Day 6: Berneray – Harris (Tarbert)
Time was that Lewis and Harris were owned one man, William Lever, who made part of his fortune from soap.
He also tried to market whale, referring to it as ‘the pork of the sea’, but presumably the sausages were too big, even by the standards of Scottish breakfasts.
These days though, the islands are more famously associated with a certain clothing. I would say ‘fashion’, but the fabric in question is Harris Tweed.
Since opting to wear the lycra knickerbockers without underwear one day ago, I’ve already gained many insights in the world of MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra).
For one, the large foam padded bum area of the pants feels like I imagine an adult diaper – could the reason so many MAMILs wear lycra be a desire to regress to infancy, away from the pressures of the adult world?
Speaking of the benefits of diapers, I had some experience related to that too. We were nearing the final stop for the day in Tarbert, on the spit between South and North Harris, when we passed a sign pointing towards the Harris Tweed shop and museum.
It was a 2.6 mile-detour down a steep and windy (as in bendy) hill, which was going to be an absolute killer to climb back up…
As a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast however, I was keen to see whether the shop would have any tweed capes to go with the deerstalker hat I bought on my last trip to Scotland.
It was a baking hot day – every BnB landlord on the Hebrides loves to talk about their ‘home baking’, and on the bitumen with the sun reflecting of the countless lochs and the sea, I was getting first-hand experience of being a scone.
Seeing some pretty wildflowers that I wanted to press and dry to add to my collection from Switzerland, I stopped to pick them and put them in my notebook. I had been drinking quite a lot of water already that day, and thus took the opportunity to pee.
The thing with lycra knickerbockers is that they are integrated into braces, and there is no frontal zip.
Because my riding jersey was zipped up over this, rather than remove the top, and pull off the braces and pull my pants right down, as if I was in kindergarten and having a pee, I instead decided to pull my willy out over the top of the shorts, which were sitting somewhere near my navel.
This required some amount of stretching. Nevertheless, being impatient by nature I thought this to be the most efficient solution.
And it worked, somewhat. I continued the ride the final 5 minutes to the famed Harris shop, and parked it next to my mum’s bike. Dismounting however, I noticed that some pee had dribbled through and had formed two fairly visible patches on the front of my shorts.
I had a friend who once pissed himself on a date, and to cover it up, ordered two pints of beer, one of which he “accidentally” dropped all down his pants. Spoiler alert (or ‘soiler alert’?), but the date ended soon after.
Since there was not a bar in sight, I hung around awkwardly outside the shop, seeking out sunny corners of the terrace that would dry my shorts as quickly as possible. When you’re wearing only lycra, there is nothing to tie awkwardly around your waist to conceal any mistakes. In short, no room for error.
After 5 minutes, my impatience kicked in again and I sidled into the Harris shop. No cloaks, but a wide assortment of fairly frumpy looking coats for dogs, old man flat caps, and tweed-covered flasks. As probably expected, there was nothing in plaid lycra or for bike riders, but the shop assistant did ask if I might be interested in a “wee bit of tweed”.
No thanks, I said, I already had the wee bit in lycra, and it made me self-conscious when wearing it.