During my first trip over to the Hebrides the first fellow traveller I met told me we were sure to come across each other again. By the time I had made my way up through the islands to Dal Mhor beach on the west coast of Lewis I’d begun to think he might be following me when he pulled up into the car park for our forth encounter. Since living here I’ve taken little note when bumping into people but I had not realised this could also apply to objects. I don’t mean in the painful sense when you crack your shin on a wooden stool that somebody left sticking out from under the table, as if place specifically like some sort of trap just for you. No I mean an object that takes your eye and then reappears somewhere else. One such object was an old spinning wheel in the window of Lewis Revivals on Cromwell road in Stornoway. I’d missed one the previous year but this was just what I was looking for and I could easily replace the missing treadle. Too late it was sold and I suppressed a little grunt of frustration as I tried to imagine someone else on the island who could make use of a non-working spinning wheel.
My neighbour Roddy is famed locally for the collection of objects out in his garden; he acquires all manner of things, an old plough shear or a ships wheel, a pair of deer antlers or a butter churn, all are sanded down and lagged in paint. He has a job lot of brown but that is reserved mainly for the fencing post and rails while the collection is picked out in red white and blue. I’d seen Roddy earlier in the day when he told me if I wanted fish to help myself to a haddock from the freezer in his garage. Returning from one of the local Tolsta weavers with a bundle of tweed offcuts I saw Roddy out front busy watering his hard landscape garden. I parked the van and walked round and we stood admiring the new and startling realistic miniaturised plastic stag tacking pride of place on its concrete plinth just inside the entrance. As we walked toward the garage he told me to help myself to fish but my eye had caught sight of a new spinning wheel and I asked Roddy if he was taking up spinning. No that was for his daughter but he’d got another one he was going to start work on to paint and put in the garden. It was like encountering an old friend again as there at the back of the garage stood the spinning wheel from the shop window. “You can put that outside” I exclaimed, “it’s an antique.” After I explained how I’d seen in it in Stornoway and that I was looking for one to use he said then I must have it and we agreed on a exchange of artwork. I hurried home happy with the wheel tucked under my arm and a carrier bag containing a large frozen haddock in the other hand.