The Oyster Shed
Last week was the first time since I started this blog in December, where I didn't share a new post. The reason for that was the fact that I was out on an adventure with the family, having some much needed R&R in a camper van we'd hired for the week. Our trip took us to Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and then around the Isle of Skye, before a long traverse, cross-country, back to Fife for a wedding.
In the summer of 2021 we'd first hired a camper to do the NC500, a 500-mile route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending in Inverness. We had such a good time that we decided to do a mini version again this year, just before Harper's holidays finished and school resumed. The NC500 route doesn't traditionally take you to Skye (it cuts back East across the country just to the North of Skye) and although some people do add it in, we'd decided last summer not to stretch ourselves too much with the extra distance so we could spend more time enjoying where we were. This year we had the opportunity to rectify that!
On our first day in Skye, we travelled from the mainland, across to the Talisker distillery, so that I could do a tour of their new visitors facility (and the obligatory whisky tasting!) I've been on a lot of whisky distillery tours but the new buildings at Talisker are incredible and I'd highly recommend them. After that, however, we drove a little further down the road in Carbost to find a place I'd seen in a YouTube video, called The Oyster Shed, to have an early dinner. It was so good that, on our last day on the island, we went back to have lunch there!
On our second visit, a beautiful sunny afternoon, I got chatting to the owner, who was telling me the history of the place and all about how it operates. A really lovely guy and a fascinating story, beginning with Oyster farming, but then pivoting significantly when an algae bloom wiped out almost his entire Oyster farm overnight! From there, the Oyster Shed idea took off and it's become hugely successful - so much so that he has never had to advertise and people, like the Davies family, travel from hundreds of miles away to sample his wares!
As we drove south from Carbost, towards the iconic Cuillin mountain range, I couldn't help but think what might have happened if it hadn't been for that algae bloom and the loss of those Oysters. When it happened, I've no doubt that the owner was bereft. After all, having moved from Glasgow to Skye to get into Oyster farming, this was his livelihood and a huge part of his life. Having that taken away from him overnight could have been the end of his dream and he might well have decided to pack it all in and move back to Glasgow. But instead he took all of the things he'd learned and the connections he'd built up and turned the rubble of one business into another which proved to be far more successful and far more enjoyable for him.
Not all of us will find ourselves farming Oysters off the Scottish coast, but all of us do have plans and dreams and little missions that we're pursuing. And all of us will encounter setbacks on the road to achieving those dreams. Whether it's a sports dream, a business dream, or maybe just building a life that you and your family can be proud of. When those setbacks happen, it can feel devastating. An injury that effectively ends an athletic career. A change in the economy or consumer tastes that renders a business unviable. These are all too common.
But remember, the real value that you've accumulated on your journey towards that dream is not the wealth or material possessions that you've gathered along the way. It's the knowledge, experience and grit that you've developed in pursuit of your goals. The journey, itself, is the destination, and by taking the things you've learned and the experiences that you've gone through to get there and applying this in new ways, you have every opportunity to come back brighter and build bigger, bolder, more satisfying dreams!
If you find yourself on Skye and love seafood, I can't recommend anywhere better. the Oyster Shed, just outside Carbost, a mile past the Talisker distillery, is well worth your time! Just beware, however. If your 7-year old gets a taste for Lobster, it could result in your financial ruin!