We have ventured into Malliag on the Scottish north west coast our new home which we hoped would last us a good 6 months but ended up cutting it down to 3 weeks..Why? I shall tell you.. Don't get me wrong! Mallaig is a stunning picturesque seaside village nestled between a mountainous highland backdrop and the not to distant isle of Skye. Its a real shame we ended up working for possible cult members!
Now just to give you a heads up I have a MASSIVE imagination! So its completely up to you if you want to believe this wee story or not, I'm just telling you how it went(maybe in my head? who knows! ha-ha) Also I will be adding bits and pieces about Mallaig as it is a AMAZING place! and would love you to see it for yourself if you ever venture that way!(just taking a ride on the Jacobite steam locomotive is a journey itself!) We just had a different experience is all!
The place where we would end up working(I wont name the establishment) was a groovy
restaurant in the middle of town, The boss introduced himself as we plopped our backpacks at the door with big hugs(I swear he sniffed me as if trying to catch my scent) There was something quite sinister behind all that bubbliness...he was just too nice..
He introduces us to his wife, son and daughter in law. We are told we shall be taking up residence with the son and wife and there two hairy companions. The establishment was staffed mainly by backpackers and other foreigners(easier to convert maybe? or easier to go missing??)Our home was only a minute walk up a hill from work, next door to us was a cute little church which was very photogenic.
It was a lovely room we had but we both found it odd that the lock on the door
was filed off? The first week went by very fast and enjoyable, I was working as the fish&chip fryer which was a new experience ,but enjoyable for me and it was a change from the bar/floor side of hospitality. My girlfriend was in housekeeping( I think we loved the fact we didn't see each other all day then discuss how our day went like a old married couple)The staff made us feel welcome very fast.. especially "the cultists" who made us family..
I would always finish a few hours before the girlfriend did and would normally go venturing off up into the mountains and try to get lost(Mallaig has also got a lovely circuit track with groovy views over the harbour and across Loch Nevis near Knoydart) with my trusty lens and without breaking a leg or just dawdle around the lovely historic harbour side.
Mallaig is the main commercial fishing port on the west coast and it does have AMAZING seafood! haven't had fish that delightful since leaving home in NZ! During the 1960s Mallaig used to be the busiest herring port in Europe, when I would look out our bedroom window men scurried around like ants all over the show, not to mention the trainload of tourists coming through to catch the ferry over to the isles.(Also a good base if you want to go visit the isles of Rum,Eigg,Muck and Canna but make sure you take lots of insect repellent! you will thank me when a cloud of midges head your way!)
Now in small villages no matter where on this big blue and green ball we call earth! everyone seems to know everyone.. which doesn't help when someone gets on the wrong side of a local in this town(which I'll explain later)
Your probably thinking why is this joker telling us all this? When you venture out into the world you add many chapters to your life's book.
Good experiences/stories and the not so good, and for me in my 8 years of vagabonding this is my fondest memory and I would simply like to share it :)
Second week in and you end up part of the machine, get up for work do your job, finish work and so on.(we arrived in April so the weather in Mallaig was quite pleasant around 15 degrees it would rain sometimes but was surprisingly sunny for the most part! So at times you just wish you could be outside basking in the rays!) The boss and his wife took a special shine to my girl(especially the boss)
He would sniff her every time she walked past the kitchen and would mumble into his apron something which I could not catch. He told us kitchen staff we were in this job for a higher purpose(I just fried fish?!) and the day would come when we would unite together?? (for a staff party?) Things started to get uncomfortable when they started asking the female staff separately and "privately" when they were on there menstrual cycle?! We started noticing
in the early hours of the morning, shadows pacing back and forward on the other side of our bedroom door..
The boss started to show his true colours and would have moments where he would yell and scream at some of us if we "weren't keeping on the path" when we took to long at doing the morning baking and just like a sun appears suddenly from behind a cloud he would put on this freaky ear to ear smile and tell us "we are above it all?" I liked him when he was screaming to be honest it was more human!
The third(and final) week myself and others noticed a change with "the family" they became distant as if they were planning something or preoccupied with other matters sometimes the boss would be gone hours on end his son said he had to "speak up in the mountain??" what the fudge did that mean!? One day my girlfriend was doing her rounds making the customers beds upstairs and noticed through the window the boss on the other side of the road just standing and staring at the place, she said he did this for a good 15 or so Minutes..
To take my mind off things I used my imagination for other outlets I started trekking further out into the highlands in search of the Haggis! A elusive creature which supposedly its left and right legs are different sizes which helps it run around the steep mountain sides(Next on my list would be the infamous Loch Ness Monster) I would see little heads appear here and there! but just ya wee local rabbits!
The day came when it all began, one of the staff was upstairs with the bosses wife and had a massive argument( I never asked what it was about?) which could have probably been heard through the whole village!
The waitress ran down the stairs and out the door with tears in her eyes, yelling out "FKIN CULTISTS" her boyfriend was working with me in the kitchen at the time( he was the one who taught me everything about the kitchen basically) he just ripped his apron off and ran out too! I was alone in the kitchen with the boss who didn't seem at all worried about was was going on around us. He squeezed my shoulder gently and told me "together we can do anything!" I was pretty freaked out by now.. I knocked off work dreading for tomorrow as it would be just the boss and I to serve 300 odd passengers from the Hogwarts train!
Mallaig has all your basics you need with a couple of mini markets, post office(scared to send a postcard as we thought the whole town would be in on it, and do something to us if we told what was going on here! hahaha) its got two banks! that's right two! pretty impressive and three pubs(one of them had really groovy live music a few times a week!) and too top it off a small petrol station which seemed to never ever open..(maybe that's where they held "the meetings")
I went down to the other staff house( as we had arrived a few weeks later we had to have the room within the sons house which was a lot nicer then the staff accommodation anyway so we accepted) to see what was going on after all the drama and nearly all of the staff had there backpacks all ready to go! they were going to escape in the early hours of the morning(they had booked a taxi to Fort Williams(almost a hour away) then a train to Glasgow from there!
It would just be my girlfriend and I, another guy from Israel(whom I'm pretty sure was "brainwashed" ha!) and "The Family" to run the place. I decided that we would escape with them in the morning as well, even though I hadn't told my girlfriend. She finished work a hour later and after a bit of persuasion(scaring)agreed to the plan. We headed to ours to pack and hopefully not get sprung by the son and daughter in law. We were proper freaking out by then as one of the girls called and told us the boss had kicked them out onto the street but had nowhere to go as he had told all the other hotels/B&B's not to let them in! luckily one of the Australian girls knew a local guy in town who worked in one of the pubs(I guess he wasn't part of "IT") so they ended up crashing on his floor.
While they were all safe and sound in a group, we on the other hand had two "cultists" sleeping in the room next to us! we had packed up but the only problem was we had a cloth bag with over a 100 pounds in coins which were our tips, and it was noisy! We tried to get some shuteye but basically just cuddled together expecting them to bust through the door with there demon dogs calling us traitors and howling for our blood while they tied us up! 4am came and we couldn't spend another min in this house even though the taxi wasn't coming until 8:15. We knew that the daughter in law always took the hounds for a walk at 5:30 so we wanted to be gone with the wind by then! I had everything planned out how we would make our "great escape" I went to go to the "toilet" and made sure all the doors were opened and no obstacles in our path. I would go first and her behind me(with the tips..she insisted!) I told her DO NOT tie your shoe laces and no dawdling we just run!
One..two..three! opening the bedroom door, I could hear the dogs stirring SHIT! I ran down the stairs as quietly as I could hoping to god the girlfriend was on my heels! slipped my feet into my boots and was off like a rocket down the street, I finally stopped thinking she was behind me..But no! she was doing up her bloody shoelaces!! she dawdled down to me with a sour look on her face saying 'you left me!' I told her she could of been dog food or the next wicker man!! My imagination at this stage is through the heavens! its awesome! Adrenaline is such a amazing hormone!
We run down to the seaside and sit against a old wall on the docks facing the ocean..As the sun peaks over the mountains it is sooo beautiful on the waters at this time not a sound other than a few playful seals waiting for the suns rays.
To get back at my girlfriend for messing up the "Great Escape" I go around the corner and disappear for awhile. I come back 15mins later and her face is white as I tell her they are looking for us! And they got alot of the villagers in on it! I cant contain my laughter any longer! Now we
are even. The hours go surprisingly fast and the guys message us saying the taxi is almost here! what glorious news! 15mins later we brave it and walk into the middle of town and meet up with the gang. A few faces stare at us from windows(probably wondering why there is a taxi in town?) as I slide into the taxi I feel so relieved we MADE IT!
All of a sudden the villagers descend on the taxi with pitchforks, fire and wearing animal masks all of them chanting!!
Actually we drive off down the coast laughing and carrying on loving the fact none of us became a human bonfire.. Its a real shame we didn't stay longer, I felt sad as I looked back at the little village waking up, Did I let paranoia get the better of me? Did we do a bad thing leaving them without a whisper? In the end it was a story to tell and a wee adventure I don't regret!
All in All please peeps if you are ever on the wild scottish west coast go and visit this quaint little town, I'm sure you will love it! just see if you can spot "The Family" and let me know how they are getting on! Just...be...careful...