Cianalas

My Gran is absolutely the best person that I’ve ever known.

My wonderful Gran - Barbara Nicolson MBE (née Campbell)

My wonderful Gran – Barbara Nicolson MBE (née Campbell)

She was the only grandparent I got to know as a “grown-up”. She worked until she was in her mid 80’s in her post office, which was a tiny room in the abandoned house that my mum grew up in in Lemreway, South Lochs. She learnt how to use a computer for her job when she was 80.

She made the world’s best pancakes and made an apple crumble every week for the friend who drove her to church in nearby Gravir on a Sunday evening.  She had dessert spoons I think her mother gave her and used them for all her baking. She didn’t work in recipes – her measurements were solely based on these spoons. She called her male cat Susannah because she randomly started trying out names and it’s the only one the cat would answer to. She insisted on calling our female dog Molly, Phillip. For no other reason than, why not?! She had a stroke a few years ago and is now well looked after by my mum and the staff in her nursing home.

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked about heading to Canada is about “cianalas”. It’s about as Gàidhealach a word as there ever was and is generally translated as homesickness. Or as Mr Dwelly explains

“1 – Melancholy, sorrow, sadness. 2 – Mildness. 3 – Dulness, pensiveness. 4 – Wearisomeness. 5 – Homesickness. 6 -Solitariness, loneliness, dreariness.”

I’ve never really suffered from homesickness. But the other day my parents revealed that my Gran’s house finally had internet and they Facetimed me from there. Seeing my Gran’s house again (even if only via cyber space) was the first time I had a real appreciation for how far away from home I was going to be over the next wee while.

It’s funny how the most random of incidents can bring about the most profound thoughts!

Lemreway

View from my Gran’s house – Cnoc a’ Bhaile

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