Westray. An island both friendly and wild. I’m here to see a house I’d like to buy. Based upon a few small photographs and a description I’ve travelled the length of the UK to see it and am cosy and warm in a small B&B, with Jerry and Sheila at No.1 Broughton. With a duck egg for breakfast, a packed lunch with home-made cake for lunch and the prospect of a wonderful evening meal I set off to walk from Pierowall to Noup Head, an RSPB reserve with over 100,000 birds. Along the way I visit Noltland Castle, a 16th Century building in part ruin. There’s a note to say that the key may be had at the farm. I walk around the neighbouring farm building and knock on the main door. No-one answers. I walk back to the castle regretting that I’m not going to be able to look around inside and see the main door to the castle. The door is open and the key is in the lock.
As well as the house I’ve come to see there’s another property for sale on the island. I ring the solicitors to say I’d like to view it and they tell me the owner is away and give me his mobile number, which seems strange. I ring him, a complete stranger, and he explains he’s away in Aberdeen and will be back Sunday. I say how sorry I am that I’ve got to leave before he’s back. His response is, “Well why don’t you just go and have a look at it then? It’s not locked.”
I feel as if I’ve opened a new door in my life.
The door was open and the key was in the lock the whole time.