had walked past mum’s bike and heard the tell-tale fast rush of escaping air. Luckily, we were far from the only bikers on the ferry that morning. In fact, there were close to 15 of us, nearly outnumbering vehicles.

Seeing mum in stress, a silver-haired man rushed into action. Within seconds he’d whipped off her front wheel, removed the tube, and soon had it pumped up good as new.

As for what caused the puncture, that remains a mystery. The tire was not pierced by glass, screw or stone, neither did the inner tube look torn.

Eriskay view in the sun
If only the terrain was as flat as mum’s bike tire

Famous detective Sherlock Holmes sort-of said (I’m paraphrasing), when you’ve eliminated all other explanations, the one that remains, no matter how fanciful, is your solution.

Therefore, it was either the dodgy spy, seeking vengeance for my panier bag death joke of the day before, or it was an otter. Either way, it was an act of otter bastardry.

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