We at HEB Magazine do our best to let the world know exactly what our islands have to offer, and where exactly to find what you're interested in. HEB is printed once a year and thousands of copies are distributed across the Islands.
And the on-line edition - below! - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.
So, just click the download button, or go to our page-turning version, and enjoy learning about the beautiful Scottish Hebrides, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!
By Katie Macleod
Visitors to the Hebrides looking for a real taste of island life need look no further than Ness in Lewis, the location of Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween’s croft tourism venture, Air an Lot.
Air an Lot – Gaelic for ‘on the croft’ – offers tourists and locals alike the chance to experience the day-to-day happenings on an island croft, from feeding the animals to cutting peats. “It just depends how hands on people want to get,” says Donald of the activities available.
“Generally people will come and have a wee tour. If you want to just look at the animals and don’t go near them, that’s fine, but if you want to get stuck in and spend a bit more time, you can muck out the hen house, help feed the sheep, stuff like that.” By next year, visitors looking for a real taste of the islands will even able to stay on a nearby croft in the Port of Ness, where Donald is currently renovating a self-catering ‘Air an Lot’ holiday cottage for tourists.
Through Air an Lot, Donald also sells fresh eggs, meat boxes, and sausages, and is starting to branch out into areas such as sheepskin rugs and wool, too. “I enjoy working with animals on a daily basis, and I think it’s important that they’re valued as well. If that animal has had to die to produce food, then it’s only right that we make the most use possible out of that animal.”
By Katie Macleod
It was January 2016 when Gemma Paterson received the phone call that would change her life as she knew it.
Gemma, who moved to Carloway with her family as a child, was working as a senior distillery guide for William Grant & Sons in Speyside when she was asked if she would be interested in applying to be a US Ambassador for Balvenie. Five months later, she was living in New York City.
“I’d never thought about moving to the US, but it’s not an opportunity anyone’s going to turn down,” remembers Gemma. “I went home in a daze and sat down and was like, ‘Is this real? Is this actually happening?’”
In her first six months as the Balvenie Ambassador for the east coast of America, Gemma has already travelled to twenty states – some more than four times – and is set to clock up even more miles this year as she promotes what she describes as “the most hand-crafted single malt whisky.”
We have friends all over Europe…that could be the motto for the Harris Tweed industry and for the largest producer, Harris Tweed Hebrides in Shawbost in particular.
In April this year the company featured in a glittering showcase of British and Italian fashion, held in Florence under royal patronage.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall toured the event, which was organised by the British Embassy in Rome and the Campaign for Wool. Prince Charles is patron of the campaign and all the garments featured were, like Harris Tweed, made from pure wool.
An elite selection of leading British and Italian brands were invited to exhibit at the event, which was held in the Sala Bianca of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, described as 'the birthplace of Italian fashion', catwalk shows held there in the 1950s having set the tone for classic Italian brands to flourish.
By Eilidh Whiteford
Believed to be one of the older buildings surviving in Stornoway, Glen House has, at long last, been saved from ruin, repaired and refurbished.
A solid two-storey, stone built structure, Glen House has stood within the boundaries of Lews Castle Grounds, on Willowglen Road, for around 160 years.
The origins of Glen House are unclear – although local planners suggest there has been a house on the site since as far back as 1785, there is no indication of a structure on a 1821 Stornoway Town Plan, nor any mention of the house in the first census of 1841. However, the Admiralty Chart of Stornoway Harbour for 1846 does indicate a small buildings at the site of Glen House, marked 'school'.
The first Ordnance Survey map of Stornoway was completed in 1849, with the first edition of the map showing a large building at the Glen House site. This was marked as 'Mill Glen' when recorded in the 1951 census records a few years later.
In 1857, however, speculation ends, as the property became home to Henry Caunter, a man of science and close friend of landlord Sir James Matheson – and some of the most interesting times of Glen House began!
Stepping into Gallery 5 is like entering a joyous still-life - a vivid lime-green chaise longue, sunshine on a pine floor, the smell of oil paint. Artwork lines the long, smooth sides of this unique light-filled studio.
Converted from the remains of a blackhouse, Gallery 5 is just a short hop off the West Lewis visitor route, in the crofting township of Tolsta Chaolais. Home spun yarns spiral down a wall, art books jostle on a high shelf, daubs of paint shine like sweets, waiting to be tried.
Featured in the gallery are Margaret Stevenson’s stunning oil and watercolour paintings. Working entirely from sketches and studies, she looks for shape, line and pattern to give an impression of her subject and then paints from these studies to capture the mood of the islands, its forms and life, its ever-changing light.
“When I need a break I head out with my sketchbook and draw,” she says, waving towards the heathery hills rolling down to Loch Roag, dotted with working crofts and drystane walls - a source of endless inspiration.